Barbecue ban would stretch out LPG resources

Barbecues may be completely banned this year.

For many years now open fire (wood or charcoal) barbecues have effectively been banned in most places – you need to get a fire permit to light one, and who can plan that far ahead with the fickleness of New Zealand weather?

The Government ban on new oil and gas exploration permits means that clean burning gas will be at a premium, with estimates that it may only last another seven years at current rates of use – see ‘Hasty’ lawmaking may lead to increased emissions.

Banning domestic LPG use – for most people this means gas for their barbecues – will stretch out the life of LPG for essential uses.

There should be an added benefit in further reductions in emissions, due to a reduction in males drinking (beverages with gas) and burping around the barbecues.

So a ban on barbecues would have a number of benefits for the environment.

But there could be a conflict with the Greens, if people are required to have gender equality in cooking time. Currently barbecues are the main avenue for males to cook, and that’s usually only in weekends.

There is a fear that without barbecues men might switch to cooking more baked beans, and that would just switch to a different emission problem.

The barbecue ban has been kept quiet for fear of another adverse effect – a rise in hot air on talkback radio.

Julie Anne Genter: feminism = gender equality

Feminism can be a contentious term these days. Like many things it can cover a number of things, from more general gender equality to extreme pro-woman anti-man stances. Some men embrace feminism, some men plead to go back to the good old days of male domination and paternalism.

An interview at Stuff of Green co-leader contender Julie Anne Genter on her feminist credentials: Minister for Women, mother-to-be, full-time feminist – but can a feminist also claim to champion gender equality without a balancing male rights ism?

BM: You’ve called yourself a “full-time feminist”. I was wondering, for want of a better phrase, when was your “feminist awakening”?

JAG: I was always really passionate about equal rights for men and women. But when I was about 19, I took a history class called Women in American History, and that was a revelation. It was the first time that I got to understand the history of North America from the perspective of women, who are often left out of the history books. Ordinary women who make society work. [Of course,] there are the Emma Goldmans [anarchist political activist and writer], who are incredibly inspiring… I had a bumper sticker that was a quote from Emma Goldman: “Well behaved women rarely make history…”

Most people – men or women, don’t ‘make history’. Most men who have been recorded in history stand out from the crowd. Same for women – but far fewer have been recorded in history.

Partly this has been due to societies being dominate by men. But partly it was biological – until not very long ago most people did a lot more manual labour just to survive, and most people died much younger than now. This means that women had little time to make history if they did what most did, had babies and raised families.

BM: Was there any particular woman’s story from that course that has stayed with you?

JAG: Women like Harriet Tubman, who were helping African Americans escape from slavery during a time of horrific injustice in North American history… And stories of ordinary women, who weren’t African American – white women – who went against everything in their education and their community because they saw this injustice, who helped lead the abolition.

There were ordinary men who did likewise – that doesn’t detract from what some women did, but fighting injustice and unfair power was a difficult challenge for both genders.

BM: In your own life, who has been a role model for you?

JAG: My mother Pauline, she is pretty inspiring. She’s a scientist and she raised three children. My father was a doctor and they were always champions for all of us. I have two younger brothers. So, I was the oldest. And the bossiest. I’m really good friends with my brothers. I was a bit of a tomboy… Our parents very much had the spirit of, “women are equal, women have an important role to play in society that’s more than just raising children”.

My mother was a significant influence on my attitude to genders and role models. She battled against being confined to feminine roles. Most importantly, she had a strong attitude of not caring what others thought or expected, and she just tried to do what she wanted to do. She was quite successful at this, and she was admired in circles she associated with. But she was quite selfish without knowing it – she assumed others (children and grand children) would love to do what she loved to do.

I rebelled against this a bit as a result – I learned a form of gender equality off my mother, in that anyone should do anything they wanted to do regardless of gender. But just as she did things that others didn’t expect or approve of, I also learned to do things that I wanted to do, and that wasn’t following her interests.

JAG: …I know that they believe in gender equality – and that’s all feminism is about. There’s nothing “anti-men” about it. There’s nothing “anti-men” about being a feminist.

It’s all feminism is about for some people, and it’s an ideal I agree with. For others (probably a minority of feminists) feminism is about of taking over roles from men, of having a turn at power.

Gender equality is an interesting term – it’s hard to argue against all people being treated equally, regardless of gender, but we all have differences – different circumstances and different needs.

A baby should have some equal rights as a human being, but no one suggests they should have the right to vote or the right to marry. At what age should everyone be treated equally (except for prisoners and people who are mentally incapable of caring for themselves) have equal rights to all those older than themselves? Our society has decided this is different ages for different things.

Back to feminism – it is actually a gender specific term. Shouldn’t feminism and masculism be combined into one gender neutral term if it means gender equality. Feminists don’t have an exclusive right to equality.

Equality should be a right regardless of gender.

In general I share Julie Anne’s equality ideals, but I don’t see myself as a feminist, nor a masculist.

I’m not a gender neutralist either: “describes the idea that policies, language, and other social institutions should avoid distinguishing roles according to people’s sex or gender, in order to avoid discrimination arising from the impression that there are social roles for which one gender is more suited than another” sounds like a description of ‘too PC’ to me.

And not adhering strictly to equalitism given the age and other exceptions that seem necessary, I don’t know what to describe my gender/equality views as.

Back to Julie Anne Genter – is someone promoting themselves as a feminist in their bid to become a female co-leader fine because they are balancing themselves against the role of the male co-leader (but does James Shaw promote himself as a masculist?). Is JAG really a champion of equality?

Greens and Cabinet gender equality

Two years ago James Shaw stated that Greens will ensure gender balance in Cabinet

The Green Party is today announcing that, in Government, it will ensure half of all Green Cabinet Ministers are women, and will call on other members of any coalition Government it is involved in to do the same.

Green Party Co-leader James Shaw announced to the CTU conference in Wellington today that the Green Party would put gender equality at the heart of any Government it is involved in, starting with equal representation in Cabinet.

“Our hope is that by leading by example, and ensuring gender equality at the Cabinet table, the Green Party can stimulate and support a wave of gender equity reforms for women who work,” Mr Shaw said.

“A Government with 70 percent of its Ministers men isn’t good for women and it isn’t good for New Zealand.

“By committing to a gender balance in Cabinet, the Green Party won’t immediately fix the inequalities women are forced to deal with at work every day, but it will show that we are committed to gender equality everywhere, starting with where we work ourselves,” Mr Shaw said.

I don’t know how much priority the Greens will put on this policy in coalition negotiations.

The Greens haven’t achieved gender equality in their own caucus. They campaigned on having a line up dominated by females, and have ended up with two male MPs and six female MPs.

In contrast NZ First is slanted the other way, with two female MPs to seven male MPs, so I guess there is balance between the two of them.

Labour have more female MPs this time ( I count 21 of their 46 MPs as female), but most of their experienced MPs likely to fill Cabinet positions are male. Three of their top ten MPs are female, and just seven of their top twenty.

So gender balance in a Labour-NZ First-Green government would be difficult to achieve.

Overall the new Parliament is slanted male, still.  From Kiwiblog The 52nd New Zealand Parliament Demographics:

Gender

  • 74 (-8) Males, 62% (-6%)
  • 46 (+7) Females, 38% (+6%)

Seven of National’s top twenty MPs are female so if they form a Cabinet with NZ First there will be gender imbalance.

Gender equality in Cabinet is worth aiming for, but it will continue to take time. Forcing it by promoting female MPs over more experienced male MPs is not a good idea.

And overbalancing by having a party caucus with female MPs is not going to help overall gender equality.