Annette King versus ‘the Prime Minister’

Annette King targeted John Key’s hair pulling in Question Time. Bill English responded on behalf of the Prime Minister (who is still in the Middle East).

Hon ANNETTE KING to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement that “There’s always a risk with third-term Governments that they get arrogant. There’s always a risk that they veer off into a space they haven’t been, and start surprising their supporters”?

Jo Muir’s on-the-fly summary at Beehive Live:

English is responding on behalf of John Key and says yes, based on his observation, he agrees.

King is asking whether Key’s behaviour was appropriate in terms of the hair pulling incident.

English says the PM apologised and long before it was reported in the media.

King has just mentioned Key’s comments of “horsing around” and someone on opposition benches is neighing like a horse.

That’s unlikely to be someone who has been criticising Key for childish behaviour.

English is defending the PM saying that his “inappropriate” behaviour is particularly disappointing considering it’s unusual for him to act like that.

Winston Peters is asking how Key explains the numerous photos of him stroking the hair of young girls and what psychological behaviour that is?

English isn’t impressed and is dismissing the question.

Peters is asking, putting the Auckland cafe incident aside, has Key apologised for all the other times he’s stroked hair inappropriately.

English says if anyone felt he had behaved inappropriately they have means to complain.

Transcript:

[Sitting date: 28 April 2015. Volume:704;Page:2. Text is subject to correction.]

2. Hon ANNETTE KING (Deputy Leader—Labour) to the Prime Minister : Does he stand by his statement that “There’s always a risk with third-term Governments that they get arrogant. There’s always a risk that they veer off into a space they haven’t been, and start surprising their supporters”?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Acting Prime Minister): Yes. It was an observation based on watching the third term of the previous Labour Government.

Hon Annette King : Was pulling the hair of a woman worker in a cafe arrogant, veering off into a space where he had not been before, or just totally inappropriate behaviour?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : As the Prime Minister has acknowledged, it was totally inappropriate behaviour, for which he apologised to the young woman concerned and, I might say, well before public attention was drawn to the matter.

Hon Annette King : Does he think that in modern New Zealand it is OK to describe repeated and unwelcome pulling of a young woman’s hair as banter, horseplay, joking around; if not, why has he attempted to minimise his weird behaviour?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : The Prime Minister has not attempted to minimise the behaviour; he has acknowledged the inappropriate nature of that behaviour and dealt with the issue when it was drawn to his attention.

Hon Annette King : Was the National Party warned of his hair-pulling behaviour before his actions became public; if so, when?

Mr SPEAKER : In as far as there is prime ministerial responsibility, the Hon Bill English.

Hon BILL ENGLISH : Of course the Prime Minister had an indication about the behaviour, because the young woman raised it with him and he apologised to her. I might say that the Prime Minister has, through intensive interaction with the public over a long period as leader of the National Party and as the Prime Minister, observed almost always the highest standards of appropriate behaviour.

Hon Annette King : Was there any communication between his office or his staff and Rachel Glucina or the cafe owners following the breaking of this story?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : I have not had the opportunity to establish whether or not that is the case, so I simply cannot answer that question.

Hon Annette King : Does he stand by his statement that he “needs to be better at reading the tea leaves” when making decisions about how he will behave in public ; if so, how often does he use tea leaves for advice?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : Yes, the Prime Minister does stand by that statement. I might say that part of the Prime Minister’s disappointment at these events—

Grant Robertson : He did it!

Hon BILL ENGLISH : —and the inappropriateness of his behaviour is that in almost every other respect his interaction with New Zealanders is positive.

Hon Annette King : What is the difference between his behaviour and that of Aaron Gilmore’s?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : They are different circumstances and have both been dealt with appropriately.

Hon Annette King : I seek leave to table a Facebook post on the National Party’s website—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption] Order! I do not need any further assistance. It is available to all members if they want to look for it.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Putting aside the numerous Parnell cafe incidents, how does the Acting Prime Minister explain the countless photographs of Mr Key stroking young girls’ hair, and what psychological condition is that?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : I reject all the imputations of that question. The Prime Minister has a track record that I know Opposition parties resent, and that is of very positive interaction with the whole range of the New Zealand community. In this case he has acknowledged the inappropriateness of his behaviour and dealt with it well before it came to public attention because, in his view, if the young woman felt that way about the behaviour, then it clearly was not appropriate and he had to deal with it.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Putting aside the Parnell cafe case, what about the numerous other cases where he has not apologised at all? How does he explain that?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : Almost without exception the interactions the Prime Minister has with the New Zealand public are not the subject of complaints. In fact, more than any other Prime Minister, he is open to those interactions and they are positive. If anyone felt that he had acted inappropriately, they are able to raise that issue and, I think, as indicated by this incident, the Prime Minister will take responsibility for his behaviour and apologise accordingly.

Hon Annette King : Has the Deputy Prime Minister ever advised him that he undertakes such behaviour in public?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : Very generally, the Prime Minister has been able to conduct a very positive relationship with the broader public without the benefit of advice from the Deputy Prime Minister.

When in Saudi Arabia

Patrick Gower reported:

PM’s wife to comply with Saudi Arabia dress code

John Key’s wife Bronagh will submit to a strict Muslim dress code when they visit the Islamic stronghold of Saudi Arabia this week.

She will be covering up in the traditional robes women are required to wear rather than taking a moral stand.

I don’t know why this is news. It’s not uncommon to comply with local customs.

When in Rome visitors are asked to ensure they are appropriately covered up if entering a church. It’s not uncommon to need to respect local customs.

And it can be more comfortable fitting in with local dress codes rather than standing out as the only one who is different.

I don’t think Gower will take a moral stand and walk down a Saudi street drinking beer or smoking (if he’s a drinker of smoker).

