Dusty Roads

A Kiwi living in the new Zimbabwe

Chauvanists and social storms

July 17, 2017

Two storms have blustered their way across the country this week. One of them deserved the title, and the other was little more than a storm in a teacup.

A third, very violent, storm was also raging, but hardly anyone noticed. However, with the help of the teacup storm we’ll get a glimpse of its seriousness in just a few sentences.

The teacup storm, by the way, was a weird and wonderful kaleidoscope of confusion brought to us by the modern feminists. It started earlier this month with someone getting offended by Mike Hosking’s very excellent question “when do we stop celebrating women’s achievements?”

Most of us were relieved to hear a public figure finally point out the patronising nature of such celebrations. It is difficult to feel you are taken seriously as a women when there are all sorts of silly ceremonies honouring you for something you had nothing to do with.

Men don’t have to endure such horrors.

Besides that, singling us ladies out in business or politics is tantamount to saying “hey, great job…for a woman!” It doesn’t so much suggest as shove down our throats the idea that us women can’t quite cut it if we compete against the men.

Modern feminism is amazingly sexist.

The comedy took full flight with Steve Kilgallon’s article on Seven Sharp’s relegation of presenter Toni Street to a “junior role” while the male presenters swirling around her were plonked into the senior roles.

The only problem, of course, is that Kilgallon claims to be a feminist in an article in which he speaks on behalf of a woman.

That makes him a chauvinist according to feminists, meaning he is a chauvinist feminist.

Life gets complicated to the point of comedy when every woman has to be a victim and every man a perpetrator.

Poor Street did eventually respond to all this nonsense, and thank heavens she did, because what she had to say was inspiring. “Good on you for trying, but next time let’s make it about something that actually matters,” she wrote.

And that brings us to the third storm I mentioned earlier, the “something that actually matters” which I would like to address: Family violence.

You see everyone from the Ministry for Women, to those of us sitting in suburbs, quite plainly miss terribly serious issues when we let modern feminists make men problems and women victims. Take, for example, one of the four core principles of the Ministry for Women; keeping women free from violence. Throughout the information page we find references to women as victims, and “gender equality”.

Yet we know, from New Zealand’s very own world-leading, ground-breaking research in the Dunedin Study, that women and men are equally likely to be violent towards one another, and we know that children are the victims of violence from both men and women.

It is the violence that is the problem, not the gender of the perpetrator.

And that is the issue with the teacup storms created by modern feminists. They get us all tied up in knots about nothing, while the real problems – and real victims – rage just outside the front door.

That is bound to keep on happening so long as we insist the problem with the world is located in our sex, instead of in our humanity, in our equal ability as men and women to hurt or be hurt by one another.

It is high time, don’t you think, that we turned our eyes to the real storms, and stopped trying to solve problems that don’t exist.

This article was first published on Stuff.co.nz



The death of feminism

March 20, 2017

Feminism is dying, and Rosemary McLeod is to blame. Well, she and a small, but vocal, group of women.

The reason, of course, is that they have hijacked a movement that used to be about equality, which a lot of women can relate to, and transformed it into a movement that is all about man-hating, which virtually no women can relate to.

If you want an excellent example of this please read McLeod’s column on the death of Jane Roe.

Under the guise of women’s rights, she rails against “old white men”, “paternalistic doctors” and “loser” absconding fathers who don’t take responsibility for impregnating women and who need to be fed nausea-inducing drugs while begging for mercy at the hands of a panel of women.

Don’t get me wrong. Fathers who abandon their families do something terribly, terribly wrong. But responding with mild torture doesn’t right the wrong. Trying to teach men to be men so they don’t keep repeating the cycle is helpful.

Such columns are deeply disturbing, of course. After all, any woman with a brain knows that equality means treating men equally as well as we treat women. When a lady comes along demeaning old white blokes for being old white blokes (which isn’t their fault at all) we rightly get a little suspicious. After all, what we didn’t like before was when women were demeaned for being women (which isn’t their fault at all). Simply switching the sex that is being demeaned isn’t equality. It’s just carrying out the same wrongs in reverse order.

When she begins to hint at a grand conspiracy of women-hating men, we feel quite uncertain. After all, as women we know that, mostly, we like blokes and think they are really alright. Sure there are a few women around who hate men, but they’re a minority. So, we reason, it seems fair to believe that, like us, the vast majority of blokes probably quite like women too. Sure, there will be a few around who really hate us, but a grand conspiracy is just a step too far.

By the time McLeod gets to suggesting mild torture as revenge for historic wrongs, we really know we’re not talking about equality anymore. We’re talking about misandry. Man-hating.

And that is why the vast majority of women don’t actually call themselves feminists anymore. The liberal Huffington Post in America found this out when it did a poll with YouGov in which only 20 per cent of women identified themselves as feminists, despite the majority claiming they believed in equality of the sexes.

The Fawcett Society received the same shock in the UK, where its poll showed that only 7 per cent of women now identify as feminists, despite two thirds believing in equality of the sexes. The feminist organisation that did the study tried to make the best of the numbers, by haplessly concluding that Britain was a nation of “hidden feminists”.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any statistics on feminism in New Zealand, but I doubt the numbers would be too different.

After all, the movement has been hijacked by misandry here too. There are plenty of opinion pieces, just this week, to pick from.

You could check out why Kasey Edwards won’t let men babysit her children. Or you could read subtly demeaning comments about contraception and men in Michelle Duffy’s piece on contraception.

And the simple fact of the matter is that man-hating is not mainstream. Because most blokes are brilliant. They are responsible fathers, good husbands, and hard workers who might occasionally give us reason to complain, but don’t give us reason to hate. They are, put simply, equally as brilliant as women.

