Women of #nzpol: still fighting rape culture in 2016

The women-of-#nzpol roundup is brought to you in the interests of amplifying women’s voices in the political debate and also because:

incredibles misandry

Well, 2016 is definitely not going to be the year we stop blaming young women for being sexually assaulted. The Herald kicked things off with this column – and yes, it’s by a woman, which doesn’t make it any less sexist – which says in part:

I have a huge concern for the way in which young women behave in relationship to alcohol. While I am one of the first to stand up and say that women have the right to be safe (and have in fact spent many years working in that area), with rights come responsibilities.

simpsons marge grinding teeth

The women of NZ Twitter were less that impressed.




(Click through for the whole series of tweets from @pikelet)

And a response from the amazing Emily:


Because this is one of those issues which so readily gets dismissed as “oversensitive women who can’t handle criticism”, a few words from the Men’s Auxiliary.


Important public message: a sense of entitlement isn’t love

There’s a hugely important message in this article from the Herald about people (most often men) who kill their partners (most often women).

“These are not crimes of love, these are crimes of ownership. It is relatively easy to understand the emotions of someone who loses a loved one because they just don’t want to be in a relationship, but there is no notion of love if the solution is then to kill her – that is totally selfish.”

Dr Robertson said the homicidal behaviour stemmed from a strong sense of entitlement and ownership, an “if I can’t have her, no one can,” mentality. “If you believe you are entitled to your partner’s undivided attention, if you believe you’re entitled to be the centre of their universe, at some point some of these guys, if their entitlements are threatened, are going to use violence to get what they want.”

Far too often these stories get framed as crimes of passion, where the headline isn’t “violent man kills ex” but “man kills ex after she takes his kids” or “man driven to murder after wife abandons him”.

This creates space in people’s heads for the idea that we should empathize with an abusive person – that they aren’t fully responsible for their actions because another person, who they think they’re entitled to control, has displeased them. It puts the violent person’s interests first and turns their victim into a faceless villain who brought their death on themselves.

It’s repugnant, and yet it’s well-entrenched in the ways we talk about relationships and violence in relationships. So it’s fantastic to see a news article which challenges that kind of thinking.

The Police Commissioner and the Streisand Effect

The Streisand Effect describes when someone’s attempt to cover up or censor something only leads to it getting more attention – the exact opposite result they intended.

Someone should tell Police Commissioner Mike Bush about it.

I tend to unplug from media on the weekends. So I’d missed Bryce Edwards’ column on the Herald website last week which did a fantastic job laying out why the public trust in our police has been rightfully shaken over the past few years – including the overturned convictions of David Bain, Teina Pora and (convicted at retrial) Mark Lundy, the Roastbusters case, and the perceived lack of teeth of the IPCA.

Thankfully, the Police Commissioner decided to submit a retort, which is so terribly overwrought and indignant that it prompted BLiP at The Standard to put together one of their legendary lists – in this case, police abuses and excuses since 2008.

There’s a really disingenuous tone to Bush’s response. Outraged statements like:

Does [Edwards] really think that a 100 per cent resolution rate for murder is just a “box-ticking” way for police to “prove themselves”?

I’d say it is something the public should rightly expect.

… completely ignore the actual point Edwards was making, which is that having a goal of a 100% resolution rate can lead, and has led, to such fantastic examples of policing as planting evidence to convict Arthur Allan Thomas (by an officer whom Bush himself praised for his integrity!) and bullying a confession out of Teina Pora.

Bush accuses Edwards of “need[ing] to get out from behind his desk” and “be[ing] one of the minority who just don’t like police”.

And he makes excuses like:

Space does not allow me to respond point-by-point to his assertions, nor am I in a position to re-litigate the historic cases.

… which handily allows him to not even mention very recent cases like the Roastbusters, while somehow finding the space to laud the Police’s “40-plus Facebook pages” and the number of “incoming social media contacts” they get every week.

The beautiful irony of it all is that Mike Bush waxes lyrical about needing the trust of the community, in what must be copy-pasted from a communications strategy document:

We can only achieve the best outcomes for communities – that they be safe and feel safe – if we have the consent of the public.

This is why our overall vision is to have the trust and confidence of all.

We must earn that trust every day, and be continually focused on achieving it.

Yet the first thing he does when someone raises important points which clearly impact the way the public views the Police is throw his toys from the cot, launch personal attacks against an academic who has backed up his criticism with plenty of evidence, and give the reading public absolutely no reason to trust that he actually understands the seriousness of the issues Edwards is talking about.

Mike Bush has only proven Edwards’ point. He refuses to acknowledge the serious problems in Police culture and training. He refuses to talk about how they will actually improve. The first instinct is to defend, defend, defend, and try to say that the critics are the villains.

And by quoting an anonymous young officer whose first instinct is also to complain about how hard and thankless his job is, he only illustrates that the cultural change we keep getting promised is a long way from happening.

If Mike Bush wants to see a great example of how a man at the top of a conservative institution can really rebuild public trust and show leadership in changing a toxic culture in his ranks, I highly recommend that he watch this video a few dozen times.


Measured, authoritative, careful not to pre-judge the case, but absolutely not taking any shit and giving a strong commitment to actually change. Not mouthing PR bullet points about “trust” and “vision”.