He probably won’t stake out a Saudi politician’s house either, demanding they come out and talk to him.

UPDATE: An interesting comment on this from Evadne at Kiwiblog:

Gower’s comments on Bronagh Key are interesting: “She will be covering up in the traditional robes women are required to wear rather than taking a moral stand.”

I wonder, then, if he would applaud a delegate or official visitor to NZ who refused to attend a Maori welcome as a “moral stand” against nudity of men (bare buttocks), provocative glorification of violence & beheading (the various aggressive gestures, along with with the eye popping & tongue protrusion), the strict roles of women within the ceremony, mutilation of flesh by tattoos, or any of the many other things which run contrary to other cultures. Or would such a refusal be seen as “insensitive” or insulting?

Good point.

I’ve heard people say that Maori welcomes can be quite intimidating.

In praising Martyn Bradbury

Greg Presland has joined the list of bloggers praising Martyn’ Bradbury’s handling of the Key/waitress/hair story.

Firstly in relation to the story I wish to praise Bomber Bradbury’s handling of it.  Unlike Cameron Slater and his attempts to bring down Len Brown with the Bevan Chuang story Bradbury did some important things.  He let the story be the story and did not inject himself into the story at all.  He let the waitress tell her own story in her own words.  And unlike Slater whose grandiose yet ridiculous plan to have Len Brown removed from office and John Palino somehow installed as mayor Bomber had no intention of achieving any particular goal.  He just facilitated the telling of a very creepy story.

He also quotes Danyl Mclachlan of Dim-Post:

[Bomber] simply published the waitress’s own account as a primary, information-rich source that the mainstream media could base their stories off. Reporters called the PM, but the scandal had already broken and the media were all matching each other’s stories. It couldn’t be shut down. And Bomber kept himself out of it all. That approach – publish a primary source and make it available to all media simultaneously – turned out to be a really awesome way to get the story out there.

I have also said that Bradbury deserves some praise for how he presented the initial post that broke the story.

But Presland and Mclachlan take a very narrow view, focussing on the first post only. Bradbury has gone on to try and link it all with Dirty Politics – his next post on it headlines this:

UPDATE: The Prime Minister and the Waitress Part 2 – Dirty Politics?

This post, about the horrendous Herald coverage of the issue – opened with a photo of David Farrar with Rachel Glucina with this caption:

Rachel Glucina and Government pollster and right wing political blogger, David Farrar

Glucina was at the centre of that controversy. I haven’t seen anyone – including Bradbury, Presland nor Mclachlan – provide any evidence that Farrar (or Cameron Slater or the Government) had anything to do with this issue.

But Presland and Mclachlan compared Bradbury extensively with Cameron Slater.

In pushing Dirty Politics links they are all playing dirty, while praising Bradbury for playing it clean. Sheesh.

I don’t think it’s deliberately hypocritical. Most likely they are blind to their double standard.

And before Greg accuses me of suggesting a conspiracy again, this is probably not a co-ordinated or planned approach.

Left wing bloggers seem so obsessed with ‘Dirty Politics’ and the narrow definition they try to apply to the term they are blind to their own mode of operation.

To keep Felix happy I won’t say they’re playing ‘Dirty Politics’ themselves (I understand what you want that term to mean Felix) so I will describe it as playing dirty to promote a political attack.

As Presland did in his post after praising Bradbury.

Rachel Glucina’s attempt at turning the story around by suggesting there was a political angle in the complaint failed miserably and only succeeded in providing an institutional target and showing that Dirty Politics is alive although not so well.

If Felix was consistent he would point out that this doesn’t fit his version of Dirty Politics.

The right had no where to go on this.  Every time one of their nodding heads in the media tried to turn the story around there was blow back.  And as the story took off and international media ran with it you could sense John Key’s credibility ebb.  Crosby Textor will have their work cut out to repair this fiasco.

I think Greg pushes the CT conspiracy quite often. And he brought Farrar into the post:

The response of the right wing bloggers has been interesting.  David Farrar obviously wanted to have nothing to do with it and his early post inappropriate if accurate was as realistically as positive as he could go.

So Farrar “obviously wanted to have nothing to do with it” but Presland said “I wish to praise Bomber Bradbury’s handling of it” – that’s in relation to the story which was Bradbury’s first post but that’s disingenuous considering Bradbury’s ‘Dirty Politics’ follow-up.

Cameron Slater  is obviously no longer running pro Key lines and is preparing to support his mate Judith Collins in a leadership battle that when it occurs will be bloody and divisive and will leave National in far worse shape.  Let’s be real here.  There is no other leader of the quality of John Key in National.  The possibility of a leader emerging from the ranks of Collins, Joyce, Bennett, Adams or Bridges is one that fills me with confidence that the the next Government will be a progressive one.  Key is their only chance.  And he has been significantly damaged.

Slater’s lack of complicity (despite Presland associating him with it) is turned into a lame leadership hit.

Slater’s line on the story, that the left had stuffed up the chance of a political hatchet job spoke volumes about his world view.  He could not believe obviously (donotlink link) that a left wing blog could publish a story with no intent other than making sure that the story was told.  Subsequent posts suggesting that the waitress should toughen up just reveal a shallowness of human understanding that has always been apparent.

So “subsequent posts” at Whale Oil are relevant but Presland tries to judge Bradbury on one post in isolation “with no intent other than making sure that the story was told”.

If Presland wishes to “praise Bomber Bradbury’s handling of it” then he is in effect praising Bradbury’s attempts to widen the issue in to another example of ‘Dirty Politics’ – which Presland also does himself. He commented here yesterday:

Basically I thought Bomber did really well, way better than Slater in his attempts to achieve similar things.

