Complainant: Labour Party will have to address archaic power structure

Complainants want the Labour Party to address it’s archaic power structure, and hope that Jacinda Ardern can make it happen.

Alison Mau:

And while the party rows about how it’s going to achieve next steps, the young people are laser-focussed on what needs to happen now. I asked one of them what it was they wanted, now that they really do have everyone’s attention.

The group wants policy change at the top of course, with a complete overhaul of the sexual harm prevention and handling policy. It wants sensitive complaints referred to an expert third party for investigation.

And it wants the party to stop relying on its own supposed expertise, and take note of what the real experts have to say about the prevention of sexual harassment and bullying.

The group is now pinning its hopes on Jacinda Ardern.

They do not yet know when they will meet with her, and some of them are a little overwhelmed at the very thought, but they are refusing to condemn her, and they have a very clear idea of what they’d like to say when they do.

“We will go through our stories with her in more detail,” one of the group told me.

“We would want an open, honest and frank conversation about what it’s like to be a young recruit to Labour in 2019.

“We would tell her how hard we have pushed progressive parts of the party on subjects like abortion law reform – (that) we are not just bitter volunteers, we really care about this stuff.

“(We will tell her) here are some conditions that the party needs to look at, before any of us feel comfortable coming back into these (Labour) spaces.”

Those conditions include requiring all staff to undergo sexual harassment prevention and disclosure handling training. They’d like to see a code of conduct being developed for party volunteers, rolled out party-wide.

They would like the party to finally understand the power imbalances in Labour: “we are not only male dominated, but incredibly white.”

The young woman says she remains a Labour member and “has hope” because she’s seen the party change and adapt before but it will have to address an “archaic” power structure.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/opinion/115801937/when-people-speak-out-why-do-we-find-it-so-hard-to-believe

I think that Ardern will understand that there’s  lot riding on this – for the victims of course, but also for the reputation of the Labour Party and it’s attractiveness to young people, especially to young females.

Labour has talked about gender balance for years, but has failed to provide a safe environment for young people, especially females.

Note the names of those who seem to have been responsible for male staffer protection debacle – Nigel, Grant, Andrew, Rob.

And there’s a lot riding on this for Jacinda herself. Her reputation, her primary attractiveness as a new generation leader who is a caring and empathetic champion of gender balance and rights, is on the line.

Tracy Watkins (Stuff): Jacinda Ardern must force Labour to face itself in the mirror

So what now?

No leader likes loose ends and there are plenty of those as Ardern prepares to head overseas this week.

So expect her to announce further action before she steps on a plane. But it will have to be more than token – Ardern has to be clear that urgent, and painful, culture change is needed in the organisation she leads.

Many of the party faithful will find it had to swallow that Labour has failed to walk the talk on an issue so core to its – and Ardern’s -identity.

But the only place where they should be pointing the finger is at themselves.

She needs to make sure the repair job from here is done transparently. If the inquiry terms of reference are stacked in favour of the party and the Council, if the report is kept secret like the last one, if there is a lack of openness and no public sign of real repair and progress, then Ardern have failed to live up to her PR, again.

“(We will tell her) here are some conditions that the party needs to look at, before any of us feel comfortable coming back into these (Labour) spaces.”

That cannot be done in secret, because it is not just the group of victims who want change, it’s the future of the party at stake. Prospective party recruits – volunteers and candidates – need to know that Labour has finally learnt from multiple failures and put things right.

The dangers of crying ‘bully’

Bullying can be crappy, horrible, terrible, debilitating. Sometimes it is clear cut and obvious, but it can also be subjective, and bullying can easily be perceived as such when it is closer to over-expressive leadership, and even of being a justified bollocking.

Listener (Noted):  Maggie Barry and the dangers of crying ‘bully’

It was easy to applaud the advent of #MeToo. The felling of atrocious tyrants, such as movie producer Harvey Weinstein and the drunken, groping New Zealand legal titans who were revealed as serial sex pests, was long overdue. There has been a welcome global consciousness-raising.

There has been overdue attention given to despicable behaviour.

But as this era of atonement for workplace bullying matures, its fine print is proving divisive. The recent inquiry into police Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha’s conduct and allegations against MP Maggie Barry show a lot of on-the-job conflict is rather more nuanced and debatable than the headline #MeToo cases.

