Sexual misconduct issue hampered by generalised attacks

Generalised anti-men attacks are common in social media – as are anti-women attacks for that matter. Sad but inevitable.

However they are more troubling when attacks are via media. Especially when it involves such a serious problems like sexual misconduct and abuse of power.

Catriona MacLennan (Opinion) at The Spinoff – NZ’s failure on sexual misconduct is much, much bigger than any one case

Sexual harassment is still not regarded a serious issue in Aotearoa.

That is what we have learned since 2014, as a pattern of inadequate responses to harassment has played out in the public and media spotlight.

Not a good start – yes, there have been prominent inadequate responses to harassment played out in the media spotlight, but the fact that they have received so much scrutiny suggests that sexual harassment is regarded as a serious issue by many people.

MacLennan goes on the detail a number of issues that have been given serious attention by media.

There are five common threads running through all these cases.

  • Many employers and other organisations do not have proper procedures for dealing with sexual harassment. It is difficult to put this down to anything other than them not considering sexual harassment to be important. I can guarantee that all of the above organisations have robust procedures for dealing with, for example, theft and would know exactly what to do if money disappeared;
  • The immediate response of a majority of organisations is to downplay sexual harassment and assault, minimising and trivialising it. This is because the key concern of those to whom sexual harassment is reported is with protecting the organisation, rather than supporting the victims;
  • Sexual harassment – like rape, domestic violence, the gender pay gap and other issues – is pigeon-holed as a “women’s issue”. This means that women are regarded as being responsible for solving it. Men are the perpetrators, but calling sexual harassment a “women’s issue” gives men a get-out-of-jail-free card. Not a single male lawyer has spoken out about sexual harassment in the legal profession. They have – gutlessly –sat by and left it to women to speak;
  • The role of the media is incredibly important. It seems that it is only when journalists do stories about sexual harassment that employers are forced to deal with it properly;
  • It is the victims who continue to pay the heaviest price. In addition to dealing with the behaviour to which they are subjected, they are forced to weigh up the likely impact on their careers of seeking justice for what they have endured.

The first two and last two points are fair.

But I question a number of assertions in the middle bullet point.

Sexual harassment is pigeon-holed as a “women’s issue”.

Perhaps in the past, but increasingly less so. It is becoming widely accepted that men need to take responsibility for inappropriate attitudes and behaviour.

This means that women are regarded as being responsible for solving it.

Who thinks that? Male journalists have been very involved in spotlighting issues. Male Labour Party officials were responsible for dealing with Labour current issues. They admit stuffing up, but Jacinda Ardern hasn’t been particularly prominent in resolving things either.

Men are the perpetrators, but calling sexual harassment a “women’s issue” gives men a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Only some men (a small minority) are ‘the perpetrators’.

How many men call sexual harassment a “women’s issue”? I haven’t seen it. This is generalised men bashing, which doesn’t help the issue.

Not a single male lawyer has spoken out about sexual harassment in the legal profession. They have – gutlessly –sat by and left it to women to speak;

That’s just patently untrue. Newsroom:  All six law schools cut ties with Russell McVeagh

Auckland’s Dean of Law, Professor Andrew Stockley, told staff and students today that students “invited to an event or employed in any capacity should expect appropriate and professional behaviour at all times, and that the school would not accept any student being subjected to inappropriate behaviour, pressure, or sexual harassment”.

Victoria University of Wellington’s Law Students’ Society (VUWLSS) also said it was ending its relationship with the firm over the way it handled the misconduct and assault complaints. VUWLSS President Fletcher Boswell wrote on Facebook:

“The assaults should have been reported as an official complaint to the Law Society immediately after they occurred. Russell McVeagh have confirmed that this was not done at the time, and that this still has not been done. From our understanding, this is a breach of what the firm is legally and ethically obliged to do”.

Law Faculty Dean Professor Charles Rickett said the law school withdrew because of concerns over the behaviour of some Russell McVeagh staff.

