The Shepocalypse Now

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Manbangate: it was always going to meet vicious condemnation from the right, but the left too? The left has formed three groups: those who support it, those who support it but are distressed at the politics of it and those who oppose it.

There’s been a failure of political management. That was always a given. Labour’s own MPs swallowed the right’s framing and the leader failed to comment on the first day (except through a proxy) and when he did he accepted the right’s framing too. And this is the government in waiting. Heaven help us.

I can’t add much too much more to the debate. Andrew Geddis, QoT and Scott Hamilton have said it better. Here’s what I will say, though.

The claim that class politics > identity politics grates. Bryce Edwards writes:

Labour’s focus on issues of identity politics has, arguably, been to the detriment of more substantive issues concerning economics, inequality and power

And paraphrasing Josie Pagani:

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

Essentially Pagani is saying that class and economics is more important than gender and feminism in this debate.

Gender can’t be separated from economics, inequality and power. The same is true of ethnicity, disability, age and sexual orientation. The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women 1979, the Employment Equity Act 1990, and certain provisions in the State Sector Act 1988 and the Human Rights Act 1993 exist for a reason:  inequality isn’t gender-blind – nor is it colour-blind, disability-blind, age-blind or blind to sexual orientation. Power in society is concentrated in one gender, one colour, one ability, one generation and one sexual orientation. Obviously, this an argument to class and an argument to identity. The two shouldn’t be divorced.

It’s unfair to juxtapose class politics against identity politics. Class might be the central divide in a capitalist system, but gender oppression isn’t always located within and subordinate to class oppression. Regardless of class some opportunities and rights are closed to women. Anti-abortion laws, for example, revoke a woman’s right to choose regardless of income and occupation. Women, regardless of income and occupation, must still battle against gender expectations reaching back centuries.

Politics isn’t a binary choice between issue A and issue B. The left is capable of debating more than one issue at a time. In any event, the only reason gender has cut to the front is because a Labour member (or MP) leaked the proposal, Whale and DPF framed and sustained the issue well (man ban!) and the media received a prepackaged story. In the hierarchy of issues, the gender debate wasn’t meant to register. Don’t whinge about the left having to focus on other shit.

A resistance to affirmative action is a resistance against sharing privilege. A quota is a blunt instrument and the political management around the leak has been dull. Context is everything, though: women won the vote in the 19th century and haven’t achieved parity in Parliament in the 21st century. Discrimination didn’t die in the 20th century.

Maybe the man ban should have been shanked. It appears that the disproportionate number of men in the Labour caucus is a result of men (in the old guard) remaining in their safe seats and, as Danyl rightly points out, it’s likely never to be used. But is that how cowardly liberals and the left have become? Maybe, but let’s not bullshit that gender equality isn’t important.

35 COMMENTS

  1. okay…. correct me if I am wrong… aren’t Majority of the Bloggers on THE DAILY BLOG, Males?

    Maybe….. if you guys are really serious about the man ban thing, you should delete some Man-Bloggers on here and let more Red Sheilas type their posts.

    Because frankly, I’m getting sick of the Red male domination on this website… Tsk Tsk….

    • Morgan your normally very sensible I cant believe you support this.

      Law of unintended consequences will be HUGE with this.

      In the military we have one very set standard for males and females, that way when your boss gives you an order you say AYE AYE Sir/Ma’am and don’t think for a second about their gender – you know in every bone in your body they got their because they are the best person to be there.

      Females in life have enough stuff undermining them without the whole “did you get here just because your female or because you actually deserve to be here” factor added in.

      Do I think it would be nice/ideal to have a 50/50 split male female? Absolutely.
      Do I think we should MANDATE to have this split, bringing in people who are not as good as other people just because they are male or female? Absolutely not.

      There are much better ways to help achieve a closer 50/50 split – encouraging more woman into politics and better programs to help with childcare etc… would be a good start

      • Hey, enixide, this is the third post I’ve seen (plus one on TS, plus mine where I deleted it as being offtopic) where you have posted literally identical comments.

