Jenna Lynch, Paula Bennett on feminism

There was a lot of online discussion about feminism on International Women’s Day. Bryce Edwards has done a Political Roundup: The state of feminism in 2017

Feminism is more mainstream than ever before. And as a society we’re talking more about gender issues, inequality and sexual politics. But what does “feminism” mean in 2017 New Zealand? And is it being incorporated into the Establishment.

He includes:

Prime Minister Bill English recently got in trouble with feminists for his reluctance to define himself as a feminist, together with his stated uncertainty about what feminism now means. Deputy PM Paula Bennett was also criticised when she said there are days when she’s too busy to be concerned with feminist issues.


Finally, for a satirical take on Paula Bennett’s part-time feminism, see Katie Parker’s opinion piece on RNZ’s The Wireless website: Diary of a Most Days Feminist.

Surprisingly he missed this from Jenna Lynch at Newshub: The critics are wrong: Paula Bennett is a staunch feminist

Lynch on trying to convert her boyfriend to feminism:

The thing is, I want him to be a feminist.

I want him to care about equal pay and domestic violence and sexual violence.

I want him to understand the impact those things have on me, on his sister, on his mum  on all of the other amazing women in his life.

It took me a while, but I now understand why he doesn’t want to be a feminist.

Truth be told some feminists can be pretty damn nasty and as a man he feels attacked – like he can’t really join the conversation.

And as I wrote that sentence I thought of the people he thinks of when he thinks of feminists. Those people will probably say I’ve just set the cause back 10,000 decades.

They’ll probably call me a misogynist apologist, or a patriarchy sympathiser, or something equally as ridiculous for even trying to understand his side of the story.

Let’s make one thing clear: Of course I’m a feminist.

New research shows that the pay gap is mainly down to bias – outrageous.

Women look around boardroom tables and all they see is men – woeful.

Our domestic violence stats are horrendous. Our sexual violence stats are appalling.

But when others were baying for blood because our Minister for Women said she’s only a feminist “most days” I found it difficult to understand.

So she asked Bennett to explain her “part-time feminism”.

“The truth is I am every day.”

The reason she initially said “most days” is because some days, being a feminist is bloody hard yakka.

“There’s some days when there are ones that are just so anti, and man-hating and awful that you think if I’m compared to them that’s not who I want to be.”

Those (a small minority but often vocal) who try to enforce a strict and extreme form of feminism and attack anyone who dares to dally outside their box can be counter-productive to their cause, they drive away or shut up more moderate feminists.

What she does want to be is Minister for Women. She has two issues to tackle: The gender pay gap and sexual and domestic violence against women. She’s passionate about both.

She says she specifically asked the Prime Minister to be the Minister for Women – and admits Bill English was surprised to hear it.

“The Prime Minister was like ‘Wow, I hadn’t thought of that’.”

That’s because the portfolio has previously been treated with disrespect or even contempt; hurled at a junior minister to up their number of responsibilities.

Disrespect and contempt has been hurled at Bennett for trying to do more with the Ministry.

For example at The Standard (written by a man) The gender pay gap – grandstanding but no action

A new report has some really interesting findings on the gender pay gap. Paula Bennett engaged in a bit of grandstanding, but it rings completely hollow given National’s history on the issue.

Bennett is calling on employers to “conduct gender pay audits and to declare the results”. As if that is going to happen. If the Nats were serious about addressing the pay gap there is much more they could do. Instead of voluntary audits, how about some legislation? Eight long years – and counting.

Keith comments:

Bennett is so pathetic. Where has she been this last 3 months?

It is transparently obvious National are panicking and quickly whipped up a script for her to say something, anything meaningless but yet to appear relevant. Jacinda has taken way too much limelight.

But if you really cared, which you do not, how about the appalling and growing inequality on all levels Paula of which you know about this well, families holed up in motels, living hand to mouth, living in cars, working people Paula, not your hated bennys! Inequality for woman’s pay has nothing on this festering sore.

