I don’t know how you feel,
And I can’t know how you feel.
But I want you to know
That I feel for you, oh
I want you to know that I feel.
And I feel so ashamed,
That your femininity’s been so maimed
By the cruelness
Of party politics, oh
I feel so ashamed
When the LECs sneered with contempt
“Don’t sing me your womanly lament!”
Because you said “It’s my turn”
But you still had to learn
That equality wasn’t their intent
And the cold rain fell
In that procedural hell
You could be a fluent polymath
But you just ain’t a sociopath
And the cold rain fell
But girl, don’t hang your head
Because misogyny’s widespread
It’s no terrible deed
To lack the balls to succeed
So girl, don’t hang your head
Just hush your blog chattering
Over a representative smattering
It’s a man’s game to play
You shouldn’t play anyway
Because a dragon’s hide is so unflattering
I don’t know how you feel,
And I can’t know how you feel.
But I want you to know
That I feel for you, oh
I want you to know that I feel.
There’s a few pieces of framing that came out around ManBanGate (yep, I went there) which tickled me, but my last post was getting waaaaaaaay too long.
Quotas are ~patronising~ to women
No, what’s patronising is having the old boys’ club keep on giving their mates the cushy jobs, and then trying to distract us with bullshit like this.
What’s patronising is continually not seeing women (and every other oppressed group) getting judged on their fucking merits and then being told that, essentially, the reason we’re not succeeding is because we’re not good enough to succeed.
I recall a glorious Twitter spat with a National supporter who insisted that National’s overwhelming numbers of male MPs had nothing to do with sexism, it was a pure meritocracy over there, and no, she didn’t feel less valued at all! Which, if we assume all those statements are consistent with each other, leads to some rather interesting conclusions.
Why do you bring ~gender~ into this?
Gender’s already in this fucker of a system. We can tell by the way THERE’S A FUCKING GENDER GAP.
It’s the equivalent of every argument which starts with Person A saying something fucking disgusting, Person B saying “hey, that’s fucking disgusting”, and everyone jumping on Person B for ~starting the fight~. The fight’s already well under way.
Quotas let [even more subgrade than normal] subgrade minorities in over saintlike privileged people!
I refer to the swim team example I used earlier. If your team is all white kids, and you want it to reflect the school better, and this means you pick a brown kid with a time of 2:57 over a white kid with a time of 2:56, you are not “lowering your standards”. They both made the under-30-minute grade. All you’re doing is countering fucking generations‘ worth of white kids getting automatically passed through because they’re white.
Women hate this, so it must be bad!
Yes. A lot of women have been convinced through a really effective marketing strategy known as patriarchy that they are totally equal, that quotas or affirmative action mean they get “special treatment”, that feminism is their enemy. Some individual women have even been really successful, so there can’t be anything standing in our way but our own silly ladybrains.
Guess what: getting an oppressed group to buy into the means of their oppression is a really successful strategy for oppressors. Apparently we on the Left have no problem buying this concept when it’s National selling “aspiration” to the working classes, but once girls are involved, well that’s just silly girl-talk.
More recommended reading on the topic
A great joke has been played on the mainstream media: they have bought, hook, line and sinker, into W****O**-type spin. They have been exposed as a bunch of followers, desperate to land the next hilarious 140-character-one-liner, to prove their relevance … without really understanding just how much they’ve been played.
Here’s a few of the problems with the “man ban” narrative which anyone with half a fucking clue about the functioning of political parties and society in general might have cottoned on to.
We don’t have a meritocracy even if you ignore silly identity politics
A lot of people are having a fucking whinge because oh my goooooooooooood, if you only select womeeeeeeeeeeeeen then what about the meeeeeeeeeeeeen. It should just be on merit! Merit alone!
Here’s the problem – and again, this is if you completely ignore things like sexism (or insist despite the mountains of evidence that they don’t exist):
When there are five candidates running in your electorate – say, four party candidates from National, Labour, the Greens and ACT, and one independent – do you honestly believe that they are objectively the five best possible candidates for your electorate?