“On balance, we believe it is suitable to be cautious about the safety and wellbeing of our students and to wait until the outcome of the external review before deciding how to proceed.”

Victoria University Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Guilford confirmed the university had been in discussions with NZLSA about covering any incurred costs.

“Victoria awaits the outcome of the external review of Russell McVeagh and the firm’s response to the review before deciding whether to resume activities with the firm. We believe it is in the best interests of our students and staff to await the external review of Russell McVeagh’s workplace culture and – perhaps more importantly – the firm’s response to the review.”

Waikato University’s Dean of Law, Associate Professor Wayne Rumbles, told Newsroom the university will not be hosting Russell McVeagh on campus, “nor will it be engaging with the firm for student recruitment, at this stage. The University will also be paying for its team to take part in the Client Interviewing competitions this year, rather than accepting sponsorship from Russell McVeagh. While investigations are carried out, our priority remains the well-being of our students and graduates.”

Back to MacLennan :

As a result of the latest stories, there will be reviews and new procedures.

But, fundamentally, nothing will change.

I think that things are noticeably changing.

That is because the root cause of sexual harassment is power.

In our society, it is middle-class, Pākehā males who hold power.

In their heart of hearts, they view women as inferior. They are used to women in their lives deferring to them.

This is generalised ‘middle-class, Pākehā male’ bashing. It is also sexist and racist. And I’m sure that it is false and unfair on many men.

Until we not only tackle but actually solve the power imbalance, Pākehā males will continue to believe that women’s bodies are theirs for the taking – whether it is in the workplace or elsewhere.

I’m quite disgusted by this. Attacking a wide group for the offences of some is wrong, and it ignores the fact that perpertrators are also outside the group that MacClennan is attacking.

This broad brush single colour attack won’t help solve the real serious issues.

Sure, men in general should do more to oppose sexual harassment and attacks, they need to speak up more, and stand up more for decency.

Women also need to do more. Some are, and that’s a good thing.

Some men have been and are doing more too. More need to be encouraged to do more. Tarring them with a generalised brush won’t help with that.

Making this an all men versus women issue is one of the worst approaches to dealing with the real problems that need resolved and that’s what MacLennan is doing here.

I think that fortunately most women don’t share these ‘all men are bad’ attitudes.

There are things that women can do, and there are things that men can and should do, to combat the sexual harassment and violence issues.

Most importantly, good men and women need to work together to improve our society, not see each other as inferior or as enemies.


Diversion, censorship over sexual assault issues

Every blog has the right to allow or not allow anyone to comment in their forums. But how they do this affects their credibility and reputation.

There are different degrees of feminism. I think most people will now support the premise of gender equality in general, but extreme feminism is not for equality, it tries to make women the powerful, and suppress and men.

The Standard has had it’s moments over the years, and I have had my differences with them, but one of the more remarkable examples of attempted message management has taken place over the last couple of days, along with a surge of purging.

The Standard has not had a post about the Labour summer camp sexual assault issue. Instead they have tried to divert from it, including shutting down speech.

The story broke on Monday. The first signs of a clampdown and diversion were after discussion about the issue in Daily Review 12/03/2018 (Monday evening):

Fuck off, you disgusting, sexual assault enabling old prick.

[3 month ban. I’ve been watching your trolling since the election, and you appear to bring little to the site now. What is not ok is starting a flame war in a topic of this nature where many people are vulnerable. Throwing accusations around, using sexual assault to Labour-bash, it’s all the same kind of nasty, macho bullshit that makes it really hard to have meaningful conversations about rape culture on TS. – weka]

A ban may not seem unfair given the comment made, but it was in response to

Crawl back under the rock you came from [Edit. Best not to go there Adam – MS](bm) . How about we let the victims make decisions before we start making accusations.

