“Racist” for attacking white people and #notallmen and generalised stuff

And interesting take on an attempt to discredit the appointment of Sarah Jeong at the New York Times who has been attacked for historic tweets saying “white men are bullshit” and “oh man it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men.” others say these statements were parodies of hate received online as an Asian woman.

Zack Beauchamp at Vox:  In defense of Sarah Jeong

Conservatives are up in arms over the New York Times’s latest hire: a tech writer named Sarah Jeong whom they allege to be racist against white people.

Jeong, who currently works at the Vox Media site The Verge, was hired by the Times editorial board to work on technology issues. On Thursday, shortly after the hire was announced, conservative publications dug up old tweets of hers containing statements like “white men are bullshit” and “oh man it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men.”

The campaign to use these tweets to get her fired seems to have failed. The Times issued a statement saying that Jeong had meant these tweets satirically — a parody of the hate she has received online as an Asian woman — and that they were standing by her.

But to some conservatives, like National Review’s David French and New York magazine’s Andrew Sullivan, Jeong’s tweets are bigger than her: They reveal a rot in the progressive movement, that “social justice warriors” have become totally okay with racism so long as it’s directed at white people.

“The neo-Marxist analysis of society, in which we are all mere appendages of various groups of oppressors and oppressed, and in which the oppressed definitionally cannot be at fault, is now the governing philosophy of almost all liberal media,” Sullivan writes. “That’s how … the New York Times can hire and defend someone who expresses racial hatred.” (Note: The liberal media is not neo-Marxist.)

Both his piece and French’s misunderstand what racism is and how the so-called “social justice left” approaches the world — and the anti-Jeong vitriol you’ve seen from the right speaks more to its failings on race than it does anything about Jeong.

The basic thrust of both Sullivan and French’s argument is that if you subbed in any group other than “white people” for what Jeong wrote, then it would be obviously offensive. “#cancelblackpeople probably wouldn’t fly at the New York Times, would it?” Sullivan asks, rhetorically.

The only reason lefties aren’t offended by this obvious race-based hatred, the argument goes, is that they see the world entirely through the lens of power. Since whites as a class have it, minorities by definition cannot harbor racist attitudes toward them.

The problem here, though, is assuming that Jeong’s words were meant literally: that when Jeong wrote “#cancelwhitepeople,” for example, she was literally calling for white genocide. Or when she said “white men are bullshit,” she meant each and every white man is the human equivalent of bull feces. This is expressly Sullivan’s position: He calls her language “eliminationist,” a term most commonly used to describe Nazi rhetoric referring to Jews during the Holocaust.

To anyone who’s even passingly familiar with the way the social justice left talks, this is just clearly untrue.

“White people” is a shorthand in these communities, one that’s used to capture the way that many whites still act in clueless and/or racist ways. It’s typically used satirically and hyperbolically to emphasize how white people continue to benefit (even unknowingly) from their skin color, or to point out the ways in which a power structure that favors white people continues to exist.

I get that white people who aren’t familiar might find this discomforting.

I suspect that it isn’t this simple.

Maybe ‘anti-white’ and ‘anti-male’ comments are at times ‘used satirically and hyperbolically’, but I also think that some do actually believe the satire and hyperbole to be how things actually are, and attacks on white people and males can be exactly that, ‘us versus them’ type attacks.

What makes these quasi-satirical generalizations about “white people” different from actual racism is, yes, the underlying power structure in American society. There is no sense of threat associated with Jeong making a joke about how white people have dog-like opinions. But when white people have said the same about minorities, it has historically been a pretext for violence or justification for exclusionary politics.

This is why Sullivan’s use of “eliminationist” to describe Jeong’s words is, to my mind, particularly ill-chosen.

Maybe, but it’s complicated.

Jeong’s tweets, in context, clearly fit this type of rhetoric. When she writes “dumbass fucking white people marking up the internet with their opinions like dogs pissing on fire hydrants,” she is not, as Sullivan accuses her of doing, “equat[ing whites] with animals.” Rather, she is commenting on the ubiquity of (often uniformed) white opinion on social media — a way of pointing out how nonwhite voices often don’t appear or get drowned out in social media discourse.

I’m a male, and I’m a ‘white person’, and I feel that my opinions are ‘drowned out in social media discourse’. I feel like I’m a minority of one – and in social media in particular I have very little power, and my words certainly have far less power than many others. But this may be straying from the thrust of the article.

I want to close on some more recent history: a similar debate that happened online in 2014.

The issue then was gender. A number of feminist writers had a habit of writing about “men” on social media without qualification like “most” or “the majority of.” This was partly for simplicity’s sake, and partly to point out how widespread a lot of sexist practices are.

