Guest post: Phil Goff’s balls

Now up at The Standard and reproduced below for those who choose not to tread there.

Guts. Backbone. Chutzpah. Grit. Will. Vision. Courage.

The one thing all of these words have in common is that Phil Goff could quite easily have used them instead of “balls” when he said:

“It’s time to make a decision that will build a stronger future for New Zealand. We’ve got the balls to do that. John Key doesn’t.”

And I know that Phil knows that, because he’s quoted using at least two of them elsewhere in that story.

Normally you’d cue up a big ol’ Queen of Thorns rant complete with naughty cusswords and all-caps. But seriously? Phil, save us the trouble of firing up a whole two brain cells to figure out your subliminal messaging. We get it. You’re a Man’s Man and you speak like Common People and The Days Of That Nasty Bitch Helen Are Behind Us.

You’ve been listening to Chris Trotter and you wanted to make it very clear, to talkback land and those nasty white-anting progressives at the same time, that you’re A Safe Pair Of Manly Man Hands and Not A Pussy.

You’ve chosen to put yourself firmly, obviously, in the camp (ha) of Damien “gaggle of gays” O’Connor.

Or alternatively you’re a bit shit at figuring out the implications of your own words.

In either case, those of us clinging to a phantom hope of a Labour/Green/Mana-or-Maori coalition actually delivering good outcomes for women, non-whites, queers et al can surely, at this point, take it as read that your party gives not a shit for us if we’re in the way of taking power. (And somehow expects us to vote for you anyway.)

I mean, when Jordan Carter’s pre-emptively parroting the line on Twitter I think we can safely file this crap under “Labour election key message”.

Or I’m just vindictively destroying the Left from within. Again.


  1. Sonia

    The “balls” speech is tiresome and the “OMG it’s just a SAYING” whines even more so. If it really were just a saying I might feel differently, but without fail, the types of person I have heard use “balls” also demonstrate very dismissive attitudes towards women. It’s a marker of a lot more than just linguistic uncreativity.

    I tend towards “spine” or “guts” myself.

    • QoT

      I really like “spine” and “guts” as substitutes, because they’re still fun words to say – it’s the old George Carlin line about the seven words you can’t say on TV, where his explanation of “cocksucker” and “motherfucker” is that they’ve got such awesome hard consonants.

      • Sonia

        Now that I think about it, you’re quite right – “guts” has those hard sounds and that guttural ‘uh’, and I like the slightly drawn-out sneer of “spineless”.

        There are so many great words to choose from!

    • rainman

      Sonia, I use the term from time to time, as well as others that you might find difficult and gender-laden – and I’m not much fussed over language in general, more of a “sticks and stones” sort really (although I am irrationally prudish about certain words starting with b’s and c’s). However I can assure you I’m not in the least dismissive towards women (or any other gender, for that matter). In fact I’m utterly opposed to all forms of discrimination on the basis of factors such as gender, race, ability etc, or even cognitive ability.

      So you might wish to service your “without fail”-o-meter.

      • QoT

        Rainman, you remind me of the kind of people who agree with smacking kids and say “I never got smacked and it didn’t do me any harm”- completely ignoring the internal contradiction that maybe it did, since they’ve developed into an adult who is okay with physical violence against children.

        Of course you’re dismissive towards women. You refer to male genitals when praising a person’s chutzpah, with the clear implication that female genitals don’t bestow such virtue. Just because you don’t care to analyse the context of your words doesn’t mean you’re not contributing to institutional sexism.

        • rainman

          And yet, that is a view I explicitly don’t hold; I was rarely, if ever, smacked, and don’t support smacking either. I think you’re being a little hasty to pigeonhole me, ironically. Zeal can do that.

          Are you seriously asserting I’m dismissive towards women (“of course”. WTF?) because you assume I think female genitalia don’t carry a connotation of strength, on the basis that I sometimes refer to the very mixed blessings conveyed by testostrone as being “ballsy”? What happens if I say someone’s talking a load of balls? Or being a prick?

          You seem to waste your life hating on people like me simply because we’re different to you – despite the fact we’re more like allies. Perhaps if you’re want to fight injustice effectively you shouldn’t be so bigoted and judgemental.

        • QoT

          Rainman, you’re the one choosing to buy into sexist tropes by not taking a nanosecond to change the language you use.

