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.

And:

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.

Nashing of journo teeth

Much knashing of journo teeth yesterday when Labour MP Stuart Nash fell foul of Newshub reporter Jenna Lynch, who slammed him in Opinion: Embracing my bare face:

I’m not usually that keen on plastering pictures of myself everywhere, but today this is the face that spawned the following completely uninvited comments.

“You look unwell.”

“Gosh, did you have a rough night?”

I’m not a massive fan of makeup. Sure, I wear it because I have to, but prior to working at Newshub I owned a shamefully old tube of mascara and a bb cream, neither of which I applied all that often.

Now it’s full face every day.

This morning, I decided to give the old pores a break and let my skin breathe.

I have a reasonable sense of self-esteem; you have to around this place. It’s one of the things they should teach at journalism school. Develop a thick skin, and fast.

But that thick skin was pierced today, completely unnecessarily.

Labour MP Stuart Nash walked in trying to sell some bloody story about cops.

He looked shocked, almost offended at my face.

“Gosh, did you have a rough night?”

No I didn’t. Unless you call being curled on the couch watching a movie with my partner a “rough night”.

Let’s just say he was quick to bolt from the office.

My question is: what right do you have to walk into my office and spout that?

Would you ever walk in and ask my male colleagues the same thing?

It’s quite frankly rude and disgraceful.

Women not wearing make-up shouldn’t shock people. Just as women wearing makeup shouldn’t shock people. Wear whatever the hell you like.

But more importantly, even if it does shock you, don’t announce it. Don’t belittle someone and rain all over their self esteem for the hell of it.

Shame on you Stuart Nash, I feel sorry for the women you work with on a day-to-day basis if you hold them to the same standard.

And for the record. I’m fine with my face. If you can’t accept it, you know where the door is. Show yourself out.

Lynch received support for this retort on Twitter.

I think it’s an over the top reaction, even perhaps abusing the power of the press

But Nash rushed out a response:

Newshub: Labour MP Stuart Nash apologises to Newshub reporter over ‘rough night’ comment:

Labour MP Stuart Nash has said sorry to Newshub political reporter Jenna Lynch after telling her she looked as though she’d had a “rough night”.

“Look, I don’t go out of my way to offend anyone at all – I’m very apologetic,” he said.

“I’m sorry that Jenna took offence and I apologise unreservedly – I completely regret saying what I did.”

 I think that Lynch read much more into Nash’s comment than was actually said, but Nash obviously decided to try and calm the press gallery waters.

Is this creating aa situation where MPs not only have to be careful about how they word things in case the public or social media takes offence, but they also have to pussy foot around journalists in case something is taken the wrong way or out of proportion to what was said?

Are they happy to publish all sorts of attacks on others, but are precious petals when something is directed at them?

Would journalists prefer to only receive communications from MPs via sterile press releases?

I have serious concerns about Lynch rushing to press to slam Nash for what seems to me to be a fairly innocuous observation that didn’t refer to a lack of make up at all (as reported by Lynch).

“A rough night” is a fairly common and non-specific term.

Perhaps Nash just caught Lynch at a bad moment, but she went to quite a bit of deliberate effort in response, using and perhaps abusing the power of the press.

Do they really want the press gallery floor covered in eggshells?

Nash got well and truly publicly knashed over this.

It’s ironic to see reporters being so sensitive to being slighted given how they go hard on many stories seemingly without caring about collateral personal damage.

Surely there are better and more adult ways of dealing with things like offense taken over “Gosh, did you have a rough night?”

Gosh, reporters often give politicians fairly (and sometimes unfairly) rough nights and rough days in the press and on the airwaves and online.

Stuart Nash versus the constitution and the Police

Stuart Nash, Labour’s spokesperson for Police, was strongly criticised recently for comments made on the sentencing of Nikolas Delegat, including by law professor Andrew Geddis who said Nash was “calling for the undermining of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements”.