        Even ignoring the fact that you’re either kidding yourself or lying about the status of women in the military – denied entry to some roles, not promoted to the same level as men, and subjected to abuse and sexual assault – it kind of makes you look less like a concerned citizen and more like a deliberate troll.

      • “Females in life have enough stuff undermining them”

        Which is exactly why affirmative action and other measures to eliminate discrimination (both visible and invisible) are needed.

  2. Thanks Morgan.

    re the inevitablity of Labour handling this badly, one of the things that’s concerned me is how Louisa Wall has been left to be the almost sole voice supporting building ingender equity into party processess. That along with Shane Jones’ comments are shameful.

    I’ve been asking for a while at the standard why class politics aren’t considered ‘identity’ politics. As far as I can tell, the only reason for seeing them as separate is because when parliamentary politics were established, only white men were allowed to vote and be MPs, so the primary battle was between white men’s interests (the battle between rich men and poor men). I completely agree that the dichotomy is false – were women having more say, it’s not like teh dichotomy would be reversed (identity politics are more important than class politics), it’s that we would get to address the complexity of issues within a completely different framework (and btw, all those who consider gender to be secondary, capitalism was a baby of the patriarchy, think about that).

    Putting class at the head of a cue is just a form of heirarchy that supports all forms of oppression, and quite frankly it looks like just another round of men refusing to share power.

    I’d also like to link to Karol’s post from today, which looks at the masculinist culture within politics, and how Labour have been trying to address gender equity in the past.

    http://thestandard.org.nz/a-problem-of-masculine-values/

    • Putting class at the head of a cue is just a form of heirarchy that supports all forms of oppression, and quite frankly it looks like just another round of men refusing to share power

      Well said.

      • Quite frankly I’m concerned about the conception of class struggle I am encountering in this posting. Class struggle cuts across all ethnic, sexual, or economic divides. But this means all struggles against oppression, as well as being a struggle against a particular form of oppression is also a class struggle. It is the concrete versus the abstaract. To imply a particular form of struggle should be subjugated to class struggle is to deny not only a particular opression but also class struggle and weaken the struggle through dividing the class. The struggle against particular forms of oppression is class struggle in practice. To say that the interest of equity for women runs contrary to class struggle is to say, that there is no equity for women in class struggle. How can this be a struggle of class if we have already discounted over half the population? To use the struggle of class in this way is to abandon socialism and democracy, it is to subjugate class struggle to bougoise vulgarisation.

        For your further consideration without extending my reply

        http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art/2042/Why+revolutionaries+oppose+all+oppression

  3. The Man Ban idea makes sense only if they were genuinely serious about gender equality, as opposed to some sort of weird “some humans are more equal than others” version that has been presented.
    How about just having 50% of the electorates for women and 50% for men, that would GUARANTEE equal representation, with no possibility for bias at any point. The list MPS could just be forced to alternate male/female/male/female. See, if you want to be fair about these things and seriously want perfect gender quality, this is how you do it. Quaint notions of merit, policy, character etc are apparently no longer important to our society anyway (need proof? well, we have elected John Key as PM… TWICE!).

    • It wouldn’t “guarantee” equal representation at all. People have discussed elsewhere that of new Labour MPs elected since 2008, half have been women – so the problem is that a lot of the “safe” electorates are held by old white dudes who throw off the balance.

      • What I suggest would definitely guarantee it. Or are you referring to the proposal from Labour? If you literally peg 50% of the electorates for men and 50% for women, then the 50% gender representation would occur by definition of the setup. Draconian? Yes. Merit based? No. But it would at least give the result Labour are apparently after – surely they don’t want the possibility overshoot it… or do they?

  4. How could I resist your invitation for correction Rajiv?

    Around 29% of the contributors to The Daily Blog are female, which is actually a lot more than right wing blogs at only 16%. However things could improve some, being that overall left wing blogs in New Zealand have approximately 39% female representation.

