Tagged: gender issues

Accuracy in reporting: monarchists obsessed with royal baby’s genitals

So Monarchy NZ has managed to convince the managers of various NZ landmarks to light their edifices in blue or pink “depending on the baby’s gender“.

Tiny problem, there.  Well, several tiny problems.

Sex isn’t gender.  There’s simply no guarantee that the configuration of the royal baby’s genitalia will match the behaviour or identity of the child when it’s old enough to express itself.

Of course, the baby is going to face even more massive pressure to conform to society’s opinions about these things, but forcing someone to live a lie so we don’t have to be bothered updating our backward ideas about gender isn’t really something we should be okay with.

Sex isn’t even sex.  There’s also no guarantee that the configuration of the royal baby’s genitalia will actually tell us if the baby is a boy or a girl.  Intersex conditions may be present in up to 1.9% of human births.

(Props to Jan Logie for noting this)

Aren’t there more important things to worry about?  I mean, if we must continue to treat the Duchess of Cambridge’s uterus as our own personal property, shouldn’t we be a little more focused on her health?  The health of her child?  If we must celebrate, can’t we just let off some fireworks in a variety of diverse and inclusive colours?

Because what this all boils down to is reducing an infant to the appearance of its genitalia.  That’s just a bit fucking creepy, isn’t it?

He just wants us to know that he feels

I don’t know how you feel,
And I can’t know how you feel.
But I want you to know
That I feel for you, oh
I want you to know that I feel.

And I feel so ashamed,
That your femininity’s been so maimed
By the cruelness
Of party politics, oh
I feel so ashamed

When the LECs sneered with contempt
“Don’t sing me your womanly lament!”
Because you said “It’s my turn”
But you still had to learn
That equality wasn’t their intent

And the cold rain fell
In that procedural hell
You could be a fluent polymath
But you just ain’t a sociopath
And the cold rain fell

But girl, don’t hang your head
Because misogyny’s widespread
It’s no terrible deed
To lack the balls to succeed
So girl, don’t hang your head

Just hush your blog chattering
Over a representative smattering
It’s a man’s game to play
You shouldn’t play anyway
Because a dragon’s hide is so unflattering

I don’t know how you feel,
And I can’t know how you feel.
But I want you to know
That I feel for you, oh
I want you to know that I feel.

Music & lyrics by Chris Trotter, 2013 remix edition

And a few more thoughts on quotas

There’s a few pieces of framing that came out around ManBanGate (yep, I went there) which tickled me, but my last post was getting waaaaaaaay too long.

Quotas are ~patronising~ to women

No, what’s patronising is having the old boys’ club keep on giving their mates the cushy jobs, and then trying to distract us with bullshit like this.

What’s patronising is continually not seeing women (and every other oppressed group) getting judged on their fucking merits and then being told that, essentially, the reason we’re not succeeding is because we’re not good enough to succeed.

I recall a glorious Twitter spat with a National supporter who insisted that National’s overwhelming numbers of male MPs had nothing to do with sexism, it was a pure meritocracy over there, and no, she didn’t feel less valued at all!  Which, if we assume all those statements are consistent with each other, leads to some rather interesting conclusions.

Why do you bring ~gender~ into this?

Gender’s already in this fucker of a system.  We can tell by the way THERE’S A FUCKING GENDER GAP.

It’s the equivalent of every argument which starts with Person A saying something fucking disgusting, Person B saying “hey, that’s fucking disgusting”, and everyone jumping on Person B for ~starting the fight~.  The fight’s already well under way.

Quotas let [even more subgrade than normal] subgrade minorities in over saintlike privileged people!

I refer to the swim team example I used earlier.  If your team is all white kids, and you want it to reflect the school better, and this means you pick a brown kid with a time of 2:57 over a white kid with a time of 2:56, you are not “lowering your standards”.  They both made the under-30-minute grade.  All you’re doing is countering fucking generations‘ worth of white kids getting automatically passed through because they’re white.

Women hate this, so it must be bad!

Yes.  A lot of women have been convinced through a really effective marketing strategy known as patriarchy that they are totally equal, that quotas or affirmative action mean they get “special treatment”, that feminism is their enemy.  Some individual women have even been really successful, so there can’t be anything standing in our way but our own silly ladybrains.

Guess what:  getting an oppressed group to buy into the means of their oppression is a really successful strategy for oppressors.  Apparently we on the Left have no problem buying this concept when it’s National selling “aspiration” to the working classes, but once girls are involved, well that’s just silly girl-talk.

