Tuesday, 28 June 2011

This is exactly what we marched about.

This is rape culture in action.

A few days ago, ACT on Campus Vice President Cameron Browne told a female commenter on a facebook thread to 'get raped' as some kind of answer to her comments.

He then proceeded to attempt to defend himself by claiming to have 'unreservedly apologised'  a few minutes later, a claim which (of course) has yet to be proven. As the WYFC has pointed out, this isn't the first time that ACT on Campus have made despicable comments about rape.

This is a perfect example of the fact that rape is a gendered crime*, one which is seen as a way of punishing women who do such hideous things as comment on a facebook post or wear a short skirt. Women in public spaces are treated as though they are somewhere they don't belong and that this should be pointed out to them, whether by talking over them, shouting abuse at them on the street or telling them to 'get raped.'

As far as I know only Heather Roy from the ACT party has responded to the issue:

As I said at my other blog, I think shrugging it off as not her responsibility is a little gutless. It’s good she doesn’t ‘condone’ it, but she should be condemning it. This is not only a member, but a member of the youth executive, and a representative of her party and she has a responsibility as an MP to respond when such a disgusting comment is made.

Violence, even when it's via a facebook comment, should never be used as a political tool and the use of it exclusively against a female commenter speaks volumes about the misogyny within ACT on Campus.

Be sure to let Mr Browne know your feelings about this via his twitter @cameronwbrowne** and the twitter hashtag #cameronbrowne.

*This is not to suggest that only women are raped, but that culturally rape is viewed as something which 'happens' to women who 'deserve it.'
**Be sure to include the 'w' because some poor dude called @cameronbrowne has been getting a lot of flak today.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Slutwalk Aotearoa 2011

So sorry for the loooong hiatus, I have been in the black exam lagoon for quite a while.

So on saturday, I went on the Auckland Slutwalk with about 400-odd other people, concurrently with another march in Wellington. I have a VERY loud chanting voice apparently, so I was belting it out near the front like I owned the place and a lady from Newstalk ZB (UGH I HATE THAT STATION) asked me to comment on why I was marching. I can't really remember what I said at all, but I remember panicking and wishing that I had this post from Scuba Nurse in front of me to quote from:

"...because I want to raise kids in a country where they do not have to drop rape charges just because they have had sex in the past, and their dating history is visible online. I want to raise my kids in a country where the first question the police ask is “are you ok?” not “did you fight back?” I want to hear that my kids can talk about their experiences of assault without the event being a mark on THIER reputation. I want victim blaming to STOP NOW."
It was an astounding day, and I spent the whole thing full to the brim with emotion. Most of the time it was glee that so many people had turned up to support such an important cause. Some of it was fury at the stories the speakers told, of the despicable way so many people have been treated for having the audacity to be assaulted. And some of it was awe and admiration at the strength of the people who had the courage to speak out about their experiences and call out the bullshit they (and the rest of us) have to deal with.

I know there are problems with Slutwalk, the biggest one being that there has been a rather conspicuous and unfortunate lack of participation by people of colour, for lots of good reasons, and a tendency to be erasing of trans and non-binary experiences. And of course, some people are very uncomfortable with the idea of reclaiming the word slut*. These problems were very briefly acknowledged at the rally, which I was glad about, though of course mentioning a problem ain't gonna solve it.

I very much hope that some form of Slutwalk continues to happen, every year (hell, once a month would be pretty awesome, but I don't think the frequenters of Queen Street would be very happy about it), hopefully in a way which is inclusive of all people** (I may be being naive, but I think we should try to address these concerns).

I wish I could have also been at the Welly one, perhaps with the assistance of a time machine/teleportation device, especially to see my babin' friend Coley speak (including this gem) and hang with several other awesome ladies who live in the capital. Our very own new women's rep Shona Jowett (who I'm hoping to introduce on here soon) also spoke!

And now, some more linky love for you:

And, because I am apparently vaguely narcissistic, here is a photo which really sums up my Slutwalk experience (and features my most epic double chin to date):

*Thanks very much to Octavia for generally being awesome, but also giving me lots of links to steal.
**Except for rapists, obviously.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Briefly interrupting exam-induced hiatus..