Presland has been an integral part of an attempt to tie the Herald, Slater and Farrar into the hair story as an example of ‘Dirty Politics’.

He speaks on behalf of all at The Standard:

The rest of the posts were spontaneous. We do not sit down and coordinate and plot posts as part of some conspiracy. Well intentioned individuals post about aspects that they think are important and interesting.

A number of bloggers at Dim-Post and The Daily Blog may have also been spontaneous and un-coordinated.

But they all seem to be singing the same tune – Bradbury impeccable, Key/Herald/Slater/Farrar/right dirty.

If it’s all spontaneous (and it may well be) does that just indicate “well intentioned individuals” are already thoroughly indoctrinated in the ‘Dirty Politics’ campaign?

In praising Martyn Bradbury for one isolated play they have ignored the bigger game and seem oblivious to theirn involvement in the whole dirty sport of politics.

The Standard responds

The Standard has responded to a recent post which included:

At 9.49 am on Wednesday morning there was a post at The Standard – My Little Ponytail. It looks well researched and carefully written post (not a rush job) by Te Reo Putake. He may well have been able to put that together in three hours. But he probably wouldn’t excuse a time lag between posts on Whale Oil and Kiwiblog. The concluding paragraph:

I simply don’t know if it’s accurate, but I do think we should be told Key’s side of the story. Or be presented with his head on a platter if it’s true.

So ” if it’s accurate” TRP wanted Key’s political head on a platter. And comments that followed feasted on a similar diet of downfall.

And also:

It could all be completely uncoordinated spontaneous series of attacks. And every perceived attack from the right could be orchestrated by John Key and his minions.

But both sides will be somewhere in between those extremes, despite their screams.

And amongst that there’s a bit of Dirty Politics Derangement Syndrome.

Greg Presland has presumed from that that I suggested a conspiracy:

There has been some attempt to suggest that TS was part of a conspiracy, notably by Pete George (http://yournz.org/2015/04/26/the-lefts-handling-of-keys-hair-pulling/). He wants to be able to say that the left (coordination of hit jobs) does it too.

I wanted to say that there was a variety of possibilities. I think there’s a fairly good chance some on the left have discussed how to approach their coverage of the story, including people associated with parties. That doesn’t make it a conspiracy, just normal communication.

Greg says:

But I can honestly say that no such coordination happened here.

I accept his word as far as he’s concerned. He would have to have talked about things with other authors and Lynn Prentice to be sure there was no co-ordination amongst anyone. And that discussion wouldn’t include anything about what they were going to post?

Perhaps Greg didn’t communicate with anyone else but just knows what everyone did and didn’t do.

Te Reo Putake also had a say.

That Yawn NZ post is a giggle! I would have thought it was obvious from cautionary approach I took that I wasn’t ‘in the know’.

A cautionary approach could be for a number of reasons. David Farrar seemed to take a cautionary approach and that didn’t stop many claims and insinuations about him being involved in some way, like the very first comment that said:

DPF has commented in the most circumspect way possible.

And since he is practically the online mouthpiece of the ninth floor, I think we can take his commentary as proof that the story is genuine.

TRP closely monitored his post comments and will have seen and approved of this. Back to today:

Apart from occasionally commenting at the Daily Blog, I have never had any interaction with Bomber at all. Still, nice of Pete to commend my writing skills.

The simple fact is I read the TDB piece and decided it was worth a post, so I wrote one. I’d say it was about two hours work, including selecting quotes from Bomber’s piece, finding other links and writing the summary that formed the guts of the post. I simply did not know at the time of writing whether or not it was true, so I urged caution. Shortly after I put it up, we got the confirmation from the PM’s office that the assaults were real.

I have no reason to doubt that. That’s how blogging is often done.

Except in comments TRP promotes his own conspiracy theory.

Yep, it could be that he was wearing his MediaWorks TV Producer hat that day. But if you are correct, why does he rub the child’s hair with his thumb. It’s just … odd.

Next he ignored his own cautionary approach with this fairly dirty insinuation

Word ‘o’ the Day No. 94: trichophilia.

Hair fetishism manifests itself in a variety of behaviors. A fetishist may enjoy seeing or touching hair, pulling on or cutting the hair of another person. Besides enjoyment they may become sexually aroused from such activities. It may also be described as an obsession, as in the case of hair washing or dread of losing hair. Arousal by head hair may arise from seeing or touching very long or short hair, wet hair, a certain color of hair or a particular hairstyle. Others may find the attraction of literally “having sex with somebody’s hair” as a fantasy or fetish.

But clearly this does not apply to Key because “His actions were intended to be light-hearted.”. So nothing to see hair, er, here, move along.

And again:

I don’t think Key has actually apologised a second time. His spinner has used the past tense, so I think it’s a reference to the apology he made in the cafe with the wine. Key’s in London, on route to Gallipoli. So probably asleep, dreaming sweet dreams of running his hands through the luscious locks of flaxen haired young women. Or something.

More of a common TRP/Standard conspiracy:

Yep, you can bet C/T are desperately trawling the net to see if they can find a picture of Andrew Little in close proximity to a woman with a ponytail. See! Labour did it too!

But everything he does is totally independent of anyone who might be involved with a party or a blog. It really could be.

But that doesn’t stop him making things up in his comments – he has a long history of that.

As I said in my post you can’t just take one Bradbury post in isolation. Nor just one Standard post.

In particular in seeking the motives of someone it’s worth taking their carefully worded well written post as a part, alongside all their comments.

And follow up posts. Like A Friend first, and a Boss second, probably an Entertainer third.

“Key said his casual approach had both advantages and disadvantages.”

Disadvantages may include sexual harassment and general inappropriate touching of females. (ht Idlegus!)

