So Eve Ensler, most famous for writing The Vagina Monologues, wrote a thing, and I’m deliberately fudging the link and strongly advising you not to read it, especially as it deals with rape, surgery, and reducing a woman of colour to her vagina for the purposes of Ensler’s personal epiphany.
http://talkmag.in/ cms/columns/ book-talk/item/ 1564-the-congo-stigmata
Instead, I thoroughly endorse reading the Storify created by Mikki Kendall/karnythia which is a fantastic summary of something that’s a major problem in today’s white feminism: using women of colour for Special Teaching Moments.
[Content note: pregnancy, nonconsensual medical treatment]
Recap: an Italian woman in Britain had a mental health issue. She was pregnant. The state, for reasons so far unknown, performed a C-section on her without her consent and put her child in care. This is approximately every level of fucked up.
But now, because more details have become clear, it sounds like a lot of progressive people think it’s not as big a deal, because it was doctors who made the decision to perform the C-section which has now led to this woman’s child potentially being permanently adopted without her consent.
I have a question.
What the fuck are you even doing?
Even the most able-bodied in-full-health no-medical-issues-ever progressive should be able to comprehend that doctors are not gods, and are not infallible, and are certainly capable of making fucked up decisions for fucked up reasons.
Like Dr Joseph Lee who refused to prescribe contraception to a young woman because “his conscience” told him to lecture her about The Duties Of Women instead.
Like the numerous doctors who refuse to perform basic diagnosis on patients who are fat. (Degenerative spine condition?
Like the doctors who performed the Unfortunate Experiment on New Zealand women.
[EXTREME TRIGGER WARNING for abusive medical practice, genital mutilation] Or Dr Graeme Reeves who deliberately mutilated women’s genitals while performing surgery on them.
How about the amount of research which shows doctors are more likely to label people of colour as “non-compliant”? Or prison medical staff coercing incarcerated women to be sterilised?
This isn’t an argument that all doctors are evil and none are to be trusted. Just as pointing out the utterly shitty culture the NZ Police have towards victims of sexual violence, especially sexual violence committed by members of the NZ Police, isn’t an argument that all police officers are rapists.
But frankly, enough of them are that you should not feel comfortable just assuming that doctors – or police officers – are acting with integrity. Especially when the person on the receiving end of their treatment has the black marks of mental illness, migrant status, and gender against her.
The people of the Elsipogtog First Nation have, for weeks, been standing in the way of a petrochemical company’s wish to frack their land. In both senses of the term. Fracking will fuck up their water supply and endanger their treaty-guaranteed rights to live of their land. They’ve protested peacefully. This week, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police sent in camo’d snipers.
And the “mainstream” media didn’t give much of a fuck until persons unknown set fire to RCMP cars. Which just handily provided an excuse to start making arrests.
This is a story which is played out all the time. It’s a story about global capitalist interests running roughshod over people who have been systematically fucked over for generations and who aren’t expected to be able to resist. They do. And we should – at the very least, from the other side of the world, where it’s hard to “do” anything to actually help – know about it.
So Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson has officially recorded the names of our two main islands, Te Ika-a-Maui and Te Waipounamu, or North Island and South Island.
But there’s a problem.
Even in the Minister’s own media statement – so I can’t totally hate our media for reporting it this way – the decision is described thus:
Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson today announced the recorded English names of the two main islands of New Zealand, the North Island and South Island, will be formalised.
“I have also approved the Geographic Board recommendation to assign official alternative Maori names for the two islands, Te Ika-a-Māui (for the North Island) and Te Waipounamu (for the South Island).
Um, fuck you, Maurice, and fuck your racist colonial framing of this decision.
Sorry, jumping ahead of myself. Here’s what Land Information New Zealand has to say about the alternative naming proposal:
The Board is seeking the public’s views on whether or not to formalise the names ‘North Island’ and ‘Te Ika-a-Māui’, and ‘South Island’ and ‘Te Waipounamu’, for the two main islands of New Zealand.
This means that, if the proposals are agreed, the existing English names and the Māori names for the islands will be able to be used officially, either individually or together. This also means they can be referred to as the ‘North Island’ or ‘Te Ika-a-Māui’, or the ‘South Island’ or ‘Te Waipounamu’ – or both names can be used together.
Spot the difference?
This issue has widely been discussed as though “North Island” and “South Island” have always been official – which they haven’t - and that the Māori names are “alternatives”. With the clear implication that they’re just an afterthought, a backup, a sop to the bleeding-heart liberals who probably aren’t even Māori anyway.
Both names are equally official and formalised, and have become so through this decision. Both names carry the same weight. Exactly as it should be.
But it’s not surprising we can’t discuss this properly. Elsewhere on LINZ’s FAQ you find this:
Everyone already knows the North and South Island names – why not just leave them as they are and forget about Māori names?