Do you have the guts to deal with that rather than this floss? The fuck you do, that’s way too hard and anyway it’s a natural spin off of Nationals moronic economic management!

Back to Lynch on Bennett:

But Ms Bennett wanted it this time to show it is important.

“We’ve got a couple of big challenges and I’m fully equipped to kind of leap in and tackle them so I just wanted to be the Minister for Women, I thought it was a great message as well that the Deputy Prime Minister and most senior woman in Cabinet wants the job,” she says.

But instead of focusing on a Deputy Prime Minister WANTING to stand up for women many feminists were outraged because she didn’t fit in their box.

They forgot that she punched through glass ceilings herself. They forgot she mentors other women so they can do the same. They forgot that she spoke out against violence against women – remember when she took on the Chiefs rugby franchise for their awful treatment of a stripper when the former Women’s Minister wouldn’t?

Well yesterday the minister clapped right back.

“We define feminism in this day and age for ourselves.

“I believe in equality for women.”

She addressed her critics  explaining herself while still respecting them.

“If you are a little bit not-fitting-in-the-box-that-other-people-want-to-draw-for-you, you come up against this criticism.

“I just can’t get over if you don’t fit into someone else’s definition of what they think an absolute feminist should be, you get this absolutely harsh critical sort of shout out to you that’s kind of unnecessary.

“So I’ll own it for me. I’ll define it for me. And I’ll totally respect everyone else’s ability to do that for themselves.”

The minister is right. Feminism is whatever we want it to be.

If Bennett wants to make real progress for women through what she has volunteered for she will not only have to fight hard against prejudices against women that are still entrenched.

She will also have to fight against political prejudices. And against people who call themselves feminists but have strong prejudices against anyone who doesn’t fit their ideal.

I would have thought that a core part of being a feminist would be allowing women with variations in views to express them and to promote and live with feminism in their own way.

And not to be bound by the dictates of an intolerant and narrow minded matriarchy.

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  1. Newshub (including Lynch) asked a few more MPs about their views on feminism:

    Are you a feminist? MPs respond on International Women’s Day

  2. chrism56

     /  March 10, 2017

    The gender pay gap may be a good example of lying with statistics. One of the examples trumpeted was the pay gap for engineers. If one actual looked at the body of the report, one finds the median female engineer was significantly younger/ less experienced than the median male. So the median pay would be lower. There was a significant spread in pay for the same experience between different fields of work. This spread was greater than the gender gap. It was not taken into account for the sex analysis.
    When one sees and knows of this type of data manipulation, and how it is trumpeted by those who should no better, it is very hard to feel any empathy, even for legitimate claims.

    • Blazer

       /  March 10, 2017

      feeble argument.It is quite clear that there is a discrepency in pay rates.Alison Mau’s position is debateable though.Showbiz/talent male or female is dependent on bankability.

    • Missy

       /  March 10, 2017

      The gender pay gap was discussed on one of the radio station’s here this morning, what was pointed out is that in the UK more women go to University and get degrees and in their 20’s women tend to earn more than men on average, this tends to change when women are in the 30’s and 40’s. The main reason for the gap widening in the UK is the time women take off for having children, and raising them. The time out of the workforce means that men gain more experience and move on in their careers, and when women re-enter the workforce they are therefore behind in experience, and knowledge of up to date processes or information in their field. Based on this surely it is only right that these women are paid less than the men – and women – who did not take the time off.

      Another problem when talking about the gender pay gap is the comparison of apples and oranges. Where professions that are predominantly female are compared with professions that are predominantly male.

      In my job in Wellington, when compared with similar positions in other organisations I was actually paid higher than other organisations, I was also paid higher than some of the men in my office. In my current job of the 6 staff doing comparable jobs two men are paid highest because they have been with the organisation for over 20 years, I am next highest paid with another woman, and then the lowest paid two are one man and one woman. But the woman are not paid lower because of gender, it is down to experience and competence.

