First things first: lump of coal to Stuff for publishing an article with an alarmist headline based on shitty research into abortion and mental health, which I’ve blogged about before. (A tinier lump of coal labelled “old news, much?” will be delivered in five months’ time.)
But today’s post is not about that shitty research. It’s about the comments of Dame Linda Holloway, chair of the Abortion Supervisory Committee, and apparently no fucking ally to pregnant people.
Dame Linda Holloway, the chairwoman of the committee, said any move towards liberalisation would be a “difficult political argument and from a pro choice position it doesn’t really matter”.
Doesn’t really matter? It doesn’t really matter than pregnant people are treated like they’re incapable of making their own decisions, that they have to get permission like they’re schoolchildren on a field trip, that they may not have accessible services in their own area and have to travel, sometimes overnight, to get a very safe and very normal medical procedure done?
I don’t know how Dame Linda Holloway defines “a pro choice position” but it’s not one I’d sign up to.
“The chance of changing the abortion laws in New Zealand at this time are sub-zero. At the moment we have assured successive ministers of justice that we can operate under the law as it is.
It’s so fantastic that these two sentences are right next to each other. Gee, do you think maybe the lack of political will to change our archaic, condescending abortions laws might have anything to do with those “assurances”? Think you might be playing the smallest part in ensuring that pregnant New Zealanders are
“If we start opening the whole thing up to do new legislation my concern is that we might end up with something that is worse than what we have got. The chances of that are quite high.”
I guess I have to give this much: Dame Linda Holloway, as chair of the ASC, is under constant attack from the likes of Right to
Control Your Life. So maybe this has given her the impression that the antichoice feeling in New Zealand is overwhelming.
I talk about abortion a lot, and my perspective is that while a lot of people think it’s icky and don’t want to talk about it, as soon as you say “did you know that abortion is still a crime in New Zealand?” much less “did you know pregnant people are still regularly travelling to Australia to get abortions?” they’re very much on board with updating our laws. Sometimes you literally have to argue with people who insist we have abortion-on-demand – and articles like this one don’t really fucking help, so another lump of coal to Stuff for propagating bullshit myths which oppress pregnant people. But once the facts are explained? The majority of people still don’t really want to think about it, but they are, at a basic level, prochoice.
Holloway said she would prefer to “soldier on”.
“If I thought we could get a perfect world I would be all for it.”
Bully for you, person-who-doesn’t-have-to-raise-money-to-fly-to-Australia-for-an-abortion. Perfection or nothing, that’s a fantastic way to approach things. The staggering irony is that the antichoice movement, especially in the US but also here, have demonstrated the terrible effectiveness of not demanding perfection or nothing. They (or at least, the moderately-douchey ones) don’t say “illegalise abortion, nothing else will do”. They start with “oh, parents should be notified, you’d want to know if it was your child!” and “maybe you should have to wait a week to properly consider things” and “oh you really should have to have an ultrasound beforehand so you really understand what you’re doing.”
We probably can’t get free universally-accessible holistic-care abortions-for-all in one go. But we can at least start by taking abortion out of the Crimes Act and removing the need to get Mummy and Daddy to sign your permission slip.
At the very fucking least, let’s stop making it easier for antichoicers to lie about the situation in NZ, could we?
So, after all the kerfuffle over yesterday’s post, Daniel Farrell came back to his keyboard to try to retcon his fail a little bit more. At this point, I have to ask if this whole thing is a marvellous piece of performance art from the Auckland Uni Law Revue performers. It would make sense for Auckland students to make their sockpuppet a Waikato dude.
I mean, it’s really hard to believe that right here in our own backyard is a dude who takes a faceful of criticism for whinging about “modern feminism” and thinks he’ll calm the storm by saying “I am not against feminism as it should be”. He thinks it’s going to help, somehow, to say anyone who criticised him is “childish” and “irrational” and then, after making a post in which he specifically attacked a woman for having sex he didn’t approve of, whinge about personal attacks.
Even his “apology” is troll-perfect:
I would also like to apologise to those who were offended by my comments as they were portrayed.