I call bullshit on this, especially saying it is “for simplicity’s sake” – I think that generalisations are often either lazy or intended as blanket criticism.

And while ‘a lot of sexist practices’ and other negative practices may seem to widespread, that doesn’t mean that a majority of  the generalised majority are guilty of these practices, nor approve of them, nor remain silent about their opposition or disapproval.

This led to a lot of responses from men they didn’t know, saying something along the lines of “not all men are sexist, and you’re the real sexist for saying they are.” National Review, French’s publication, published an entire column making a basically similar argument.

The feminist writers responded that this was a distraction. It was obvious they weren’t talking about literally every man in context, and it was clear these men were butting in on conversations about gender to derail them with a pointlessly persnickety objection rather than dealing with the substantive conversation about sexism. So the feminist writers responded by turning the phrase “not all men” into a point of mockery, using it as an example of men sidetracking feminist arguments that made them uncomfortable.

The feminists won this argument; today, feminists still complain about “men,” and “not all men” is mostly used as a punchline rather than a serious argument. But the conservative responses to Jeong boil down, essentially, to the same thing: They’re saying “not all white people” are bad and Jeong is a racist for implying that they are.

My guess is, a few years down the road, we’ll remember the Jeong episode in roughly the same way we remember the #NotAllMen controversy today.

I think differently about this.

I think there’s a real danger that by using generalised ‘men’ and ‘white people’ rhetoric, and ridiculing ‘not all men’ and ‘not all white people’, that activists for change are alienating many people who would support positive change but get annoyed by being blamed for things they are barely if at all responsible for.

Of course not all social justice warriors resort to generalised attacks.


Is any male criticism of a female Prime Minister sexist?

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has had some very challenging weeks since returning from maternity leave. Problems with ministers (Clare Curran and Meka Whaitiri) and power struggles with Winston Peters, plus a number of changes of policy position by Labour, have justified a lot of criticism.

Questions have inevitably been asked about how well Ardern is juggling her responsibilities as Prime Minister and as a new mother.

How much are criticims sexist?

Andrea Vance (Stuff): The PM’s made mistakes, but they’ve got nothing to do with gender

Online that is headlined: Sexist business as usual at Parliament

While female MPs were sipping orange juice at a celebratory Parliament breakfast, and their male colleagues were pinning white camellia to their suit lapels, it was sexist business as usual in the corridors of power.

Jacinda Ardern was distracted. She had too many papers crossing her desk. She was weak for not firing Clare Curran.

Don’t think this is sexist?

When Simon Bridges accuses Ardern of being distracted dealing with Winston Peters, his underlying message is: baby brain. It carries the scent of paternalistic condescension.

Bridges might not even be conscious of it. But the words we choose infer things beyond what we intend.

Do they infer “things beyond what we intend” or do others perceive things that were not intended?

No commentator ever suggested John Key had too much paperwork to deal with, even when he was struck down with one of his “brain fades”.

He was not described as weak for letting foreign minister Murray McCully get away with using a private email account – and he got hacked.

Key was described as weak. For example:

  • The Standard (2009): A weak leader
    John Key is a weak leader. Currently popular (he’s such a “nice guy” you know) – but weak. Like a school teacher who has lost the respect of their pupils, Key has lost control over his MPs. And like naughty kids, Key’s MPs are starting to run wild.
    …So the rot is well and truly set in. At no level is Key holding his Ministers and MPs to account. They are now openly defying his will. John Key is a weak leader.
  • New Zealand Labour Party (2015): John Key finally admits there’s a housing crisis
    John Key’s weak measures to rein in the astronomical profits property speculators are making are an admission – finally – that there is a housing crisis, Labour Leader Andrew Little says.


Bridges has a baby daughter. Has anyone ever questioned if it affects his ability to lead his party? So, don’t suggest it about Ardern.

As far as I’m aware Bridges doesn’t take his baby (nor his son and other daughter or partner) to Parliament, into caucus meetings, on trips to the United Nations.

Having babies and having children affects most people, including how they do their jobs. These days All Blacks take time out from their jobs when they have babies. This impacts on their work.

No-one is “playing the woman card” here. And no-one is suggesting criticising Ardern is off-limits. She’s made plenty of mistakes – but they are nothing to do with her gender.

It is Vance who is bringing gender into it.

By all means, critique all politicians’ competencies. Tone, mannerisms or bad behaviour are all worth noting, regardless of gender. But do it without mentioning their clothing, hair, or reproductive status.

Politicians must stop referring to loaded and emotional characteristics: moody, weak, whiny, hysterical, bitchy, bossy, control freak. No more prima donna, drama queen, mean girl.

Even communal language that appears positive: “being supportive”, and “showing warmth” puts women in a box, even if they don’t fit the stereotype.