So a “Best not to go there” edit versus leaving the response and a 3 month ban – not an unusual unbalanced approach to ‘moderation’ at The Standard. This was followed later by a ‘weka’ comment:

My suggestion in general to the men here who want to have a shit fight about this, is to sit down and shut up, and start listening to what women are saying. Women generally understand what the issues are and how to talk about them without making the conversations unsafe or into flamewars.

This is also not an unusual attempt (at TS as well as elsewhere in social media) to shut down male speech.

Then on Wednesday morning ‘weka’ posted Talking about sexual assault:

As news unfolds about the sexual assaults that took place at Labour’s Summer School last month, it’s time for political communities to look at how they talk about sexual assault and rape culture.

This discussed the summer school assaults initially, before widening to a more general topic:

New Zealand is still very bad at addressing sexual assault or knowing how to talk about it, although some spaces are better than others. Yesterday a flame war started up on The Standard in discussing the sexual assaults. I came in late and saw a bunch of left and right wing men having a fight about it.

The ‘left wing man’ had his hand smacked, sort of. The right wing man was banned for 3 months.

Not surprised but still disappointed. So I want us to talk about how to talk about sexual assault, and I want to give a general heads up for moderation going forward.

What is not ok is to make discussions about sexual assault hostile. Women in particular want safer spaces to discuss rape culture and the politics around sexual assault, and when discussions are made hostile many women will simply not take part. Which then leaves the kōrero with men, including men who are either uneducated about sexual assault and the politics around that, or who have an agenda that doesn’t include preventing rape or making spaces safer.

My position last night was that men generally need to sit down and shut up and start listening to what women have to say.

I think that that is often weka’s position.

The main problem with telling men to sit down and shut up is that it’s the progressive and compassionate men that will do so, and they are the ones who are usually more informed and more willing to push back against rape culture. So let me rephrase this. I wrote a post recently about #mettonz and why gender equity matters, and it applies here. If we want to solve the problems that lead to rape and rape culture, then we need to amplify the voices of the people that understand what is going on and how to address it. Women have been at the forefront of pushing back against rape culture for decades.

There are many women who have important things to say, and if the space is yet again taken up by men, those voices get lost.

My request then is this. If you want to understand what is going on, then ask. If you have a good handle on what is going on, then please share from a place of informed opinion, but also please amplify the voices of women, and pay particular attention to making the space attractive for women to take part.

Not just aiming to “amplify the voices of women”, but also to suppress the voices of men.

And make no mistake, feminists know full well that the left is not free of rape culture or sexual assault. So the point here isn’t to bash Labour…

No, it seems to be to suppress criticism.

… it’s to point out that rape culture transcends the conventional left/right divide and all men need to take note of that. Left wing men need to get better at addressing this within their own cultures, and right wing men need to resist the temptation to have a go.

Especially to suppress the voices of “right wing men”.

A long discussion follows, with ‘weka’ prominent throughout via comments. Like

The point is that women have been addressing rape culture for decades, and men have largely been the ones making that harder. Irrespective of the genders of the people being assaulted. There is certainly an important conversation to be had about the impact of sexual assault on boys and men. I just don’t see the men generally in this commentariat having been capable of that either. That’s the problem I am pointing to today. Left to its own devices, this community is hostile to anyone wanting to talk meaningfully about sexual violence and it is actively exclusive (which to my reading is against the Policy).

There are some men here who are good on this stuff, and I encourage them to speak up, and if you see some good commentary by men from offsite, then please feel free to quote and link. I’m hoping that you also amplify the voices of women who know what they are talking about, and generally make this a good space for women. When this is a good space for women, it will be more likely to become a good space for other genders as well.

Discussions about violence towards all genders is welcome, so long as it doesn’t go down a ‘what about the men’ track. That’s a political position which I can clarify if anyone doesn’t understand.

I don’t disagree entirely with ‘weka’, but trying to control and manipulate discussion on one of New Zealand’s major political blogs, a ‘left wing movement’ blog, hints at an attempt at a not moderate feminist takeover.

