Tagged: language

Make your own “Shearer Says”!

Ever wanted to talk like the esteemed leader of New Zealand’s biggest leftwing party?  Of course you haven’t.  But I’m going to show you the secrets of his success anyway, because I think you’ll be surprised just how completely flaccid you can make yourself sound with just a few tiny tweaks to normal, innocent English.

This week I’ve been in [ insert location].  The people there are [hard-working/real] New Zealanders with a great sense of [fairness/justice/community/family].  But they’re [having a hard time/losing their jobs/worried] because of [insert recent National policy implementation].

This isn’t [good/just/fair/helpful].  This is [bad/stressful/unjust/unconstructive].  Labour will stand by the people of [insert location] and help them through the tough times ahead.

National was elected on a promise to [insert promise here].  Instead they’ve [insert policy here].  This isn’t [the way forward/the right thing for New Zealand/what they promised].  As the Leader of the Labour Party, I will do something to fix this [optional:  and will shortly be announcing our policy in this area].

Labour knows that [jobs/children/the environment/the economy/the heartland/our communities] are important to New Zealanders.  Under National, [insert previous] is [suffering/in decline/living below the breadline/spiralling out of control/neglected] while they [insert policy implementation].  As Leader of the Labour Party I’m committed to fixing this [optional:  and will shortly be announcing our policy in this area].

Warm regards,
David Shearer
Leader of the Labour Party

For more staggering examples of punchy, convincing prose in action, I refer you to The Standard’s reprints of Shearer’s weekly e-newsletter, sure to be driving the voters to the polls in Election ’99.  Tune in tomorrow to learn about the John Key approach to revealing when you’ve been coached on what to say!

H/T for the inspiration: Rhinocrates

“Those people” are a “problem” – gosh the Nats love their revealing language

Finance Minister Bill English, quoted on Stuff today:

deputy Prime Minister Bill English says [legalising same-sex marriage] is ”not that important” and he ”thought the problem had been solved” with civil unions.

Yes, I know, he probably meant “the problem” as in “the problem with same-sex couple relationships not getting the same legal recognition as hetero couple relationships”.

But that just means that he’s less a clumsy speaker and more an outright liar.  Which is what you are if you peddle the bullshit argument that civil unions are just slightly different yet completely equal to marriages.

Forgive the tautology, but you know how I can tell that civil unions are different from marriage?  (Beyond the actual obvious legal differences, e.g. being unable to adopt children as a couple).

Because civil unions exist.

If there were truly no difference, if civil unions were equivalent in social meaning and weight and importance and cultural significance, they would just be marriages.

We have civil unions precisely because enough judgemental hetero douchebags decided that scary gay people were not worthy of having what they got to take for granted.

Maybe in some future utopia there could be two distinct states, marriage vs. civil union, where the decision of a couple to pick one or the other truly came down to nothing more than personal preference, influenced by largely irrelevant historical religious/cultural/political leanings or simply an aesthetic choice on the words uttered at the ceremony.

But we, here and now, live in a society where we’ve pretty much all grown up knowing that marriage was important, marriage proved your relationship was real or permanent, marriage was the inevitable outcome of a successful falling-in-love happily-ever-after story.

Thanks, Disney.

And despite feminism, despite queer rights, despite that awesome divorce rate across the West (which truly shows how “sacred” and “special” the institution of marriage is), the fact is that marriage and the societal assumptions about it are still very important.  Even when your partner is the same gender as you.

Back to Stuff.  English, along with Joyce, then trots out the classic “it’s not a priority / it’s not the most important issue.”

Which, if we had a press gallery worth something, would immediately lead to the follow-up question, “Is the Minister saying that his Government is incapable of tying its shoes and chewing gum at the same time?”

We don’t, but we have a good start when our media start noticing that John Key, who voted against civil unions, magically comes out in carefully-worded support of at least introducing marriage equality legislation just as soon as Barack Obama says it’s cool.

Anyway, enough aggro.  Louisa Wall’s bill has been drawn from the ballot.  Let’s get our marriage equality on, people!