  3. David

     /  March 10, 2017

    If men took leave to raise children apparently there would be no difference in earnings between the sexes, as it should be. I am struggling to find any area where women do worse than men and if anything they are doing better than men.
    My lawyer, accountant, property manager, interweb techie, marketing guru all women and all very good. All my lower paid and less skilled work with one exception are done by men.
    My wife has a succesful career, my sister owns a software company, my daughter is in university after outshining her brothers…what the hell are the most priviliged people on earth complaining about and I am asking on behalf of my wife.
    No I wouldnt want to be called a feminist but women can do anything.

    • Missy

       /  March 10, 2017

      Snap – sort of. You are right, par to the issue for the pay gap is the time taken to raise children.

      I used to work with a couple, they had a child, the mother took her required maternity leave and went back to work while her husband then became the stay at home dad because her salary was higher.

  4. PDB

     /  March 10, 2017

    From PG’s link: “Crispin says contemporary feminism has lost its way – and the divide between the movement’s rhetoric and the real-life experience of women is only getting bigger.”

    “Henson argues that contemporary feminists “have hijacked a movement that used to be about equality, which a lot of women can relate to, and transformed it into a movement that is all about man-hating, which virtually no women can relate to.” She argues that it’s quite possible to be in favour of gender equality and women’s’ liberation without calling yourself a feminist.”

    Hijacked by far-left wing extremists like what has happened with Greenpeace, traditionally centre-left political parties, climate-change alarmists and the like.

  5. Missy

     /  March 10, 2017

    There has been some controversy here over the last few days regarding a long time presenter on the BBC, Dame Jenni Murray, who made comments regarding transgender women (something along the lines that they don’t have the same understanding of growing up female as someone born female), this led to her being sanctioned by the BBC and the far-left wing extremists and proponents of identity politics. This led to this letter in the Telegraph today:

    “SIR – Dame Jenni Murray (Letters, March 8) has been criticised by Stonewall for pointing out that many trans women “model themselves on a male view of what a woman should be” as they lack “the shared experience of those who had grown up female”.

    Reasonable efforts have been made to accommodate those with gender dysphoria, but however fulsome our obeisance to the god of sexual diversity, it will never be sufficient for an idol with feet of clay, representing a religion already collapsing under the weight of its own contradictions.

    Its theology consists of celebrating minority sexual practices, its mission is to confuse as many children as possible into thinking that they may have been “born into the wrong body”.

    Far from practising tolerance and valuing difference, it bullies critics into silence when they complain about its morality and more rotten science.

    The sexual diversity religion is not about equality, for if someone born female is less equal than a man who thinks he is a woman, it has not only succeeded in abolishing women but feminism too.”

    An interesting perspective that I don’t entirely disagree with.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  March 10, 2017

      Given the differences between the sexes it would be surprising if there were no income differences. But the differences within the sexes are far, far greater than those between them. Why are we worried about the little ones?

      • Missy

         /  March 10, 2017

        Just out of curiosity what do you mean by ‘the differences between the sexes’? Are you talking in terms of biology or life choices? Because if it is the former then I object, biology should make no difference to pay, if the latter then that is fair enough, in general women tend to make choices based on more than just money.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  March 10, 2017

          I’m talking both because the first affects the second as well as interests and skills. I agree prejudice or sexual discrimination should make no difference to pay – but inevitably they do. For example I read yesterday that female porn stars are paid more than male. Good looking people generally tend to get paid more than less fortunate as well. Life is unfair and we have to cope.

          • Missy

             /  March 11, 2017

            Ah right, so looking at what is rather than how it should be.

            That makes sense.

          • Blazer

             /  March 11, 2017

            do the female porn stars deserve more pay in your opinion Al.Me I never watch the…stuff.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  March 11, 2017

              Dunno, B. I’m not in a position to judge.

              But I guess like all employment agreements its based on supply,and demand and what the customers want. There’s quite a few places where men pay and women get in free for similar reasons.

  6. Alan Wilkinson

     /  March 11, 2017