Thursday, May 26, 2011

Paul Quinn's response to our outcry.

This post refers to yesterday's episode of Backbenchers and the post I wrote last night.

Other than a quick (not-sorry) tweet Paul Quinn has not fronted to the numerous people on twitter and other social media questioning his comments, today TVNZ (reported by stuff with video link) had the following response from him…

Quinn said he hadn't heard the slutwalk presentation (a great brief from Pollyanne Pena) and didn't understand why he was being asked the question.
He ''absolutely regretted'' the misinterpretation.
''I couldn't hear the speaker's presentation and I didn't know what she said. Wallace asked me what did I think of girls wearing short skirts at 2am in the morning in Courtenay [Place]. I looked at him and thought 'what the hell is he asking me that for?'
''Clearly rape is not justified for anything.
''I thought the question was around drunkenness on Courtenay Place at 2am. That's what I thought the discussion was initially about. Others started talking about rape and I thought what the hell are they talking about.''
He added: ''The mis-interpretation was around the fact that I hadn't heard what the discussion was about. I explained that to them afterwards.''

So let me clarify, you didn’t know what they were talking about, and so launching into a tirade about women still being out at 6am partying was the best response?

And then when Wallace Chapman clarified the question by saying ''Do you think there is something to this idea that girls ask for it...they'll be saying that?''
Then you STILL didn’t understand?
What did you think you were talking about?
Girls who go out partying and drinking til all hours are asking for:
A lecture?
A headache?
A bad reputation?
A pregnancy?
A theft of their purse?

What exactly DID you think you were talking about Paul? Because I cant think of anything that someone asks for by going and drinking other than (and this may surprise you):getting drunk.

And later, once it was VERY clear, and Trevor Mallard had very clearly stated that there is NEVER a reason for rape you felt the need to clarify.
At this point it should have surely been the clarification that you didn’t realise they were discussing assault?
No, what you said was…

“I should, I should say… Your question was aimed at women, so I responded to women – boys are just the same”
Yep. Don’t want to leave those boys out.
So men, if you get raped, it is probably because you were asking for it too.
And boys…
No I’m sorry, I’m not even going there.
I feel sick.

I think the country needs an apology, and an acknowledgement that this attitude is not ok.
I would love to see a live debate on one of our news stations, between several panelists, because the more we bring this topic out in the open, the quicker we can change this crap.

If anyone does want to write to Paul his email address is

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I'm convinced that we need slutwalk here and NOW

I was willing to understand a police officer making a stupid comment out of genuine concern, at a small gathering. I get that some people who work in Law enforcement get tired of going to scenes of abuse and rape and would do anything to stop them, even try to protect people from the wrong direction.
I did wonder at times if slut walk was an over reaction to a small incident, and then I thought about all the jerks (and wonderful people) that I know who genuinely believe that what women wear has a part in whether they are raped or not.

Tonight’s episode of “Backbenches” sealed my resolve to attend and promote the Auckland branch of Slutwalk on June 25th.

I give the police a long leash, giving that they are on the front line of violence and the sicker levels of our society, but politicians are another breed altogether. By the time you have worked in high level corporate, and then had 3 years in parliament I would expect that you would
A) Have a good grasp of the smooth lines people want to hear.
B) Know when to keep your mouth shut if what you believe is blatantly misogynous.
Wouldn’t you Paul Quinn??

But no…

On tonight’s episode of Backbenches Paul (and the entire room and cameras) was told why slutwalk is occurring. He was asked to weigh in on women’s clothing choices and the link with assault.
And his response (I am waiting for a direct quote here and what follows is from memory – so please forgive any inaccuracy) was to reply that alcohol intake was more of a risk and women who went out drinking until all hours were putting themselves at risk.
He also made some disparaging comments about people in short skirts being out at 6am when he goes to the gym.
– Because us sluts really should be nocturnal, and we are asking for it – right?

This is someone who was being beamed out to the entire nation, who is in charge of policy decisions and represents the people of this country.
He didn’t even look EMBARRASED!