... for this nonsense.

I don't have time to have a nice long rant about it (GRRRRRRRR), but here are a few awesome posts which are already out there:

Also, if you head over to twitter, there are some pretty awesome tweets floating around, including this one, on the tags EMAgate and alasdairthompson.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Friday (well, it still is somewhere in the world) Round-Up

Apologies for the late round-up, I've been a bad blogger this week (on account of it being the last week of lectures - HELLS YEAH).

Are you sitting comfortably? 'Cause this is going to be MASSIVE.

A Round-Up of Round-Ups

First off, the only post you will need for months, the fabulous 37th Annual Down Under Feminist Carnival, which is essentially a HUGE linkfest of awesomeness, hosted by the wonderful Boganette.* Seriously, I went into little paroxysms of blogger delight at the sight of it, you absolutely must check it out.

Secondly, The Lady Garden has posted their own, slightly less epically proportioned, but still fantastic round-up here (which includes a link to an analysis of a Doctor Who episode, which is about the best thing ever).

The Hand Mirror have posted an excellent collection of links surrounding the Court of Appeal decision on abortion (YEEEEE HAAAAA)  which I was going to post on, but got distracted from by finally getting around to watching Skins.

And finally, some awesome stuff from Octavia's Spitfire Emporium.

On various fails this week

First of all, this great post from my gorgeous friend coleytangerina on the latest fail from Fairfax media about 'men' and 'fashion.'**

Similarly on The Lady Garden, a piece from Tallulah Spankhead (best name ever) on how saying that rape is in 'man's nature' is not only wrong, but a disservice to men.

Yesterday this story appeared on Jezebel, which made me so mad I nearly accidentally screamed out AAAAAAAACK in the middle of a lecture. Thankfully, award-winning author Diana Abu-Jaber has already responded brilliantly to V.S. Naipaul's total fail (and has subsequently been added to my reading list). 

Some other stuff

A great wee rant from Octavia Spitfire about white privilege and progressive politics.

A response from Boganette on the Rihanna video controversy.

An analysis of the coverage of Obama's visit to the UK from stargazer.

Hopefully that'll be enough material to keep you going, especially if you've got exams to procrastinate for.***

*Boganette has recently switched her blog over to wordpress, it's still at boganette.com, but if you've subscribed via google reader etc, you'll need to re-subscribe. 
**It's not such much about men or fashion, but more about sexist nonsense.
*** Young Labour Women does not in any way endorse procrastination, especially when it comes to exam revision. Unless you'd much rather be procrastinating, or there's something really good on telly. 

Saturday, 28 May 2011

I'm getting tired of this now, SST

Faifax seems intent on ruining my lunch breaks (curse working on sundays!)

This week's piece of nonsense is so underwhelming as to be almost comical.

The original story is here

And Boganette's excellent response is here

I'm expecting next week's story to be 'Auckland Woman Shocked to Discover Abortion is Like Actually a Real Thing.'

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Friday Round-Up

On the Paul Quinn Fiasco

And some other stuff I liked:

A post from Tiger Beatdown on Stauss-Kahn.

Julie at THM on the ramifications of parental notification for teen abortions.

A great post from stargazer on prayer, Islam and the west and a really interesting article linked by her on Osama Bin Laden's death and the reaction to it.

A very profound post from Karnythia on her tumblr Esoterica on how abortion saved her life.

ANOTHER Tiger Beatdown post from Sady Doyle, because I LOVE her writing style (CAN YOU TELL?)

Monday, 23 May 2011

Awesome Read

Hey guys, check out this great post from Scuba Nurse at her fabulous blog (cross posted at THM):

The support we choose 
The case of children /young women using their school councillors as a resource to source options for an unwanted pregnancy has had a lot of time in the media. One of the trends in comments from pro-choice and pro “support in schools for all options” has been the concept that teens use the school because home is not a safe environment.
I balked at that, because my own experience of using school support networks was in preference to admitting to my parents that I was not coping. It was my first experience with depression and the first thing the councillor did was hold my hand while I called my mother and admitted I couldn’t do this alone...