There is no legislation that formally assigns the names to the islands. The Board has a function to collect and encourage the use of original Māori place names.It should also be noted that both the English and Māori names for these islands appeared on early maps up to the 1950s, following which – for reasons we are unable to ascertain – the Māori names were omitted. In fact Captain Cook only showed Māori names (with different spelling) on his charts of New Zealand.
Yes. For “reasons we are unable to ascertain” indeed.
Related reading: my previous post on the issue
This post was originally published at The Daily Blog on 5 July 2013.
It’s that time of year when whitey complains about the fact that New Zealand is home to a unique indigenous language, and the best efforts of past whiteys has failed to eliminate it, and now we actually dare to treat it like a valuable thing which should be promoted, all to mess with the minds of tiny white babies who will get confused if they’re told there’s more than one way to say “three”.
By which I mean to say, it’s Māori Language Week.
Linguist Nathan Albury has a column in the Dominion Post hoping that we’re going to get a proper Māori language strategy which keeps te reo alive. But that doesn’t let us individual Pākehā off the hook, people.
Here’s some suggestions from Te Taura Whiri i te reo Māori – the Māori Language Commission.
Learn the 100 Māori words every New Zealander should know (and when you’re done there’s 365 additional words and phrases)
Download some resources for your office like bilingual signs
… and whenever you hear people bagging the promotion of te reo, or whinging that their children shouldn’t have to learn some Foreign Devil Tongue, remind them, using as many cusswords as you like, that te reo is unique to New Zealand, that it makes New Zealand English unique, that language learning does awesome things to your brain, and that it’s no more useless a bit of knowledge than all that fucking trigonometry we were forced to do at school.
Tragically, Nickolodeon is no longer hosting the video of the te reo Spongebob Squarepants episode they did for 2009, but here’s an interview with the voice actor!
Yesterday, George Zimmerman was acquitted of the murder of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin. I want to highlight the tweets and posts of US activists of colour who have commented since the acquittal. This isn’t a time for white people to take the mic. Please listen to these people.
LeVar Burton has to teach his son how not to get killed by police.
Even in the aftermath, the narrative is that black people are dangerous and violent. It’s not outrageous to the people who experience it every day. It’s part of a constant policing of their behaviour. It’s terrorism.
Some additional information: In non-Stand Your Ground states, whites are 250 percent more likely to be found justified in killing a black person than a white person who kills another white person. The NAACP has a petition up for the Department of Justice to open a civil case against Zimmerman, and you can support the Trayvon Martin Foundation – which has raised 1/3 of the funds George fucking Zimmerman got.
And here’s a fucking good resource for white people who actually do want to learn.
But as @IdiAuslander says, this isn’t just a US thing. So here’s what I do want to add:
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this trial and how it “couldn’t” happen here. But it did. It did when Bruce Emery chased down Pihema Cameron and stabbed him to death over a tag on a fence. It did when you couldn’t move for people saying “oh well he was a vandal” and acting like Bruce Emery was justified in “being afraid” of the young man he pursued with a knife. When the conspiracy theory was that Pihema Cameron and his friend “lured” Emery into some kind of trap and forced him to start swinging a knife. When our ever-vocal “law and order” advocates excused Emery’s actions because getting graffiti off your fence is so frustrating.
This happened here, New Zealanders. And a white businessman served two years for killing a brown teenager. And we cannot let this shit happen.
(Note: NRT beat me to it. Damn him..)
Twitter was aflame over the weekend due to this article, detailing how pregnant, incarcerated, predominantly women of colour in California were coerced into being sterilised – for their own good, of course. To save them producing any more little brown burdens on the welfare system. Because they couldn’t be trusted to make their own reproductive decisions.
But amongst the completely understandable outrage, there was another reaction, from the women of colour who I follow: annoyance that white people got to once again clutch their pearls and decry how terrible racism is.
This is racist, of course, and for far deeper, scary, institutional reasons than just the basic facts – because of poverty, because of a judicial system geared against people of colour. That’s not the issue.
The issue is why white people like me get away with continually being surprised by this.
Let’s be fucking angry at this abuse. Let’s be frustrated at how long it’s taken to come to light. Let’s be utterly contemptuous of medical “professionals” who act like it’s no big thing to coerce vulnerable patients into making socially-acceptable medical decisions. Let’s be motivated into action.
But let’s not do that whole “OMG! How can this happen in this day and age?” thing.
Because that’s our privilege talking. Our existence as women-who-will-not-face-this-kind-of-pressure (yes, we’ll face plenty of other pressures, but if you’re a white, middle class, educated cis woman like me it’ll probably go in the complete opposite direction), women who do not deal with this kind of oppression as a fact of our daily lives.