This is why we need Slutwalk, because the perception that victims are EVER to blame for an assault or rape is entirely wrong and incredibly sick.
And yet it is not rare, and this has proved that it is pervasive enough that even our political leaders feel comfortable expressing these themes.
And that is not ok.

Shame on you Paul Quinn, I feel sorry for you.

Monday, May 23, 2011

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.
I still count my blessings that my parents’ response was one of support, and my family stood by me while I made decisions around staying in school or not, remaining a prefect or not, continuing competitive activities or not.
So while I realise that many, many young people struggle to find safe places and supportive people in their lives, withholding information is not necessarily a sign of dysfunction or abuse.

So when we discuss children requiring the notification of parents before accessing an abortion I have to ask...
If it is so the parents can have a say, then no. No, no, NO!
I say no for so many reasons, and most of them have been expressed beautifully elsewhere.

Take a peek at Boganette

Or Anthea

Or Luddite journo

Or Ideologically impure

Or over on life is a feminist issue

There is a lot of murmur on the blogosphere around this topic and I don’t need to rehash it.

The other logical (and not unreasonable) reason is that young people going through an experience like pregnancy/ abortion/ adoption should have support.
This I support, but not in the form of “concern trolling” where people act like they are being concerned about someone’s well being in order to maintain control (would any one like to quote some patronising pro-slavery quotes here?).

If taken at face value the key element of support can be provided by any adult in a child’s life.
I’m a support to several young people who are family friends and I really hope that they would feel safe and free from risk of judgement if they came to me.

So why not require an adult (by all means legislate the age if needed) chosen BY THE YOUNG PERSON to be notified? (Not the sexual partner of the youth if under age).
This seems to fulfil all the needs of the group.
The young person is able to access all healthcare options available.
They have a support person to assist them through the process.
There is an adult in this process.

There are SO MANY massive issues with this.
Young people may not choose the most ‘responsible’ person around.
That person may not have the young person’s best interests at heart.
That person may be involved in the relationship that led to the pregnancy.
The person may be covering for a rape that occurred.
The person may use their influence to pressure the youth to make a decision that the youth is not fully comfortable with.

Like I said; a lot of issues.
The problem is that all of the above issues apply to parents as well.

So we are back to square one...

Anyone got any good ideas?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I'm not just a vagina who likes men.


My name is Scuba. Danger. Nurse. – yes my middle name is danger. I am THAT awesome!!
I was born with a fully formed vagina.
As a child I self identified as female with occasional yearnings to be a boy, when I realised I couldn’t climb trees that well.
As an adolescent I developed late at around 16, with acceptable female hormone levels and a socially acceptable female mammarys.
I became attracted to men once the hormones kicked in. Previous to that they were there to take me for bike rides and make dinner (dad) or fight (every other boy).
I occasionally feel that being a lesbian would be an acceptable choice for me when I see a petite masculine featured woman, but don’t really feel like the sex stuff with them, which makes it all a bit half hearted really.
I am in a long term, committed relationship with a man, and if the cysts on my ovaries are not an impediment I would like to one day become a mother by means of sexual male-female reproduction.

Are you confused about why I shared all of this?
It all seems a bit freaking pointless really, since it tells you exactly jack about who I actually am.
It tells you nothing about my hopes, dreams, personality, ethics, morals, lifestyle, and sense of humour, strengths or weaknesses (unless you count climbing trees).

So why do people who are Gay/lesbian/bisexual/trans have to explain every facet of their lives?
Why, when someone comes out as Trans, do people feel an explanation is due as to what “level/stage” they are at?
Why do people feel that if someone is not straight, they can quiz someone on when, where, how and what they like as if they should validate what they feel?

People are people, no matter who they love, and what their junk is.
Let people tell you who they are, in their way, on their terms.
Find out the usual way, by leering at strangers in bars, and comparing notes on your favourite films.
Because my vagina and sexuality tell you zilch about which film stars turn me on, and whether I want kids or can have them, or what I want to do with my life.

