Mr Goff has admitted he got it wrong when he pressured Prime Minister John Key to reveal details of a police investigation into a former National MP.
Mr Goff says he has a better understanding now of how these things work and regrets pressuring Mr Key at the time to discuss aspects of the police complaint.
I cede the floor to Mr McEnroe.
So let’s get this straight:
One of the only issues in this term where Goff has been able to largely control the story, stand up for a progressive principle in the face of horrific misogyny and victim-blaming and conspiracy-theory-spinning. The scalp of a Minister and an eternal “so why was he fired, Mr Open Smile and Transparent Wave?”
… was all a fucking mistake because a former Minister of Justice, whose deputy is a former Minister of Police, didn’t know how sensitive-political-ramifications investigations went?
Let’s consider something far less Pythonesque.
Phil Goff doesn’t actually believe in the right of women not to be sexually harassed and doesn’t really think New Zealanders have the right to know why a Minister of the Crown was bundled out of a job. Phil Goff sat on his fucking hands over whatever allegations have been levelled at Darren Hughes and hoped it would all go away and has no one in his staff who thought “maybe this could fucking backfire on us a tiny bit”.
And now that it has, now that those principled statements have been revealed as waffle, the only possible way to make this not about hypocrisy and cover-ups and double standards is to tell the public Phil Goff has no fucking idea what he’s doing.
That is their idea of “positive” spin.
We are just so fucked.
Two articles of vague interest to the Dr Worth story:
Honest John plays strong hand, or How I learned to stop worrying and love my lack of journalistic integrity, by Richard Long. Two tiny wee points:
For Mr Goff, this saga was a publicity godsend. A real live sex scandal so early in the term.
There seems to be some serious mileage being made out of the idea that it is totally plausible that a politician honouring a person’s confidentiality and taking things to the PM privately is just a cunning tactic to make the PM look even worse.
Perhaps in these fragile economic times, tinfoil stocks are looking surprisingly healthy?
And seriously, Richard, like many other rightwing trolls, it appears you haven’t been informed that Helen Clark isn’t even in the country any more:
We can all recall occasions when Opposition leaders have had to demean themselves to make the news bulletins… Miss Clark, at the margin of error level in the opinion polls, once leaped from a river bank on to inflated rubber tubes and was pictured at impact, legs splayed. Thank goodness she was wearing a wetsuit.
It’s Ms, and it’s a bit rich for a journalist to be complaining about the media’s choice of photograph, and the total obliviousness to just how much it says about Richard Long’s attitude to women that he has to find a sexually-implying phrase to describe her position is at once staggering and hilarious. Yes, Richard, we get it, if she hadn’t been wearing a wetsuit one might have seen her naughty bits and you’re a proper red-blooded man who shies from such things and anyway she’s ugly, amirite?
Actress in stalker crossbow attack horror: *Callousness Alert* Tonight, Simon, I’m going to be playing every idiot troll commenter of the last week:
The man had been sending Casanovas love letters and confronted her after her performance in Night of the Iguana.
WHY DIDN’T SHE JUST TELL HIM TO STOP? GEEZ. HE OBVIOUSLY WOULDN’T HAVE KEPT SENDING HER LETTERS UNLESS HE HAD SOME ENCOURAGEMENT, GOD.
He attacked her after she told him she wanted nothing to do with him.
And no, obvious commenters, no I am not saying Richard Worth is a potentially violent stalker. And no, I’m not equating text messages with a physical attack. And no, “normal harmless guy” and “violent stalker” are, tragically, not mutually-exclusive always-identifiable-in-advance only-options-available. Not that you care, yes?
Over at The Standard, the “how should Worth’s alleged victim(s) have reacted?” debate continues with everyone’s favourite psychic, Cactus Kate.
The case as given by CK and others is that if a woman doesn’t* instantly and firmly react to all and any inappropriate behaviour with a strident “YOU CAN’T AFFORD ME, SWEETHEART, BACK OFF”** well then she has no one to blame but herself.
They then go on to say that, therefore, that all people like me who defend Witness A and attack Worth’s alleged behaviour are the real misogynists, because we think women are passive victims who can’t stand up for themselves.
Which is fantastically logical for people living in a world where sexual harassment goes along the following lines:
- Strange man approaches woman
- Strange man says “Hey, I’d like to hire you, maybe in return you could suck my cock?”
- Woman “stands up for herself”.
- Strange man immediately ceases all inappropriate behaviour.
Unfortunately, human interaction only ever goes like that in the movies and the inside of Cactus Kate’s head. But then, she also thinks people having coffee with a Minister of the Crown to discuss potential job opportunities should take a friend in case things turn nasty, and that victims of sexual harassment are suspect if they keep records – just like the Human Rights Commission advises them to.
I’d like everyone to please consider this: you’re at a cafe in Sylvia Park.*** Over at another table you see a well-dressed older man having coffee with a woman. You may even recognise this man as a former partner at Simpson Grierson Law, or as the Member of Parliament for Epsom, or as the Associate Minister for Justice.
Suddenly, the woman bolts to her feet and declaims, “HOW DARE YOU OFFER ME EMPLOYMENT IN THIS CRUMMY CAFE, SIR! DO NOT CONTACT ME AGAIN!” and storms out.
Now, how many of you are going to think, “What a fracking weirdo!” and how many of you are seriously going to think “You go girl, stand up for yourself to that pillar of the community offering you employment in a public space!”