I’m certainly no National supporter. I have significant issues with their policies, approaches, and general existence. Even I cannot believe, however, that Aaron bloody Gilmore was the best National Party member to run for Christchurch East, nor that he was the 56th best National Party member overall.
There are many reasons people get to stand for parties, or even as independents, in our electorates. There are many reasons people get placed on their party’s list. You honestly want to sit there and say that ~the people get to decide~ when there’s bureaucracy, factionalism, and a shitload of money at stake?
And that’s ignoring the obvious disparities of gender, race and class between “who’s in Parliament” and “who’s in New Zealand”. That’s ignoring the lifestyle constraints on MPs and other elected representatives – constraints which massively favour the privileged classes.
If you think “but merit” is an argument against gender-balancing strategies, you’re saying everything is already done on merit. Trying taking that thought through to its logical conclusion. Then look at yourself in the mirror and say “Wow, I’m a racist, misogynist piece of shit.”
There’s a difference between “making the grade” and “being the best”
Another illusion created by this argument is the idea that “the best” candidate should always win. But that’s not really how it has to go.
Let’s assume there’s a basic standard for party candidates – a history of party involvement, good local knowledge, basic electability (and see “not a fucking meritocracy” above for why this is more a wishlist than a reflection of the current situation in any party.)
If you have candidate A who’s lived in the area for ten years, owns the local fish’n’chip shop, has a great name for punning on and is pretty likeable, compared with candidate B who’s lived in the area for twelve years, runs a stall at the market selling organic salami, has a surname beginning with A and is pretty likeable … is the difference between victory and defeat going to be that significant?
Is it going to crush the hopes and dreams of your party to pick basically-electable Candidate A – who happens to be a woman, or a man of colour, or a person with a disability, or a woman of colour with a disability – over basically-electable Candidate B, who’s another white dude?
Sports metaphor: in order to try out for swim team, you must complete [swimming task A] in under 3 minutes. Kid 1 does it in 2:58. Kid 2 does it in 2:53. According to the “but merit!!!” arguers, you must choose Kid 2. Even though Kid 1 might have a better attitude, or comes from a shitty home and needs the self esteem boost.
They both passed the mark. Nothing wrong with taking other things into account after the fact.
(Of course, this raises a far broader, more complex issue of what constitutes “merit”. In my books, ensuring a diverse range of viewpoints is about merit, because we know that more diverse groups make better decisions. But that’s a whole book’s worth of discussion.)
Party conferences throw up ridiculous shit all the time
This is what got me. Apparently for a few brief wonderful moments yesterday afternoon, TV3 had a story up on their website about the Labour Party introducing a Bill to change the law around candidate selection in every electorate.
I can see where the mistake comes from: when everyone’s squawking about something, you probably assume it’s serious.
But … it’s really not.
It’s a draft policy remit from a party committee which is going to the conference to be discussed and potentially included in the party’s rules, which would allow individual electorates to voluntarily request that only women be shortlisted if the party council agrees on a case-by-case basis.
… fuck me, the fucking Amazons are storming the Bastille with fucking laser-cannons. Hide your menfolk!
It’s not even a fucking quota, people
The painful/hilarious side of this is, of course, that the UK Conservatives are looking to introduce much the same process – but without the voluntary factor. Yep, they’re going to mandate when winnable seats have to run women candidates. But figuring this out would require Googling, paying attention to UK politics or following Andrew Geddis on Twitter. Clearly, far to hard when you can just badger David Shearer into making stupid statements.
Yes. That amazing life and liberty experienced by Mexican immigrants, documented or otherwise, who on crossing the border into the US are immediately welcomed with open arms, given all the rights and freedoms of white Americans, and not at all oppressed with racist, punitive legal systems and scary fucking vigilantes.
Or maybe they’re referring to Americans travelling south, and “life and liberty” is antichoice rhyming slang for tequila?
On a more serious note: gosh, it’s almost like NZ antichoicers have copied-and-pasted rhetoric from US antichoicers. That won’t end badly at all
unless you’re a healthcare worker.
Another week, another unthreatening-yet-just-threatening-enough-to-stir-up-plenty-of-pageviews column about “ladies’ issues” (sexism doesn’t count if it’s ironic) from Rebecca Kamm in the Herald.