Daniel Farrell, basically, is a walking illustration of male privilege. He’s never learned not to shoot his mouth off on a topic he clearly knows nothing about – because his opinions are valid and people have to hear them! He firmly believes that people must spend more than 10 seconds on his page before commenting on his posts, because HE deserves their attention. Of course he gets to cast aspersions on other people’s sex lives, especially women who do bad things – but don’t you dare fucking call him a bad name, that’s getting personal! And childish!
And why shouldn’t he express his opinions about feminism, what about his freedom of speech?
This is not a person who’s ever had the weight of society telling him he’s a lesser creature who shouldn’t cause a fuss. That’s why he can’t comprehend feminism, or feminist criticism, as anything other than an attack on his very penis.
All I can say is take it away, good folks of Twitter.
It all started while I was at work, and had to limit myself to eye-rolling: Daniel Farrell, one of the Directors of the Waikato Students Union, decided to let us all know that he disagrees with “modern feminism”.
It might pay to clarify at this early stage that Daniel’s definition of “modern feminism” is, um, unique.
But you can’t beat this for logical thinking:
1. A music video is released which a lot of people find rape-y and gross. (full disclosure: I have chosen not to watch said video.)
2. Law students from Auckland University create a gender-flipped version of said video to highlight its misogyny and rapeyness.
3. Flipped version is taken down from YouTube, original is left up.
4. People complain about this.
ERGO: feminists are hypocrites because they complain about objectifying women but are totally okay with objectifying men.
You cannot fucking argue with the man’s logic. You cannot. Because it doesn’t exist.
I don’t believe in siccing people’s employers or future employers on to them because of things they’ve posted online. But you’ve got to ask if Waikato University is going to be happy with this dude’s critical thinking abilities being
blamed ascribed to their teaching.
… and that’s all I originally wanted to say, when I’d first seen Daniel’s blog post, because, well. The rest of it was just laughable, wasn’t it? I mean, we’re talking about someone presuming to pass judgement on feminism who literally sums up the founding ideas of feminism as “initially a movement to stop the “hey, wench, cook me some eggs” of the day. That’s noble enough.” NOBLE ENOUGH. I’m fucking dying here. I cannot breathe.
But then, by the time I sat down to write this response, Daniel had – thanks to a heaping of smackdown from Twitter – posted a clarification. See, he’d written the post in a rush, he’d expressed himself poorly, he just wanted to make it clear that:
There are a lot of people who call themselves feminists who are doing the right thing. They are good people who are simply trying to ensure gender equality. I hope that this is the majority of “feminists”, and I am not referring to them in any way and to any members of that group that thought I was referring to them, I apologise, as that was not my intention. I am referring to one specific type of “feminist” – the militant feminist who goes around saying all males are misogynists simply because they have a penis rather than a vagina. The feminist who goes around saying people who don’t agree with them 100% support things like rape. They are harming the good work that people under the feminist movement do. So when reading this, don’t read it with the pretense that I’m trying to say women are evil or anything silly like that.
Oh, yay! Despite earlier statements, Daniel doesn’t hate good feminists, he just hates bad feminists, the kind who “say all males are misogynists simply because they have a penis”. Sadly, he was unable to link to evidence of the existence of any such feminists, and that makes me sad, because I enjoy seeing mythical creatures. But he’s totally down with feminists “who are doing the right thing”, and shit, ladies, if Daniel Farrell thinks we’re doing the right thing we must be on to something.
The specific little bit about “the feminist who goes around saying people who don’t agree with them 100% support things like rape”? I suspect that’s connected to this tweet, where no, Daniel, nobody said “disagreeing with me means you support rape”. But someone did ask why it was more important for you to completely misrepresent anti-rape-culture activism than to actually confront rape culture.
To give Daniel full credit, though, anyone who questions his mighty opinion is silly. Or irrational. Or childish. Anyway, where are his cookies? He totally didn’t-actually-delete the section where he has a go at sex-shaming feminists who have sex with people (who just coincidentally are not him) in parks. What a sensitive fucking hero.
Final pedantic notes: Daniel has no idea how sex and gender work; and making a throwaway Once Were Warriors reference (LOL BUT IT’S HISTORICAL BECAUSE HE SAID WENCHES, LOL) basically proves any point anyone ever wants to make about his lack of basic empathy.