Read the rest here.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

New Page: A note on gender inclusiveness

Some members of the feminist blogosphere have a tendency to speak about feminist issues in terms of women only. This is incorrect and is something we need to be aware of.

Using solely 'female' rems and pronouns to discuss things like reproductive rights is incredibly erasing of members of the trans*(see explanation below*) and non-binary community. Here's a quick 101 on cissexism and the trans* community.


'Cisgender' refers to people who describe themselves according to the traditional male/female gender binary and were assigned the correct gender at birth. Cisgender people can be gay, straight, bisexual, pansexual etc.


Transgender refers to those who were assigned an incorrect gender at birth, for example a MAAB (male assigned at birth) trans woman was assigned the male gender at birth, by virtue of having 'male' genitalia.


Non-binary or genderqueer refers to those who do not identify with the male/female binary at all. A set of pronouns has been developed so that non-binary folk can be referred to without the grammatical acrobatics involved in using words like 'them/their.'

Non-binary pronouns

Ze - in the place of he/she/him/her
Zir/Hir - in the place of his/her

These are also useful when you don't know the gender or pronouns applicable to someone, perhaps on a blog or forum.

If in doubt, the best thing to do is ask how someone prefers to be referred to.

Keeping all of this in mind, we must remember that trans* men and genderqueer folk can be pregnant, can have abortions, etc, wo we should be very careful to avoid using terminology which excludes and erases them.

*The asterix after 'trans*' ensures that all members of the community are included: transgender, transsexual, transvestite etc.


Being the sequel to this giant pile of journalistic excrement.

So it seems that the SST is going to continue to latch on to this story as if their lives depend on it.
There are already several awesome responses to this from the blogosphere, so make sure you check them out.

I thought I'd add my voice to the many.

What makes me so angry about this is that all of the so-called 'concerned' parents referenced in these stories have entirely missed the point of the law. This is yet  another example of a certain middle-class, privileged demographic forgetting that we don't all live in the land of magical unicorns, where little birds dress us and mice make our breakfast for us. Not everyone is privileged to have parents who apparently 'would have supported their daughters in their choices if only they'd known about it' (cissexist  language I know, but I doubt these parents would know that).

This law is designed to protect vulnerable young people who aren't so lucky.

My mother used to work as a social worker in an abortion clinic (oh! Woe is me! My daughter has no support! Except for the multitudes of professionals who are often there precisely to support her!) and she once worked with a 26-year-old student who was absolutely petrified that the male members of her family would discover she was pregnant and beat her up. And she was 26, imagine what it would have been like if she was 15.

This law, the law they want to mess with, saves lives. It is that important.

And part of me feels like screaming: "haven't we done this already?!" Haven't I been told all my life about the feminist struggle to gain even the compromised and limited reproductive rights we have now?

And briefly, on the whole 'getting a judge to sign off on your abortion' thing, I say BLARGHGARGH. If a counsellor, a GP and TWO consulting physicians have already signed off WHAT EXACTLY IS A JUDGE GOING TO ADD?!*

And** if a young person's not 'mature enough' to have an abortion without parental supervision, how ON EARTH can they be expected to cope with legal proceedings?

Let's not add to the already ludicrous levels of infantilisation which go on in this process.

A fifteen-year-old who is pregnant cannot be treated as if she simply has a broken arm or a chest infection. Until societal taboos and prejudices surrounding sex, sexuality and reproductive health are eliminated, it cannot be that simple.

*Excuse me, I was possessed by Feminist Hulk there for a second.
**I know, that's the third sentence in a row I've started with 'and.' Deal with it. 

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Friday Round-Up

(Hopefully I can come up with a title for this which alliterates. Can alliteration be a verb? I'll ask Sarah Palin).

