Wait to see effectiveness of #metoonz

The international #metoo campaign has been picked up in New Zealand with the #metoonz campaign started by Alison Mau and supported by Stuff journalists. There are risks, care needs to be taken to respect due process, but it is good that they are trying a robust way of addressing the issue of sexual harassment and crime.

Alison Mau on the cover of the Sunday Star Times launchng the #MeTooNZ campaign.

RNZ: MeToo media campaign inundated with messages

Inspired by #MeToo campaigns abroad, broadcaster Alison Mau and publisher Stuff are urging New Zealanders to blow the whistle on sexual assault and harassment at work. ​

What was described as the “worst kept secret” in Wellington’s legal circles was certainly news to the rest of the country when online outlet Newsroom revealed serious sexual misconduct at law firm Russell McVeagh last month. It’s reported on several incidents involving several lawyers at the firm over a seven-year period.

Dame Margaret Bazley will now review Russell McVeagh, the Law Society is looking at new ways of investigating complaints, and most law schools have withdrawn from the firm’s internship and law clerk programmes and sponsorships have scrapped.

All that this was kicked off by the investigative journalism of Melanie Reid and Sasha Borissenko at Newsroom.

Individual lawyers have also given the story more legs such as former litigation lawyer Olivia Wensley who went public last week with her own experience. Among her suggestions for fixing this was an anonymous tip-off service victims or witnesses could use to notify the Law Society.

The same day broadcaster and Sunday Star Times columnist Alison Mau announced a service where people can report direct to her and publisher Stuff.

Ms Mau said she was inspired and encouraged by a former a colleague in Australia – journalist Tracey Spicer – who kicked off an investigation into sexual abuse in the media and entertainment industry there last October.

By last Monday, Ms Mau said hundreds of women had been in touch with stories she described as “heartbreaking”.

Stuff’s chief editor Mark Stevens told Mediawatch two journalists – Cecile Meier and Michelle Duff – will work closely with Ms Mau.

“That can be dialed up depending on need and outcomes. It could change at any time. Beyond that, we have support from Stuff senior editors right through to administration support,” he said.

In an article launching the campaign Ms Mau said there will be “a triage system” to assess people’s complaints.

It is important for vitims that they get things right. It is important for the campaign that they minimise the chances of getting things wrong.

What’s the actual goal of the Stuff MeTooNZ campaign?

“This is about achieving change. For individuals who suffered while their persecutors prospered. And to make this country, its institutions and its workplaces safer for those who dwell here,” stuff.co.nz editor Patrick Crewdson and Sunday Star Times editor Jonathan Milne wrote in a joint editorial published in the paper last weekend.

“It may be too soon to say whether Me Too and the related Time’s Up movement will achieve the lasting cultural change of the civil rights movement or the sexual revolution. But it’s not too soon to realise confronting sexual misconduct is a defining issue of our time,” they wrote.

When launching the campaign, Ms Mau said she wanted to hear from anyone with a story to tell in any profession or industry where “it seems this kind of criminal behaviour is rife.”

“There are certain male-dominated industries that have a problem. I can see that clearly just from the first 100 or 150 emails and messages I got,” said Ms Mau.

“I’m looking first at organisations or companies showing systemic problems with harassment and have been like that for years. We are concentrating on those because… the perpetrators are still in place and people are in danger, ” she said.

They have to be careful they don’t unfairly implicate organisations or companies.

They will need to be very careful with legal firms like Russell McVeagh (who have acknowledged problems and set up an independent inquiry into problems there).

But they can potentially do a lot of good, holding businesses and people in power to account for inappropriate and illegal sexual behaviour and harassment.

28 Comments

  1. Chuck Bird

     /  March 12, 2018

    I get sick of lesbians like Mau coming with her misandrist crap about domestic violence. I called her up when she was on talkback and let her know that lesbian violence was at least as bad as hetersexaul violence.

    • This isn’t about domestic violence – it is targeting sexual misconduct in companies and organisations.

      So stick to the topic rather than letting your prejudices about Mau and lesbians out on something else.

  2. alloytoo

     /  March 12, 2018

    My concern with these sort of movements which are outside due process that that someone gets misconduct/harrassment hung over their head because they made a pass 20 years ago in a fashion which would be deemed inappropriate today.

  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  March 12, 2018

    Isolated incidents will be hard to judge. Where there is a pattern will be easier.

    • Gezza

       /  March 12, 2018

      Well that’s what they say they’re looking for, so let’s hope they do focus on predators & not the misjudged pass of some poor lovestruck colleague of years back that was just resented. I’m reasonably satisfied from what I’ve read so far they will, but I’m also wary of former tv stars maybe feeling like its time to get in the limelight again.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  March 12, 2018

        Yes. You have to wonder if Stuff and Mau are helping themselves first and foremost.

        • Kimbo

           /  March 12, 2018

          They are in the business, first and foremost, of selling fish and chip wrapper, so I don’t think there is much to wonder about.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  March 12, 2018

            Sighhhh…..fish & chips just aren’t the same now (not that I eat fish) with that boring white paper and not newspaper.