List of known MP leanings on a first reading at least – Damian O’Connor is a no, surprise surprise

For lulz, read the Conservative Party’s release on the subject, which demonstrates the Conservatives’ deep respect for the sanctity of marriage by referring to married people as “stakeholders”

Check out the Legalise Love website for more!

You know you mean shit when you’re “those people”

And this time, “those people” are same-sex couples who want the right to adopt.

From the mouth of our glorious leader himself:

“But realistically it’s just not the biggest issue that we face. I know it’s important to those people, but they’re a very small group,” he said.

Because the rights of same-sex couples are only of interest to same-sex couples.  The rights of children to be raised by their parents, even if their parents are deviant non-heterosexuals, is only of interest to aforementioned deviant non-heterosexuals.

It’s not a human rights issue at all.  It’s not an issue with cross-party support at all.

So it’s not a priority.  And our Government is all about having clear priorities.

That’s why they’ve consistently abused urgency to pass a shitload of not-actually-urgent laws which, Mr Key, only affect a very small group of people.

Like the 90-day fire-at-will bill which, you’ll all recall, we were told was specifically only going to be used by a small number of employers who just need flexibility to test whether they can take on additional workers.

Or the Video Camera Surveillance Bill which, you’d have to hope, only applies to a very small group of Police investigations, and which was so urgent it had to be passed asap.  And then waited for nearly two weeks before it actually, you know, came into force.

Or the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Bill, which was certainly urgent, and certainly affected a lot of people, but which the government hadn’t actually finished writing the amendments yet.  But still had to be debated before anything else.

And let’s not forget how seriously National and ACT took the need to push through tax cuts for the top 10% of New Zealanders – tax cuts which have contributed to the fucked state of our government’s books now.  I’m sure those tax cuts were very important to “those people” too.

Idiot/Savant at No Right Turn, to whom I am indebted for his excellent backlog of useful posts, has more on our government’s use of urgency to pass whatever it has decided is currently A Thing Which Needs Passing.

So, if you’re rich?  If it gives a core group of National supporters, like employers, more power which they apparently don’t actually need to use because, um, shut up?  If it makes the government look Tough on Crime?

Fuck yeah, get that shit on the agenda.

If it’s just a piffling basic human rights issue which is supported by multiple parties across the House?  Fuck off, scum.  You’re just “those people”.  You’re a group John Key doesn’t even need to waste energy using inclusive language for.

Seriously, next time that fucker shows up at a gay pride event so he can get his smug little grin on with some drag queens to show how cosmopolitan and progressive he is, can someone PLEASE just pie him?

H/T to @ShakingStick 

Antichoicers literally have a playbook

Via ALRANZ, in turn via RH Reality Check.

One thing about being a feminist is that you’re often marginalized or ignored or basically told to shut up because “come on, it’s not like there’s a group of dudes meeting in a dark, smoke-filled room to specifically plan how they’re going to pay women less/dehumanize oppressed groups/ensure rape culture is promoted.”

Well, here you go, sunshines.  A document specifically advising antichoicers to say “mother” instead of “pregnant woman” (the irony of course being that many people who get abortions already have kids!) and “protect unborn children” instead of “ban abortion” and “abortionist” instead of “doctor” – while people who want to restrict your life entirely to the productive abilities of your uterus get to go around using their medical cred to give their arguments weight.

And let’s be clear here – I’ve always had something of a prochoice language playbook in my own head.  I don’t say “pro-life” because that obviously frames opponents as “anti-life” (though they usually just say “pro-baby killing”).  I say “anti-choice”.  But the difference to me is this:  calling a doctor an “abortionist” – when no doctor solely performs abortions – is dishonest framing designed to produce an emotional response.

Calling “pro-lifers” anti-choice is only “framing” in that it rejects their own.  They are opposed to choice.  They do not want pregnant people to be able to choose to have abortions. They are generally also opposed to the choice to use contraception, the choice to have sex outside of marriage, etc.  Their specific goal is enacting legislation to remove people’s choices.

