Top 10 posts of 2015

What a year, folks. Here’s how it looked in my little corner of the internet, with the ten most-read posts of 2015.

Tony Veitch is a danger to women

Not only was his “apology” a litany of excuses. Not only was he almost immediately granted “a second chance”. He now, unapologetically, deliberately, defiantly encourages people to joke about violence, including domestic violence against women. He is an active creator of toxic masculinity.

NZ’s top quotes of 2015

its raining menYou all really seem to like my round-ups. Here’s some of the awesome things Kiwis said in 2015, chosen entirely on the basis of merit.

Note: the Kim Hill quote was originally attributed to Chris Finlayson; it was actually Nick Smith. What can I say, all white men look alike to me.

We totally meant to do that: the WhaleOil story

The chief reason not to give even the slightest benefit of the doubt to WhaleOil is because nothing published there has any weight. It’s nonsensical and self-contradicting, and while I should really just not be writing this post and giving them oxygen, it may be helpful to have one canonical example of this as a warning to the next ten generations.

Holla if you get that reference

Mils Muliaina, rape culture, and sharpening my pitchfork

There are almost no details of the charges against Muliaina so far. But that hasn’t stopped people rushing to pre-judge the case.

And no, I don’t mean me and my merry band of evil Twitter feminists.

Note: Charges were ultimately dropped against Muliaina.

My top 5 politicians of the year

Another list entirely determined by merit. And sarcasm.

family guy no girls allowed

On John Key’s “fetish”

We want to separate the world into group A: Those Terrible Freaks Who Abuse People and group B: Normal People Who Don’t Do Bad Things. We categorise some crimes as “not that big a deal” when the person doing it can be slotted into group B; we categorise people as group A when their offending is unquestionably over the line.

And so we end up making armchair diagnoses of John Key’s sexual predilections and even accusing him of horrific acts of sexual violence rather than owning the truth. Men sexually harass women all the time. Customers objectify wait staff all the time. Sexism is all around us. It is not the province of “freaks” and “deviants” and “those kinds of people”.

The myth of language policing

The thing is, these incidents are always presented in isolation. One guy gets criticised because he used “chicks” to refer to “women” and suddenly the accusations are flying: you’re overreacting! You’re taking this too seriously! It’s just one word!

Why #Ponytailgate is serious business

Sadly, I expect this will be like so many stories of its kind: a one- or two-day wonder in the media, breathless headlines about “what the waitress said about the PM”, and then we’ll all move on.

It wasn’t a two-day story, but if recent news is anything to go by, it didn’t change much, which is a tremendous shame.

In defence of actually standing for something

The assumption is that the “I’m in between Labour and National” group are making an academic assessment of their place on the political spectrum and the comparative left-wing-ness and right-wing-ness of Labour and National. The conclusion is that there’s some policy-related “ground” in between the two parties which can be “claimed”.

But “in between Labour and National” isn’t a fixed point on a map. “Labour” and “National” aren’t even fixed points on a map.

A quick response to Rob Salmond

It’s a mug’s game to redefine anything short of the National Front or Socialist Aotearoa as “centrist” given the right circumstances, and declare victory. It’s easy to talk about “being relevant to more people” or “perception is reality” or being “data-driven”.

But the theory doesn’t work in practice. You know what the majority of New Zealanders were against back in 2011? Asset sales. How did Labour try to appeal to them in 2011? Campaign against asset sales. Result?

independence day white house explosion

So there we have it, folks. 2015 at Boots Theory.

A number of people are doing their predictions for the political stories of 2016. I’m going to be annoyingly vague and say that it’s going to be much the same as 2015, thematically, punctuated with utterly random explosions no one saw coming. A Michael Bay year, if you will: whatever happens, at turns predictable and entertaining.

NZ’s top quotes of 2015

Here we go again. Massey University is running a poll on the NZ Quote of the Year and the list of finalists is … well …

its raining men

Or as Holly Walker put it on Twitter:

At this point, if you are a gentleman tempted to jump straight to the comments section to explain that “the first quote was said by a woman!”, even though she herself was quoting a man, I invite you to consider whether that’s really the best contribution you can make to this conversation. And:

parks and rec go to the corner

It just seems a bit far-fetched that in 2015, there wasn’t a single good, inspirational, eloquent, zeitgeisty quote from a woman in New Zealand considered worthy of sitting alongside a reality TV star talking about someone else’s fart or Mike Hutcheson’s hilarious originality in comparing a selection of terrible flag designs to people with dwarfism.

It’s okay. I found some, with a little help from my Twitter friends.

Anyone who caught my top 5 politicians of the year post will not be surprised to find this at the top of my list:

“As the victim of sexual violence …”

As said by Metiria Turei, repeated and/or supported by Jan Logie, Poto Williams, Catherine Delahunty, Nanaia Mahuta, Marama Davidson, Clare Curran, and Megan Woods, objecting to the Prime Minister saying the Opposition were “supporting the rapists” – only to be told, effectively, to sit down, shut up and stop making such a fuss by the Worst Speaker Ever, David Carter.