I don’t know how nuanced either of those situations was, but they are certainly debatable, especially with the absence of much evidence.

Haumaha’s career was called into question because three staff in his unit didn’t like the way he spoke to them. A QC’s enquiry has found no evidence of bullying, but a robust leadership style. Barry stands accused of bullying two former staff by such actions as swearing in front of them, teasing them and saying disparaging things about other people.

As far as I’m aware the jury is still out in both these cases.

It’s straightforward to diagnose such things as violence, threats, groping and sexual extortion as abusive. The older #MeToo grows, the more amazed we’ll be in retrospect about how much of it society has tolerated and excused.

But, speaking tersely, swearing, bantering, tantrums, sniping behind colleagues’ backs – are these necessarily bullying? They’re generally undesirable, and in quantity can become abusive, but in occasional doses, such behaviour is normal and human.

If people are going to start informing on each other, or as with Barry, covertly taping for such transgressions, we risk creating another form of workplace danger: a low-trust environment.

Worse than that – it risks over-embellished accusations, hit jobs and revenge attacks.

The allegations against Barry seem well short of the sort of mistreatment #MeToo was conceived to root out.

As for personal remarks, such as Barry’s likening a staffer’s attire to that seen in The Great Gatsby, one person’s affectionate teasing is another’s hectoring sarcasm. We cannot reform human nature. Teasing, and even its ruder cousin, banter, is often a sign of deep affection and a way of signalling mutual trust. A little gossip can be team-building. These things can morph into bullying, but are we seriously considering outlawing them as inherently dangerous?

Banter one day could be perceived as bullying the next, depending on the mood and the situation. Too much ‘banter’ can become bullying.

Parliament’s timely inquiry into its bullying is justified by the serious transgressions of MP Jami-Lee Ross and former minister Meka Whaitiri. But there’s a danger of our getting to the stage where just crying “bully!” is enough to blight someone’s career, and for that suspension of doubt to be misused out of spite. Not all workplace interactions can be positive and nurturing. High-pressure situations cannot always be gentled with pleases and thankyous. And it’s not abusive to tell a staffer their work isn’t good enough.

It’s easier (and human) to allege bullying than concede and accept ‘I was crap’.

Workplace safety can surely be protected without outlawing many manifestations of the human personality, or holding that feeling slighted is proof of abuse. We need simply to treat others as we’d like to be treated, and have the wit and empathy to notice if our tone or humour isn’t well received.

Sometimes relationships turn to crap, in workplaces as well as in homes.  It is easy for for behaviour that had once been acceptable to become intolerable.

All of us can at times overstep the banter line.

We need to be careful we don’t overstep the line of acceptable behaviour into dumping on anything someone else says they don’t like.

This is a particular problem in politics where it is common to exaggerate things for devious political motives.

We should expect reasonable and professional behaviour from our MPs and public servants, but we should also not cry ‘bully’ when it isn’t justified.

If we get too picky and too sensitive and too intolerant of normal human behaviour then we will take our eye off the important ball – the serious cases of harassment and assault and bullying that deserve proper investigation, and condemnation when proven.

Aspects of #metoo include blanket suspicion and #manydon’t

The #MeToo movement has highlighted a dirty secret – that many women have been sexually abused, assault, raped. There is no doubt that many women have been adversely affected, and that some men are too pushy, some are cretins, some are predators. It has been a huge problem.

So this has been a big problem for far too many women.

It has also been a huge problem for some men who have also been victims of sexual assault. You just need to see how widespread and insidious sexual predation has been within the Catholic priesthood – and how the Catholic Church has effectively protected them, have aided and abetted them.

It is also a problem that ‘men’ as a whole are attacked and bear the blame for the actions of some men. I think that statistics on this struggle to demonstrate the real numbers. There are many female victims, but I think that cases that are reported show that some men have attacked multiple victims, sometimes many. This suggests to me that the proportion of men who are to blame may be significantly less then the proportion of females who have been victims.

There are still a large number of men who have been perpetrators, ranging from ignorant males who coerce and pressure, to hard out predators.

But many men are not like this. Many men respect women and don’t assault women. Most men.

So it’s good to see a thread like this on Twitter, beginning with:

And then he said “maybe isn’t yes” and I went home that night, un-assaulted, because I hadn’t talked to a rapist at that party.

