Boots Theory top 5 posts for January

The year is off to a rollicking start if my most popular posts are anything to go by!

The first two are a combo deal:

Building a mass movement

Class is an identity. Identity is inextricable from class. The working class in New Zealand isn’t just a row of white dudes in cloth caps any more. It’s Pasifika women cleaning office buildings on the graveyard shift and Maori men and women in the meatworks and young people on zero-hour contracts at fast-food restaurants.

We have to treat them – and everyone else – as people. People with lives and families and interests and needs. Not just “workers” whose existence begins and ends at the shop door.

I’ll drop identity politics when you present a solution

I’m happy to talk about possible solutions, new strategies, different ways of doing things. I blog about Big Serious Sexy Material Politics all the time. But I don’t see new ideas coming from the complainers. I see a bunch of people in privileged positions whining that less-privileged people would like us to stop trampling them underfoot while we pursue The Great Leftwing Project.

The worst sexism ever

As I get older and theoretically wiser, and see the same “well-intentioned” calls to sit down and stop making a fuss made over and over, I stop believing that this isn’t malicious. It’s too easy to make women shut up about everything this way – because nothing is as bad as The Sum Total Of Patriarchy. And The Sum Total of Patriarchy is so massive and pervasive that there’s no practical way to attack it directly. So what option do we have but to sit down and stop making a fuss?

Women of #nzpol: still fighting rape culture in 2016

An old point but one that apparently has to be remade : when you suggest that women’s clothes play a role in rape, you encourage rapists.

The enduring myths of fat and weight loss

The problem is, any diet, meaning a specific change to the way someone eats or exercises with the goal of inducing weight loss, is a crash diet. Any plan designed to make people lose weight is 95% likely to be step one (or three, or five) of a yo-yo diet. Because diets do not work. They cannot work, because they all rely on the assumption that being thinner is healthier than being fatter, and thus that doing whatever it takes to become thinner must be a healthy activity.

I also blogged about money and poverty, Killer Mike and Bernie Sanders, and the problem with online comments.

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.

Boots Theory’s top 5 posts for December

It’s always a quiet month with the Christmas break and all, but you know us Gen Ys, attached to the internet at the hip. No surprises, December was pretty round-up/stocktake-of-the-year in focus.

NZ’s top quotes of 2015

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.

My top 5 politicians of the year

Picked entirely on the basis of merit. Honest.

The flag and democracy

If we change flags now, we probably won’t have another chance in my lifetime. If we keep the current flag, for now, there’s an opportunity for a different government to run a proper discussion about our identity as a nation – not one orchestrated by a Prime Minister desperate for ~a legacy~ in cahoots with a panel stacked with stuffy old white men, ~business gurus~ and reality TV producers.

Cranium’s Christmas sign: why is mainstream Kiwi culture so unfunny?

I just don’t get it. What do people like Phillip Garratt think they’ll achieve by pretending that they weren’t making the only joke they could possibly have been making? The same kind of joke (obnoxious, unoriginal) people have been making since the moment they heard the name “Caitlyn Jenner”?

Women of #nzpol: on the #nzflag challenger

That blue Lockwood. Sigh.

I think that’s a “no” from the admittedly selective group of women on my #nzpol list, then.

My top 5 politicians of the year

Duncan Garner announced his pick for the top 5 politicians of the year yesterday, and one thing really stood out.

family guy no girls allowed

That’s right, all of them, without exception, are from the North Island. I mean, you can quibble that Bill English is technically a Southland boy, he lives in Karori, people.

sebastian roche and

Oh. And they’re all men.

Duncan had a pretty straight-up explanation for that.

And he’s right. We shouldn’t let box-ticking or tokenism or silly quotas get between us and the stone cold political assessments. So here, based entirely on objective factors like talent, media profile, principled action and political impact, and certainly not biased by any inherent preferment or societal narratives of what success looks like, are my top 5 politicians of the year.