The standard you walk past is the standard you accept, Police Commissioner. Apparently you’re happy to walk past the re-victimisation of sexual assault survivors, the framing of innocent men, and the inappropriate use of force against civilian populations.

And you wonder why more and more people don’t trust you.

Groser’s bid for WTO role pure vanity – and involving the GCSB pure self-interest

Joint reporting by the NZ Herald and The Intercept has broken the news this morning that the GCSB was involved in spying on other candidates for the WTO director general role, which our esteemed Minister for Trade, Tim Groser, was campaigning hard for.

From The Intercept:

In the period leading up to the May 2013 appointment, the country’s electronic eavesdropping agency programmed an Internet spying system to intercept emails about a list of high-profile candidates from Brazil, Costa Rica, Ghana, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Mexico, and South Korea.

… when it had become clear that Groser was not going to make the final shortlist, New Zealand’s prime minister, John Key, expressed his disappointment. “At the end of the day it was always going to be a long shot – so he gave it his best go with the support of the government,” Key said.

What the public didn’t know was that this support had included deploying the GCSB to spy on communications about the competitors.

There are two questions many New Zealanders may be asking themselves this morning. The first is, “Well, what does the Director General of the WTO actually do?” You’d assume it would be something important and influential, given that we deployed our own intelligence agency to dig dirt on the other candidates.

Wikipedia summarises the role thus:

Because World Trade Organizations’ decisions are made by member states (through either a Ministerial Conference or through the General Council), the Director-General has little power over matters of policy – the role is primarily advisory and managerial.

Not so heavy on the “influential”, then.

The second question is, “Why exactly was Tim Groser considered such a good candidate for the role that our government not only deployed our spies on his behalf, but allowed him to spend a quarter of a million dollars on travel to lobby for it?”

To your average New Zealander who doesn’t closely follow international trade, Tim Groser is best known as “that Cabinet Minister who spends an unbelievable amount of our money on hotel minibars.”

In 2010, he was in the news for a $466 minibar bill in Copenhagen – defended as “squarely within the rules” – and $1500 dinners in Peru. In 2012, he budgeted $44,000 for a two-day trip to Paris, and in 2014 splashed out on endangered Chilean sea bass in Singapore.

The biggest achievement noted on his Wikipedia page is announcing New Zealand’s withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol.

So we have a Minister best known for his credit card bill having literally every resource of the state thrown at getting him a junket job with no actual influence, to the extent of accessing the NSA’s mass surveillance network to find out what anyone, anywhere in the world is saying about him and his competitors.

XKEYSCORE this: Tim Groser is an embarrassment and the GCSB’s lack of oversight is astounding.

The dogwhistling of the Treaty

Gareth Morgan has a four-part series in the Herald this month in a thinly-veiled ad campaign for his new book, Are we there yet? The future of the Treaty of Waitangi.

And there’s dogwhistle one: the smarmy comparison of Treaty grievances and settlements to a long car ride which we just want to be over, already.

This week’s effort seeks to establish Gareth Morgan, an economist, as an expert in the history of the Treaty, following on from his opining on the health system, the welfare system, and the inherent evilness of cat ownership.

That’s one thing about our society: we tend to assume that someone who’s been around for a while and made a bunch of cash is automatically credible, even in areas they have no background in. It’s the same thing that happens when we assume people from the business world (and woodwork teachers) are better governors of our nation than silly academics and unionists.

We also tend to assume that expertise, especially in an academic field, is a bit of a charade, and anyone can pick up enough of the intricacies of indigenous rights, case law, and restorative processes to form an informed opinion on them. It’s the same way everyone on Twitter suddenly becomes an expert in the Geneva Conventions when a report on CIA torture comes out.

There are a lot of downsides to these attitudes – most of which come under the heading of “not making personal/electoral/policy decisions based on proper information”. Another is that we accord people like Gareth Morgan the mantle of authority on issues just because he’s a rich old white dude.

(Yes, all four of those identifiers are necessary, because they all contribute.)

And that means he gets to write a book, and four columns in one of our major newspapers, which promote misinformation and racist stereotypes about Māori and the Treaty.

Morgan seems to be genuine in his concern. But despite referring to the “catastrophic effects” which Treaty breaches have wrought on our society, and seeming to praise the “fluidity” of current Treaty negotiations, the main takeaways from his column are:

  1. No one really knows what the Treaty means, so whenever people talk about “Treaty principles” they mean “stuff made up after the fact”
  2. The English and te reo Māori versions of the Treaty are different so no one can agree on which should take precedence (my understanding is that indigenous language versions of treaties do)
  3. Some Māori just want too much (“Even in its modern “elastic” form it cannot be credibly stretched to legitimise all Maori aspirations.”)
  4. The Crown has sovereignty now so stop arguing about it
  5. I, Gareth Morgan, am the best person to tell you how to achieve rangatiratanga and you’re currently doing it wrong

It’s possible I’m being too cynical. Maybe Gareth Morgan will surprise me with his subsequent columns on “the limits of the Treaty process” and “one country, two peoples”.

But what I come back to is this: I don’t think the Treaty discussion needs another white guy giving us his reckons. (It probably doesn’t need an uninformed white woman like me giving her reckons either.) I don’t think it informs the debate, and I don’t think the priorities of people like Gareth Morgan are particularly relevant to resolving, as he puts it, the catastrophic effects of Pākehā colonisation of New Zealand.

Also, he hates cats.