This isn’t PC gone mad.

So every politician, party and journalist should examine their words before going public to make sure there is no possibility that someone else could perceive some sort of gender connotation?

That sounds PC gone mad to me.

Yes, male politicians are also insulted and ridiculed. People are horribly cruel about Simon Bridges’ diction.

But the key difference is male MPs’ masculinity is rarely correlated with incompetence.

No matter how subtle and nuanced the discrimination is, it all combines to de-legitimise a woman’s authority, and to depersonalise them.

Is calling Winston Peters paternalistic de-legitimising him?

So, to make Suffrage 125 really count for something, its time to play the ball, not the woman.

That would be radical – politics 101 is playing the man or the woman.

Meanwhile, a female journalist plays the baby. Heather du Plessis-Allan – Jacinda Ardern outshines Helen Clark and John Key

The Prime Minister jetted off to New York last night. US TV interviews, meeting world leaders, a speech at the UN General Assembly. It’s a packed schedule ahead of her. But, busy as it will be, baby and all, it’s probably a welcome relief to get out of New Zealand.

Ardern has captured the zeitgeist of our time. A young, progressive leader. With a baby. Down-to-earth enough to buy her maternity wear from Kmart. Cool enough to DJ in her free time.


Toxic masculinity

Research in the US suggests that sexist men who want to have power over women are more likely to suffer from psychological problems. The traditional dominant macho behaviour can be harmful to men as well as to women – a “toxic masculinity”.

Washington Post: Sexist men have psychological problems

Psychologists looking at 10 years of data from nearly 20,000 men found that those who value having power over women and endorse playboy behavior and other traditional notions of masculinity are more likely to suffer from psychological problems — and less likely to seek out help.

The new meta-analysis, which was published Monday in the Journal of Counseling Psychology, synthesized 78 studies on masculinity and mental health gathered between 2003 and 2013. The participants ranged in age from 12 to over 65, and the vast majority were men.

Researchers then identified 11 norms considered to be “traditionally masculine” — desire to win, need for emotional control, risk-taking, violence, dominance, sexual promiscuity or playboy behavior, self-reliance, primacy of work, power over women, disdain for homosexuality and pursuit of status — and looked to see whether they were associated with particular mental health outcomes.

In general, the men who stuck more strongly to these norms were more likely to experience problems such as depression, stress, body image issues, substance abuse and negative social functioning. They were also less likely to turn to counseling to help deal with those problems. The effect was particularly strong for men who emphasized playboy behavior, power over women and self-reliance.

Not all of the traditionally masculine norms that Wong studied were linked to psychological problems. For example, putting work first didn’t correlate with either positive or negative mental health outcomes; perhaps that’s a reflection of the fact that investing a lot of emotional energy in work can be fulfilling, even though it taxes relationships, Wong said. And risk taking was associated with huge positive and negative mental health outcomes, possibly because how you feel after taking a risk depends on whether the risk pays off.

But valuing playboy behavior and power over women — aside from being explicitly sexist — was strongly correlated with psychological problems.

I think that men trying to impose power over women – or anyone trying to impose power over anyone else – is a symptom of a lack of confidence in themselves. They have trouble earning respect so they try and demand it, which doesn’t work out well.

A growing group of psychologists are interested in studying “toxic masculinity” — the idea that some traditional ideas about how men should behave are harmful to men, women and society overall. 

The point is not to demonize men, or the attributes some of them possess. It’s more to understand how behaviors encouraged in men can be damaging for everyone involved.

Basically, if you sort your own shit out you are less likely to try and shit on others.

“Why and how we measure racism, sexism”

The Kiwimeter survey has been both very popular see the survey KiwiMeter – what kind of a Kiwi are you? and my post about it – Kiwimeter.

It has also been strongly criticised for (claimed) racism. Some blog posts have been scathing, for example:

However Andrew Robertson (Colmar Brunton) has responded on how and why things like racism and sexism are measured in polls:

The folks involved in the New Zealand Attitudes and Values study (me included) have written this open letter about the measurement of racism and prejudice.

This is not about the Kiwimeter survey. These issues come up from time to time on other research projects, so we thought it would be useful to release this position statement.

Key points from the open letter:

  • The only way we can know if racism is a problem in New Zealand is to measure it scientifically, and to see if it is getting better or worse over time.
  • The measurement of racism is complex. It is typically done by asking people if they agree or disagree with a series of scientifically selected attitude statements. There is a deep logic behind how we select these statements.
  • Sometimes these attitude statements can seem offensive, but it’s important to include them because some parts of our society endorse them. If we exclude these statements, we can’t measure racism and other forms of prejudice.

And their sidebar summary:

Why do questionnaires like the NZAVS include statements that may seem racist?