This week, that most troubling of questions, the issue which all other feminist work should be put aside so we can properly focus on it: can men be feminists?
The comments … I can’t even, but Megapope on Twitter provided all the commentary necessary on that front.
Thing is, it’s just another Rebecca Kamm column. Very little original content, lots of hip links to other sites (which, you know, I should probably be thankful for, given how the Armstrong types still like to pretend that they’re working only in print) …
And then she goes and quotes the founder of the “Good Men Project”.
Tom Matlack, founder of the The Good Men project, is also unconvinced [that men can be feminists]. But not because men don’t “get it”, or because – like Celie’s Revenge – he suspects falsity. He strays from the term because he’s experienced firsthand the furore it sparks:
“I am a feminist of the kind my mum was, and is,” he tells me via email: “She raised me in the 1970s with the idea that the Equal Rights Amendment to our constitution was just a crucial as the Civil Rights Act.”
Yet, “modern cyber feminists”, as Matlack puts it, “tell me, through heated and personal attacks, that I have no right to discuss gender because I don’t understand what it’s like to be a women who is oppressed.
Gee, Rebecca, sounds like Tom’s had a rough time!
Or maybe he’s received a lot of flack because he helped create a “project” which is so antifeminist that Hugo fucking Schwyzer resigned from it, saying “It was not ethically possible for me to remain silent while the site with which I am now best associated took an increasingly anti-feminist stance.” (You can google the original post if you like, I ain’t linking to that creepfest.)
A project which delights in publishing pieces justifying rape if the rapist is enough of an OK dude or if it ~highlights~ the ~struggles~ of being a man in the modern world
surrounded by slutty bitches.
Maybe Tom Matlack has no right to discuss gender because he’s a fucking misogynist pig.
But that conversation might be a liiiiiiiiiittle bit too radical for the readers of the Herald.
So, on the back of a comment on a week-old post about Adria Richards, I tweeted:
It’s like I’m literally causing this dude physical pain by implying he should think for two seconds before making a cock joke in public.
And received this response:
So, where do you stand on say… women talking about their menstrual cycles (for example) in public ?
I asked if the tweeter in question thought talking about periods and making dick jokes were identical, and was told:
Identical? No. But why should women be allowed to talk about something that men may find offensive, and men cannot ?
So that went about exactly how I expected.
Here’s some obvious facts, which I charitably want to assume that maybe those of you who are confused on this point just haven’t thought about.
- When a male-dominated industry or workplace tolerates a culture of constant “look at my masculinity” posturing – be it centrefolds in the locker rooms or dick jokes at conferences – this sends a pretty obvious signal as to what type of culture and perspective is welcomed in that industry or workplace
- Dick jokes have not historically been treated with the same level of shame, silencing, and gross-dirtiness (as compared to aren’t-we-all-being-vulgar-blokes-together-dirtiness) that menstruation has.
- People from oppressed groups talking about subjects which have traditionally been (a) taboo and (b) used to oppress them is not in remotely the same field as people from privileged groups talking about things which have been used to keep them on top of the foodchain.
So, yeah. Sorry, dudes. But cracking dick jokes in a crowded room at an industry conference when the industry is trying to address why it lacks diversity, and being informed that this isn’t cool, is not the same as people who menstruate challenging a status quo which tells them their bodies and biological functions are shameful and disgusting.
If you choose not to get that – and let’s be honest, it is a choice you are making because the situation ain’t that complex – then please, at least stop complaining to me about how hard it is to be a man.
There are some obvious parallels here with other privileged whinging about “why can Oppressed Group say X but not meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee?” and I’m sure you can connect those dots.
When you identify there’s a problem in the world, or in your own industry or workplace or whatever, you might want to make a big statement about how it needs to be fixed.
You might say “we need to destroy [problem].”
And you might feel really, really fucking good about yourself for taking a stand against the problem.