Judge people by the sum of their parts. Not their parts, or who they bump parts with.
(sorry had to do it!)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Baggy clothes are not a bullet proof vest.

For those of you who (like me) have been busy with work and play, you may have missed the flurry of conversation and bloggy wonder around the concept of a “Slut Walk”
There are some great conversations around what it means to individuals, and how they plan to express their own understanding of the slut walk.
Here is mine.

I will be there, and I will be wearing a pair of baggy blue cotton pants and a matching top – a set of surgical scrubs.

My understanding of the slut walk is that Toronto Police constable Michael Sanguinetti made an ill thought out comment that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised”.
He has since apologised in writing for the comment but the fact of the matter is that the concept of a correlation between clothing/image and sexual assault is so deeply ingrained in our thought process that it didn’t even pause coming out of his mouth at a public speaking engagement in the line of duty.
This baffles me.
Most people (men and women) who are assaulted have to go through the questioning of what they did before and during an assault, and I understand the need to fully understand the crime scene so as to better bring justice.
This should always be done with respect and sensitivity.
I cannot comment on adult services, but in Auckland we have a wonderful unit for children, with specially trained nurses, safe places, soft toys, and a respect for the word ‘NO’ treatment and forensics takes as long the child needs to take.
Guilt on either side should not be played out in the media.
Who is a predator, vs. who is a prostitute on the weekends should not be a coffee group discussion by people with no knowledge of the case.
Assault and rape is not funny, and I cannot understand how people I respect have told rape “jokes” IN THE WORKPLACE.

The only reason these public conversations occur is because people do not realise how widespread assault and rape is, the assumption is still that it occurs solely to women, and certainly not women we know... good grief no!
It is those women, the ones with short skirts and night jobs... the sluts.

But it isn’t.
The people affected by sexual assault are your friends, your family, and the women you like and respect. The ballsey ones who don’t take shit from anyone.
And what they were wearing at the time is irrelevant.
A short skirt does not cause a good man to suddenly turn into a rapist.
Black eyeliner and voluptuous cleavage will not force a man into grabbing the aforementioned breasts.
My baggy scrubs will not protect me if a rapist decides that they need to dominate and hurt someone and I am there.

Clothing does not cause or prevent crime. And I LOVE that the slutwalk is starting these conversations.

For those who would like to join us in the slut walk please go to Slutwalk Aotearoha.

The Hand Mirror and I.

I was invited to write over at the hand mirror!!
The thought process in my head was quite interesting...
“The hand mirror? But... they are real bloggers”
“I can’t write well enough/frequently enough/ politically enough”
“What if they don’t like my writing after a while?”
“Oh my god, I can’t write with a group, I’m TERRIBLE at cooperating”
“Why is my chest hurting?”
Ok - I’m joking about the last one, but I was pretty wound up!

Until now, I have never really considered working with a group blog. I started writing to have a creative outlet for myself. I carried on because I love it, it makes me more aware of current events, my thinking and understanding of the world around me is evolving, and I have met some AWESOME people. The people who come to comment are most welcome and appreciated, but I almost resent the fact that I have to think about the readers before I click post. This is for me dammit!

If it was just about getting along with people, having a drink and writing a pro-choice banner, I could blog with any group of the women I follow on twitter and I would love to write with everyone I admire, but it isn’t as simple as that.

I asked for a wee bit of time to consider things because as honoured as I was, I did have a lot to think through.
Does what I write reflect on the other bloggers?
Does what they write impact on my (admittedly already shite) image?
Do I have to stand by any key concepts beyond equality and human rights?

It seems really simple to have a group of like-minded people all sharing a space but it really isn’t.
I don’t want to be edited or moderated.
I want control over my own article’s commenting, and I do not want the responsibility of moderating anyone else’s.
I don’t want to police anyone else’s politics, and I don’t want mine changed or muted.
If I get myself in a pickle and people are mad at me, I don’t expect the group to support me, and if someone else gets their foot in their mouth and I don’t agree with what they have done, I don’t want to have to be their support crew just because we share a space.
(Demanding bitch eh?)
Tricky stuff all round.
I love reading the hand mirror because they often raise questions I haven’t thought of. They keep me up to date with feminist news and issues. They provide a community of bloggers with their blog role and busy comment sections and I love finding new gems in there.
The key element I admire about the hand mirror is the fact that each writer is different, and they don’t always have the same opinion or stance on something.
And they don’t expect each other to.