The SST Abortion Fiasco

Remember this? Yeah I was hoping to forget as well. But just in case you wanted to see a great range of responses to it:

    The Budget
      I have very little understanding of the actual budget. Mostly because I haven't read it. Also because I took one gen-ed course on economics and slept through most of it. But I do like to know how the budget will affect people. So I did some reading and here are the best bits:

        Other Stuffs
        • A massive Trigger Warning on this post from Sady Doyle at Tiger Beatdown about some rapper I've never heard of who is possibly the most misogynistic sounding dude ever. 
        • A good post on the Dominique Strauss-Kahn allegations from stargazer at THM.
        • Another good post on the above from Tiger Beatdown.
        • Even though her delivery is a little bit 'I'm-giving-a-speech-to-my-fifth-form-class,' this clip from Feminist Frequency has some interesting stuff to say about the 'Evil Demon Seductress' trope in pop culture. 

          Happy reading!

          Tuesday, 17 May 2011

          Introducing Analiese: A wee rant about the importance of feminism in New Zealand

          In 48 hours, I’ll be stepping down as President of Young Labour; a role which it has been an immense privilege to have held.  Despite our relatively long history, our youth wing has only had a handful of female presidents, which has always surprised me, given the relative prominence and exceptional calibre of women within our party. However, it is really encouraging to see that, gradually, more women are standing for roles of importance on our national executive.

          For my first Young Labour Women blog post, I thought I’d talk a bit about why I joined the Labour party in the first place (bear with me, it has everything to do with feminism) and have a natter about the importance of feminism in New Zealand.

          Despite not having any sort of political affiliation at that time, In 2008, I took over the role as the National Women’s Right Officer at the New Zealand Union of Students’ Association, advocating for women students across the country. It was a real mix of responsibilities, from advocacy work (I heard some stories that will affect me for the rest of my life) to political lobbying. It was during one of those political meetings that I was invited by the Hon. Steve Chadwick to address the Labour Women’s caucus on women’s affairs in tertiary education. Not only was I shocked that members of the government would be interested in what I, a lowly student, would have to say, but, after attending the meeting, I was pleased to find that there was a major political party that felt as though it had a real sense of egalitarianism throughout the party structure and one that valued the interests of women and the work of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. So, in a sense, it was feminism that brought me to the Party.
          But that’s just an aside, really. As my term draws to a close, I’ve been doing a bit of thinking about the role of women in leadership positions across the country and recently, just out of interest, really, I picked up a copy of the 2010 NZ Census of Women’s participation to see what changes the Human Rights Commission has picked up in the advancement of women’s rights in New Zealand since Labour’s term ended in 2008. What immediately jumped off the page for me was the following statement:

          “New Zealand has started to slide backwards in a number of areas of female participation in governance, professional and public life. Gains made incrementally over the years are now being reversed”

          I know Caitlin’s already talked about the scrapping of the Pay Equity Unit; and Tariana Turia’s decision to slash a ridiculous amount of funding ($377,000 , in fact) from groups such as the Women’s Self Defense Project. We’ve also heard in recent times that the Government are slashing funding to women’s refuges and front-line anti-violence workers around New Zealand by around $700,000 (which is especially horrifying when you consider that, every night here  in New Zealand, 206 women and children need to spend a night in a Women's Refuge safe house), but when we have a party whose former Minister for Women’s Affairs, called her entire ministry a purely 'aspirational' body, and another acting Minister of Women’s Affairs in the same term who once called it a “historic, sexist relic and should have been scrapped”, need we be really surprised that women are being thrown at the bottom of the heap?

          Perhaps what I found to be the most telling aspect of the report though was the fact that it talks about the importance that New Zealand has historically placed on women’s rights and the importance of women’s issues to our sense of national identity. It states that:

          “Pride in women’s progress has been an important element in our national identity…Women’s continuing advancement in governance, professional and public life in New Zealand now requires greater leadership and commitment from both men and women to prevent regression.”

          It’s pretty common knowledge that we were the first country in the world to give women the vote, and that’s something we should be immensely proud of, but we can’t just leave our legacy there and say “well, that was our contribution to that cause”.

          That’s so 1893.