“I have to take total responsibility for that. I shouldn’t have done the things I have done.”

Sweet. Then you’ll be resigning as soon as you get back? Nah, thought not.

“I think it’s the opposite to what some people might think that there’s a power imbalance”

Leave John Key alone! He’s the real victim here! Of course if it literally was the opposite, the young women being bullied would have had power over John Key, his wife, his entourage and his bodyguards. That doesn’t sound an entirely credible scenario to me.

TRP the author hasn’t learnt to separate his long commenting experience of manipulating statements interspersed with insinuations to build a dishonest scenario.

I believe he wouldn’t need to collaborate to do this. He’s had years of practice. And even though I’m now absent from The Standard he uses me to try and discredit people making points he wants to shut down. Like this earlier today:

Colonial Rawshark

The claim that a sexual allegation was made against Key was very severe, therefore the meaning of the words is doubly important in my mind, even though you might write it off as mere “semantics.”

Yeah, whatever. Are you Pete George in disguise?

Sexual allegations are ‘yeah whatever’ in Te Reo Putake’s repertoire.

Key speaks on his hair problems

John Key was interviewed on The Nation on Saturday and was asked by Patrick Gower about the hair pulling issue.

KeyTheNationApril15

Gower: Moving now to another issue that has been dominating things and that is of course the ponytail…

Key: Yep.

Gower: …incident. Some people back at home are saying “Hey what’s all the fuss about? You know can’t we have any fun any more?”

Key: Oh yeah but look I’ve tried to give a bit of context around what actually happened there but um and I accept that that will be some people’s view, but there’s also another view, ah which is I should have been much better at reading that situation more carefully.

I completely failed to read that situation correctly, um I actually regret that very deeply. I regret it for the young woman in question.

Um yes I was kidding around and didn’t mean any offence um but that shows you the danger of you know um undertaking those sort of you know kinda pranks if you like that they can be misinterpreted and misread.

Gower: So what do you say to those people who say ‘oh it’s all a fuss about nothing’ – that they’re wrong obviously?

Key: No I’m just saying that you know I have to take responsibility for my own actions. Um I completely misread the situation, clearly otherwise it you know wouldn’t have happened.  Um and I just didn’t see it for what it was, um I did see it in a very light hearted nature, I’ve got a very casual relationship with the people there. We do have lots of fun. Um but…

Gower: Here’s the way of looking at it isn’t it, I mean how would you like it if someone did it to you.

Key: And that’s of course that’s right that’s the counter argument, I mean looking…

Gower: How would you lie it if someone pulled your hair?

Key: Well, ah, if it was in the context of the way that it happened there I would see it in that context, but I absolutely one hundred percent appreciate um in hindsight she didn’t and I should have read that situation more accurately.

Gower: Yeah because it’s not in the context of what happened there is it, the context really is about power. You’re the Prime Minister. She’s someone working in her job.

Key: Yes I understand that’s some people’s argument. There’s a counter argument…

Gower: Do you feel that you abused your power?

Key: Well I was going to say there’s a counter argument for that and I think yeah look by nature I’m a pretty casual person, and I do kid around and have a bit of fun, and I think one of the things that look you know that, look the majority of staff there have enjoyed is the fact that…

Gower: I guess the question is this…

Key: …the opposite, rather than the power sort of thing and me being a bit stuck up I’ve, stuck up I’ve been mucking around and having a bit of fun, now you know ok look in the end I got that wrong and I have to accept that.

Gower: Yeah and when you when you accept that you got it wrong, do you accept that you misused your power?

Key: No because I didn’t intend to do that, it was the opposite, I intended to try and be in a much more informal sort of setting so that I put people at ease and we could have a bit of a laugh and a bit of fun so it’s really the opposite.

But I accept that that’s an interpretation someone could get.

Gower: Sure and on that I mean do you feel um like you’ve let yourself down?

Key: Yes but I also have to take responsibility here for my own actions.

Gower: Some people will say this, and you know I have to ask, why the hair pulling?

Key: Well I mean look it was all just part of you know a a bit of jocularity was happening but you know it’s a very difficult thing, in the cold light of day when you look at these things, some things that are you know a bit of kidding round at the time, don’t seem that funny later on when they’re reflected on in the cold light of day. I see that and accept that now.

I think this is about as much as Key could do to front up, accept responsibility and limit the damage. It seems genuine enough to me (but some will never see any explanation from Key as genuine, and this is reflected in some social media comments).

He says he understands the issues and the criticisms and accepts their validity.

He has not questioned or challenged the waitress’ account of what happened at all. He has not blamed or criticised her at all.

The only thing not answered is why Key thought that puling hair was ok and would be acceptable in the first place. It still looks  odd for an adult to be pulling hair in public.

Key accepts it’s not a good look but doesn’t explain why there was any hair pulling. Perhaps he has no explanation, doesn’t know why. It’s not normal no matter how jocular the situation might be – in fact to many people it’s decidedly abnormal.

That aside Key has probably done as much as he can to cop the flak and deal with and deflate the issue.

It’s not going to fade away completely, this is the sort of stuff-up that will be added to the list of misdemeanours and will be  thrown at him for the rest of his political career by opponents. Especially by social media activists.

But Key has done what was necessary to front up and to minimise the damage. It’s impossible to measure how much damage has been done, and how much it will impact on his political future.

Source: Interview: Prime Minister John Key

What now for waitresses and waiters?

Now that John Key seems to have adequately dealt with his hair pulling embarrassment what now for the focus of the issue, the way waiting staff are treated by customers and by employers?

One waitress has spoken out, but in doing so she created a political shit fight. And she became the target of an offensive defense that tried to paint her as the problem, not the victim.

Sometimes amongst the noise and sheep herding there can be interesting discussions at The Standard.