But before you continue down this path, putting on a cape and making little “I’m a [problem]-destroyer” badges for all your friends, you might like to consider:
1. Sitting down and having a think about how you personally might be part of the problem. You’re not THE problem. You’re not an evil person who deliberately sets out every morning to make [problem] worse. But if you can see it in others, and they don’t recognise it, maybe others see it in you.
2. When someone points out that you’ve totally innocently slipped up and thus contributed to [problem], saying “oh shit, you’re right. I’ll work on that.” No one necessarily expects you to be perfect, because this shit is internalized and subconscious, right?
3. Continue to oppose [problem] where you see it, and support those affected by it without dominating the conversation, while remembering that you’re a work in progress too.
4. The world is a better place.
How to be an ally in Bizarro World
1. When you want hot feminist chicks to give you blowjobs, appropriate some of their language and make a big fuss about how much you care about misogyny. (Don’t worry about actually figuring out what misogyny is or anything, it’s a total drag.)
2. When those fucking bitches don’t line up to smoke your sweet man-cigar, and in fact have the gall to call out the fact that you’re not walking the talk, consider guilt-tripping them for not rewarding you properly for parrotting their language. Imply that they are the problem and that if they don’t give more head, they’ll lose your valuable support.
3. If they continue to not give you the fellatio to which you are totally entitled because this one time you said “let’s destroy misogyny”, just abuse them. That’ll put them in their place and then maybe the next time you put your hand out for cock-related cookies they’ll remember who the man is around here.
For an example of this approach in action, click here. And then give Mike Monteiro some sweet feminist loving like he deserves.
… is this, MRAs:
For actual hard, crunchy numbers on the topic, I refer you to The Little Pakeha.
Of those that go to mediation and are decided on by both parents, 65% go to the mother, 11% to the father, 12% to a third party and 12% shared.
Of those decided by a judge, 19% go to the father, much higher than the 11% when the two parties decide by themselves.
The real kicker though is when you look at the percentage of male applicants and the percentage of female applicants who are awarded custody. That is, the person who brings the case to court because they want more than their ex-partner wants to give them. Of all female applicants, 69% are awarded custody. Sound like a lot? You might be surprised, then, to find that of all male applicants, 65% are awarded custody, nearly the same amount.
Oops, looks like there’s only about a 4-point difference between the sexes in custody being granted to the parent who applied for it.
Men getting awarded custody less (that is, of cases which actually make it to the court system)? Might just have something to do with men applying for custody less. Because it looks like whatever assumed junk is in your trunk, there’s a 2/3 win rate for those who choose to go through the system.
The annoying thing about this “issue”? Is it’s one of those real-life examples where patriarchy does hurt men too. Because in heterosexual-couple households, men aren’t expected, much less supported, to take parental leave when the baby arrives. And in a double-income household they’re likely to be earning more so if it’s a matter of financial stability, it does make sense for Mum to be the one who suffers the career break.
People still seriously use phrases like “he’s babysitting this weekend” when referring to a dude taking care of his own children. That’s how we treat men being primary caregivers – and we always assume it’s a temporary arrangement, probably because “she” is so strung out / exhausted / needs Girl Time / a manicure / whatever.
Women get granted custody more because women are assumed to be the default caregiver. Men apply for custody less because their lives and expectations aren’t geared around childrearing. In one case I personally know of? A dad seeking 50/50 custody was told by his relatives that “the kids need to be with their mum”. So there’s fuck-all social support for the guys who do give a fuck.
And I’m sorry, MRA wankheads, but that has fuck-all to do with feminism.
So, however briefly, Mike Tyson was issued a visa to come to New Zealand and make money off his celebrity, despite the fact that a large amount of that celebrity (especially if you’re not into boxing) comes from him being a convicted rapist and general thug.
And when there was an outcry (which apparently caused Life Education Trust to revisit their policy on letting anyone in the office have access to the official letterhead) there were the usual cries: but he’s reformed! Give him a second chance!
And strangely enough I was reminded of a post I wrote three whole years ago about second chances. And I realised that there’s a bit more to the bullshit around “second chances” which I didn’t address.
I do, absolutely, believe in second chances.
But second chances don’t mean that we can never again make an accurate statement about the bad thing, for fear of magically negating the second chance which has been given. Second chances don’t mean we just pretend the bad thing never happened.