Because that’s how it starts. A working lunch. A celebratory drink after work on a Friday. An email asking how your weekend went. And here’s the deal, folks. If you’re going to argue, “Oh no, she didn’t need to rebuff him then, I meant later on when things got inappropriate” you fail. There is no clear line between “professional meeting with utterly no sexual intentions whatsoever no sirree” and “oh, now I’m sexually harassing you.” If we’re going to accept Cactus Kate’s theorem that women should Stand Up For Themselves, it’s got to be right from the get-go.
It’s got to mean shooting down every man who wants to get you a coffee after you’ve done him a favour. It’s got to mean even bluntly refusing to do a coworker or superior a favour in the first place. It means never letting a guy be nice to you, never letting a guy buy you flowers on your birthday or after a big project winds up or when a close relative dies, because if you won’t say fuck no get away from me I have no sexual interest in you whatsoever at the slightest provocation, well, how is he meant to get the message?
Because after that first step – which to you is just coffee or flowers or a pat on the back – your lack of strident strong-independent-woman smackdown is giving him the wrong impression.
But hey, when you can’t get hired because you’ve developed a reputation as an insane overreacting bitch who can’t take a compliment without thinking it’s a come-on**** and you’re still getting dirty texts from your ex-boss because entitled harassing fucks will keep stalking you no matter how often you say no, be comforted with the fact that you stood up for yourself and you’ve made Cactus Kate proud.
*As she assumes Witness A didn’t.
**Which doesn’t feed into notions of women as commodities at all.
***Even though this makes you automatically trash.
****And because I know there are people itching to derail this, no. I do not think such reputations are good or deserved. I just also acknowledge the reality of society’s reactions to anything a woman does – blame her.
First things first, though, the XIIIth Down Under Feminists’ Carnival is up at SAHM Feminist. Awesome work, Azlemed!
Now, I must admit, I was probably asking for it when I agreed with Cactus Kate on something. But I could hardly have expected the Universe to respond with the best most mindboggling piece of victim-blaming I’ve seen in a while.
I don’t think the e-mails were actually illegal. Also, I would expect that this woman would have sent a fairly clear and direct response back to Worth when the first e-mail was received. Is there any indication that this actually happened? Otherwise there could be the suggestion that the woman was leading him on for the purpose making some political capital out of it.
Afterall, the behaviour, although disgusting, is not technically illegal, especially if Worth had reason to believe she was a willing party.
We need some sexual-harassment bingo boards, STAT!
First bold: “If the victim didn’t behave in exactly the manner I suggest a victim should have behaved in, she’s obviously not a real victim because she’s not fulfilling the role”. See also the eternal if you cry you’re hysterical and unreliable, if you’re calm you clearly weren’t really raped dilemma.
I have been sexually harassed at work, and I have had unwelcome come-ons socially. And every time, I have kicked myself afterwards for not reacting the Right Way. For defaulting to “shocked disbelief, unable to form coherent sentence” or “just be super-polite and hope he just goes away, girl” or “laugh nervously because brain is still processing godawful comment”.
According to tsmithfield and doubtless many, many others, you know what? I have nothing to complain about if my harasser then continues in his unwanted behaviour. Because I didn’t react the Right Way. Because power dynamics in work and political relationships don’t exist, because there’s no societal pressure especially on women to be polite and not come across as catty bitches. Because all sexual harassers go straight to “would you like to fuck me in return for a sweet promotion” rather than starting so small, so just-this-side-of-weird that you question whether they’re really being skeezy or if you’re just overreacting, silly girl.
Bolding the second: “The victim isn’t a Logical Victim of the harasser, so there must be Something Else Going On.” Because her failure to respond to the very first “Hey how’s it going” email with “STAY AWAY, HARASSING PIGFUCKER” must mean she has some ulterior motive. Normally, we’d be going for she was flattered by his attention but because this is politics so God forbid we pass up the opportunity to insinuate some nasty conspiracy. And of course, there’s no feeding into classics like “women using their sex appeal to lead Good Men astray” happening here at all. Hell, it’s probably worse if she were doing it for political purposes rather than securing a designer-brand-furnishing sugar daddy like good strumpets do.
Bold part III, revenge of the bold: Just as we all know that being too drunk to form multisyllabic words is exactly the same as a signed affidavit affirming “I would like to engage in sexual intercourse with you right now”, it is also true, kiddies, that if you are polite, if you try to continue engaging on a purely professional level, if you redirect a person’s email address straight to your spam folder, if you God forbid try not to piss off someone with significant clout and thus stop short of rigging a Running Man necklace that will explode if they come within a hundred metres of you, your harasser is fully able to believe you are a willing participant.
The fact that all of this comes after the same commenter tries to argue that totally professional and un-sleazy emails could just have been, like, misinterpreted by someone with an axe to grind does nothing to improve my mood. Dude, if you are sending ambiguous emails to coworkers which they could be reading in a “let’s go fuck now” sense, you’re really bad at writing emails. And relying on “well, we just have to accept what the sender intended!” as a defence is just a wee bit sad.
But then, tsmithfield strikes me as the kind of person who’d say “I’m sorry you were offended” in all sincerity.
ETA: Let it be known that I love Mary Wilson of Radio New Zealand and wish to construct a small cathedral in her honour.
In other random news: I have to agree with Cactus Kate on this one. Sorry, Shane-in-the-comment-above, the Herald is a lying, lying liar. My sinuses are fucked as a general rule so add a headcold to that and I am screaming for the sweet sweet relief of pseudoephedrine, because nothing else allows me to feel vaguely human.
“Rape, not sex” watch: Oh look, yet another journo is capable of using the r-word. Seems all a woman has to do is be in broad daylight* OR provably unconscious and suddenly, hey, it’s actual rape, not “took advantage of” or “began a sexual relationship with the prepubescent child”.