Another story: I went out drinking with girl friends at a bar a few years later. I was flirting with a guy there, he grabbed my hand, pulled me outside, into an alley, he kissed me hard and then looked at me and said, “yes?” I didn’t say anything.

He said “go back inside then,” maybe he was annoyed but he meant it, I went back inside. There wasn’t a rapist at that bar.

One time a guy and I had flirted, he invited me to his room, I went we kissed, I said I liked it, he took off his clothes, I touched him, he tried to take off my clothes, I resisted, he said “seems like you’re not into this” I said, ehhh, he said, no, it’s only fun if you want it.

I said, I’m sorry, he said it’s ok. I left, unmolested. I was lucky, I hadn’t met a rapist that night.

I’ve been assaulted. I’ve also been not assaulted. The difference didn’t seem to be what I was wearing, how flirty I was, how much I was drinking. The only difference seemed to be whether or not the men felt it was ok or not to assault.

An important difference.

It’s important to understand how assaults and breaches of trust can affect women (and male victims). @SweetGeeking:

All of us women at some point become aware of our sexuality, and how vulnerable it makes us.

‘All of us women’ sounds like a generalisation, I would expect that women have a variety experiences and feelings about their sexuality. But this one woman’s valid story.

In that moment, we receive an invisible backpack that we have to tend for the rest of our lives. For some like myself, we learn that lesson in a violent way, long before we should ever even know what sex is. Others receive their backpack later in life, but we rarely escape puberty without it.

Our invisible backpacks vary in size and weight, usually in relation to the circumstances under which we received it. But it goes everywhere with us. It’s something we carry and tend to.

We carry our keys b/n our fingers when walking to our cars at night.

We don’t go jogging after dark, and even in the daytime we vary our routes in case someone is looking for a pattern.

We instinctively park under lights when we know we will come back to our car after dark. We do thousands of tiny things, all the time, without even thinking about it, because we don’t have any other choice.

We know that not all men are threats, but we also know damn fucking well that there’s no way to tell who is and who isn’t.

@SweetGeeking seems to assume that all women have similar feelings and fears, which is unlikely to be correct, but it’s likely that many do thinks and feel similarly as a result of having been assaulted.

And it is understandable that due to the actions of some men they become suspicious of all men.

My successful, church-going, computer programming, well-dressed, father of his own 2 daughters stepdad used my body for years, starting when I was very young. No one ever would have guessed. You can never tell.

I had the same roommate for 4 years. I know he’d never hurt me, but I still locked my door at night bc my stepdad would come into my bedroom at night, and decades later I still can’t sleep.

I know many men in my life have been shocked to learn how much this reality permeates every corner of our lives. Turn that shock into respect for how strong and badass we are. Please don’t pity me/us. Respect us & give us a seat at the table. And sit down and listen for a bit.

Generalisations aside this doesn’t shock me. It does shock me that some men abuse girls and women, and that that forces these fears and suspicions on them through no fault of their own. Sexual abuse is shocking, and the affects of this on victims can be profound and long lasting.

It is good to hear some different stories and experiences.

@jenstrange:

1st date w/ a guy: we had a daytime coffee meet-up & then I invited him to my house to play Mario Kart. We started kissing and I hesitated; he asked why, I said I was conflicted about moving too fast. He said, “then we’ll stop.” And we played more Mario. Reader, I married him.

I already felt really strongly about him but the fact that he didn’t act offended, didn’t try to pressure me, didn’t argue with me one bit, just said it’s ok and turned back to the game controllers . . . that’s how I knew he was as good as I thought he was.

Just as girls and women who are assaulted should not be blamed for what they wear or where they go and what they drink, all men should not be blamed for the offences of some men.

But it is inescapable that women who have been abused of men become suspicious of all men, until they get to know men in their lives well enough that they can trust them.

Men who respect women (or men), men who don’t abuse trust and abuse victims, they are generally not to blame for men who do assault and rape. But they can’t avoid being suspected of being possible attackers by victims of past assaults.

What men who don’t can do is make it clear that they are as shocked by men who do assault as most women are. Men who don’t can speak up and show that most men don’t, and that men who do are a minority who should be shown that predatory behaviour is unacceptable and wrong.