  4. Trevors_Elbow

     /  March 12, 2018

    Soooo….. a witch hunt is kicked off

    If a false complaint gets made, gets turned into a story in the media and a persons reputation is trashed… will Stuff et al be strictly liable? We all know the story often trumps the truth for Media – thats what makes them coin after all. So Yeah, Nah to any liability for the media if they get it badly wrong…. I’m sure a little apology or greater good statement will cover up all sins.

    This campaign will right some wrongs maybe, BUT some new wrongs are going to be created with little if any redress available.

    There is no process here, no natural justice. Tears will ensue

    • PartisanZ

       /  March 12, 2018

      Upticks equal masculine fear and anger? Downticks equal feminine empathy and understanding?

      Just asking … What do others think they symbolize?

      How many top sportsmen have been accused and acquitted of rape or sexual harassment or inappropriate sexual behaviour in the last 4 or 5 years … ?

      Reputations “trashed” …?

  5. Zedd

     /  March 12, 2018

    This is starting to morph into; an angry mob with flaming torches, looking for their next ‘target’… :/

    I do accept that Sexual misconduct needs to be addressed, but maybe a bit more rational thought, needs to be added.. rather than irrational hysteria ?

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  March 12, 2018

      (cynical larf) Yeah, right.

      Some racing driver has been accused of rape, and The Waikato Times has his name, photo and details on the front page ! I would like to see the same treatment for those who make false accusations. I have no idea if he’s guilty or not, but the front page treatment certainly makes it seem as if the WT assumes that accusation=guilt.

      How do they get away with this ?

  6. Gezza

     /  March 12, 2018

    #nzmetoo might’ve been a wiser choice than #metoonz.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  March 12, 2018

      Japan would be metoon.

      The US = metoousa ?

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  March 12, 2018

        And Thailand would be metooth ! (falls off sofa larfing at own wit)

    • PartisanZ

       /  March 12, 2018

      Yes, thoughtful … but without much faith in the innate resilience, self-awareness and practical adaptability of other human beings … none of whom will have encountered therapy … and who all clearly need a therapist to process their trauma.

      How ever did they survive until now?

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  March 12, 2018

        I guess most did and a few didn’t, Possum. And like army vets there were probably some damaged lives amongst them suffering PTSD – depending on the severity of the events and the sensitivity of the victim. They are dealing with an issue which ranges from the trivial to the horrific and may get the full range of responses.

        • PartisanZ

           /  March 12, 2018

          William Blake wrote, “Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires”

          He may have been talking about ‘desires’ such as the desire to heal?

          And not just heal only oneself …

          I’ll give Alison Mau the benefit of the doubt on this one, hoping she incorporates as many safeguards as possible …

    • Pickled Possum

       /  March 12, 2018

      Mau said,
      “In just a couple of days she said she had received 200 messages from people detailing what she said were sometimes very serious complaints. She described some of them as “heartbreaking” and “horrific.”

      She said she had found the stories of how harassment or abuse had ruined people’s lives “affecting.”
      “They leave their jobs or even their careers. They end up broken. It’s awful.”

      DHC said,
      “Quite a few of the people who had contacted her had never spoken about their situation before and just “wanted to tell somebody in confidence”, Ms Mau said.
      It strikes me as a mistake to choose a journalist as the best person to tell anything “in confidence.” Let alone your most traumatic experience”.

      Yep Cameron Slate,r Steven Cook, Bevan Chuang and the Sex-poiltation scandal ring any bells.

      Is it the power of many voices that give strength to others to open up,
      Why would they put their names out there in cyberspace forever to be seen,
      unless an article 17 was made in NZ. Utu never sleeps for some people.

      Is the power of securing a full time well paid job, in the hands of power hungry,
      sex deviants, who couldn’t give a FF for their fellow humans well being.
      Who breeds these people?

      Did all these complainants think.. “Shit it must be my fault!” for them to stay silent
      or could some of their silent behaviour lead them to believe this.
      Men and woman need to sharpen up! and take back their power from these bullies.

      I tautoko DHC “I am more concerned right now with the way vulnerable people are being encouraged to exhume their pasts in public”.

  7. Norman Grey

     /  March 12, 2018

    There are always 2 [or sometimes more] sides to every story/accusation/whinge/misinterpretation.
    Anything Mau writes has a certain bias and needs careful dissection – the dubious belief.

  8. PartisanZ

     /  March 12, 2018

    #metoonz is like a diver finally breaking the surface with a mighty ‘gasp’ after nearly running out of air on the way up from the dark depths …

    Possibly a little temporary oxygen deprivation but definitely no ‘bends’ …

    • PartisanZ

       /  March 12, 2018

      Men have got stuff to face up to in gender relations … just like Whites have got stuff to face up to in race relations …

      • Gezza

         /  March 12, 2018

        Might as well just accept the Kenyans will beat them. Have you seen how streamlined those Masai dudes are? And how high they can jump. The chicks really dig them too.

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