Forever and ever, until the ozone layer disappears and the oceans evaporate and the mountains crumble into dust, the following shall be recorded in the history of New Zealand’s Parliament:
Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON (Minister for Building and Construction) : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have been fortunate in the last hour to have been in my office with the Miss Universe New Zealand contestants. They are in the gallery, and I think this House would like to acknowledge them being here today
Oh ho ho, how droll. But it gets puke-inciting when you see how the Speaker of the House, the dude charged with keeping order and seriousness and dignity among our elected representatives, responds:
I am not sure how that is a point of order, but either way it seems a very pleasant visitation for the House to have. I think I recognise the Wellington representative among them—a good surf lifesaver.
Naughty Maurice, says Lockwood. Stop playing up in class! Still, totes jealous, amirite?
Green MP Jan Logie, a frontrunner for an eternal place in my heart as a bolshy badass, decided that what was good for the sexist gander must be good for the goose:
I have been fortunate in the last hour to be in my office with the feminists of the year contestants. They are in the gallery, and I think this House would like the opportunity today to acknowledge them.
Lockwood was clearly in less of a good mood for this one:
Could I perhaps suggest to the House that, rather than see this practice continue indefinitely, where members do wish to acknowledge visitors in the gallery, perhaps the appropriate way to do it would be to seek the leave of the House. All members know they are not meant to refer to visitors in the gallery. …
Right, let’s break that one down: it was OK, nay funny, for one person to do it [when hot chicks were involved], but when two people have done it [and the hot chicks have left] suddenly it’s “going on indefinitely”.
And all members know that they shouldn’t do this, but Jan Logie, first-term MP who might be a little shaky on the procedural side of things, gets the scolding – and Maurice Williamson, in Parliament since
Adam and Eve 1987* gets no such reminder – instead the Speaker just expresses “confusion” as to “whether” Williamson’s blatant “look at me, I’m the manly man” showboating counts as a point of order (I’m guessing not, but I’m not the one in fancy robes here).
I want to be sympathetic to Lockwood, here. Obviously you don’t want this kind of thing getting out of hand. Maybe he’s even embarrassed that he acted like such a pathetic, desperate juvenile, making a sly little comment about “pleasant visitations”, and now someone – damn us stroppy feminists – has dared to call him on that shit.
It’s like being the teacher who doesn’t want to be constantly telling the kids off all the time. You let a little thing through – and in this case, it’s one of your own cohort doing the pranking and all the social narratives are lining up to say it’s cool – and then suddenly the classroom is rioting, and you know it’s kind of your fault, and you end up sending the smart kid who was rightfully pointing out your mistake to detention. While the original kid just gets to keep going through life saying “Yeah, I hung out with hot chicks and even Mr Smith totally said I was cool.”
But Lockwood isn’t a spring chicken either. He’s the Speaker of the House. He brought it into disrepute and he opened the door to Jan Logie’s counteraction by being a sexist wanker. Sad, man.
A sidenote: this isn’t about the inherent sexism of Miss Universe and it isn’t an attack on the contestants. The fact is, treating those contestants like pieces of meat to bolster Williamson’s ego, and Smith going along with it to prove he’s One Of The Blokes, is shitty, cheapening to our Parliament, and misogynist.
*People born nine years after he was first elected can vote next election. Just saying.