5. Metiria Turei

You may not see it, but you have to assume she’s had her work cut out for her getting the Greens from Male Co-leader A to Male Co-leader B this year. And where other parties can’t so much as blink without cries of internal disunity and caucus ructions, the Greens have just got on and got the job done.

4. Jacinda Ardern

A strangely polarising figure in the Labour Party, half see her as the Second Coming and half despise her, not despite but because she has tremendous public profile in so-called “soft” media. Yet “soft” media is one of the keys (pardon the pun) to the PM’s success – as much as we pols nerds may rail against the perfidy of accepting interview requests from Radio Sport and ignoring Morning Report’s calls, it works. Unfortunately most NZers don’t get their news from Morning Report.

It sounds cynical if you assume that “soft” media is the be-all and end-all of politics these days. But Labour can be a both/and party, and that means doing Checkpoint and 7 Days.

3. Annette King

Just so you’ll forgive me for #4, Labour’s deputy leader has spent all year embarrassing Jonathan Coleman with inconvenient facts about his failure to properly resource our health system. If you took a drink every time he whined “no you’re wrong and Labour was worse” you’d have spent most of 2015 very happily inebriated.

2. Judith Collins

Boo, hiss, et cetera. But even though I totally called this, pretty much the day she resigned in utter disgrace, it’s impressive how delicately, yet determinedly, she’s rebuilding her profile and her credibility. We’re talking about a Minister of the Crown who threw senior public servants under the bus when members of her party were caught rorting the taxpayer, who brazenly coordinated attack bloggers and gossip mavens to do her bidding, and who was plagued with story after sordid story of the shady use of ministerial trips to help her husband’s business … and now she’s back with a weekly newspaper column and regularly going head-to-head with the deputy leader of the Labour Party on the telly.

Next stop: an inevitable return to Cabinet, and after that, a thunderous (but probably/hopefully unsuccessful) charge at the National leadership.

1. Mojo Mathers, Jan Logie, Clare Curran, Poto Williams, Denise Roche, Louisa Wall, Nanaia Mahuta, Catherine Delahunty, Marama Davidson, Jenny Salesa, Eugenie Sage, and Julie-Anne Genter

For making the voices of survivors of sexual violence heard in our House of Parliament and staging a beautiful collective act of resistance when they were shut down, making international headlines in the process. Doing the right thing and winning the media battle at the same time: that’s good politics.

Boots Theory’s top 5 posts for November

I was never going to surpass last month’s efforts unless Tony Veitch decided to keep being a pig on Facebook, but a few posts still tickled your collective fancies for November.

tickle kitten

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!

Women of #nzpol Twitter: on John Key, David Carter and using rape for political gain

If you’re even peripherally aware of what goes on in NZ politics you will have heard about what went down in Question Time yesterday. Harried and useless on the issue of New Zealanders being detained on Christmas Island by the Australian government, our honourable Prime Minister decided to scream across the House that Labour was “supporting rapists”.

Labour, identity, class and winning

I’m sick and tired of the cynicism which says “women and minorities, go away, no one wants to hear you whining.” I’m sick and tired of the lack of ambition from so many leftwingers who say we can’t do more than one thing at a time, and we can’t care about anyone who isn’t like us.

The despair of “obesity battlers”

We’re constantly reminded to associate physical size with health, and health with moral virtue. We’re meant to believe that weightloss is just this easy and that the only reason 95% of diets don’t work is because of personal failure and weakness.

But when we step away from the framing of “obesity” as a modern-day Nothing and remember we’re talking about people who happen to be fat, the whole facade starts to crumble.

Flag referendum 1

Yes, a low turnout could say that we the people reject the process – or it could, and probably will, be spun as “we’re all pretty relaxed about the process.” High numbers of informal/spoiled votes could say that many of us think the process is corrupt – or it could, and probably will, be spun as “those weirdos on the Left who hate democracy” or “see, we told you preferential voting systems just confuse people, let’s try to resurrect FPP again!”