          Advocating for women’s rights is an integral part of our history and, as ladies (and gentleman) of the Left, we need to ensure that we keep fighting the good fight and ensuring that issues which affect women are not just on the table (politically speaking), but are given the active consideration that they deserve.

          (Just as an aside, on Friday, I along with two other members of Young Labour, will be presenting to the Women’s sector about youth involvement in women’s issues. I’ll be sure to write you an update!)


          Monday, 16 May 2011

          Guest Post: The Aussies get it... where the bloody hell is Hekia?

          The  Australian Federal Government released their annual budget last week, and as one would hope for, the progressive ALP has decided that the best way to return to surplus is through the creation of jobs. Who would have thought. (And they're aiming for 500,000 - nice to have?)

          The New Zealand National Party will release it's budget this Thursday, and even though they may claim they're aiming to create more jobs, the devil is sure to be in the detail.

          One particular aspect of the Australian budget that readers of this blog may be interested in has been released by Hon. Kate Ellis, the federal Minister for the Status of Women. The Women's Budget Statement is a fantastic read - I highly recommend you take a look, even if just a skim. 

          As well as specific new spending ($11.2m for a project to drive gender equality in Australian workplaces for example...) when the Treasurer is clamping down on spending to keep down the deficit; the Minister has taken into considerations other ways the budget will improve the status of women in Australian society. Youth parenting schemes? Yes please!

          It will be interesting to spend some time this Thursday to compare the differences in approach between ministers Ellis and Parata. I know who I'd wager is putting more thought into how to use the budget to improve the lives of women...

          Patrick Leyland

          Saturday, 14 May 2011



          I really really dislike the New Zealand media some days and today is certainly one of them. I walked into work this morning and the first thing I saw was this article staring at me from the front page.
          The Hand Mirror has a great post about the article, pointing out the lengths to which it misrepresents the law.

          The fact is, school-age women should have the right (which they do), to have access to abortions and to advice, support and guidance around abortions and other aspects of reproductive health, without being forced to tell their parents. This is especially important considering the fact that New Zealand sex ed is not anywhere near as comprehensive enough to actually ensure a safe level of knowledge of sexual health issues in the general public. In a society where talking about sex in a constructive way is often taboo, especially between parents and children, we cannot expect young women to figure out all of this stuff on their own, then turn around and tell them they need parental consent in order to make a decision about their own bodies.

          However, as far as I can see, none of this is actually up for debate. None of the information in the article was new, even the story sounded like every other story on parental consent laws. The article doesn't actually talk about the law, or a proposed change to the law. I almost cannot see the point of it. Of course, the point of it is to sensationalise an issue which has been widely accepted in New Zealand for a long time.

          This is simply yet another attempt by the media to whip up a frenzy of enraged morality police, the sort who hate 'parents being told how to raise their children' (i.e. not abusing them), but have no qualms telling women, especially young women what to do with their bodies; whether it be what to wear, what to drink or when to have children.

          I say again, with feeling: ARGH.

          Thursday, 5 May 2011

          Last WWI Veteran

          Stuff has an article on their front page today about the death of Claude Choules, a 110-year-old man who was believed to be the last surviving male veteran of World War One. He served in the navy in both world wars and died yesterday in Australia. The article mentioned that he was not, in fact, the last surviving veteran of the war.

          Florence Green, 110, joined the Women's Royal Air Force in 1918. The WRAF was formed in order to provide female mechanics to the Air Force and free up servicemen for combat positions, but so many women signed up that it diversified, with women serving as drivers and filling other positions on Air Force bases - such as working in the canteens, as Florence did.

          People often forget the women who contributed to the war effort, and they forget that they weren't just nurses, but drivers, mechanics, secretaries, telephone operators (incredibly important in a war) and countless other positions - even waitresses.

          On a similar note, I was surprised and happy to spot, while I was watching the Royal Wedding (Whatever, I watched it for the hats. And the music. And the pretty dress. OK, so I'm a giant sentimental fool with a thing for weddings), the National Monument to the Women of WWII, which was unveiled by the Queen in 2005.