Mandy Hager’s post Pull the other one… ponytails, minimisation and male privilege is worth reading as a fairly feminine perspective. Perhaps a bit too feminine good/masculine bad but she makes some points worth debating.

On this post is a good comment thread, started by Colonial Rawshark (who’s name is still promoting the hacking of political opponents but that’s another story).

So, after several days of ongoing disgust, outrage, screaming and shouting, what courageous and concrete steps has the Political Left proposed to empower vulnerable and poorly paid service employees and contractors who find themselves in bad work situations?

What gutsy legislation, regulation, unionisation and other changes with real teeth has the Left proposed to enable vulnerable workers to fight back hard against bad treatment by customers, employers and media organisations?

Indeed has there been anything more substantial and concrete than ‘that’s disgusting, disappointing and an indictment of entrenched male power and privilege in our society’? No?

The Left couldn’t even get its shit together in the first day or two after the original story broke to protect the young cafe worker in question. Pitiful.

And IMO it’s exactly why, despite all the quite legitimate anger and indignation expressed, the self proclaimed Left is increasingly irrelevant to voters.

Initially this was attacked in the usual way, albeit moderately to a long time Standard leftie.

Stephanie Rodgers tried to dictate what should be talked about, as she often does.

Speaking of “both obvious and unavoided”, congratulations on completely erasing the key aspect of gender from the issue. On a post about how this issue is explicitly gendered, even!

Why not get outraged about the Left failing to take concrete steps to overthrow male entitlement? What about empowering vulnerable women, wherever they work? (The Roger Sutton case rather aptly showed how sexual harassment in the workplace isn’t limited to cafes.)

But I guess that would be terrible, no-one-cares-about-your-side-issues identity politics, wouldn’t it?

And then there was a branch that attacked Colonial Rawshark for not doing enough about what he was talking about himself. A common ‘attack the messenger’ practice.

But then there was some actual addressing of the issues raised. Redlogix:

Well expressed CV. By allowing the debate to be solely framed in misogynist terms, the Right easily fences the issue off into the feminist ghetto of NZ politics.

Which is sad. It’s way more important than this.

I’ve read Mandy’s excellent OP several times now with care. It’s a powerful piece, it emphasises, not just the idiocy of the PM’s behaviour, but the sickening response of so many to not only minimise it, but to attack the victim as well.

And then like you I’m left wondering ‘what next’? Why is the Left so powerless to act? Why when even something as tiny as Cunliffe expressing shame as a man for the violence perpetrated on women – why was that so readily ridiculed and belittled?

When Mandy writes:

There are also the online comments, proof (as if we needed it) that there is a deep seething underbelly of misogyny out there – and that issues of appropriateness, sexual intimidation, abuse of power and minimization of women’s complaints are not only misunderstood but carry no weight at all to a significant proportion of our population.

I am quite certain this is a subjective truth and reality for Mandy, yet when you are effectively telling half the population that they ‘hate women’ – something has gone badly wrong. This is not a vote winner if nothing else.

After 40 or more years of feminism, why is there so much misunderstanding, suspicion, and downright loathing in some quarters, between the genders? As this incident and it’s attendant blowback has demonstrated – it doesn’t seem to have taken us anywhere constructive.

There’s a good discussion on that, but it includes more attacks and diversions:

‘freedom:

“effectively telling half the population that they ‘hate women’ ”
Quite the contrary. I find the article to be one of the more empowering messages on this blog for sometime. Reminding all of us, regardless of gender, politics or circumstance, we are all responsible and necessary as part of the solution, every day

Marty mars:

sadly what tends to happen now imo is that the discussion will be moved, in oh so reasonable and soft tones, into the other areas – this is, imo, cv and reds way of showing they care about the issues raised in the post itself /sarc and of course they get to talk about themselves and their experience which is just so riveting and important /double sarc

RedLogix:

Your attempt at silencing and shaming is disgusting.

You’re tactics are no different, and lower than those being used by the Henry’s and Hosking’s of this world.

It’s not often that the common attempts to shut up and shame get called, but as an author Redlogix can get away with it. But not without being challenged:

One Anonymous Bloke:

It’s the violence inherent in the system. You’re being oppressed!

RedLogix:

No – marty was doing the derailing thing. Oppression is something altogether different.

But make a joke of it – have a bit of a ‘horse around’ if you like.

Marty mars:

untrue red – I posted a comment to another comment not to you or cv – I did that because I didn’t really want to engage and encourage you to begin the calm dissemination of what you think – I’m not interested, I’d rather hear and learn from women.

weka:

Marty was spot on in naming a dynamic that occurs here. Thanks btw for confirming it, by misusing Bailey’s experience of sexual harrassment by the PM as if that in any way has anything to do with marty commenting to you here. It’s inconceivable to me that you cannot see the power differences, so that just leaves your politics.

The shame is already on you for how you’ve brought yourself into this conversation in the way you often do. Marty just pointed it out.

One Anonymous Bloke, marty mars and weka are frequent members of the shut up and shame brigade.

Back to Colonial Rawshark’s first paragraph.

So, after several days of ongoing disgust, outrage, screaming and shouting, what courageous and concrete steps has the Political Left proposed to empower vulnerable and poorly paid service employees and contractors who find themselves in bad work situations?

The diversions, messenger attacking and shutting up has again prevailed (so far) as that remains unanswered.

It seems that waiters are frequently the target of poor customer behaviour.

Some on the right (it’s been rife at Kiwiblog) have tried to play this down by attacking and trying to discredit the waitress.

And some on the left have failed to address an important issue the hair puling raised.

Political activists are too active trying to wreck their opponents and too often fail to do anything practical to address the problems ordinary people, like waitresses, have to deal with day after day.