    There being less female bloggers than male is the case in most countries around the world, and I’m unsure there’s anything The Daily Blog could actually do to remedy the issue? Approaching more female blogger’s is always one option. What I am sure of is that your inference that The Daily Blog somehow discriminates against females and is pro Labour is completely wrong! Only a truly deluded RWNJ could come up with something like that Rajiv.

    What I found most interesting about crunching a few numbers is that left wing bloggers far outnumber right wing bloggers by eight to one. There are only 24 bloggers (counting Whale Oil as one blogger?) who can be considered right wing, compared to 198 left wing bloggers in New Zealand (including politicians who blog). I’ve only included bloggers who’ve published within the last year.

    Why the right wing bloggers get so much of the medias attention is beyond me?

    Great post btw Morgan.

    • I’d add that as well as the usual reasons for gender inequity, women bloggers get abused at an almost unbelievable level, esp political bloggers. Google women +bloggers + abuse.

      “Around 29% of the contributors to The Daily Blog are female,”

      Is that listed authors, or ones who post? Would be interesting to see the ratios of who has posted this year or in the last month.

      • That’s listed authors. Sorry, don’t have time to make a comparison of the posts, although I suspect most contributors to The Daily Blog have written something within the last month.

        • Ok. I thought posts had dropped off alot lately. If I get some time, I’ll have a look through.

          • A very rough, quick count over the last few weeks suggests that about 25% of posts are by women (that’s from the Most Recent Blogs list and exlcudes posts by the TDB rather than individuals). Most of those posts are by a small number of people. The ratio of women to men would go up if Bomber were posting less 😉 (that’s probably not phrased quite right).

    • Interesting stats, Jackal.

      In contrast to women’s participation on political blogs internationally women are more likely to blog and use social media than men. That’s the findings of a 2012 Nielsen survey. They especially tend to do personal blogs.

      I have come to political blogging after participating a lot in some quite women-friendly, and/or women-centred online communities. The level of aggression and competitive point-scoring in online NZ political blogs was at first a bit of a culture shock.

      I think the dominant tone of political blogs could put off many women (and some men), mirroring what happens in politics.

      • I think the research you’ve linked to Karol is concerned with social media in general, and not specifically political blogs. Here’s what the Hansard Society’s Gender and Digital Politics (PDF) research found:

        Gender and Digital Politics examines overall levels of internet access and activity and finds generally similar levels across the genders. However, when it comes to more active online political participation, such as writing blog posts or commenting on blogs, the figures are usually male dominated:

        80% of MPs’ blogs are by men
        85% of political media blogs are by men
        93% of councillors’ blogs are by men
        85% of individual blogs in Total Politics Political Blog Awards 2010 were written by men
        79% of blog posts and 90% of comments on Lib Dem Voice blog (to November 2010) were written by men.

        The gender pattern in the world of digital politics is similar to the gender composition of Parliament (only 22% of the MPs elected in May 2010 were women), and to the gender balance of candidates standing in the last election (again only 22% were women). However, although the numbers of women MPs are small, their use of online tools is not dissimilar to that of their male counterparts:

        49% of female Labour MPs and 45% of male Labour MPs use Twitter
        41% of female Conservative MPs and 30% of male Conservative MPs use Twitter
        43% of female Liberal Democrat MPs and 56% of male Liberal Democrat MPs use Twitter (there are only seven female Liberal Democrat MPs)
        Across the parties, 55% of new female MPs and 50% of new male MPs use Twitter.

        So compared to the UK, little old New Zealand has more female representation within the political blogosphere. I would be interested to know what has caused the difference, because if it can be identified, there’s more chance to rectify things.

        • Jackal: I think the research you’ve linked to Karol is concerned with social media in general, and not specifically political blogs.

          Ah, yes. That was actually my intention. Maybe I should have explained more. My point is that women spend a lot of time online communicating their views (and networking) on a range of things. So, as they/we are under-represented on “political” (big P) something about the blogs is off-putting for a lot of women.

          QOT adds an important extra point about women expressing political views elsewhere, while Political blogs (big P) implicitly define a skewed idea of what counts as “Politics”.