In order to know if people are racist you need to come up with a way to measure their attitudes. For many of us, if one were to hear someone say some of the statements we use to measure racism in a conversation then it would be highly offensive. Sadly we live in a society and world where some people do hold these types of beliefs. We are asking people’s opinions NOT stating our opinions.

Why is it important to measure racism anyway?

Because we want to know how to reduce racism. New Zealand is among the world’s most tolerant societies, but we still have a long way to go. To achieve this goal we think that it is important to measure and track change in racism over time. Only by doing so can we know if there is a problem, and to see if it is getting better or worse over time. We can also identify factors that might decrease or increase racism.

Are there other ways to measure racism?

Self-report questionnaires and other polls are a really useful way to track attitudes like racism and sexism. If we want to estimate the proportion of the population who may hold prejudiced beliefs in a large-scale national probability sample like the NZAVS, or to model the rate of change over time, then using self-report questionnaires are the best method we have.

Doesn’t talking about racism make it worse?

NOT talking about racism makes it worse because then people can ignore that racism is there. We know of no evidence suggesting that measuring or talking about racism might increase levels of racism in society. If anything, measuring racism draws attention to the problem, and might help to reduce it by signalling that many other people do not think racism is OK, and do not share the same racist opinions.

Care should be taken discussing sensitive topics like racism and sexism, but debate and polling can’t be shut down by the PC brigade who insist on restrictions on terminology and try to shut down discussions unless you comply with their views.

NZAVS Open Letter (PDF)

Gender and feminism in politics

In his latest Political Roundup Bryce Edwards has a detailed look at gender issues and feminism in politics.

Political roundup: The Rise of gender politics and feminism

Feminism is on the rise. This year has seen a greater focus on gender issues than perhaps ever before. In this extended column Bryce Edwards looks back on one of the most important trends in New Zealand politics in 2015.

A variety of different gender issues have been part of the political conversation in New Zealand this year. Some have been focused at the elite level – such as how to get more women into the ranks of the political or financial establishment. Other debates have been about attitudes, ideas and behaviours – especially “casual sexism” – but also about domestic violence. And another focus has been on the women at the bottom of the heap – those struggling on low pay. 

The variety of gender politics stories show how feminist politics has now moved from the margins into the mainstream. Now it seems almost everyone wants to call themselves a feminist – from Judith Collins through to Police Commissioner Mike Bush.

He then looks at a number of issues.

Who is a feminist?

Are you a feminist? It’s becoming increasing popular to identify as feminist, even if you’re a man, and especially if you’re a politician. This year has seen a surge of concern about gender inequality, discrimination and the degraded position of women in many aspects of New Zealand life.

A number of high profile advocates for women’s rights have spoken out recently. And many of these are men: a campaign was launched on Friday to get men on board the feminist struggle – see Simon Collins’ Men sign up to feminist cause.

Collins’ column referes to a HeforShe campaign

A journalist, comedian and the national police chief are among 21 Kiwi men who are championing a campaign to end inequality between men and women by 2030.

Journalist Jack Tame says men should be proud to call themselves feminists when they sign up to the “HeforShe” campaign launched at the United Nations last year by actress Emma Watson and kicking off in New Zealand in Wellington today.

I don’t know if I’d sign up for something like that. I’m more for equal and opportunties rights for everyone – more MeforUs.

I grew up strongly influenced by my mother, who was someone who just bloody well did what she wanted to do without considering she was disadvantaged as a woman. In many respects she acted like a staunch feminist but without labelling herself or using a label as a tool.

She was just very independent and determined to achieve what she wanted to achieve. She just was rather than claiming to be.

Back to Edwards.

National’s progress with women

Feminism used to be associated with the political left, but today’s feminist agendas are often pushed from the political right, including within the National Party. Probably the most prominent MP speaking out this year on gender issues has been National’s Judith Collins. In May she talked about her feminism and what it means to her, stating “I’ve been a feminist a lot longer than most people. I’ve been a feminist all my life” – see the NBR’s Lifelong feminist Judith Collins wants cabinet job back.

That could as well be Women’s progress with National. Political parties should allow equal gender opportunity but quality women have to step and promote themselves and compete and prove their worth – just like men should.

National’s problem with women

John Key’s “rapist” allegations in the debate about the Australian detention centres has clearly made the Prime Minister vulnerable to counter-allegations that he’s insensitive to rape victims and gender issues. His refusal to apologise for any offence caused has been criticised by the Herald – see it’s editorial, Why John Key should say sorry.

columnist Paul Little paints Key as an old-fashioned male chauvinist for how he has handled his opponents: “he is about old-fashioned values, like putting women in their place, teaching them to be seen and not heard, and never backing down or apologising, especially when you’re in the wrong” – see: John Key put those women in their place.