So yeah, I think “anti-choice” fits rather nicely.  So nicely that in their own documents they advise not using the word “choice” at all.

There’s probably an antichoice argument that says “oh, but I do think doctors who perform abortions are so disgusting that it should be called out!”

But let’s look at that list.  That list isn’t about “we think term X is more accurate because …”  That list has a single purpose:  using emotionally-laden language to perpetuate the idea that abortion is icky, that doctors who perform abortions which may save people’s lives are evil, and above all that women are good for nothing but popping out babies.

The document that list comes from?  Is entitled “Defending the Pro-Life Position, and Framing the Issue by the Language We Use.”

Checkmate, anti-choicers.

Marriage equality and the “protecting existing religious freedoms” derail

Louisa Wall’s Private Member’s Bill on marriage equality is now out – huzzah!  Check out the link to NRT for the pdf.

However, before it came out, I was a little concerned about this statement, also reported at NRT, from David Cunliffe:

… Louisa Wall is arranging a Marriage Equality member’s bill which progresses human rights while protecting existing religious freedoms.

Emphasis my own.  NRT provided some legal smackdown of this [happily uneventuated] idea – whatever form it may have taken – but even though we now know we’re in the clear for the time being, I wanted to address this whole embarrassing derail on its own.

First up:  it’s a seriously embarrassing derailLike I’ve covered, marriage-as-recognised-by-the-state has sweet fuck all to do with religion, except in its origins.  Marriages don’t have to take place in a religious site.  Marriages don’t have to have the authorised representative of any particular sky-father or earth-mother present.  Marriage does not have to involve any acknowledgement of any supernatural, spiritual or non-legal ritual concepts whatsoever.

Marriage, as far as our Department of Internal Affairs is concerned, involves two people of different sexes, plus state-recognised celebrant, plus witnesses, plus paperwork, saying:

“I AB take you, CD, to be my legal wife/husband” or words to similar effect.

That’s basically it.

So when two angry internet atheists who devote half their free time to creating hilarious Flying Spaghetti Monster macros and filing injunctions against the teaching of creationism decide to get state recognition of their rutting, guess whose religious freedoms are imposed upon?  Oh right, no one’s.  Because no one is forced to officiate anyone’s marriage.  No church or temple is forced to let them make a booking.  No synagogue kitchen is forced to let their caterers prepare pig on a spit.

So what fucking difference is it going to make if those two atheists are both men, or both women, or both genderqueer?

Oh right, it’s not.

It’s the second thing:  giving bigots legislative excuses for their bigotry.

As Idiot/Savant has stated, you know what?  Marriage celebrants who hate The Gays will probably make it abundantly clear and thus not be put in any position where they are compelled to perform the marriage.  Just like how racist fuckheads who are currently marriage celebrants can currently turn away interracial couples – and even though said action might be entirely illegal because of that pesky Bill of Rights we have, I think we all know how easily that gets circumvented.  Maybe the celebrant is just “too busy”, or “they’re taking a break” or they happen to innocuously have a White Pride flag on the roof of their car.

The point is, we don’t have marriage legislation saying “You are allowed to turn away interracial couples if being a racist asshat is so important to you.”

And we shouldn’t have it when we grant marriage equality to people in non-binary-conforming relationships.

Because it has only two purposes:

1)  Make religious people – predominantly the vocal fundy Christian minority who like to put themselves centre-stage on every issue – feel like they’re super-important, the foundation of our society, far more influential than they have any right to be;

2)  Protect them from the consequences of their bigotry.  It’d be like appending “and also no one can call out your bullshit if you’re Paul Henry” to the right to freedom of speech.

If you want to be a kyriarchal douchebag, and that just isn’t so acceptable in our culture any more, and someone says “Wow, you won’t marry a same-sex couples?  What a douche” then you can take it like a fucking adult.  I mean, you’re the one with all the certainty, the one who knows that what you’re doing is good and correct and God’s work, right?  So what does it matter to you if people think you’re a dick?