ETA: Of course, since drafting THIS post and scheduling it, things got better.
Stay tuned! Find episode 2 here!
In a previous post I questioned recent research which was widely reported as “proving” that there’s no positive mental health benefit associated with abortion – thus basically “disproving” the idea that abortions are being legitimately permitted on mental health grounds in NZ.
Via some helpful pixies, I was able to obtain a copy of the full article, and … yeah. No surprises here.
The fact is, it’s a literature review, which revisits the results of previous studies which had pretty inconclusive results regarding the abortion-mental health link, usually because:
- they didn’t distinguish between unwanted and unintended pregnancy
- they didn’t compare people granted abortion against people denied abortion (it’s a lot easier to come to terms with things when you have no other option)
- some of the studies were carried out by people with explicitly antichoice views
So … yeah, pretty much what we already knew.
Here’s the rub, though:
It may also be suggested that the studies reviewed contain multiple problems research design, analysis and interpretation that prevent any clear conclusions from being drawn. In comparison to the ideal of testing the mental benefits of abortion using a randomized controlled trial, it is clear that existing observational studies provide only limited and potentially flawed evidence on the mental health consequences of abortion. However, this observation does not impugn the validity of the conclusion that: at the present time there is no credible scientific evidence demonstrating that abortion has mental health benefits.
So sure, you might say that some/many/all of the studies we looked at were flawed/biased/unscientific, but that doesn’t change the fact that there are no studies which prove the opposite.
Oh, except that:
In addition, it could be suggested that the comparisons made in the study between those having abortion and those having unwanted or unintended pregnancy do not provide an appropriate test of the mental health effects of abortion. A better comparison would be between those having abortion and those refused abortion.
In addressing the research question, we have taken the approach used by the majority of the reviews of the mental health consequences of abortion (Bradshaw and Slade, 2003; Charles et al., 2008; American Psychological Association, 2008; National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, 2011) by comparing those having abortion with those coming to term with unwanted or unintended pregnancy. Further, to our knowledge, the only study that has compared those having abortion with those refused abortion is the re-analysis of Gilchrist et al. (1995), conducted by the AMRC review.
This re-analysis found that, for a number of outcomes (psychotic illness, non-psychotic illness, self harm), those refused abortion fared worse than those provided with abortion, with this difference being statistically significant (p<0.01) for psychotic illness. This evidence suggests the possibility that further studies making such comparisons could demonstrate positive benefits for abortion.
However, at the present time the evidence is far too limited to conclude that abortion reduces any mental health risks of unwanted or unintended pregnancy.
[Emphasis and paragraph breaks mine.]
Sure, you might raise the totally valid point that unplanned =/= unwanted and this might muddy the results, but fuck you, that’s what everyone else does. And anyway, there’s a small amount of research which does actually suggest that if we compared apples with apples we’d get different [more accurate] results than when comparing apples and tractors, but fuck you, because there’s not much of that so go away.
A NEW ZEALAND professor whose work has been used by pro-life groups to contend that abortion holds no mental health benefits for pregnant women has said that his research is too limited to make any definitive conclusions.
… are you fucking kidding me.
Look, apparently Dr David Fergusson considers himself prochoice. Which is great. And no one wants to be the big scary feminist meany-head who scares off the gentle, placid, well-meaning allies.
But what the fuck is with a supposedly pro-choice researcher putting out research which is too limited to make any definitive conclusions when anyone with half a fucking ounce of awareness would understand exactly how said limited research will be twisted to fuck with the lives of pregnant people?
Is there some kind of “papers published” quota researchers have to meet? With no other important KPIs like “papers must be actual good research” or anything?
Why the fuck didn’t I go into academia?
Another issue with the original research: here’s the five “mental health outcomes” measured, which were then equated with a general picture of “mental health”:
anxiety, depression, alcohol misuse, illicit drug use/
misuse, and suicidal behaviour.