          Friday, 29 April 2011

          Let's just take a moment to remember...

          I'm 21 years old and I only really started paying attention to politics when I was about 17. Needless to say, I was pretty surprised when I found out that John Banks used to be an MP. I knew of him as the dude who induced lots of irritated mutterings from my folks whenever he turned up on the telly.

          I remember when I opened my first-year law readings to find this particular gem from the debates on Homosexual Law Reform in 1986:

          "To pretend that such behaviour is normal and healthy is no more sensible than to celebrate with an alcoholic his alcohol drinking problem... homosexuality is wrong on every occasion"* 
           I remember seeing this on campus during the Mayoral Campaign:

          So this guy wants to be an MP again?

          Let's not forget who we're dealing with.

          *NZPD 427 Homosexual Law Reform Bill.

          Thursday, 28 April 2011

          The National Party's Blitz on Women

          In the last few weeks, some of the National Party's teeth have been coming out and they are taking huge bites out of programmes and organisations which benefit women.

          First of all there was the decision to cut almost $400,000 worth of funding from a self-defence programme for girls which operated in schools.  $400,000 which was, by the way, the programme's entire budget. Tariana Turia attempted to fend off questions from Jacinda Ardern and Carol Beaumont by 'affirming' her commitment to a New Zealand free of violence.

          Apparently the funding can be put to better use such as, oh I don't know, bailing out media companies or building a giant plastic waka.

          Next up is the cut to the funding of Women's* Refuges. The government has decided to lop a whopping $700,000 off their funding, claiming and then subsequently refuting that they could apply for funding from a brand sparkly new 'family centred services fund.'

          It seems fairly clear to me what the government's doing.

          Whenever conservatives get to govern it seems the first things to go are those which do the most good for women and families. Take the Tory cuts in Britain as another example:
          "Of the £16bn the budget and spending review plan to raise in tax, benefit, pension and spending changes, £11bn is coming from women. This government is taking more money off women and children with their austerity measures than they are raising from the banks whose greed and recklessness caused the economic crisis in the first place."
           One of the first things the government did was scrap the Pay Equity Unit which had the task of investigating the gender pay gap. Investigating it. Not, y'know, 'taking money off men and giving it to women in paddling pools so that they can swim around in it, laughing like banshees.'** Just investigating it.

          This government wants to please 'anti-PC' types, the sort of people who routinely talk about how 'women are actually equal with men and all you feminazis need to shut up'*** while at the same time calling female politicians 'bitches' and commenting on their appearance. The sort of people who deny that their gender, their race or their class gives them any privilege whatsoever.

          These programmes may seem small, they may seem inconsequential, but as Carol Beaumont put it:
          "“It is hugely important that women feel as though they can talk in a safe environment about issues of sexual violence. The project has enabled young women to not only use their knowledge of self-defence in precarious situations; but it has increased the rates of sexual abuse disclosure.”
          The Nats are plainly anti-women, and we need to get them out of power before too many women suffer the consequences.

          *Just noting that not all refuges offer services to trans* women, so in some cases a more accurate name would be Cis Women's Refuge (thanks to Octavia Spitfire for pointing this out).
          **Clearly I'm being sarcastic. 
          ***'You've got the vote, what more do you want?'

          Friday, 15 April 2011

          First Post!

          Welcome to the New Zealand Young Labour Women's blog!

          While I'm not sure as yet exactly what form this blog will end up in, I'm hoping it can be a place for YL members and supporters to stay up to date with the goings-on of YL Women around the country and also to share news, events and stories which affect women in New Zealand.

          If you have something you'd like to feature, a guest post you'd like to write, or even if you'd like to be a regular contributor, email me at women@younglabour.org.nz.

          I want this to be a safe space for all our readers, so hurtful or abusive comments will be deleted. That being said, I love a good debate, so feel free to call me or any of our (at this point hypothetical) contributors out on something you have a problem with.

          And with that, unto the breach!

          Caitlin Merriman
          New Zealand Young Labour Women's Representative.