          Thanks for the Hansard article – very useful. And, it says something similar to QOT on page 1:

          There is also evidence to suggest that women are discussing politics online in places that would traditionally have been perceived as non-political.

          And it concludes this from the evidence:

          So, when it comes to general online activity, we see that men and women are fairly evenly balanced; men are slightly more likely to download or read newspapers online, women more likely to create content. This follows the general patterns that we would expect to see reflecting that women are more likely to network and men more likely to consume.

          NZ also has a higher representation of women in parliamentary politics than the UK.

          NZ ranked 26, with 32.2% in the (lower) House. UK ranked 56, with 22.5% (lower house) and 22.6% (upper house).

          • After re-reading your comment I realize I had the wrong end of the stick so to speak. Nothing to do with how it was written, and everything to do with a late night. Sorry about that Karol.

            I’m not sure I agree that there’s disparity because feminist issues are given less prominence, as the politically aware woman I know have a robust understanding of all the issues.

            I think it probably has a lot more to do with certain males on blogs in particular giving females a hard time simply because they’re sexist. That sexism seems to be magnified when politics are involved, which would understandably be unappealing to anybody who didn’t accept such attitudes.

            In this way the biased situation is also reducing the amount of participation by non-sexist males. Many people are simply intolerant of misogynistic attitudes, which are undoubtedly detrimental to the entire blogosphere.

            In my opinion, the only way to reduce such dysfunction is to meet it head on. Therefore I propose a campaign to name and shame the misogynist’s, a campaign that it appears both you and QOT are already engaged in.

            • Jackal, I agree with most of what you say there. I wasn’t implying that women don’t participate as much in “political” blogs as men because they are more interested in “feminist” issues.

              I agree that the sexist attitudes and behaviour is part of the problem.

              But I also think part of the problem is the aggressive style of interaction coming from many men that puts off many women, and some men.

              And, the issues that are given priority in mainstream politics, are not always the most crucial ones for many women.

              For instance, there’s a tendency for political men to have an “instrumental” focus: on economics, on politics as game (all the poll watching and analysis of stats – competitive point scoring, etc). Whereas many women have more of an interest in the daily experience and impact of social polices – a more “people” and relationships focus).

              I mean this as more of a socially-constructed gender difference, and a general tendency, rather than as some rigid stereotype.

  5. Hello (Male) Jackal,

    It is nice of you to fess up. But your explanation is more of an apology, a trivial excuse.

    You say, more or less, look at those Right Wing Nut Job bloggers, only 16% females! We’re far better than them at 29%!

    Anyway, if Labour Caucus can have 41% females (as Colin Espiner points out), then how come The Daily Blog cannot gather more than 29% female writers.

    I find it ironical–rather hilarious– that “Man-Ban” is mostly being pimped by male bloggers on here.

    And Sir, do you really want to know why “Right Wing” bloggers like Whale Oil and Kiwiblog are more popular? Because they’re not afraid to tell the truth. Please visit these links:

    First, read NZ First MP Asenati’s Unprofessional and racist Tweets:

    http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2013/07/arsenasty-lole-taylor-loses-the-plot-ctd/

    Second, you may want to read my comment turned into Whale Oil Post and follow heated debate in the comment section:

    http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2013/07/email-from-a-reader-on-nz-first-racism/

    Third, Left bloggers may ignore this kind of racism, but “Right Wing” bloggers will not be afraid to name and shame these MPs that bring disgrace to NZ Parliament: http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2013/07/face-of-the-day-563/

    Now you can see why “Right Wing” blogs would be more popular. Because they will not allow political correctness get in the way of freedom of speech for a vibrant democracy.

    • Hi Rajiv – I don’t think it’s fair to compare TDB with the Labour Party. This is a blog, not a political party, this is blog operating on the internet, not a party operating in Parliament. I think it’s a false comparison.