… all of which are pretty complex things. I mean, are we really going to equate a once–pregnant person who smokes the occasional joint among friends with a once-pregnant person who starts huffing paint thinner to get through the day? Is post-partum depression – common even in pregnant people who are happy and enthusiastic about having a baby – being included and thus compared with other types of depression which might exist regardless of birth status? Do we ignore the fact that suicidality might be affected by the gigantic social pressure on new parents not to “abandon” their infants?
Sure, some of these questions may merely highlight my own lack of clinical psychological training, but come on. Even the dude who wrote the damn article thinks it doesn’t pass muster.
H/T Alison McCulloch and the magic pixies.
So, the Nonsensical Sentencing Trust wants to set up an anonymous website criticising the decisions of NZ judges, because any guilty verdict handed down to a poor brown person which doesn’t result in hanging is obviously too lenient.
Naturally, this has caused some consternation among the legal fraternity.
But don’t worry, folks, because the SST has now made it clear: they do not support vigilantism.
For the sake of your braincells, you may choose to append the famous Jedi maxim, “from a certain point of view” after that sentence.
Because this is the same SST whose leader went on the record to defend a rich white dude who chased down and stabbed to death a 15-year-old for the iniquitous crime of tagging a fence. What was it you said, Garth?
Emery had to “pay a price for what he did” but the 52-year-old was a “different type of offender”.
“I didn’t think he should have gone to jail,” said Mr McVicar.
“That young offender [Pihema] had been doing graffiti before and Emery had been becoming extremely frustrated with it.
But of course, let’s be sensible. Clearly, Bruce Emery, who saw two young men tagging his fence, took out a knife, and chased them 300m down a road to confront and kill one of them was not a vigilante.
You have to be wearing a mask to be a vigilante.
But let’s credit the SST with this: at least they’re straight-up, ethical types who never try to weasel out of previously-made statements which are now politically inconvenient.
“We have never supported or advocated vigilantism and we never will” said Ruth Money of Sensible Sentencing Trust this morning. “Garth McVicar has never said that, I have never said that, and no person speaking on behalf of Sensible Sentencing – as opposed to their own personal view – has ever said that” Ms Money said.
So John Tamihere has been allowed to re-enter the Labour Party, and got off to a cracking start with a truly original, ground-breaking jab at Paula Bennett’s weight.
I know the expected reaction from a horrid deconstructionist feminist like myself is horror, outrage, repugnance, a vow to never vote Labour ever again. But in all honesty? I feel a little bit sad for the insecure prick.
I mean, look at this quote, people:
“Look, I don’t have to get on with these people. I’m joining the Labour Party. I’m not joining the ‘Women’s Party’, I’m not joining the ‘Union Party’, I’m not joining the ‘Gay Party’, I’m joining the Labour Party.
“They’re going to have to get on with some people like us, people like me who reflect quite a large demographic on that side of the voter turnout.”
There is a man who honestly believes that any focus on women’s issues, on gay rights, and apparently on unionised workers is somehow “not getting on” with “people like [him]”. Who thinks that it’s bad that Labour might get a rep as a party which gives a hoot about progressive issues.
(The fact he thinks “the Union Party” is as bad a slur as “the Gay Party” is a little puzzling. Um, John, you do know how the Labour Party got started, right? The clue is in the name.)
John Tamihere is basically a stereotype of a pampered, privileged juvenile who thinks any conversation which isn’t about him is a waste of time. Any activism which doesn’t benefit him is unfair.
He also apparently hasn’t read the constitution of the party he just fought to re-enter, but I guess as long as Damien O’Connor and Su’a William Sio are allowed to stay he can’t be faulted for that.
But look at him. Look at how he’s all chest-puffed out about His Right To His Opinions … but completely dodges the question of whether he’s homophobic:
“That’s your view. I’m welcome to my views too.”
Yes, you are, John, but if you’re going to be campaigning for political office – and I personally doubt he’s gone to all this effort without aiming for a seat – it might be helpful for potential voters to know what your views are. Unless, you know, all this talk about the “quite large demographic” you apparently represent is actually bullshit, and you are actually aware that heterosexual urban Maaori dudes are quite capable of supporting gay marriage or paid parental leave without thinking it threatens their masculinity.