More recommended reading on the topic

Diane Revoluta
Jan Logie

Deborah Russell
No Right Turn
Andrew Geddis

ManBan!

A great joke has been played on the mainstream media: they have bought, hook, line and sinker, into W****O**-type spin.  They have been exposed as a bunch of followers, desperate to land the next hilarious 140-character-one-liner, to prove their relevance … without really understanding just how much they’ve been played.

Here’s a few of the problems with the “man ban” narrative which anyone with half a fucking clue about the functioning of political parties and society in general might have cottoned on to.

We don’t have a meritocracy even if you ignore silly identity politics

A lot of people are having a fucking whinge because oh my goooooooooooood, if you only select womeeeeeeeeeeeeen then what about the meeeeeeeeeeeeen.  It should just be on merit!  Merit alone!

Here’s the problem – and again, this is if you completely ignore things like sexism (or insist despite the mountains of evidence that they don’t exist):

When there are five candidates running in your electorate – say, four party candidates from National, Labour, the Greens and ACT, and one independent – do you honestly believe that they are objectively the five best possible candidates for your electorate?

I’m certainly no National supporter.  I have significant issues with their policies, approaches, and general existence.  Even I cannot believe, however, that Aaron bloody Gilmore was the best National Party member to run for Christchurch East, nor that he was the 56th best National Party member overall.

There are many reasons people get to stand for parties, or even as independents, in our electorates.  There are many reasons people get placed on their party’s list.  You honestly want to sit there and say that ~the people get to decide~ when there’s bureaucracy, factionalism, and a shitload of money at stake?

And that’s ignoring the obvious disparities of gender, race and class between “who’s in Parliament” and “who’s in New Zealand”.  That’s ignoring the lifestyle constraints on MPs and other elected representatives – constraints which massively favour the privileged classes.

If you think “but merit” is an argument against gender-balancing strategies, you’re saying everything is already done on merit.  Trying taking that thought through to its logical conclusion.  Then look at yourself in the mirror and say “Wow, I’m a racist, misogynist piece of shit.”

There’s a difference between “making the grade” and “being the best”

Another illusion created by this argument is the idea that “the best” candidate should always win.  But that’s not really how it has to go.

Let’s assume there’s a basic standard for party candidates – a history of party involvement, good local knowledge,  basic electability (and see “not a fucking meritocracy” above for why this is more a wishlist than a reflection of the current situation in any party.)

If you have candidate A who’s lived in the area for ten years, owns the local fish’n’chip shop, has a great name for punning on and is pretty likeable, compared with candidate B who’s lived in the area for twelve years, runs a stall at the market selling organic salami, has a surname beginning with A and is pretty likeable … is the difference between victory and defeat going to be that significant?

Is it going to crush the hopes and dreams of your party to pick basically-electable Candidate A – who happens to be a woman, or a man of colour, or a person with a disability, or a woman of colour with a disability – over basically-electable Candidate B, who’s another white dude?

Sports metaphor:  in order to try out for swim team, you must complete [swimming task A] in under 3 minutes.  Kid 1 does it in 2:58.  Kid 2 does it in 2:53.  According to the “but merit!!!” arguers, you must choose Kid 2.  Even though Kid 1 might have a better attitude, or comes from a shitty home and needs the self esteem boost.

They both passed the mark.  Nothing wrong with taking other things into account after the fact.

(Of course, this raises a far broader, more complex issue of what constitutes “merit”.  In my books, ensuring a diverse range of viewpoints is about merit, because we know that more diverse groups make better decisions.  But that’s a whole book’s worth of discussion.)

Party conferences throw up ridiculous shit all the time

This is what got me.  Apparently for a few brief wonderful moments yesterday afternoon, TV3 had a story up on their website about the Labour Party introducing a Bill to change the law around candidate selection in every electorate.

I can see where the mistake comes from: when everyone’s squawking about something, you probably assume it’s serious.

But … it’s really not.

It’s a draft policy remit from a party committee which is going to the conference to be discussed and potentially included in the party’s rules, which would allow individual electorates to voluntarily request that only women be shortlisted if the party council agrees on a case-by-case basis.

fry

… fuck me, the fucking Amazons are storming the Bastille with fucking laser-cannons.  Hide your menfolk!

It’s not even a fucking quota, people

See above.

The painful/hilarious side of this is, of course, that the UK Conservatives are looking to introduce much the same process - but without the voluntary factor.  Yep, they’re going to mandate when winnable seats have to run women candidates.  But figuring this out would require Googling, paying attention to UK politics or following Andrew Geddis on Twitter.  Clearly, far to hard when you can just badger David Shearer into making stupid statements.