There could be an element of truth in that but Key has put a number of women in places of significant importance and power, not just in his Cabinet.

Sexism in parliamentary politics

Debate continues about whether the National Government will be harmed by John Key’s controversial “rapist” comments, with Patrick Gower reporting last week National still ahead in polls despite ‘rapist’ remarks. 

TVNZ’s Q+A put together a 12-minute panel discussion on Sexism and politics, featuring Judith Collins, Annette King, Julie Anne Genter and Claire Robinson. And RNZ’s Amelia Langford asked: How sexist is New Zealand politics?. For more on the topic you can also listen to her 18-minute Focus on Politics for 30 October 2015.

Regarding apparent sexist comments and behaviour by political leaders and their popularity it should be noted that some women, and possibly many, are bothered by what some see as sexist behaviour. There will be some women who by choice look up to men as leaders.

Women at the top

It’s a sign of how mainstream feminism has become, that today much of the gender politics agenda is about the women at the top – the broadcasters, CEOs, politicians and others in positions of power. There is currently a particular focus on women in business – see, for example, Fran O’Sullivan’s article from Saturday:Women’s arrival at top taking too long. In this, O’Sullivan celebrates “that women are finally taking their place at the top tables of New Zealand business”, but laments that the changes are happening too slowly.

Significant societal changes will almost always happen slowly. Some people will be impatient with that but it’s a natural reality – most people resist drastic change – and lurches can create as many problems as they solve.

Equal rights and opportunities will always be a work in progress.

And society will never be perfectly balanced in everyone’s eyes.

Casual (and serious) sexism

Much of the renewed feminist focus in politics is about highlighting some of the behaviours, stereotypes and beliefs that are said to be rampant in a sexist New Zealand. The problem of so-called “casual sexism” was outlined well by Alison Mau back in March with her column, The curse of #casual sexism. This referred not just to the everyday gender discrimination experienced by many women, but also to TVNZ’s Facebook post of “Vote For Our Sexiest Female Presenter”. Similarly, see Aimie Cronin’s I’m not sexist but….and Shelley Bridgeman’s Sexism is alive and well.

Some women (and men) may abhor “Our Sexiest Female” anything, but what if some women don’t mind it or even like it? Should things be PC’d out of existence because some oppose?

Domestic and gender violence

Possibly the single most controversial item published on the topic of gender and domestic violence this year was Rachel Stewart’s New Zealand has reached the pinnacle of world number one in domestic violence. In this she laid the blame and the solution for domestic violence “firmly at the feet of men” and called for some tough physical responses to the offending men.

Violence is a huge and insidious problem in New Zealand. Certainly some men are the main and worse culprits with violence of all types, but this is a far more complex issue than some acknowledge.

Some women are violent, especially versus children but also in relationships albeit on a smaller scale than male violence. They are real problems that shouldn’t be ignored.

And when psychological ‘violence’ is taken into account the responsibility will be more evenly spread. There’s no excuse for violent reactions but frustration and provocation are significant factors.

Individual responsibility is important – but so are joint responsibilities in relationships.

Women at the bottom

Although much of the attention of gender politics is focused on helping women “at the top” of society, or dealing with sexist stereotypes and behaviour, some is focused more on economic structures and how they impact on women at the bottom. 

For Deborah Hill Cone, much of the focus on “casual sexism” is banal when more serious gender discrimination is going on, and so she responded to Alison Mau’s column on “The curse of casual sexism” by saying: “What I do care about is the reality of the economic power of women, especially older women and minority women. This matters more to me than the objectification of television presenters. Like most things in life, it all comes down to money” – see: Let’s turn focus to women’s pay. 

It’s low pay that is probably the biggest problem for women at the bottom of the socio-economic heap

Income inequality is a real problem but also with no easy or quick solutions.

Gender inequality and sexism in general remain issues deserving of more attention and action.

But I think we have to be careful and avoid making this a them versus us issue.

We, men and women, need to do more to strive for more equal rights and opportunity.

But we also have to recognise there is no perfect equality, and equality means more to some peoeple than others, and equality looks different to different people and grouops of people.

I’ve only posted small excerpts from Edwards’ column. All the detail is here: Political roundup: The Rise of gender politics and feminism

More on Metiria Turei, racism, elitism and politicians

Very good follow-ups to the Metiria Turei jacket/racist/elitist issue.

Bryce Edwards summaries: The political minefield of race relations

Discussion, debate and reporting on race relations in New Zealand is a political minefield. There’s passion, anger, and polarised thinking, which all leads to sensitivities and potential explosiveness and hurt. This is especially the case with Waitangi Day commemorations, celebrations, and protests, which are inseparable from important issues relating to the Treaty, racism, and inequality. The many diverse arguments and perspectives about these are worth exploring.