I mean, I get that you’re constantly fighting to show what a big alpha male you are, John, but plenty of other people are able to just get on with their lives and figure out that when we all work together towards common goals of equality and fairness, everyone benefits.
But it’s okay, John. I understand. You just weren’t getting enough attention any more so you grasped at whatever straws you thought would get you the opportunity to call someone “fat” in the newspaper.
The actual problem is that the Labour Party let you back in, and will probably do something completely fucking stupid like push out Carmel Sepuloni to give you a run at Waitakere.
In the end, though? I think giving a retrogade egoist like yourself oxygen can only do good things for the wider progressive/left movement. Roll on Greens/Mana 2017.
Related reading: Dim-Post: Sealing the dick vote
An Air NZ employee has been dismissed after trying to bully her way on to another airline’s property while cracking truly hilarious jokes about dumb brown people’s inability to speak English.
And apparently she doesn’t really understand why that was wrong:
Helen Watson, a flight services manager with 26 years experience, was dismissed in August last year after attempting to board an Emirates aircraft at Auckland International Airport without permission.
When approached a short while later by an Emirates representative who asked why she had attempted to go on the plane, Watson replied: ”Curiosity, do you know how to spell it?”
In her defence, Watson said she had been in a “playful mood” when she arrived at work and was embarrassed about her actions.
She said she hadn’t spoken sarcastically, but had offered to help with spelling because she thought English was the second language of the Emirates crew member. She did not deny making the comments about stoning.
The Stuff article notes that Watson has 26 years’ experience in the flight industry. I can only paraphrase Terry Pratchett on this one: “No, that was 26 years’ Not Found Out.”
This is racism, folks. Plain, simple, and obvious, but I would bet you any sum of money you care to name that Helen Watson would be incensed to be called racist. Why, I bet you she has friends who aren’t white, and they speak perfect English!
We’ve managed to make “racist” a thing which people know it’s terrible to be [called]. Unfortunately we’ve made it a more terrible thing than people’s actual racism.
Racism doesn’t have to involve physical violence, it doesn’t have to be explicit laws against your language or culture, it doesn’t have to be literally sitting at the back of the bus.
It can just be making one Emirates employee’s day that little bit worse by being one more smug white dipshit giving them crap.
And yes, Helen Watson, it means you’re racist.
Family First are trying to imply that adding polygamy and polyamory (not actually the same, Bob, trying Googling them with SafeSearch turned off) to the marriage equality debate is just some natural, logical progression of the issue – and not a slightly really kinda earthshatteringly obvious dogwhistle to the pearl-clutchers of the nation.
I just wish they’d had Stephen Franks’ guts.
But to entertain their dystopian-horror scenario for a moment? Why not? What does the state’s recognition of marriage, and its granting of various benefits to married people, have to do with either the number of people in the relationship or the junk in their respective trunks?
I’ve seen, and been part of, any number of non-traditional family setups. Three-parent households where two people are the bio-parents and one bio-parent and the non-bio-parent are in a relationship. Solo mums living in flats where one or more flatmates share in the “parenting” duties of feeding, cleaning, school pickups.
Even if we accept Family Fascist’s assertions that families are there purely to raise the next generation (a statement obviously disproved by the fact we don’t live in the Republic of Gilead) the fact is that Mum And Dad Plus Two is by no means the only option these days.
And if the state definition of “marriage” only exists because of some nebulous value assigned to certain expense-sharing emotional pair-bonds … well then it’s fucking stupid and why not give it to BFFs who love their cats so much they don’t even need to whack them with rulers for backchatting?
I’m a bit pissed off about this whole free-contraception-for-beneficiaries thing. And it’s not because of the policy.
It’s because of the number of people who should know better saying “Oh well, it doesn’t sound that bad.”
The number of people who claim to give a shit about reproductive freedom, but are quite happy to assume the worst of beneficiaries, who apparently just don’t know that sex leads to babies – babies they should not be having because look, while we all agree with social welfare and supporting families and stuff it shouldn’t just be handed out to sluts.
The number of people who want to shy away from the word “eugenics”, when this policy will pretty clearly affect certain groups of women – i.e. poor, brown, and with disabilities – disproportionately (albeit the “non-working” ones, because Labour bought into that fiction so NACT are hardly likely to let it go). Groups of women who dominant white western patriarchy have a slightly bad history of shitting all over in the reproductive department.