What now for waitresses and waiters?

UPDATE: another word from Colonial Rawshark:

My contention is that the Political Left has come forward with plenty of outrage and disgust, but it has not come forward with concrete proposals for change for empowering vulnerable workers victimised by customers or employers (regardless of whether that change is based on gender or on class).

And weka, one of the chief derailers of threads she doesn’t approve of, responded:

I’m sure it is CV. Pity you chose to bring it up in a way guaranteed to derail the thread and track it along the class politics vs gender politics path then.

I have no idea what you mean by the Political Left, but can only assume you are referring in part to authors and commenters here on ts. I’m seeing lots of activism and response to what has happened. Besides, I’m pretty sure that some legislation already exists to protect Bailey (and was ignored by the PM), and that the left wing parties already have policy that would give even more protection.

“regardless”

So take it to OM. This post and thread is about gender.

If the gender police speak then one mustn’t stray from their narrow path of discussion. How not to achieve anything outside one’s bubble.

Another promising discussion squashed. That has happened during the time I put this post together.

The Left’s handling of Key’s hair pulling

Labour and the Greens have had a bit to say about John Key’s hair pulling but this is a look at how left wing blogs have handled the hair story.

It began with EXCLUSIVE: The Prime Minister and the Waitress at The Daily Blog, and was introduced:

This is a guest blog from an anonymous waitress about the way John Key kept touching her when he repeatedly visited her place of work.  The waitress contacted us with her story, The Daily Blog did not seek her out or pressure her in anyway to write this blog. We are protecting her identity so she is not punished by her employer or social media victim blaming.

The question to ask after reading her words is if this bullying behaviour is acceptable from the Prime Minister of NZ.

It was entirely predictable that protecting her identity and preventing social media victim blaming was never going to succeed. Was ‘anonymous waitress’ duped and used by The Daily Blog, or were they really that dumb that they thought they could protect her?

The post has a date stamp only – April 22, 2015. It shows Last Modified: April 22, 2015 @ 6:02 am. The first comment was posted at April 22, 2015 at 6:22 am.

Two days later, on Friday evening, Danyl posted The story behind the story at The Dim-Post:

The other interesting (to me) thing about ponytailgate, or whatever we’re supposed to call it, is how the story broke.

If you take it to a blogger then that check for a balancing comment doesn’t happen. Bloggers don’t play by the rules. But what they do – and I’m thinking of Cameron Slater here, as well as his homologues overseas – is insert themselves into the story. They write it up, in imitation of a mainstream media story and then accompany it with commentary and interviews on the MSM outlets they affect to despise, and attempt to frame the story and promote themselves. In Slater’s case that tends to dilute the story since the attack is so clearly partisan and motivated by malice.

Bomber didn’t do that. Instead he simply published the waitress’s own account as a primary, information-rich source that the mainstream media could base their stories off. Reporters called the PM, but the scandal had already broken and the media were all matching each other’s stories. It couldn’t be shut down. And Bomber kept himself out of it all. That approach – publish a primary source and make it available to all media simultaneously – turned out to be a really awesome way to get the story out there.

Except that this isn’t The story behind the story, it’s only the first chapter.

If Whale Oil had posted an exclusive and David Farrar had picked up on it (or vice versa) possibly Danyl and certainly many on the left would have been shouting ‘two track Dirty Politics!’.

At 9.49 am on Wednesday morning there was a post at The Standard – My Little Ponytail. It looks well researched and carefully written post (not a rush job) by Te Reo Putake. He may well have been able to put that together in three hours. But he probably wouldn’t excuse a time lag between posts on Whale Oil and Kiwiblog. The concluding paragraph:

I simply don’t know if it’s accurate, but I do think we should be told Key’s side of the story. Or be presented with his head on a platter if it’s true.

So ” if it’s accurate” TRP wanted Key’s political head on a platter. And comments that followed feasted on a similar diet of downfall.

The Standard has been busy since then. Related posts so far:

22 April:

23 April:

24 April:

25 April:

Dirty politics was a common accusation – directed at the ‘attack as defence’ from Key defenders. The left forbid calling it dirty politics when they do similar.

And Danyl is wrong when he claims “Bomber didn’t do that. Instead he simply published the waitress’s own account ” and “And Bomber kept himself out of it all.”

That may apply to the initial post but on a blog you can’t look at one post in isolation.

Bradbury posted a follow-up statement from the waitress: UPDATE: The Prime Minister and the Waitress Part 2 – Dirty Politics? While he introduced it with this…

I think the young woman at the centre of the Prime Minister’s bewilderingly abusive and arrogant privilege is a hero. She has shown courage and fortitude that is pretty rare. To tell the Prime Minister to his face to stop touching her took enormous strength when you consider the power dynamics.

I did not believe her bravery should be denigrated by a mainstream media who look to get a victim blaming ratings kick. That was why I said I wouldn’t confirm her identity to any of the media who contacted me.

She thanked me for this but accepted that her name might be made public. This understood,  she was determined to direct that voice and allow it to be her narrative and her story told on her terms.

Out of her genuine concern for the reputation and economic ramifications her possible outing might have on her employers, she met with them Wednesday afternoon and was left in a position she had not agreed to.

She also challenges some of the comments the Prime Minister has made.

These are her words. She raises hard questions about the NZ Herald.

…the use of Dirty Politics in the headline and two photos, including this one…

gluc

Rachel Glucina and Government pollster and right wing political blogger, David Farrar

…make it fairly clear that Bradbury is far from keeping himself out of it. As far as I have seen Farrar has had nothing to do with this issue, he has commented a little (two posts) but has kept out of it far more than Bradbury.

