Women of #nzpol Twitter: on the incarceration of trans women in male prisons

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

beauty and the beast misandry

[Content note: transphobia, sexual assault, corrections]

It was reported on the weekend that a prisoner at the Serco-run prison in Wiri had been physically and sexually assaulted. But that wasn’t the whole story.

Unfortunately, the fact that the prisoner is a trans woman was initially missed from media reports – and the story then became about Serco, not all the other concerns about where trans women are incarcerated.

@cannibality posted a great set of tweets about the wider issues of incarceration – and why we shouldn’t just blame Serco – starting here (click the timestamp to see the whole thread):

I feel a bit sorry for Jacinda Ardern, who copped a lot of the frustration from people – because no other political party said boo about the story. But there are some good grounds for criticism in Labour’s past treatment of issues affecting trans people, and erasing the fact that this case involved a trans woman in a men’s prison – an issue which covers all correctional facilities in NZ – felt like opportunism to some tweeters.

Another great thread from @cannibality begins here:

It’s easy enough to say “oh well, realpolitik, the story is easier to sell when it’s about Serco being vile” or “let’s focus on one issue at a time” – if you’re not trans and this is thus a problem you get to treat as abstract.

We can think of more than one thing at a time. We can condemn Serco for their horrific mismanagement and criticise the government for pursuing a privatisation agenda and agree that it’s simply inhumane and demeaning to incarcerate trans women with cis men.

The thing we (cis people) shouldn’t do is think our options are to either remain silent or ignore the serious issues at hand in order to push a different agenda.

No Pride in Prisons are holding a rally against Serco’s actions and Corrections’ lack of transparency about its treatment of trans prisoners, this Saturday at noon in Auckland. Please go and support them.

Adrienne Truscott & Jim Jefferies & rape

I went to see the fantastic Adrienne Truscott’s Asking For It: A One-Lady Rape about Comedy last night. It’s incredibly funny, but also incredibly confronting on the subject of how our society treats rape (basically, there aren’t enough trigger warnings.)

She also has a very fair go at a number of male comedians who tell rape jokes, including Jim Jefferies, an Aussie who has this one, brilliant routine on the American gun control debate. (Content note: discusses gun violence, assault, suicide, NSFW language)

Unfortunately I saw this and thought “damn, this guy’s funny and insightful” and it took about half a minute into another of his routines to realise that the bulk of his comedy is boring old internet-atheist “people who believe in God are stupid, rape joke, fat people eat doughtnuts, rape joke” flavour comedy.

It’s a pity. Because the way he delivers the line “it’s an a-mend-ment” is gold.

Anyway, if you can get to Truscott’s show and are in a good mental space for some full-on shock-value feminist truth, I highly recommend it. It’s on until 9 May at Fringe Bar in Wellington – full details here.

It’s also the Wellington Rape Crisis annual appeal today – please give generously to keep their services running.

Support Wellington Rape Crisis this week

(Full disclosure: I’m a member of the WRC governance group on a voluntary and unpaid basis.)

This week is Wellington Rape Crisis’ annual appeal. Despite being an organisation which provides vital crisis and ongoing support services for survivors of sexual violence and their loved ones, most of the agency’s day-to-day running costs are paid for by public donations.

Government grants typically cover specific types of work or distinct projects, and have to be reapplied for regularly (usually annually). The administration involved in all those applications is a significant cost in of itself!

As well as support work, Rape Crisis is the lead agency in the Sexual Abuse Prevention Network, which runs courses in schools, bars, government departments and professional organisations about consent, healthy sexuality, and how to be aware of and step in to stop sexual violence.

If you’re out and about on the streets of Wellington this Thursday and Saturday, look out for WRC collectors, or right here and now you can make a donation to WRC online – details at their website.

Every donation makes a huge difference.

The NFL’s copyright notice: when brand protection goes way over the line

American football isn’t well-followed in New Zealand. The bulk of reporting on the Superbowl, for example, focuses almost entirely on the half-time show and the cost of the advertisements.

But as more and more Kiwis sit down to watch a bit of “that damned stop-start game where they have to keep huddling all the time” I wonder how many raise an eyebrow at the really, really strict copyright/trademark notice which plays before every game:


Even Americans I follow on Twitter were wondering about this yesterday – I mean, did the NFL really say that their copyright covers descriptions and accounts of the game? Were they going to file injunctions against the entirety of Twitter?

Turns out it’s one of those big scary legal plays which big scary companies make … which don’t really have a lot of teeth:

You can record the Super Bowl. … If you want to use clips for commentary or criticism or news reporting of some aspect of the game or the broadcast, that’s perfectly legal, too.

But the NFL has been using that disclaimer, or some form of it—basically miseducating America about copyright law—for years. Some years ago, one group actually complained about the broadcastof these falsehoods to the Federal Trade Commission, but didn’t get too far.

In fact, the NFL has overreached so far on this in the past that when copyright professor Wendy Seltzer posted a video clip of that very disclaimer in order to critique it, the NFL sent a takedown notice to remove the clip from YouTube.

If only the NFL put the same overbearing litigiousness into stamping out domestic violence and sexual assault amongst its star players …

Telling quote of the day

[Content note: rape, sexual assault, drug use]

From Family First head Bob McCoskrie, on an article about a chemistry exam containing a question about Rohypnol:

“There would be a red flag if it was glamourising or condoning it, but given it’s a technical question then education is actually key. Hopefully it will be a deterrent more than anything,” he said.

What McCoskrie – and literally everyone else interviewed for that article – ignores is that no one’s complaining about the question ~glamorising~ Rohypnol. The problem is that no one involved in the process of vetting this question seemed to have the slightest regard for students who may be survivors of sexual assault, and almost certainly have no idea that they’re going to be reminded of it when they sit down in the school hall at the end of term.

Scholarship-level exams are stressful enough without being asked to apply your technical knowledge to a clinical rundown of exactly why the drug someone slipped into your drink rendered you unable to stop them from assaulting you.

The telling bit about this quote is that Bob McCoskrie – who rails daily against good sexuality education, against giving children the actual facts about sex and consent and contraception – naturally has no problem with the potential distress of young people who’ve been sexually assaulted. As long as it “hopefully” scares young people off the entire idea of drinking, or sex itself, it’s all fine by him.

But teach kids that they should only have sex when they’ve decided they’re ready, and that it’s okay to demand your partner use a condom? It’s corrupting our youth and killing Western civilisation.

(And “education” is a red herring. It’s an end-of-year exam in Chemistry, not Health. That’s like saying all those pointless School Cert math questions about “If you bake 120 muffins and sell them for $3 each” are imparting valuable business principles.)

Hat-tip @Dovil.