The number of people who would happily agree with concepts like “compulsory heterosexuality” – i.e. that we live in a system which makes heterosexuality the only viable option yet presents it as simply normal – but are now saying “oh, but the contraception is voluntary” – like anything is really voluntary when the entirety of the world in general, and the bureaucrat in front of you who controls whether your children eat this week specifically, is saying if you don’t do this you’ll just be proving you’re a stupid greedy hobag.
The number of people jumping on the bandwagon of “but what about the men involved? [remember, all sex is hetero, all pregnancies the result of PIV sex, and only cismen ejaculate/ciswomen gestate] Why aren’t we handing out vasectomies?” GUESS WHAT, THAT WOULDN’T BE OKAY EITHER. And I don’t know about you, but I think giving NACT another opening to push their perennial “let’s force women to name the father or no monies!” issue is not the most feminist idea I’ve heard all day.
The number of people who don’t get how obviously this is the top of a slippery, pre-ordained slope. It’s basic NACT governance: put together an extremist “advisory” group, act shocked at their extremist recommendations, implement policies which are watered-down versions of those recommendations, and once everyone – especially you so-called progressives – has gone “see, it’s not that bad, they’re reasonable people, actually I think this is quite a good idea” they get re-elected and really put on the thumbscrews.
I mean, y’all seem to fucking get it when it’s parental notification (i.e. a step towards full criminalization of abortion) or banning street prostitution (i.e. a step towards full recriminalization of sex work). But when it’s beneficiaries, somehow the Welfare Queen paranoia takes hold.
Here’s what plenty of people who should know better seem to be missing: This is not a socially liberal policy created in the interests of reproductive choice. This is about adding yet another signal to the pile that certain women should not have children.
It’s an absolute masterpiece: misogyny wrapped up in a vaguely feminist banner. That doesn’t mean you have to fall for it. It’s still sexist, classist, racist, and fucking contemptible.
This article was referred to me by my partner, who enjoys watching me pace around our house occasionally crying out “I MEAN, SERIOUSLY?”
Furious Devonport residents are threatening to occupy a naval base in a move usually used by Maori to draw attention to disputed land.
What’s wonderful about that opening line is the way it signals ever so subtly that “Devonport residents” and “Maori” are mutually-exclusive groups of people.
What’s simultaneously tragic and hilarious is how our media are taking this all very seriously. I mean, these people have occupied this land, sometimes for generations! They have a bond to it! And now the Crown, damn them, is just trampling all over their rights by conducting a commercial transaction over a piece of non-residential, no-longer-required-by-the-Navy, doesn’t-affect-access-to-any-beaches-but-might-mean-there-are-brown-people-on-them land.
Land which, just incidentally, the buyers originally owned/occupied.
But there’s no room for any analysis or questioning of this narrative, no room to acknowledge “oh hai, one of the reasons y’all have such mighty property values might have something to do with us fucking over the indigenous people of the area”. Nope, it’s all straight-faced “this is our land, why aren’t you consulting the community!” right up to the point of threatening to occupy the land.
Why people’s heads aren’t imploding from sheer irony is baffling to me. Why the same demographic of people [warning: generalisations inbound] who elect National MPs, who buy into rhetoric about how The RMA Just Stifles Development and We Need To Deregulate The Building Industry, now have the sheer gall to say “but they [read: brown people with ideas above their station] might just build a lot of infill housing and threaten our infrastructure, honest that’s my concern!” is a testament to the massive privilege they enjoy.
You’re not the righteous little guy standing up to the big mean [brown] Goliath, residents of Devonport. (I mean come on, it’s fucking Devonport.) You are the Goliaths. I can tell, you see, by the way your whinging about “community” and “consultation” and “access to the beaches” are getting taken seriously.
‘Cause let’s be honest, if you were Ngati Whatua and you wanted to cross some failed finance company CEO’s beachfront backyard to get to ancestral shellfish grounds to provide food to your marae as you’ve done for hundreds of years? You’d probably be shit out of luck. I’m guessing.