‘weka’ was also active via ‘moderation’:

[neither post nor tracey are advocating covering anything up. 2 month ban for trolling and ignoring the post – weka]

[you either didn’t read the post, or don’t care about the post. 3 month ban for ignoring the post and moderation. If you want to talk about the sexual assault of men, see my comment on this elsewhere in the thread – weka]

[additional moderation note now that I’ve had time to catch up. When I say I want this space to be good for women to comment in, abusing women commenters goes against that. I will be using this thread as a reference for future conversations, so I suggest people start paying attention to where the boundaries are on behaviour that is acceptable. – weka]

“I will be using this thread as a reference for future conversations”.

[I specifically said don’t politicise this. I suggested people ask questions rather than jump in with reckons and judgements, and I did that for very good reasons that I explained in the post. I’ve also made it clear that I will clarify where the boundaries are if people ask. 1 month ban.

Yes, I am utterly serious about changing how discussions about sexual assault happen on TS, now you know, and it has nothing to do with Labour and everything to do with too many of the men on this site – weka]

“Too many men on this site”.

[if you are unwilling to engage with the parameters an author sets for a post, then don’t comment on it. I gave you the courtesy of not moderating but responding in depth to two of the questions you raised, and you come back with rape denial.

This post wasn’t written for you to write whatever you want, any more than it was written for the RW trolls or other rape apologists. It was written to create a good space for women and survivors of sexual assault (and others) to talk about those issues. If you don’t understand what the point of the post was, despite me making it very clear, I suggest you stay out of such discussions in the future.

2 week ban (double the last one which was for telling authors how to run the site and likewise ignoring moderation. See the pattern there?) – weka]

‘Ignoring moderation’ is weka for not complying with her message manipulation and control.

She was helped by lprent, with some comments moved to Open Mike 13/03/2018 :

[TheStandard: A moderator moved this comment to Open Mike as being off topic or irrelevant in the post it was made in. Be more careful in future.]

[lprent: How about admitting you are making that up and it is simply you lying. Banned 1 month for trolling. ]

[lprent: The age of consent is 16. The due process is to first ask the victims what they want to do.
Banned for 2 months for being a lying troll. ]

[lprent: You aren’t reading it right. “…sexually assaulted four teenagers, all aged 16…”. What is the age of consent? Duh! 16. It has been even when you and I were kids. It is their choice about reporting anything to parents or police.

Banned 3 months for asking a leading question in a troll-like fashion. I’d suggest that you desist from this style of question because I’m likely to just reduce our workload for a few years next time. ]

[lprent: Age of consent is 16. Drinking alcohol is unfortunately only really controlled for kids and adults in certain kinds of public and non-public places and for being sold to kids – none of which is alleged at the camp..
Banned 3 months for stupid trolling and lying with dumbarse ‘questions’. ]

[3 month ban for politicising sexual assault and using it as an excuse to Labour-bash, and for ignoring moderation – weka]

[another 3 for telling lies about moderation in DR – weka]

[You seem pretty keen on getting banned, so I’ve just doubled your ban in the other thread for telling lies about moderation. – weka]

[lprent: There were some pretty clear warnings by both weka and myself about tight moderation on a post today (probably the one you commented on) because it was likely to attract stupidity from trolls not wanting to discuss the topic posted. And so it proceeded. I think 7 or 8 people today for months as I have limited toleration for ignorant morons ignoring warnings. If you choose to ignore warnings, then it is your own damn fault. ]

So that’s a clear and strong message – comply with weka’s discussion management (it can be difficult to guess what she will find unacceptable) or risk being biffed.

Again, weka and lprent can chose to demand that men keep out of conversations, and they can ban, as much as they like. It’s their blog.

But The Standard is increasingly becoming an anti-men weka dictated ultra left wing forum.

Anyone deemed right wing, and now male is at particular is at risk of not being welcome.