Until the violently vocal feminists realise that, they’re fighting a losing battle.

This article was first published on Stuff.co.nz



When being progressive is regressive

January 31, 2017

The irony was almost unbearable. Amidst the swaying crowd of protestors placards were heaved up from the ground and held high overhead. Slowly, steadily, 1000 humans began to move along Queen Street.

And as they did so, smiling grandly beneath the words they had scrawled upon bits of wood or cardboard, they were filled with a sense of jubilation.

They were here, under the shining sun, and they were going to make a difference.

It’s just that it was all so confusing.

The signs didn’t help matters. There was one proclaiming “my body my rights”. It didn’t mention any responsibilities, which usually precede rights, but that wasn’t the confusing part. Apparently the slogan is one of those commonly used arguments that prove abortion is ok. Of course, if it was our body being aborted, we wouldn’t be alive, so I’m going to assume someone missed a word out and the sign should have read “my baby’s body, my rights”.

That made me feel a little edgy, I’ll admit. After all, demanding the right to kill the little body inside your own body didn’t quite fit with the dignified air of moral superiority and compassion with which the demand was made. It was a bit too incongruous for me.

I felt the same about a sign that read “Sex is beautiful, reproduction is optional”. It didn’t sound so nice when I put thought about what it really meant: “Sex is beautiful, babies are optional”. I didn’t particularly want the right to kill my baby.

Another sign popped into view and this one read “I won’t tolerate intolerance”. I couldn’t quite figure out what to make of it. Was this woman saying she couldn’t tolerate herself? How does one not tolerate oneself? Ought we all be following her example to be good, liberal, feminist progressives? And most puzzlingly, how were we to create a society free of intolerance if we were all desperately busy not tolerating?

Yet another sign read “Our strength is in diversity”. “Excuse me,” I asked the woman, “does that mean I’m allowed to have a different opinion on abortion because the signs are doing a wonderful job of convincing me it’s not a good idea?” She said diversity of opinion was fine so long as we all had the same opinion.

I had rather a tough time trying to work that out, and in the end I gave up. I turned my mind to wondering whether it was possible to have diversity without diversity of thought, and decided that it wasn’t.

What baffled me most of all was that the Women’s March on Washington didn’t actually end up in Washington. It ended in Myers Park.

Not a police officer was in sight, according to the MC, “because women are perceived to be safe”. I felt again the strong pangs of uncertainty. Was that a compliment or a horrid, sexist remark by our men and women in blue? Should the crowd react by proving the stereotype, or by smashing things and hitting people to prove such sexism wrong?

I must confess I missed most of the speeches from then on. I was too busy thinking that there was no use trying, it was quite evident I would never make a good feminist, liberal, progressive.

I tuned back in as the crowd was being told that “today gives us an opportunity to just begin”. And then everyone went home.

Actually, I thought to myself, I’m not sure that I want to fit in.

This article was first published on Stuff.co.nz

The battle to be a woman

April 18, 2015

I see Paul Henry is already in trouble. I’m not surprised, and, no doubt, neither is he. In fact, I have the sneaking suspicion that Henry is quite delighted that Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Jackie Blue has taken exception to some of his comments.

He’s that kind of guy. After all, it has meant free publicity, and will be sure to see every Kiwi sick of the word “feminism” tune in dutifully to Henry’s new show each day, just to make sure ratings don’t land his programme in “review”.

I would be tuning in – just to be transparent about which side of the Paul Henry “love/hate” fence I sit on – but we don’t have a television. Still, from what I have read of Henry’s comments, I entirely agree with him.

This young woman is sick of the word feminism.

Here’s why: Blue took exception to Henry’s claim that two very prominent women running for two very prominent jobs were wasting our time by pointing out they wanted to be the first women elected to the jobs. Blue protested, saying women were under-represented in politics and business and are generally paid less than men.

She wrote that “feminism is the belief gender should not limit anyone’s chances at life”, and labelled those who think men and women get equal opportunity “deluded”.

But Blue is ignoring a few important things.

First, she’s ignoring the fact that women are over-represented in many jobs – like teaching, nursing and secretarial work. If feminism is what she claims it is, Blue ought to be fighting for equal representation in these jobs.

Second, she’s undermining the success of women by talking gender, not skill. That means promotions, pay rises and even positions can be seen as – and worse, sometimes are – tokens aimed at reducing inequality, rather than the deserved rewards of a hardworking, honest woman. I was once offered a position for the stated reason that there weren’t enough women represented. I turned it down.

Third, and most importantly, she’s forgetting the fact that not all women want to be her. It was also the lesson Julie from the Hand Mirror (a blog that has a tagline reading “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people”) learnt in 2013.

She stood for the Puketapapa Local Board, and was shocked to find that 13 women turned down offers to run on the ticket she was involved with. Yes, fewer women sit in Parliament than men, but perhaps that’s at least in part due to the fact that fewer women want to stand than men. You can’t elect them if they’re not there.

And women are perfectly within their rights not to want to be politicians or businesswomen. Lots of them might want to be full-time mums. Moving out of employment certainly limits how far up the career ladder they climb, which limits their pay, but still, it’s their choice. To suggest they are not meeting their full potential, are being held back by a boys’ club, or ought to be getting involved in jobs just to change statistics is incredibly demeaning  to women and to the roles they have decided are more important to them.

Do I deny that there are boys’ clubs and men who don’t believe women are their equals? Nope, they’re out there, all right. But so, too, are women’s clubs (they’re called feminists) and women who believe they should get roles based on their gender, not their skill.

Both are as bad as each other.

This article was first published on Stuff.co.nz