Why, basically, do you need a bit of paper from the state – the state which clearly doesn’t give a toss about your views on what constitutes marriage and hasn’t for years – so you can wave it in people’s faces and say “SHUT UP, MY BIGOTRY IS OKAY, THE LAW SAYS SO!”

I mean, you’ve already got freedom of religion.  And some of us quite like how that gives us freedom from religion.  Which is why the state doesn’t limit marriage to only the people the Pope or whoever says are proper married.

Oh look, we’ve come full circle.

Now, we were discussing this on Twitter and the point was made by Lew that hey, if the Bill is 99% good we can probably handle the 1% bad, and would this kind of provision protecting religious bigots really have much effect on non-het marriages?  Like I said above, it’s not like non-het couples will have difficulty identifying the bigoted celebrants.

And I can kind of get behind that.  But my immediate concern – and maybe I’ve just been watching too much West Wing recently – is that religious fundies are not a group known for their ability to compromise.  I’m sure they’ll happily take a little favour, a little cushion to cover their asses while spreading the hate love of Jesus around the world, but please, David C, anyone else out there, let’s not pretend for a fucking second that these people are going to offer you any other kind of support, votes or otherwise, until the next time they want to wrangle another concession out of you.

It’s not actually anything to do with the social good of promoting freedom of religion, and it’s not actually anything to do with making our sloooooooow transformation into a truly openminded, progressive country any easier on the resistant throwbacks.  It’s about undermining progress at every step, leaving loopholes and back doors for them to slip more regressive, life-destroying crap into our cultural consciousness any chance they get.

Don’t give into their crap now – and like I’ve just explained above, it is crap – in the hopes they’ll give up anything they didn’t already know they were going to.


NB:  I am in full agreement with the ever-so-clever Amanda on using the phrase “marriage equality” instead of “gay marriage” and will be using such in future.


It is a truth universally acknowledged that a feminist in the company of non-feminists must be in want of yet another argument about the word “females”.

Because inevitably some jackass is going to make their smarmy justification of the pay gap, etc, even worse by saying something like “It’s not employers’ fault if females want to have babies” or some allegedly-there-to-produce-safer-communities wanker will encourage “females” to get back in the kitchen.

While one can always point to the fact that it’s fairly widely accepted these days that, at the very least, writers and speakers should be aware of the possible demeaning implications of using “female” as a noun …

I just like to point out that it makes you sound like a Ferengi.  And that’s not a good thing.

Besides, even the Ferengi eventually saw the error of their ways …

Way to cheapen some good statements on language and culture, Nation

Maybe I’m missing something here.  Maybe The Nation just deliberately whacks odd headlines on top of its post-show transcripts.  What puzzles me is how Tim Groser saying fairly good-sense things like:

Speaking today on TV3’s “The Nation”, Mr Groser stressed that it was a personal view but he believed we should be teaching Maori to every five year old.

”This is turning the usual Pakeha argument on its head, because what I think should happen is that you introduce very young children from New Zealand to the idea of biculturalism and more than one language, and then they will be able to learn other languages as their personal circumstances fit,’ HE SAID.

“There’s a whole lot of research to back this view up.

“This is not a conventional view of the Maori language issue, understand that.”

Mr Groser said learning another language gave people the ability to look at things from a different cultural perspective and pick up on this.”

Deserved a reductive, pandering headline like:

Learning Maori might make it easier to learn Mandarin

Because (a) NOT WHAT GROSER SAID.  Yes, there’s  a small line in there about learning additional languages later in life, but that’s because you have made biculturalism and multilingualism normal.

(b) THANKS FOR DUMBING THAT DOWN FOR US.  Because we can’t just expect that when a current government minister, albeit from a personal perspective, is talking about the benefits of independent foreign policy or the massive advantage we give people by getting them to think in different ways, plus a bonus doing-a-good-thing-for-Maori-culture-and-language, that people can see the value.

No no no, everything has to be boiled down to “IF WE APPEASE THE BROWN PEOPLE HERE WE CAN GET MORE CASH FROM THE YELLOW PEOPLE LATER.”  Even when that’s not what anyone said.