It is a gift! A gift of … Alasdair Thompson?

alasdair7Alasdair Thompson is back, like a nasty, self-centred rich white zombie, seeking brains.

And boy oh boy is he unable to let things go.

In 2011 he was the subject of an international media furore for saying that some women’s productivity and income is affected by difficult menstruation; a truth he was internationally pilloried for speaking about.

It was a Life Changing experience for him, about which he’s written a book due for publication in October 2013.

alasdair1alasdair5And as Toby Manhire in the Listener notes

In four of the five blog posts that he’s published in the site’s first four days, Thompson makes reference to the circumstances of his departure from his post at the EMA – in two of them, he talks explicitly about Mihingarangi Forbes and Campbell Live.

Let’s revisit that beautiful, beautiful furore, shall we?  Here’s Mihingarangi Forbes’ fucking amazing interview with Alasdair.  Seriously, a high point of modern NZ television journalism.  I will never not piss myself laughing when he complains about being under the weather due to a very early monthly meeting.

Here’s Rachel Morton’s unedited interview with Alasdair (sadly marred by microphone gremlins).

Here’s my posts on the subject.

And here in graphic form are his greatest hits (please do note:  all exact quotes from the video interviews linked above).
alasdair4alasdair2alasdair1alasdair10alasdair8 alasdair9

Make your own!

For ongoing lulz, he’s on Twitter too!

H/T: Toby Manhire

Infantilizing complex issues for pageviews – Rebecca Kamm feat. the Good Men Project

Another week, another unthreatening-yet-just-threatening-enough-to-stir-up-plenty-of-pageviews column about “ladies’ issues” (sexism doesn’t count if it’s ironic) from Rebecca Kamm in the Herald.

This week, that most troubling of questions, the issue which all other feminist work should be put aside so we can properly focus on it:  can men be feminists?

The comments … I can’t even, but Megapope on Twitter provided all the commentary necessary on that front.

Thing is, it’s just another Rebecca Kamm column.  Very little original content, lots of hip links to other sites (which, you know, I should probably be thankful for, given how the Armstrong types still like to pretend that they’re working only in print) …

And then she goes and quotes the founder of the “Good Men Project”.

Tom Matlack, founder of the The Good Men project, is also unconvinced [that men can be feminists]. But not because men don’t “get it”, or because – like Celie’s Revenge – he suspects falsity. He strays from the term because he’s experienced firsthand the furore it sparks:

“I am a feminist of the kind my mum was, and is,” he tells me via email: “She raised me in the 1970s with the idea that the Equal Rights Amendment to our constitution was just a crucial as the Civil Rights Act.”

Yet, “modern cyber feminists”, as Matlack puts it, “tell me, through heated and personal attacks, that I have no right to discuss gender because I don’t understand what it’s like to be a women who is oppressed.

Gee, Rebecca, sounds like Tom’s had a rough time!

Or maybe he’s received a lot of flack because he helped create a “project” which is so antifeminist that Hugo fucking Schwyzer resigned from it, saying “It was not ethically possible for me to remain silent while the site with which I am now best associated took an increasingly anti-feminist stance.”  (You can google the original post if you like, I ain’t linking to that creepfest.)

A project which delights in publishing pieces justifying rape if the rapist is enough of an OK dude or if it ~highlights~ the ~struggles~ of being a man in the modern world surrounded by slutty bitches.

Maybe Tom Matlack has no right to discuss gender because he’s a fucking misogynist pig.

But that conversation might be a liiiiiiiiiittle bit too radical for the readers of the Herald.

Parenting and politics just don’t mix!

This week, we’ve seen some really clear examples of how parenting and politics don’t mix.

Nanaia Mahuta, MP for Hauraki-Waikato, had to take her five-month-old baby into the debating chamber late on a Friday night because 8 of her Labour colleagues apparently had far more important things to attend and no one told Chris Hipkins that this government likes to ram things through under urgency right after the Budget.

And Holly Walker, list MP for the Greens, has received kindly, compassionate words of advice from a constituent who wanted to remind her silly ladybrain that it’s a terrible, terrible crime for her to be pregnant while elected.

Mahuta and Walker just don’t understand.  Politics and parenting doesn’t mix.  They’d be well advised to look to role models like the Prime Minister, who understood that because he chose to have a son who attends a prestigious private boys’ school and chose to become leader of our country, he needed to set priorities and remember he can’t just demand that politics accommodates his choice to have children.