          I will waste my life however I want to, and dudebro “it’s just a word, shut up” “y u so mad” “stop alienating your allies” crap like yours is going to do sweet fuck all to change it.

          Now fuck off, you’re boring me.

      • Sonia

        Coincidentally, the types of person I have heard use “I say a lot of sexist stuff (sorry: ‘difficult and gender-laden’) but you can’t complain about it because I’m ~against discrimination~” also demonstrate very dismissive attitudes towards women. It seems my “without fail”-o-meter is calibrated pretty accurately.

        • rainman

          [QoT: poor little rainman, so hard done by. I’m just determined to hate all men and he just wants to save me from myself, and anyway I’m a liar who just refuses to understand what a hero he is.]

    • QoT

      Oh no, one less mansplaining douchebag in my life. *looks at Standard comments* Ah well, plenty more fish in the sea.

      • One Anonymous Bloke

        And there you go dehumanising them. It’s so much easier to hate someone if you give them a label first. Can you see how it undermines your position?
        The Labour Party has devoted time and resources to develop rainbow and women’s policy – it’s all there on their website. A “phantom hope”?
        Go on, have the testicular fortitude to admit that you might have overstated your case a little.

        • QoT

          Bloke, relax. I was already completely scornful of rainman’s attitude, and I assure you that should he turn out to be a local community centre volunteer who breeds chihuahuas and reads Harry Potter to his kids every night, I will still be scornful of his attitudes and I will still think “mansplaining douchebag” is a really accurate term for him.

          Parties develop policies on all kinds of things. What I am looking at is what they choose to put front and centre in an election campaign, and the way they choose to present themselves.

          All I have “stated” is that “having balls” is a gendered term referring to men’s supposed superior courage, and that the choice of this says a lot about who Goff was targeting in this particular statement. I am truly baffled (maybe I shouldn’t be) that this is somehow a huge leap of logic.

          One considers that had one made a post about John Key using the word “bludgers” and its obvious connotations/appeal to a certain audience there wouldn’t have been half so much drama.

        • rainman

          [QoT: would you *believe* that rainman continued to leave comments after flouncing, including another “hope you find peace” jibe? It would flabberghast if it weren’t so very, very typical of the genus mansplainius pompousgitii.]

  2. One Anonymous Bloke

    Yes, I read what you’ve stated, and I disagree with your analysis. “Men’s supposed superior courage”. Citation please.
    You miss the point of the analogy; balls are only ever present in the male, and it is the implied reference to castration, not gender, that lends weight to the metaphor.

    What any woman of the left thinks is far more important than anything that witless bankster has to say.

    • QoT

      I’m sorry, you want a citation for the idea that our society treats men as brave, strong, leader-y, courageous, and women as weaker, less determined, more likely to run from a fight (unless their natural feminine nurturing instincts are provoked when a baby, or cute animal, is at risk)?

      Um … my citation is nearly every movie ever made, every news article about Helen Clark’s lack of children ever written, and I can definitely recommend the scholar opening your fucking eyes.

  3. One Anonymous Bloke

    [QoT: OAB goes offtopic, insists that since there are some examples of literature of women being brave that sexism doesn’t exist, and again resorts to the classic “NO U RONG” style of “debate”. His mansplaining is lost to posterity, but given his initial comment at The Standard declared that I was the real sexist because I irrationally hate all men’s balls, it is possibly not the greatest loss.]

  4. notafeminist

    I read all the comments, then I reread “I’m not in the least dismissive toward women” and burst out laughing.

    “I’m not in the least dismissive toward women”
    “Your loss. Have a nice life, hope you find peace and achieve what you want.”

    Not dismissive *at all*.

    • rainman

      [QoT: At this point, rainman’s capacity to keep breaking his promises is staggering. Don’t worry, he thinks my censorship is so terrible that this time, he promises, really dismissively, to go for good!]

  5. One Anonymous Bloke

    [QoT: OAB chose to call me a liar and deny his own words while challenging me to “check them myself”, so here they are:
    “Yes, because as we all know balls are dirty disgusting things and we should be offended by the filthy idea of them ewwww! If the only objection to the use of the word is that it is reminiscent of male anatomy, then I call that misandry.”
    This correspondence is now … boring.]