That’s why I said yes.*

*Disclaimer – I will still be writing here, this is my home and I have grown proud of it – leaks and all.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Drop dead Diva - not quite feminism, but I like it!

I almost didn’t watch it... when I first saw “drop dead diva” I really didn’t get it.

Talk about contradictions... She has to be a deep enough character that she is engaging and lovable, but a lot of the first few episodes revolved around her distress at being a different size.
A character so shallow that is still engaging? They needed to lose that crap pronto, or lose their audience.
Something that was overlooked initially when she was focused on the weight thing was the fact that this new body comes with perks – a brain upgrade!
She now has all the knowledge of the education her body had in the past. She is getting the Porsche of bodies with a life to match, and yet they still bothered dwelling on the weight thing.
As more realistic negatives go the family and relationship issues would have been more credible.
Or even trying to navigate the intricacies of business without the cut-throat attitude (boy could I contribute to that script!)
Her old gorgeous fiancée is cast aside, and no work is done in the pursuit of him. At first I thought she was being respectful of his grief, but then she starts dating, so there goes that! Her new boyfriend (who is wonderfully sweet and charismatic) is portrayed as this uber catch that she is supposed to leap into the arms of because she couldn’t possibly go back to her ex-fiancée. And yet he is a bigger sized guy.
So she is bigger which is bad. He is bigger, but that is still ok?
Just bizarre.
But nice to see realistic double standards of expectations of appearance in men and women accurately portrayed in the media I guess. *sigh*

There is a lot to frustrate me about Drop Dead Diva.
But I watch it every week.
And I enjoy it.
Not because a bigger woman is beautiful on TV. Not because she is glamorous and has several sexy men interested in her.
In fact, as a character she needs to prove herself the same as any other and I’m not going to get all Rah rah yay for her, just because she isn’t a size 0.
(And I object to feeling like I have to give shows extra kudos because having a “fat” actress is SO out there –it is tragic that it is.)

I watch it because of the fact she is living a brand new life. This means she has a really strong appreciation for it.
Driving a flash car – she is doing it with a gleeful smile and the radio cranked up, rather than worrying about the price of petrol.
I’m in a job that matters and can change lives? WOW
A regular pay check – Fantastic!!
New wonderful people by my side, in life? – awesome!
New challenges? New experiences? New meetings? – bring it.

Every day brings new opportunities for a wide eyed innocent look at living the corporate life.
Things that seem mundane by the time you have worked yourself to the bone to get there are all magical and wonderful to her, and I LOVE it.

Tonight I am tired and burnt out.
Tomorrow I am going to enjoy waking up in a strange bed, in a strange town, and enjoy the uniqueness of my job, rather than just missing my man and familiar shower.
Bring it.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Tall Poppy syndrome is alive and well in the blogosphere

There is feminism, and then there is Feminism.
There is first wave, second wave, a token wave to, and ‘the revelation hit me like a wave” Feminism.
There are young people just learning and starting out, and older women who have battled for a generation or more already.
None of us are alike, but all are invested in equality, it is only our knowledge of the world around us that varies how we practice what we do.

I must confess that one of the biggest deterrents to blogging was the large amount of sniping and criticism that goes on in blogging circles.
This isn’t a “lady problem” or even uniquely feminist. I find the same thing in atheist circles, parenting blogs, and science groups.
If someone is passionate enough about something to write at least once a week on the topic, then they have got confirmed theories, opinions and issues around the topic already. Add to the mix the amount of anger that can stand behind marginalised groups, and the fact that each person is a different medley of minorities and it is a volatile mix.

I love the debate of the comments sections because I can choose or not choose to engage.
It gives all sides an opportunity to explain themselves if needed, and provides an open forum to potential resolution and understanding in both parties.