Which is why he didn’t attend his son’s overseas baseball game when it clashed with the funeral of two New Zealand soldiers.

Wait, no, the other way round.

Now, the thing is that Key did get some blowback for that choice – but because it was seen as a matter of his priorities, and the fucked-up-ness thereof, not because John Key’s choice to be a father is inherently in conflict with his choice to run for office.

All Mahuta has asked is that we reconsider Parliamentary rules laid down in the dawn of time when the notion of a woman MP would have been mindblowing – much less a breastfeeding parent MP.  All Walker has asked is that we, um, accept the existence of her pregnancy, and presumably make the same allowances that all working pregnant people should receive, because (a) pregnant people deserve basic human rights and dignity and (b) pregnant people are just kinda ensuring the propagation of our species and the creation of future taxpayers who are going to support all your judgemental asses in retirement thanks to this government’s short-sighted bullshit suspending payments to the Cullen Fund.

Yet apparently this is completely inconceivable, despite the point (raised on Walker’s Facebook thread) that it’s meant to be the House of fucking Representatives.  And pregnant people and breastfeeding people and parenting people deserve some fucking representation too, and if they cannot be accommodated by the institution which governs all our lives, where the fuck will they be accommodated?

~

Addendum: I note with raised eyebrow the National Council of Women‘s tweet on the matter.  Read it how you willETA: apparently just a case of sloppy editing.  My raised eyebrow stands.

Gender and the census part 2

Others have posted on the 2013 Census gender issue.  Read them!

Atheist Pinko Sluts Monthly notes the actual, stated reason why “male” is listed above “female”: because people get too confused if “female” is listed first.  What does that tell you about entrenched social programming?

Ironbark notes the problems from a health perspective – the census gender options don’t actually provide compatible data!

Jan Logie MP wants to campaign for more options.  Given that the business case for the next census in 2018 is going to Cabinet in November this year, I’m thinking we may be in for the long haul.

Badtom on Twitter pretty much sums up the silliness of saying that gender diversity isn’t relevant:

We COULD offer non-binary sex options, but that isn’t relevant for most people. Now, question 17: do you have a fax machine?

Gender and the census

Question 25 of the 2013 New Zealand Census asks:

Are you:

  • male
  • female

Spot the problem.

In response to queries on the topic, the very-helpful 2013 Census Twitter account @2013Census has said:

We just ask that people mark the response that shows how they are living their lives

Which is nice, but (a) sex and gender aren’t the same thing and (b) “male” and “female” and “are you” seem pretty inflexible.

A Facebook campaign has kicked off (well, was kicked off in 2011 when the Census was meant to be on) calling on people to tick both boxes for “gender” in order to confound the results.  Unfortunately, it’s not going to work, per @2013Census:

If the question about sex isn’t answered, or there are multiple repsonses, a response is imputed based on other answers

I’ve now asked what happens if you currently “live your life” as a man, but have given birth to babies – and thus would tick male but not skip question 25?  Which ticky-box does the “imputation” favour?  The response is:

If they’re completing their forms online they won’t be able to. If on paper it will come up with an error when the form is processed

At which point I presume they start “imputing” things again.

Here’s the clincher: despite the good key message about “how you live your life”, the fact is that the 2011 Census Content Report, when outlining why the sex question (and yep, they say “sex”, not “gender”) was not changed from 2006, says:

Sex refers to the distinction between males and females based on the biological differences in sexual characteristics.

Which pretty much seems to boil down to “penis male, vagina female”.  Hence the whole “only females can have given birth” assumption.

As 3News (but not Patrick Gower, alas) has recently covered, collecting data in this way is pretty limiting.  It means we just don’t have an overall national picture of sex and gender diversity among New Zealanders as a whole.  Think about this:  all the trans women who tick “female” but have birthed “0″ children pull the fertility measurement down, while all the trans men who tick “male” but have had, say, triplets, aren’t included.

You instantly head to the comment box to say “but there aren’t that many trans men who’ve had triplets, QoT, so it doesn’t really hurt the data” but how the fuck would you KNOW?

While other government departments might collect this kind of information in their own ways, the issues are pretty obvious:  when Health collects information it’s only collecting it from people who are ill or injured; when Corrections does it it’s only collecting it from people who get into the criminal justice system.

Census needs to do a better job of collecting meaningful data about New Zealanders.  Unfortunately, double-ticking the sex box (yep, that sounds good and dirty) is only going to take up computer time.