And links to a leftwing view:

For a more trenchant leftwing critique of Metiria Turei’s allegations, see John Moore’s blogpost, The Elite politician that cried racism. He argues that Turei’s defence of her ‘opulent’ clothes reflects her integration into Establishment politics, and that her claims of racism demean real experience of racism in New Zealand.

Previous post: Metiria doth protest too much methinks

Metiria doth protest too much methinks

Green co-leader Metiria Turei took exception to criticisms of her, her clothes and her house/castle by National MP Anne Tolley in the opening speeches in Parliament this week.

She has claimed she has been targeted because she is Maori and female. She feels that it’s racist and sexist.

Has Turei been singled out?

On Parliament’s opening day on Tuesday National MPs to speak were John Key, Bill English, Steven Joyce, Hekia Parata, Nick Smith and Nathan Guy.

Key didn’t mention her at all in his opening speech, he criticised Russel once and David Cunliffe eight times. I don’t think either of them are female or Maori. (Hone Harawira was also named and criticised once).

None of the other National speakers mentioned Turei. Key’s mention of Norman was his sole mention. Cunliffe was named over thirty times.

Russel Norman also gave his speech that day and referred to Key six times.

Kevin Hague spoke and said:

It has been interesting to watch over the past 5 years National members’ tactics in the general debate each week, because it tells us what their smear tactics are going to be against us in any given week. The increasing desperation is instructive.

And Catherine Delahunty:

Today the Prime Minister’s statement was a little bit of a cheap shot.

We have a very positive and necessary vision that we offer to this country, and a very green Parliament is what we actually need. So when it comes to attacking the Green Party, as Kevin Hague just said, we have made many positive changes in this term of Government. Despite the disparagement, attacks, and opposition, we have worked with Ministers.

Key referred to the Greens four times.

Day two of the opening speeches on Wednesday 29 January included National speakers Gerry Brownlee, Jo Goodhew, Craig Foss, Tony Ryall, Simon Bridges and Nikki Kay.

Bridges followed Turei and mentioned her five times but there were no personal attacks. None of the other MPs mentioned Turei (or Norman).

Turei named Key five times:

Children just do not exist for John Key and for the National Party. And if we would like another example of that, after that miserable speech from John Key, I think we can see it in the answers that he gave to questions in the House today.

I note that John Key talked about how he was a child who grew up in poverty and how he was able to escape that poverty because of the support that he got from the State and the great, free public education that he received. When I asked him whether he will guarantee that all of today’s children will have access to exactly those same services, to secure State housing, to a universal benefit—remember the family benefit—and to a free public education, he said no. He said no and he sat down, because he will deliberately deny today’s children the same opportunities that he had as a child to escape poverty and to do well.

That is John Key, the Prime Minister. That is the National Party. That is the stark choice that New Zealanders have at this coming election: between John Key and the National Party, who say no to children, and the Green Party, which will put children at the heart of all of our policies and our political decisions.

That’s a strong attack on Key, especially related to children. Key has children of his own.

Personally I care little if someone criticises my clothes, but if someone accused me of not caring about children I’d indignantly challenge it.

Throughout day one and day two there were many personal attacks but none against Metiria.

Day three began with Anne Tolley’s speech when she said:

While we are on insults, I am actually rather insulted as a constituent MP. I serve an electorate day after day, week after week, meeting and talking with people in my home communities. I have to say that they are not well off. In my electorate, I represent some of the poorest communities in New Zealand. I am actually insulted to be lectured on how out of touch I am with average New Zealanders by a list MP who has no constituents, lives in a castle, and comes to the House dressed in $2,000 designer jackets and tells me that I am out of touch. Well, actually, I say to the Green MPs: “Come into my patch and have a look. Come into my patch.”

While that didn’t name Metiria it was obviously targeting her. This is what Metiria complained about and this led to the current conflagration.

Holly Walker’s speech followed and she addressed what Tolley said.

Well, it is great to see that children are at the heart of politics at the start of election year. It is about time, even if it means we have to listen to speeches like that one from the Hon Anne Tolley. It is good to hear her conclude that what we need for our kids is good kai, healthy homes, and good learning, or something to that effect. She is right; that is exactly what we need. But the vitriolic attack that she launched on the Green Party’s policy would do exactly the opposite.


The dismissive casual attitude of our Government towards children has never been more evident than in the comments of the Prime Minister in the House earlier this week when he said: “Give the odd kid a lunch—that is not actually going to solve the problem.”

I want to conclude with the words of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation president, Philip Harding, whom I trust a lot more than the Prime Minister.