We shouldn’t stay silent and say it is not our problem, because it becomes our problem and is our problem if our girlfriends and our sisters and our partners and our daughters have been adversely affected by forced sexual behaviour by some men.

 

From #MeToo to #WhatNext?

The #MeToo campaign has done well to raise the profile of the insidious history of sexual abuse, but Jacinda Ardern has made a good point – how to translate the initial impetus into ongoing action in New Zealand,

The Spinoff: ‘We need to say, OK, what next?’ Jacinda Ardern on the impact of #MeToo

The New Zealand prime minister has called for the energy of the #MeToo movement to be translated into action. Speaking to the Spinoff as part of a new podcast series in collaboration with the Auckland Museum, Jacinda Ardern said that the sharing of stories risk equating “to nothing in real terms” if there is no resulting change.

“What we need to do is then say, OK, well what next?” Ardern told Noelle McCarthy in the first of the podcast series Venus Envy. “You don’t want a movement, really, of women continually feeling like they need to tell stories that then equate to nothing in real terms. And so that’s the question that I’m interested in asking: what next?”

The challenge was to change the view around what was acceptable behaviour, she said.

“That to me comes back to that respect question, of how we treat one another, of conversations around consent and healthy relationships.”

These were “things we should be talking about in our schools, in safe places, where we learn and kind of our social norms, before people are entering into the workplace”.

The solutions to the issues raised in recent months needed to have both a cultural and policy dimension, she said.

“When you’ve got a country where you have such high rates of violence against women, you want to remove every barrier so a woman can make a choice, have a choice about her future. And, so long as we have women over-represented in low-paid work, or unsupported as carers, the choice is removed.”

Ardern is diverting onto a largely separate issue there.

There continues to be alarming levels of abuse and violence against women, but that’s not all. It is also a major problem for children, and men also victims, both directly and indirectly.

The anti-violence, anti-abuse and anti-discrimination  messages need to be repeated over and over if New Zealand society is to become a decent society for most citizens. At the moment we are falling well short of a decent society.

And this decency needs to also become far more apparent in our discussions and debates, in Parliament, in the mainstream media and in social media.

This is not a political issue apart from needing more politicians to speak up and act. It is largely a social issue, which means all of our society should be acknowledging the problems and contributing to finding better ways of interacting and better ways of behaving towards each other.

Weinstein in court on sex crime charges

Harvey Weinstein revelations and accusations triggered the #MeToo movement against sexual assault and harassment, especially involving people in positions of power. Many women have claimed improper behaviour over decades, and Weinstein was the subject of many.

For the first time, Weinstein has been charged and has appeared in court in New York. This may be the tip of a legal iceberg for him.

Reuters: Movie mogul Weinstein handcuffed in court to face sex crime charges

Film mogul Harvey Weinstein appeared in handcuffs in a New York court on Friday to face charges of rape and other sex crimes against two of the scores of women who have accused him of misconduct, ending his reign as a Hollywood kingpin.

Weinstein, the 66-year-old co-founder of the Miramax film studio and the Weinstein Co, intends to plead not guilty to the two counts of rape and one count of a criminal sexual act, his attorney, Benjamin Brafman, told reporters outside the Manhattan courthouse.

Prosecutors did not identify the two women, but said the crimes took place in 2004 and 2013. If convicted on the most serious charges, Weinstein could face between five and 25 years in prison.

Weinstein, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 70 women, with some of the cases dating back decades, has denied having nonconsensual sex with anyone.

The accusations, first reported last year by the New York Times and the New Yorker, gave rise to the #MeToo movement in which hundreds of women have publicly accused powerful men in business, government and entertainment of misconduct.

Weinstein earlier turned himself in at a lower Manhattan police station around 7:25 a.m. EDT (1125 GMT). He carried thick books under his right arm, including what appeared to be biographies of Broadway musical legends Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, and Elia Kazan, the director of such classic Hollywood films as “On the Waterfront.”

About 90 minutes later, Weinstein was led by officers into court in handcuffs, grimacing with his head bowed, his books nowhere in sight, to await arraignment.

“This defendant used his position, money and power to lure young women into situations where he was able to violate them sexually,” prosecutor Joan Illuzzi said at Weinstein’s arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court.