From The Standard About:

We come from a variety of backgrounds and our political views don’t always match up but it’d be fair to say that all of us share a commitment to the values and principles that underpin the broad labour movement and we hope that perspective will come through strongly as you read the blog.

Perhaps that needs revision.

I’m not saying they shouldn’t. I’m just pointing out what The Standard has become.


Abused men

Sexual abuse of women and abuse of children generally now gets a lot of attention and condemnation, but while abuse of boys and men by women may be not as prevalent it can be just as damaging for the victims.

The Herald highlights this in Men who were sexually abused by women tell their stories.

Aaron Gilmore was not even a teenager when he was sexually abused by a family friend he regarded as a second mother.

But when he reported it to police years later they told him they couldn’t see what crime had taken place.

Ken Clearwater was 12 years old when he said he was sexually violated by a woman and asked to do things he could never comprehend and was left scarred, ashamed and broken.

He never reported that abuse or named the woman involved.

Both men carried a deep shame for years, worried that police and society wouldn’t believe that they had been abused by women.

Both men believe this is why males don’t report it.

It’s a big thing for these men to talk about this publicly. Hopefully it will help other male victims to report abuse.

It’s not only men who feel shame and don’t think they will be believed, women and children can have these same problems, but that doesn’t diminish the difficulties faced by abused men.

In 2005 New Zealand law was changed to raise the maximum jail term to 10 years for any “sexual connection” with a person under 16.

Sexual offence law should  generally be gender neutral, abuse is abuse no matter who the victim is.

The police reaction was one he will never forget.

“The officer said ‘I’m failing to see a crime here’ and my partner lost it,” he said.

Although justice was eventually served, Gilmore said it has been a long road to recovery and he still struggles with society’s view of sexual abuse.

He also said people needed to stop thinking men or boys enjoyed such abuse or that it was “good practice” as that wasn’t helping men talk about it.

An important point – trivialising and excusing and joking about it is seriously detrimental to dealing with a serious issue.

Non-consensual sex is serious abuse no matter what the gender of the perpetrators and the victims are.

And female sex offenders are more common than had been thought. The size of the problem has been hidden by societal pressure to down play or ignore the problem.

Female sex offenders
While female sex offenders may seem rare, research released this month showed it’s a lot more common than previously thought.

A survey in the US found that a similar amount of women reported being raped in a 12-month period as the amount of men who were “made to penetrate” a female offender.
A new paper titled Sexual Victimisation Perpetrated by Women: Federal Data Reveal Surprising Prevalence, contradicts the idea that female sexual perpetration is rare.

Researchers used data from four main surveys, including from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, to reach their conclusion.

Using CDC data, they found that women and men reported nearly equal rates of non-consensual sex in a 12-month period.

It found 1.6 per cent of women in the US reported being raped in the past 12 months (1.9 million), which is a similar rate to the 1.7 per cent of men (1.9 million) who reportedly were “made to penetrate a perpetrator”.

Sexual abuse and rape are serious problems for men as well as for women, and for children regardless of their gender.

Ministry of Health:


Everyone in a family needs to feel safe and have relationships that are supportive, nurturing and trusting.

Family violence is when a family member is abusive towards others. As well as physical assault, it includes sexual violence, emotional abuse and controlling behaviour. It can be very unsafe and frightening for those involved.

  • Physical abuse – assaulting an adult or child. Includes hitting, punching, kicking, using a weapon, slapping and pulling hair.
  • Psychological or emotional abuse – includes verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, damage to property, allowing children to see or hear domestic violence, and controlling someone’s contact with friends.
  • Sexual abuse – includes forced sexual contact without a person’s permission, sexual harassment and inappropriate touching.

Family violence is a health issue. Any experience of family violence can result in physical and mental health consequences for victims, perpetrators and children who are witnesses. Exposure to family violence increases the likelihood of other health risk-associated behaviours: smoking, substance abuse, overeating and unsafe sex.