I’ve seen no evidence Farrar had anything to do with Glucina’s hit job on the waitress in The Herald. Linking them like this is disingenuous. Some would call it dirty.

The Daily Blog currently features that same photo in it’s headline post. Dirty.

The Daily Blog (that Bradbury is a very prominent part of) has also been busy with other posts that aren’t ‘keeping out of it':

22 April:

23 April:

24 April:

25 April:

26 April:

Danyl himself has also been busier than usual, beginning with this:

I’ve already printed this out and posted it above my desk

ponytail

I wonder what else he has posted above his desk. It’s easy to see what else he’s posted at Dim-Post:

Left wing blogs have been very busy on this story. The haven’t simply let the waitresss story speak for itself. They have promoted and exaggerated the hell out of it.  They have made all sorts of claims, assumptions, accusations and demands.

Like Psycho Milt encapsulated::

Which left-wing prime minister has been bullying service staff and then getting their friends in the media to do a hatchet job when the person complains?

That’s blogging.

I’ve posted a few times on this myself. But I don’t claim one side does Dirty Politics while trying to pretend the other side is squeaky clean.

There has been a concerted effort from the left to bag Key and damage him as much as possible. Some of them think that at last they have found the straw they can break the back of his Prime Minister-ship with.

As I’ve shown in Key “didn’t deliberately intend” to abuse power Key accepts that what he did was “very very silly”.

But left wing blogs – authors and particularly commenters – have been overplaying their hand, as blogs often do.

They saw blood and scratched for all they were worth.

It could all be completely uncoordinated spontaneous series of attacks. And every attack and perceived from the right could be orchestrated by John Key and his minions.

But both sides will be somewhere in between those extremes, despite their screams.

And amongst that there’s a bit of Dirty Politics Derangement Syndrome

Some of the perils of waitressing

John Key pulling hair has raised the issue of how waiting staff are treated and what they have to put up with.

Jess McAllen is a journalist who has worked for seven years in the ‘hospitality industry’, a job that often has to deal with inhospitable clientele. She recounts some of her experiences at Stuff in Waitressing has its perks, but

At the end of the day, or night, we’d exchange tales over our staff drinks. The finger snappers, ass slappers, arrogant yellers and creepy dwellers: stuff that comes with the territory of bustling around on sub-par pay to serve food and drink.

When our Prime Minister’s dealings with a ponytailed waitress came to light, the response was unanimous: that’s creepy.

Not unanimous, there are some defenders and excusers of Key’s behaviour.

McAllen gives examples of what she and other waiting staff have to deal with.

Only days into your waitressing job does a certain type of man surface. He wears a suit and has a pretty good job. His arm is of the snaking kind; his breath lingers of craft beer. I’m trying not to generalise too much but advertisers, bankers and businessmen were usually the worst.

The men-in-suits table would usually tip well but at the expense of your dignity. They were the ones who slid their hands onto your lower back, who made crude jokes, who left you their number on a receipt.

Perceptions of power plus money and booze can bring out the worst in rudeness with some people (I don’t think that applies to Key).

Waitresses tie their hair up, not only because it’s a health hazard to let it loose but because balancing trays and moving your head around means you can be pulled into a dark vortex when turning suddenly (as I learnt, aged 16, when my hair got stuck in a Burgerfuel milkshake machine).

But tying hair up (a ponytail is tied up hair) doesn’t prevent unwanted attention.

Pity the waitress with long frizzy hair, she’s dubbed Pippy Long Stockings for the night when she tries to plait it and the temptation for customers to tug is double.

So tied hair can be an occupational hazard

To make up for my passive approach, when a rude customer started yelling and I had a couple of tables in my section I’d take a few steps back. The customer would have to really project their obscenities. I’d change my body language to submissive, the rest of the section listening to my profusely apologising while some guy was cussing about his hollandaise dressing.

It’s fine (and important) to complain about food or service when justified but in a supposedly civil society it can be done civilly.

There’s no profession quite as disempowering as serving people food and drink. Wait staff often have 5 to 10 tables in their area that they are looking after and have timed food and drink orders precisely. When you’re carrying four plates, remembering two drink orders from separate tables because you can’t write it down on your note pad and someone starts clicking their fingers at you like you’re a dog, things get flustered.

A friend would collect numbers given to her on receipts, and hand them out to men asking for her number.

That could be interesting, but it could be occupationally hazardous. Pissing off arseholes could have repercussions if they are regular customers.

My creepiest customer was Charlie. He never pulled my hair but he would follow me around, knowing  and knew it caused me great discomfort – which seemed to double the fun. He came in every afternoon for a round of beers with a bunch of middle-aged men. He’d come up and talk to me while I was punching orders in the till. He’d go past all other staff to be served by me.

One time he asked: “do I scare you?” as the manager told him to leave me alone.

From then on he would repeatedly ask me that question, despite his friends telling him to leave it. When I saw him outside of work at a train station I felt petrified as he followed me onto Queen Street.

That’s very creepy. I hope one of Charlie’s friends reads this article and shows it to him. Perhaps there will be a few members of families with Charlies in them who read it and ask questions.

You get a social fix. When you’re in the zone, balancing trays, drinks and banter you feel like a comedian doing a great set – connecting on a high level with the audience like some jedi waiter. You can get lost in the job. Other days it’s miserable – hell on earth.

Anyone can have a bad day. It’s not nice when it’s others who deliberately make it a bad day.

“If you remember all four of our names by the end of dinner we’ll tip $50,” said one group of men over their $100 starter..

“Take a photo with us and we’ll give you $30,” declared a man downing whiskey during an All Blacks game at a Eden Park bar.

“I’ll give you ten dollars for everything you do right but take ten dollars of for everything you do wrong,” said another.

I wonder if men like that treat prostitutes the same. It wouldn’t be surprising if they were that sort of clientèle.