I’m less fond of the growing trend of passive aggression by the way of writing a critical analysis of someone else’s point of view and separating into two camps without constructive discussion between the two. It's all well and good if you overtly disagree with the entire thing (my example would be the tits out campaign). However if you like a concept but they have missed mentioning something that is YOUR baby (whether it is the forgetting the inclusion of your group, or the way something is worded) don’t immediately run back to base and undermine an entire cause.
Discuss with the organisers your concerns in private.
Discuss with the organisers your concerns in public.
Then look at reasons that have been put out there, and if they are still unreasonable by all means, step up and take a stand.

Before you do all this, take a look at the organisers.
A corporate group with their own legal team and plenty of moolah to research should know better, and should take feedback on board and make changes swiftly.
(Hello The Rock FM and HAHAHAHA to your latest ratings btw).
A volunteer group may not have the resources, but should also have people’s best interests at heart.
A blogger... well who are they?
Are they just some shmuck who likes to write, a person with their own passions for human rights but a fledgling knowledge of all the issues?
Or are they a well informed person who should know better and is well respected and widely read?
Are they a cover for someone on the other side trying to undermine a cause?
(The “vote on my abortion” fiasco would be a good example of this).

Take a look at who you are trying change, and why.
The range of opinions on the internet is what makes it so cool, and I would hate to pasteurise our feminist movement through fear of criticism.

So next time you decide to jump on a good cause because there is something you don’t like about it take a deep breath.
Is it really their job to cover ALL the issues at once?
Is there a trend of offensive behaviour or exclusion?
Have you even asked why they have done what they did?
Have you given them the opportunity to improve?
What are YOU willing to do as far as putting in working hours to help find a solution?

Or are you just doing this to bolster your own profile and have something to write about in your own space?
Tall poppy syndrome is international, not just a kiwi issue. The internet has shown this to me.

Disclaimer: I started writing this when I first started my blog and it always sounded like "why are people so meeeeeean?" it has taken me this long to whittle it to a more functional version. If I didnt know you 18 months ago, it has nothing to do with you! (except you jerks mentioned in the examples!)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

how to tell I am grumpy..

I’m tired and cranky at the airport waiting for a flight that is 2 hours late and counting. I hadn’t realised how grumpy I was until I started browsing the internet.
I was looking through one of those "getting to know you" quiz things that go around 16 year olds and bored bloggers.
First of all I am NOT going to do the whole quiz, since I was turned off the idea by the fact one of the questions was –“what are your thoughts on gay marriage”, like that should be in a list of trivial shit like how you take your coffee.

One of the questions made me crack up though... and it wasn’t actually that the question was funny -I’m in such a tired cranky state my immediate response was pretty dark.

Q: (scenario) your best friend is in a car accident and you two got into a fight an hour before. What do you do?

A: Race to the hospital. Run into her room and kink off their life support; so she can’t tell the police I cut the brakes!

Yup, definitely time my flight arrived and I get to eat something and get to a safe bed!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Get well soon Christchurch.

Today is my first time in Christchurch since the February quake.
I knew it was bad. I knew it was a wide area.
I knew lives and livelihoods had been destroyed.
To see it all didn't come as a surprise, what did was how sad I feel.
I pulled the car over and just stared at the damage.
The closed roads, the rippled surface of the street. The remnants of liquefaction in drains. (Remember when we didn’t even know that word?)
The only way I can explain it is to compare it to something on a smaller scale.

It feels as though a friend has been beaten up.
I have seen photos of their injuries and I know that they have a black eye and broken jaw. I have seen x-rays of the fracture in their wrist and I have been in touch, talking and sending flowers.
When I finally caught up with that friend, their injuries don’t surprise me, but I hadn’t thought about the details... the difficulty they would still be having eating.
I hadn’t imagined that when they smile, they wince.
I hadn’t realised how awkward using a fork is with a cast on your hand.
It’s sad.
And there is nothing I can do but bring my business and dollars to the region.
Get well soon Christchurch.