Walker otherwise argued the Green case without personal attacks.

Eugenie Sage followed, sticking to the issues and not getting personal.

Next was National’s Paula Bennett. She attacked Labour’s Best Start policy, promoted National and ignored Metiria and the Greens.

Also speaking from National was Tim Groser, no mention of Turei or the Greens.

Later there was a split call for Greens. Jan Logie was very critical of Judith Collins regarding domestic violence and sexual violence and concluded:

This is what this Government’s commitment is to the safety of women and children. This year the country will have a choice of how to vote. Vote to protect us, or vote to undermine our safety.

Then Stephan Browning attacked issues only concentrating on GE.

Chester Borrows was next for National. He took a few swipes at Labour and Greens generally but nothing personal and named no one.

Next came Denis O’Rourke from NZ First who focussed on immigration, especially targeting Chinese, mentioning them eleven times. That would have been the most racial speech of the week. But it wasn’t targeting Maori or women.

Michael Woodhouse followed for National and he hit back.

I think we could set our watches by the first speech from New Zealand First—the yellow peril is back. That was the most disgraceful intervention I have ever heard in this House, and that member, Denis O’Rourke, should be ashamed of himself. Every New Zealand First member should tell Denis O’Rourke to pipe down.

I don’t know what the Greens have said about this.

Woodhouse mentioned Greens in relation to gas exploration but only named Gareth Hughes.

Then Dr Kennedy Graham spoke for Greens, targeting climate change and the Government and the Prime Minister.

And in a split call Denise Roche also spoke, about wage rates and industrial relations. She attacked the Government, the Prime Minister and the deputy Prime Minister, “this Government has fostered a low-wage economy, and today’s workers are not getting a decent pay rate that will enable them to live on what they earn”.

So in three days of speeches Metiria was criticised on one, by Anne Tolley. And her own speech was addressed by the following speaker. Otherwise she was ignored. There certainly doesn’t seem to be any singling out here at all, let alone because she is Maori or female.

There was also a direct debate between Metiria and John Key, in question time on Wednesday.

3. Inequality, Economic and Social—Prime Minister’s Statements

[Sitting date: 29 January 2014. Volume:696;Page:4. Text is subject to correction.]

3. METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement yesterday that “giving the odd kid a lunch. That is not actually going to fix the problem. What will fix the problem is paying $50,000 to a world-class principal to go in and fix up a school that is failing those kids”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister) : I stand by my full statement, which began with: “When it comes to education, we will not say the answer to fixing the whole problem of the education system is giving the odd kid a lunch.”

Metiria Turei: Is the Prime Minister saying, with his statement to the country, that he believes that the main cause of underachievement is that the principals and teachers in lower-decile schools, where underachievement is concentrated, are no good at their job and are failing their pupils?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: What I am saying is that the single-biggest thing we can do to help young New Zealanders of all backgrounds is have a world-class education system. What I am also saying is that it is actually quite difficult sometimes to attract the very best principals to small underperforming schools, and one of the biggest changes we can make is to pay a premium of $50,000 to attract one of those world-class principals to those schools. I personally happen to think that if you can put a fabulous principal in charge of a school and fantastic teachers in front of those children, that you are much more likely to make a big difference to them than giving them lunch.

Metiria Turei: Does the Prime Minister accept the Programme for International Student Assessment finding that family and out-of-school factors, like being well fed and well housed, accounts for more than 75 percent of the difference between high and low-performing New Zealand schools?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: What I prefer to rely on Andreas Schleicher, who is actually the architect of the Programme for International Student Assessment. This is his exact quote, when he spoke to the New Zealand media not so long ago, onNine to Noon, when he said: “Another part of the education that is actually underperformance in New Zealand isn’t actually all about poor kids in poor neighbourhoods. You know, there are actually many kids in more advantaged neighbourhoods where you can see performance challenges.” I think the reality is that there are two factors that make a big difference to children’s ability to learn at school. One is the home they come from, and the second is ultimately the teachers and the principals who are in front of those kids. We cannot always potentially change one of those factors, but we can certainly heavily influence the other. Secondly, the Government provides enormous support to those at-risk families. That included this Government borrowing tens of billions of dollars through the worst of the recession to support the most at-risk families in New Zealand.

Metiria Turei: What then is his response to the Principals’ Federation, some of whose members would benefit from his policy, who have praised the Greens school hub plan, saying that out-of-school influences, like decent food, have by far the biggest influence on underachievement?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I suppose the way to respond to that is to quote the Principals’ Federation, which said: “It’s hard for me to say but it’s a pretty damned impressive amount. It’s a huge amount of new money, and I’ve never seen such a transformation of ideas and discussion into policy and money in my life.” Sounds to me like they are backing the National Party.