We don’t really have the right to say “how can this happen in the 21st century?” because it’s never stopped for the people who experience it.
The few stories which make it into our awareness aren’t exceptions, except in the fact that they made it into our awareness at all.
Yes. That amazing life and liberty experienced by Mexican immigrants, documented or otherwise, who on crossing the border into the US are immediately welcomed with open arms, given all the rights and freedoms of white Americans, and not at all oppressed with racist, punitive legal systems and scary fucking vigilantes.
Or maybe they’re referring to Americans travelling south, and “life and liberty” is antichoice rhyming slang for tequila?
On a more serious note: gosh, it’s almost like NZ antichoicers have copied-and-pasted rhetoric from US antichoicers. That won’t end badly at all
unless you’re a healthcare worker.
In shocking news today, the crew of the smash hit Discovery Channel show Mythbusters were arrested in Polk County, Florida, after over 200 hours of graphic video footage was seized by the Sheriff’s office.
This footage is reported to show the team – who have previously passed themselves off as fun-loving larrikins promoting scientific knowledge to a broad audience by scientifically testing myths and urban legends – setting off a series of increasingly devastating explosions, with the estimated damage to property and pig carcasses totalling hundreds of thousands of dollars. In one video, they appear to test the effectiveness of store-bought ammunition against commuter aircraft.
The Sheriff’s department has also released provocative images of one team member constructing what appears to be a long-range assault cannon using a popular diet soda and candy.
A spokesman said, “We have a zero-tolerance approach to people using chemical reactions to learn more about the wonders of our physical universe. The Mythbusters’ interest in the rapid expansion of matter, sudden releases of chemical energy, and demonstrating the laws of physics using frozen chickens poses a clear and present threat to the citizens of Polk County.”
Except of course that’s not what happened. What happened was a sixteen-year-old high school student mixed some stuff together in a water bottle to see what would happen. As hundreds of thousands of sixteen-year-old high school students have done over the course of centuries – that is, those who didn’t tire of such childish things and graduate to making their own fireworks or pipe bombs, or throwing handfuls of potassium into the school pool.
(Best. Chemistry class. EVER.)
But this time, when there was a “pop” and the top came off the water bottle, Kiera Wilmot was expelled and arrested on felony weapons charges.
Kiera Wilmot just happens to be a young woman of colour, unlike 90% of the people you see on YouTube making things go “pop” in a similar fashion.
In a recent speech to Grey Power, Winston was back to his old tricks, threatening Grey Power that The Yellow Peril is coming for their superannuation cheques (I have merged a lot of the paragraphs together because it was waaaaaaay long):
You will hear the media scream about xenophobia because we mention China but China’s domestic policies have a huge effect on this country. Here is why.
When an immigrant from India or the UK comes to New Zealand, any application they might make for family reunification is treated identically.
But with China, for the most obvious reason, it is different. Say we get one immigrant from China. Say he comes with his wife and child. China has had a one child policy for decades. What does this mean?
It’s clear as daylight, isn’t it. If you’ve only got one child, and that child becomes an immigrant to New Zealand, he can bring his parents and his wife can bring her parents. So we get the wife, child and four parents all from one immigrant under the ‘centre of gravity’ policy.
People are telling me that they think it’s wrong, that it’s not fair, and it’s unfair to the New Zealand taxpayer and the remaining immigrant community. Even Chinese journalists and academics have referred to this as being wrong.
Fifty per cent of healthcare spending and resources in New Zealand are on people aged over 65 years. The waiting lists for elective surgery are getting longer and longer. So any artificial spike in the numbers affects everyone. The biggest hits are on New Zealand Superannuation.
On our figures, there are tens of thousands of immigrants who have acquired Superannuation this way. Instead of addressing these anomalies, there’s talk of raising the age and means testing.
The problem is who we are giving Superannuation to. A migrant only has to be resident for 10 years, and from age 65, they are entitled to full New Zealand Super without any prior requirement to work.
Of course, the media may also “scream xenophobia” because China’s one-child policy neither technically limits every family to a single child, nor practically, as China’s continued population growth might suggest.
The media may also “scream xenophobia” because it is kind of xenophobic to single out elderly Chinese migrants for exclusion from superannuation.
But as far as I can tell, the media hasn’t given a fuck about Winston yet again trying to stir up populist racism. So I just thought I’d put it out there in case his utterly obnoxious performance during the marriage equality debate wasn’t enough of a reminder that he’s a disingenuous shitheel who will say and do whatever it takes to get 5% of the population to vote him and a few of his peons back into Parliament.
What a pity he won’t be one of the panellists on The Vote’s upcoming debate on “Is New Zealand a racist country?” though. It would be the only thing which could make that utter farce any more of a must-not-watch.