Getting help

If abuse is happening in your family or you’re worried about someone else – a friend, neighbour, workmate or child’s friend – then get help now.

Call the Family Violence Information Line  0800 456 450.

They’ll put you in touch with organisations in your area that can help. The information line is available seven days a week, from 9 am to 11 pm.

Commemorating men’s achievements?

An interesting tweet:

TODAY’S DEBATE: How can we commemorate men’s very worthwhile contribution to our past?

Has men’s contribution to our past been worthwhile?

Or in we in an age where dumping on men is the done thing, and praise is obscene and should be unseen?

Especially white middle aged men – I’ve been as good as (as bad as) told to shut up because of my gender and age and appearance.

Have ‘we’ stuffed everything up and should now keep quiet and let others speak?

Or can we commemorate some stuff from the past?

Why women live longer than men

From We interview You@YCrazyMind 

Why Women Live Longer Than Men… Hilarious

Why women live longer

Is there a male friendship crisis?

An interesting column by Rebecca Kamm in NZ Herald on The male friendship crisis.

Citing both her own and others’ research on the topic, sociologist Lisa Wade says that white heterosexual men have fewer friends than any other demographic. This, despite their yearning for closer, more intimate platonic connections with other men:

“When I first began researching this topic I thought, surely this is too stereotypical to be true,” she writes. “Or, if it is true, I wondered, perhaps the research is biased in favor of female-type friendships. In other words, maybe we’re measuring male friendships with a female yardstick. It’s possible that men don’t want as many or the same kinds of friendships as women.

“But they do. When asked about what they desire from their friendships, men are just as likely as women to say that they want intimacy. And, just like women, their satisfaction with their friendships is strongly correlated with the level of self-disclosure. Moreover, when asked to describe what they mean by intimacy, men say the same thing as women: emotional support, disclosure and having someone to take care of them.”

Deep friendship, she says, requires empathy, vulnerability and warmth: qualities that equate with girly-ness. Which equates with being lesser. So straight men tend to develop what friendship scholar Geoffrey Greif calls “shoulder-to-shoulder” friendships (doing things) in contrast to the “face-to-face” friendships (discussing things) typical of women.

As a result, “If a man does have a confidant, three-quarters of the time it’s a woman, and there’s a good chance she’s his wife or girlfriend.”

I wouldn’t say it was a crisis, but it does pose problems for (probably many) men who don’t have emotional bonds or outlets with either other men or women,

And like so much of the social studies of note, Wade’s is US-focussed. But I’d wager her conclusions resonate with a significant proportion of New Zealand women who have ever stopped to observe the nature of their partner’s friendships.

From my experience and observations (as a white male heterosexual) I’d say it applies as much to New Zealand.

Jill Goldson, a veteran Auckland-based relationships counselor, says she’s often struck by her male clients’ lack of emotional outlets:

“Generally speaking, they enjoy and value their male friends, but whilst they’ll be there for each other at times of crisis, they tend to be ‘there’ in a different way from women: with the spare couch to sleep on, or a beer. They often tell me they don’t really talk about ‘feelings’ with their friends. Rather, it’s their mother, or a female relation of some sort.

“Some of the most poignant stories are from the men who could never get close to their fathers, because of the emotional distance they felt he imposed on him as a boy,” she adds. “It’s as though they learned the ground rules within the family and then kept replicating those ‘norms'”

For many men, trying to get “closer” to their male friends would probably feel risky. It’d mean revealing the parts of them that are soft, unguarded and open. The very things they’re taught it’s not okay to be. And the very things that, even in small doses, take friendships deeper.

Are there any solutions? If it’s a learnt generational thing it’s not likely to be easy to address.

Is there a need for any solutions?

I find it easier to have closer relationships and more emotional relationships with females. And certainly most male socialising is very superficial.

I don’t see that as a problem for me.