Judge Kevin McGrath ordered Weinstein released on $1 million cash bail. The defendant surrendered his U.S. passport and agreed to wear a monitoring device that tracks his location, confining him to the states of New York and Connecticut.

An irony on the legal privileges of the wealthy:

Have the Hollywood abuse floodgates opened?

The allegations of sexual harassment and rape against movie producer Harvey Weinstein (who has admitted bad behaviour and committed himself to a ‘clinic’ but denies ‘non-consensual sex’) has raised an issue that has been swept under the red carpet for a long time.

A number of big name actresses have now spoken out, adding attention and weight to the issue. It has also spread much further than Hollywood stars, with online actions pointing out how widespread and insidious sexual harassment is.

There is a danger that it could go too far, with complaints ranging from rape and professional coercion to leering. And there are also valid concerns about making accusations public and ostracising people who have not been found guilty.

But while there will inevitably be overreach, exaggerated and possible false allegations, and potentially unfair consequences for some, this is a dirty secret that is long overdue for a big clean up. Some collateral damage may be unfortunate but it’s necessary to lance the boil.

That’s if the publicity is sustained and it results in major attitudinal and behavioural changes.

New York Times: Harvey Weinstein’s Fall Opens the Floodgates in Hollywood

Harvey Weinstein is certainly not the first powerful man publicly and credibly accused of sexually harassing or abusing women in recent years.

Since 2015, the Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, the Fox News prime-time host Bill O’Reilly and the comedian and actor Bill Cosby have suffered professional, financial or reputational setbacks after numerous women told stories of their sexual misconduct.

Those stories dominated news cycles, to be sure, but the outcry accompanying Mr. Weinstein’s downfall seems louder and more impassioned — perhaps because Mr. Weinstein’s accusers include stars like Ashley Judd, Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow.

“I think this is a watershed moment,” said the producer Gail Berman, who had top jobs at Paramount Pictures and the Fox network.

That became clear on Sunday, when Facebook, Instagram and Twitter were flooded with messages from women who used the hashtag #MeToo to acknowledge that they had dealt with sexual harassment or assault.

There is no doubt it has been a widespread and serious problem.

The Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow applauded the movement. “The democratization of the spread of information can finally move faster than a powerful media mogul’s attempts to bury it,” she said by email.

Powerful forces have been largely able to sweep things under the red carpet until now.

Kicked off by reports on the allegations against Mr. Weinstein, the outpouring came a little more than a year after The Washington Post published leaked excerpts from an “Access Hollywood” tape in which Donald J. Trump, then a candidate for president, boasted of groping women.

Melinda McGillivray, who stepped forward last year to accuse Mr. Trump of groping her at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida in 2003, told BuzzFeed last week that Ms. Paltrow and Ms. Jolie had an impact her accusation did not because of their star power. (Mr. Trump has denied harassment accusations.)

The problem goes right to the top.

Mr. Trump’s election had put some women here on guard against a return to male misbehavior that was more common 40 years ago. And one list circulating among ranking female executives in the industry has tracked a string of promotions of men to senior jobs — at Apple and AMCSony and HuluFox and CBS — amid fear that progress for women has stalled since November.

“Most of the available senior management television jobs this year have gone to men,” said Katie O’Connell, a chief executive of Platform One Media, and formerly the chief executive of Gaumont Television. “While those men were all qualified, it does highlight diminished access for these highest-level positions for women in 2017.”

It’s difficult to know how much is merit, and how much may be prejudice and punishment for not being promiscuous.

At issue now is whether or not Hollywood can continue its old way of doing business, with self-styled “outlaw” executives and auteurs getting away with sexual misconduct as lawyers and publicists protect them.

“I think it’s upsetting and devastating, all of the stories that have come out,” said Nina Jacobson, a film producer who was formerly the president of the Walt Disney Company’s Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group.

“But I think the floodgates being opened is something that had to happen and that finally brings a subject to the surface that has sort of gone unchecked for countless years.”

Ms. Jacobson, the film producer, said, “There’s an importance to a careful vetting and a careful reposting and not just a free-for-all.”

Some care needs to be taken to be as fair and just as possible, while still enabling victims to come forward without fear.

There doesn’t seem to be much chance of a leading example being set from Trump to confront this problem, but along with Weinstein the president could become a public example of an insidious problem that needs to be once and for all dealt to.