The women of New Zealand are not inclined to sit down, shut up, and stop making a fuss.

It feels like a defining moment, when so many women, elected representatives, defy the old boys’ club’s rules to make the voices of survivors of sexual and family violence heard in our Parliament.

Also nominated by @mokai77.

It’s somewhat ironic that David Carter and John Key worked so hard to defend the abhorrent use of sexual violence for political gain, given this decisive statement from their government’s Minister of Police, Anne Tolley:

“These girls deserved better.”

Commenting on the systemic, absurd failures of the New Zealand Police in their investigation of the Roastbusters case.

Jessie Hume, a campaigner who organised a petition of over 100,000 signatures calling for a proper investigation, asked:

“How is it possible that these girls were failed by everyone responsible for their safety?”

It’s kind of a defining question for New Zealand and how we treat survivors of sexual violence.

Nominated by @PositiveStinker.

Another side of the sexual violence issue arose when it was announced Chris Brown was planning a tour of NZ. This caused understandable concern – but it was a bit of a double-edged sword.

“All this makes it seem like the people in charge of our country’s borders are taking a real stand against the well-known perpetrators of domestic violence. In reality, it seems they’re only taking a stand against the black ones.”

That was Kanoa Lloyd, writing for Newsworthy.

Louise Nicholas is a tireless campaigner for the cause of sexual violence survivors, and she was named an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit this year. She said:

“On 30th January 2004, the promise I made to everyone out there was that what happened to me will never happen to anyone else, and I will fight until my last breath. And to be recognised today is crazy. It is crazy, beautiful.”

Nominated by @FitKiwi.

And there are so many ways women fight for the exact same thing. After Tony Veitch got headlines for being a repugnant human being once again, Emily said:

“I hope, that one day I see my sons as young men – absolutely rejecting the culture that continues to run unabated around them. This culture that glorifies men who deserve no glory. This culture that provides redemption to men who have shown no remorse.”

Nominated by @johubris.

The personal is political, and Helen Kelly has spoken of her personal struggles with illness and a law change which could make a real difference for people like her – medicinal marijuana.

“I’m not promoting it as a curative, but as a pain relief it’s incredibly effective for me and it doesn’t make me feel sick, which morphine does.”

Shout-out to @philipsophy.

Women don’t just talk about “women’s issues”. We can also make powerful statements about international trade deals.

“If governments want to play by secret squirrel rules they can hardly accuse those who raise alarms based on best available information of scaremongering.”

Dr Jane Kelsey in the NZ Herald.

We can talk about our national identity.

“Our country has been built on love and pain and we have to be honest about both.”

Metiria Turei in the NZ Herald’s 12 Questions.

Nominated by @AndreAlessi.

We hold government to account by being some of the best political journalists in the country.

“Well, I do have the figures …”

Lisa Owen, skewering now-ex Minister of Corrections Sam Lotu-Iiga over Serco.

Nominated by @mrduttonpeabody, who also nominated the entire interview.

We are people who stand with our co-workers against bully employers. Bernie Ratu, one of the people locked out by her employer, Talley’s AFFCO, in Rangiuru and other sites across the country has become one of the many faces of the Jobs That Count campaign – fighting for basic good terms and conditions at work. But:

“We don’t sign these new contracts and they won’t offer us a job.”

This is what employment relations looks like in 2015 in New Zealand.

But why separate out “women’s issues” from “real politics” at all?

“Economic equality is not so far away from gender equality. Equity is not so far away from pay equity. The living wage – living with dignity – is not so far away from dying with dignity.”

Maryan Street, as quoted by me, at this year’s Labour Party annual conference.

No woman is an island, and no woman is just a woman.

We are artists.

We are jockeys (and also sometimes Australians, but given how much NZ slows down for the Melbourne Cup I’ll allow it.)

“… a lot of the owners wanted to kick me off. Everyone else can get stuffed [who] think women aren’t good enough.”

Nominated by @hamishmack.

And not all of us are called Mary.

(Tragically I could not find a link to the interview – if anyone has superior Google capabilities, let me know!)

There were many many more nominations, but I’m just one awesome blogger doing this in my spare time. Thank you to everyone who made a suggestion – and let’s hope that next year the women of New Zealand get a bit more of the recognition they seriously deserve.

If you have any more suggestions, leave them in the comments!

mad men applause

New Year’s resolutions

I’ve been through a phase in my life of hating New Year’s resolutions. So much of the narrative around them is about either self-denial (weightloss always a popular topic) or inevitably failing (this year will be the year I finally …).

There’s a lot of pressure on people to make them, and make drastic changes in their life in the process. That’s always difficult.

But a new year is also a good time to reflect on where we’ve been, how we got here, and what we want to focus on for the year ahead. So my New Year’s resolutions are:

  1. Eat more delicious food
  2. Keep my friends close
  3. Do some good in the world

And now I’ve written them down in public I’m going to have to keep them – so I suppose the scheme works! What do you want to achieve in 2015?