Thanks for clearing up how post-racial and not-needing-to-be-spoon-fed we are, Nation.

Naomi Madelin: totally *is* fucking kidding us

Well, she finally got back to us, and the only charitable conclusion I can come to is that Naomi Madelin is a seriously bad writer.

The less-charitable conclusion is that she churned out a shallow, nasty piece of “writing” perfectly suited to the Sunday Star-Times (hey, times must be tough for freelance writers), doesn’t understand how the internet works, and thinks she can backpedal out of this.

See, now she’s deigned to reply to anyone on Twitter (though not many of us), the story is that she was just offering a suggestion about how as a society we need to embrace compassion and empathy more.

It’s a lovely message, except for the fact it bears no correlation whatsoever to the piece of shit appearing under her name in print and online.

The most egregious line, about how women need to “give men a chance” by embracing our femininity – a line fairly read by many as saying that women acting unwomanly makes me violent – has blessedly been removed by Stuff, who for once have acted with a modicum of responsibility (though it didn’t stop them republishing the piece in the first place).

But let’s boil down the remainder of the piece for any message about how “women & men” should be more compassionate etc.

  1. Wikipedia says Kwii women aren’t feminine
  2. Women rate themselves as less feminine than men do, and this has absolutely nothing to do with a culture which tells women to judge themselves much more harshly than others
  3. A person selling feminine farmwear thinks women want to wear more feminine farmwear but are nervous of the reaction, and this has absolutely nothing to do with women in traditional male roles having to prove themselves twice as hard to get taken seriously
  4. A professional makeup artist thinks there’s more to femininity – like tolerance and sensitivity.  Madelin thinks these attributes, which she seems to accept as naturally feminine, give women “strength” – oops, no buying into the masculine-as-superior language there!
  5. ForbesWomen’s list includes women who are feminine, but Madelin doesn’t explain how she’s using the term there, they just are and I’m sure it has nothing to do with the pressure on celebrity women to look conventionally attractive as much as possible
  6. Women need to stop “giving the message’ that being male is better.  Yep, that one’s totally all on women.
  7. A guy once saw a woman logger who was very feminine.  This again has nothing to do with the demands on women in men’s roles, and Madelin again does not explain what she means by “femininity”.
  8. People feel uncomfortable with the notion of femininity, but shut up, suffragettes wore long dresses!!!  They didn’t drink beer like you filthy modern ladettes!

Sorry, Ms Madelin.  I’m just seeing a whole lot o’ judging-women-for-Doing-It-Wrong and very fucking little analysis of the causes of violence in our society, much less any kind of critique of masculinity which equally calls on men and women to put aside gender stereotypes and build society anew on a basis of equality and acceptance.

Because, you know, that would’ve been a good article to read.

Are you fucking kidding me Naomi Madelin

Unbelievable quote of the day:

Eighty-four per cent of people arrested for family violence are men. Half of all violent crime in New Zealand is family violence. The statistics go on. Perhaps the way to give men a chance is for women to appreciate their own femininity more.

The rationale being, apparently, that women trying to be more masculine are the ones “sending the message” that being manly is better … because violence is an inherent part of manliness (and remember, it’s us nasty unshaven feminists who hate men, right) and what the fuck am I even reading.

Oh, right.  I’m reading an SST article by a freelance writer who starts off acting outraged about something Wikipedia says (unfortunately, said quote cannot be verified by Google), then insists femininity isn’t just about wearing frocks, it’s about how we carry ourselves, and seriously seems to think that women choose to deny their inner need for frills in a complete absence of dominant culture which might, you know, treat men as the default, the norm, the aspirational.

I don’t know where to start, but I know where Naomi Madelin could’ve fucking started:  a basic Google search for some feminism 101 blogging on masculinity and the construction of gender, looking up the notion of high femme or the active and long-standing debate about traditional femininity and feminism, picking up the OED, or, I know, having a fucking clue about something before she churned out an erratic, incoherent attack-piece yet again laying the fault for all the world’s ills on stupid, silly women.

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.