Pundit: Shut up, Stuart Nash (with added thoughts on the Nikolas Delegat case)

Stuart Nash is trying to make political hay out of Nikolas Delegat’s crime and punishment. The problem is, in doing so he’s calling for the undermining of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements. That’s … not a good thing.

Here’s what the NZ Herald quotes Nash as saying:

Labour’s Nash said the Government should tell the Crown Law Office to appeal the “ridiculously light” sentence handed down to Nikolas Delegat for assaulting a policewoman.

“The Prime Minister and the Police Minister must come out and condemn the sentence as totally inadequate and state that Crown Law will appeal. This would send a very clear message that this type of behaviour against police will not be tolerated by our communities and offenders will be punished accordingly.”

There’s just so very, very much wrong with this. The Government can’t tell Crown Law to appeal anything. That decision lies in the hands of the Solicitor General, who is a non-political appointee.

Second, Ministers cannot come out and “condemn [Delegat’s] sentence as totally inadequate”.

What Stuart Nash is calling for here is Ministers to completely ignore fundamental precepts of our constitution. Now, I get why he is doing so – he’s seeking to capitalise on some widespread outrage with how Delegat was treated (more on that in a moment).

But the fact is that the Government cannot and should not do what he’s saying it should, and he’s completely out of order to demand that it do so.

A party spokesperson for Police should know these things.

More problems for Nash with publicity about him attacking Police officers.

Early yesterday via Newstalk ZB: Stuart Nash in stoush with Police top brass

A skirmish between Labour and the police has blown up into an all-out war of words.

Deputy Commissioner Viv Rickard has written to Labour leader Andrew Little, complaining that Napier MP Stuart Nash is going too far in his criticisms of Eastern District Commander Sandra Venables.

Mr Nash said he’s raising issues that the community wants addressed, but admits he possibly shouldn’t personally target the District Commander.

“She might not be allowed to come out and say MP Stuart Nash is wrong and I refute this, I’d like to meet him at dawn with pistols.”

“But what she can do is start taking a really proactive stance on communicating with the community.”

Nash said he might make future criticism less personal, but he still stands by his criticisms of police leadership.

The Deputy Commissioner has had enough, saying Stuart Nash is repeatedly attacking someone who isn’t allowed to reply publicly, and that he’s incorrectly blaming the District Commander for the problems he sees.

Judith Collins had a dig at Nash

Police Minister Judith Collins thinks something very simple is behind Labour’s criticisms.

“Well I think they both probably have a problem with strong women.”

After his strong criticisms and response Nash softened somewhat later in the day.

Stuff: Labour’s Stuart Nash under police fire over his attacks on the Eastern District Commander

Labour’s police spokesman Stuart Nash is backing down on his sledging of a District Commander after police attacked his behaviour in a letter to Labour leader Andrew Little.

“By and large my criticisms aren’t based on what people tell me, they’re based solely on statistics,” he said.

Little and Nash have met to discuss the letter from Deputy Commissioner Viv Rickard, which was also posted on the internal police bulletin board, and Nash says a decision not to mention Venables name in future was his.

“What I’ve said to Andrew, what I’ve promised to do is that I will not mention the District Commander by name again and I’ll confine my severe criticisms to the Police Minister and the lack of funding,” Nash said.

“It’s what I suggested as the best way forward.”

Collins pinged him again:

Police Minister Judith Collins said Nash is in the wrong and “needs to stop it and act more professionally”.

“He needs to stop attacking a senior police officer or any police officer who is not actually able to defend themselves publicly,” she said.

Nash’s plan to change tack and concentrate his criticism on Collins was a sign he has a “problem with strong women,” Collins said.

Andrew Little…

…said he supported Nash “who is doing his job as a local MP” but they had agreed he would keep his focus in the political arena and in particular on the Police Minister.

That’s a wishy washy ‘support him doing his job but he will change how he does it’ sort of comment, and doesn’t reflect the message he brought back from Canada of presenting a positive party.