Metiria Turei: Does the Prime Minister not understand that it is impossible to fix “underperformance” simply by helicoptering in 20 high-paid principals when he knows that 75 percent of the influence on underachievement is family background and out of those principals’ control?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: First, I think the member is just plain wrong. Second, I think the member is not doing justice to that very fine policy from the National Party. It is not 20 change principals; it is actually 100 over a period of time—5 years—and it is also 5,000 lead teachers. It is a large number of executive principals and expert teachers. It is $150 million dollars per year to lift the performance of all of our schools and principals across the country. Let us be blunt. I came from a State house and a solo mother. I happened to go to a world-class school with world-class teachers, and I am now the Prime Minister of New Zealand. Frankly, I think that made a bigger difference—

Metiria Turei: If the 1970s welfare State was so good to the Prime Minister when he was a child, will he consider reviving some of the core policies that were in place at that time, such as secure State housing, a universal child benefit, and genuinely free public education to every child now; if he will not, why does he believe that today’s kids are not entitled to the same support he had when he was a child?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No.

Metiria Turei: Is the Prime Minister concerned that the chance of people like him escaping poverty and doing well has become close to impossible under his watch, when the percentage of poorer children who are achieving at the highest levels has now dropped from 6 percent in 2009 to just 4 percent in 2012?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I am pleased that yesterday I described the Opposition as deluded, because the member has absolutely demonstrated that. Over the course of the last 5 years of this National Government, we have poured enormous resources into supporting the most at need. We have lifted, I think, the resources going into education, which is the single biggest factor to help young New Zealanders. To make the case that somebody could go to school today—somebody, say, 15 years of age, in year 11, who has spent the last 5 years at school under a National-led Government—and be condemned to never doing well because they grew up in a poor household shows how out of touch that member is.

Metiria Turei: When will the Prime Minister drop his inequality denial and admit that his policies are creating a growing class of people who sit at the bottom of the most unequal education system in the developed world?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Again, the member is just completely and utterly wrong. She wants to be in denial, but the penultimate findings in this area, done by the Ministry of Social Development—they are basically the findings of Mr Perry—have shown that actually income inequality has not been widening in the last 10 years; it has been very consistent over the last 10 years. If the member wants to cut and paste information so that she can mislead her supporters, she is welcome to do so, but, in fact, income inequality is not growing in New Zealand.

That is simply Parliamentary jousting with both parties giving and taking. It was instigated very specifically by Metiria there can be no claim of targeting there.

There is no doubt some history behind all this, but so far this year Metiria does not appear to have been singled out by National.

“I’m shocked that the National Party would attack me and my home and my appearance. I think it is a racist attack. I think they seem to think it is all right for them to wear perfectly good suits for their professional job but that a Maori woman from a working-class background is not entitled to do the same. I think it is pure racism.”

It seems to be drawing a long bow claiming she is being targeted solely because she is Maori and a woman, and an extremely long bow claiming racism and sexism.

In fact Metiria looks to have been left out of the debates more than included.

Was her indignation spontaneous taking of offence?

Or is it contrived attention seeking?

3 News have their first poll out tonight, it’s not unknown for politicians to attention seek during the polling period.

Metiria doth protest too much methinks.

How sexist am I?

An online survey tests your degree of sexism – The Ambivalent Sexism Inventory

The statements on this page concern women, men, and their relationships in contemporary society.

My scores:

  • Hostile Sexism Score: 1.27
  • Benevolent Sexism Score: 1.82

Sexism survey overall

I thought some of the questions were difficult to answer accurately. For example “Women seek to gain power by getting control over men. ” Some women do, some don’t.

What do my scores mean?

The Ambivalent Sexism Inventory measures two separate but related tendencies:

  • “Hostile sexism,” which involves negative feelings toward women
  • “Benevolent sexism,” a knight-in-shining armor ideology that offers protection and affection to women who conform to traditional gender roles (e.g., cute girlfriend, obedient wife, etc.)

Scores on each dimension can vary from 0 to 5, and although there is no fixed point that divides sexist and nonsexist people, higher ASI scores are related to greater degrees of sexism. For example, people with high levels of hostile sexism are more likely than others to hold negative stereotypes about career women, and they express attitudes that are more tolerant of sexual harassment and spousal abuse of women.

In contrast, high scores on benevolent sexism are not related to overt measures of hostility toward women. Nevertheless, benevolent sexism can turn ugly when women venture beyond traditional gender roles. For instance, one study found that benevolent sexists were more likely than others to blame a female victim for being raped after she invited a man into her apartment (presumably because the victim’s behavior violated norms of female chastity).

The quiz online is here: www.understandingprejudice.org/asi/take