There are people who will never buy a Chris Brown album or watch a show hosted by Tony Veitch or go to Mike Tyson’s show in the countries where his famous name doesn’t get him past legal barriers mere abusive schmucks would face.
This is not denying those poor women-bashers a “second chance”. Chris Brown is still making albums. Tony Veitch is still on TV, or at least has been since his crimes became public. And Mike Tyson is still touring the world selling tickets to a show which basically cashes in on his offending and got a cameo in one of the biggest movies of recent times (for reasons that escape me). Looks like they’re all having pretty damn good “second chances” to live their lives of public fame.
When people say those guys deserve a “second chance”, what they’re really saying is how dare you criticise the album/show/celebrity I like. How dare you remind me of those contemptible things they’ve done. I don’t want to have to acknowledge that my fandom is associated with the violent abuse of women.
Sorry, fanpeeps. Tony Veitch broke a woman’s back and then pulled the “I make no excuses for my actions, except all these excuses” stunt. Chris Brown beat Rihanna. Mike Tyson raped a woman.
You can go right ahead and keep supporting their careers if you like. But you don’t get to force the rest of the world to pretend that they’re still perfect admirable role models for your own comfort.
I am now a fully-fledged author over at The Standard, largely thanks to my own
talents ego. I’ll be reposting my TS posts here at a slight delay, but don’t worry, you’ll still be getting a lot of the ranty stuff I don’t feel like challenging some of the lovely commenters over there with …
I originally wrote about this way back in February 2011, and though the political landscape has changed since then, the point still needs to be made: the Left, specifically Labour, cannot focus on a narrow pure economic set of arguments and expect to get majority support.
It’s the 21st century, people. The “identities” which have been traditionally used to demean, oppress, and sometimes enslave or kill people are real, because those people – women, people of colour, people with disabilities, the whole wide world of QUILTBAG – have been given no choice but to say “Yep, that’s what I am, now you have to deal with me.”
Old white dudes like John Ansell complain about how we should live in a “colour-blind” society, but that’s because for once, for the smallest period of time, and in a time when old white dudesstill pretty much rule the roost, people whose colour and origins have been used to keep them down aren’t staying down any more.
They – and many other historically shat-on groups – are demanding that we acknowledge the reality: some people have faced systematic, institutional oppression which has at the very least disadvantaged them and stopped them achieving their potential the way they could’ve if they’d been born … well, as old white dudes.
This has economic factors to it, sure – strangely enough, capitalist societies are really, really good at using economic pressure against people – but it’s not a pure old-school Labour ideal of The Workers vs. The Owners.
For Labour to survive, it has to embrace fairness. It’s certainly claiming to, at the moment, but it’s a narrow, nasty kind of fairness, a very John Ansell definition of fairness: fairness defined by old white dudes who don’t realise – who choose not to see – that comparatively they have it pretty damn good in life.
It’s the kind of fairness that gets twisted very easily into ignoring all that uncomfortable historic systematic oppression. Just like this: Why should a person who can paint his roof on a specific day get a handout from the government, just because our entire economy is based on people working flat-tack 40 hours a week if you’re lucky, just because employers aren’t willing to put up with the unpredictability and extra effort needed to hire someone with a chronic illness?
If you agree with this for no other reason, please consider this: as soon as you start using the principle of “fairness” to mean fairness for one group of people and not another, you’re being a dick and opening yourself up to attack from the Right – a group who have been far more successful at this game throughout history.
The Left needs to include feminism – and all the other movements for people’s basic human rights – because it should be about “fairness”. It should be about the many and varied ways in which capitalism controls us and screws us, not just our meal breaks.
Labour, specifically, needs a vision. A vision of all people being treated with dignity, all people’s situations being considered in compassionate and non-judgey ways, all people being supported and looked after by our society as a whole. A vision of a society whose members understand that we are all pulling together and we are all more successful when we help each other, even if sometimes this means that on the surface one person is “getting more” than another. To each according to their need, innit?
Remember, visions are like Excalibur. If you use them right, they pretty much make you the king.