Drunk men grab your ass, touch your back, hug you. The tugging of a ponytail was usually brief and never long enough for fear but sparked annoyance and a sense of not owning myself.

My friend who waitressed for a catering company said her worst experience was when a guy at an awards evening tried to pull her top down as she leaned forward to pick up his plate.

Some of the worst arseholes are drunk leering touching grabbing arseholes.

Other friends have caught men trying to take pictures of them on their cellphones, have had men firmly plant their hand on their lower back while taking orders, been asked if they have piercings “down there”.

In their day jobs most of them probably manage to maintain professional relationships. In their social lives they reveal their personalities, albeit lubricate with booze.

As for being called babe, baby, honey and the ever common “girl”, it’s part of parcel of the job.

Offensive, demeaning.

If you’re the customer that repeatedly tugs a waitresses hair, smacks your hand on the bar, yells out ‘hey, hey, oi, you’ the bartender or waitress will certainly look – but only to know who to serve last. When you run the country, that’s a different story.

Yes, a different story. See Key “didn’t deliberately intend” to abuse power.

Key “didn’t deliberately intend” to abuse power

It’s been established as un-denied fact that Prime Minister John Key pulled a cafe waitress’ hair on a number of occasions.

Key has apologised for it, and has said it was “very very silly”, but has denied he misused his power. He has said it was the opposite, he was trying to put people at ease in an informal setting.

From a Thursday report on 3 News – Key’s hair-pulling raises behaviour questions:

Mr Key has publicly apologised to waitress Amanda Bailey, 26, for persistently pulling her ponytail while visiting her Auckland cafe over the last six months.

The embarrassing apology was prompted by Ms Bailey’s contribution to the left-wing Daily Blog website yesterday, in which she accused the Prime Minister of harassing and bullying her.

At first she believed it was playful – Mr Key sometimes pretended it was his wife Bronagh who did it – but she then informed Mr Key’s security that one day she would snap and punch him in the face.

Mr Key mocked her when she raised it personally with him and it left her crying frustrated tears because she felt tormented and powerless, she said.

When quizzed by reporters at Los Angeles Airport, Mr Key said he had been joking around with the waitress.

“There’s always lots of horsing around and sort of practical jokes and that’s all there really was to it,” he said.

The media has had limited access to Key as he was travelling to Gallipoli. On Friday 3 News reported:

Mr Key admitted misreading the situation and says he understands why it’s causing concern.

“When these things play out later on they look a lot more serious, people take other readings from it and I understand that and I take responsibility for that,” he told reporters when he arrived in Turkey today for the Gallipoli centenary commemorations.

“I’m pretty casual and laid-back … playing along a little bit, and that’s very, very silly on my part… I should have read the situation more accurately. I’ll learn from the experience.”

So he has conceded he was at fault and it had been “very, very silly on my part”.

It doesn’t appear to be online but on 3 News last night Key explained further, in response to a question from Patrick Gower:

Gower: When you accepted you got it wrong, do you accept that you misused your power?

Key: No, because I didn’t deliberately intend to do that, it was the opposite. I intended to try and be in a much more informal sort of setting so that I put people at ease and we could have a bit of a laugh and have a bit of fun so it’s really opposite.

But I accept that that’s an interpretation that someone could get.

News reader: Key said in the cold light of day he accepts what he thought what was kidding around did not seem that funny later.

This may be played on The Nation this morning.

There have been many claims of abuse of power, sexual abuse, misogyny and bullying.These seem to be overstating the situation at best.

The effect of Key’s actions is in part of bullying but his explanation sounds reasonable, bullying wasn’t his intent, it was inadvertent. He was trying  to be an ordinary person goofing around.

But as Prime Minister he can never be seen totally as an ordinary person. Key will always have a non-ordinary status, no matter how hard he tried to be seen otherwise.

And he accepts that he went too far, and accepts that what he did could be seen as an abuse of power.

As has been said before one person’s buffoon can be another person’s arsehole, and a recidivist buffoon can become an arsehole.

Key appears to get this.

This has been embarrassing for Key, it has caused some people to see him differently and it may have an ongoing impact on him and his popularity.

It’s an easy avenue of ridicule and it’s certain be used as a persistent means of attack by some opponents.

But unless something else is revealed, or if court action succeeds (experts have said that’s unlikely), it shouldn’t do any further damage.

Another story has emerged out of this, how some left wing activists have played the story. That will be covered in the next post.

“Just a bit of fun” – buffoon or arsehole?

John Key has apparently repeated claiming the hair pulling was “just a bit of fun” (reported on the Paul Henry Show).

He has already been quoted saying it was “horsing around”, an unfortunate description of pony tail pulling.

At Kiwiblog, where there has been a lot of excuse making for Key’s behaviour, Weihana suggested:

Seems more buffoon-ish than arsehole-ish.

One of Key’s traits is being a bit buffoonish, and some find it endearing.

The problem here is that one person’s buffoon can be another person’s arsehole.

It’s not uncommon for bullies to claim they are just having a bit of fun, just horsing around, just being a buffoon. However the targets of their attention may think otherwise, and often do.

The victim of Key’s hair pulling has made it clear she didn’t think it was fun.

And buffoons who persist can become arseholes to those on the receiving end.

This is something that Key hasn’t yet shown he understands. And neither apparently do his defenders.

I think this is something Key has to address. If he does he could repair some of the damage. If he doesn’t the damage could and probably will deepen.

Many people are ‘weirded out” by what Key seems to have a habit of doing. If they remain weirded out then Key’s chances of being kicked out by voters will grow.

Some people say this issue will quickly fade away. It will, partially. But there’s a very good chance it will be a nail or two in National’s last term coffin.

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