    • Rajiv says:

      And Sir, do you really want to know why “Right Wing” bloggers like Whale Oil and Kiwiblog are more popular? Because they’re not afraid to tell the truth. Please visit these links:

      You’ll forgive me if I don’t follow your links Rajiv. Previous incursions into the Fail Oil and Kiwibog have taught me that around half their posts are factual, so I presume your comment re them not being afraid to tell the truth is some sort of joke?

  6. Morgan,

    Okay, I agree this is not Labour Party’s official blog.

    But that’s the political party you want to form the next government in coalition with the Greens and NZ First.

    What’s the point in downplaying your allegiance?

    • Dearest Rajiv.

      Martyn Bradbury, Daily Blog Editor here. Could you please point out where any blogger on this site has EVER said they wanted NZ First to be in the next Government. You have stated this as a fact, so it should be very easy for you to back it up with one example.

      We all wait with baited breath.

      • Martyn,

        Since you asked me nicely instead of brandishing a sickle, hammer and a red flag, I did some re-digging for you.

        It was actually Mike Treen who kind of flirts with the idea of Labour hooking up with NZ First. Here’s the link: https://thedailyblog.co.nz/2013/07/05/a-smart-vote-for-mana-and-labour/

        To quote from the post:

        “The wild card is New Zealand First. Winston Peters tries to come across as an anti-establishment candidate who defends the welfare state and opposes asset sales….

        “Alternatively he could tell Labour he would form a government with them only if it excluded the Greens.

        “It is in the interests of both Labour and the Greens to ensure that does not happen.”

        The first paragraph is the key. It highlights the fact that Winston Peters’s policies match some of the most cherished ideals of Greens and Labour.

        Last Helen Clark government did get NZ First support to grab power and made Winston foreign minister. Why does this alliance seem so unlikely in 2014?….. Especially when Maori Party is not likely to make a big comeback and Mana is a one man deal at the moment.

        Labour has no choice but to lean on NZ First support if it’s serious about planting the Red Flags in Wellington. And that means, ONCE AGAIN, hooking up with a blatantly Racist and poisonous Political party…..

        Besides, everyone knows how in Parliament Labour-Greens-NZ First trio has been working as tag team partners to unsettle National government and its allies, Maori Party and United Future.

        Of course Labour has always eyed NZ First support in 2014. Though it’s a different matter that opportunist Winston will support National government if they dangle a bigger carrot in 2014 (if he still happens to be around).

        Good luck to Reds (they sure need it!)

        • Let me see if I can get this completely straight Rajiv, you state this is a Labour Blog, and you are quickly proven wrong. You suggest this blog supports NZ First and I challenge you to back that up, and out of 2172 posts all you scape together is some nothing quote from Mike Treen that doesn’t back up your claim in any way shape or form.

          I call you on being a right wing Troll offering nothing to the debate.

  7. There seems to be a debate here regarding the % of female bloggers on The Daily Blog and Rajiv seems to be attempting to use that number as some sort of example of hypocrisy on our behalf. As the editor, allow me to respond to some of that.

    Firstly, 32% of our blog list are female. We are always interested in getting more women bloggers onto TDB and are always asking other female bloggers to join. The issues for them turning down the offer are always because they are over worked and they tend to not enjoy the hyper aggressive environment of the blogosphere.

    We certainly want more female bloggers to join and I encourage more female voices to enter into the debate. I believe that one of the strengths of TDB is our diversity and I want more of that. If you compare TDB to any of the right wing blogs in NZ, we are head and shoulders above any of them in terms of this.

    From an editorial perspective, the more diversity, the better the debate and we will always be active in trying to recruit more. Attempting to damn us for our attempts to date seem more politically motivated than genuine.

    • The tighter moderation here makes it an easier place to be than the standard, way less of a macho culture.

      (as far as I can tell Rajiv isn’t making any useful point about gender and blogs).

    • Martyn,

      But….don’t you see the cruel irony in your explanation?

      In effect, you’re saying, many (Red/Lefty) women do not like the confrontational (“hyper aggressive”) nature of Blogosphere…

      If that’s the case then would they be able to withstand the confrontational nature of running for elections and debating with all the political sharks and media folks out there?

      Unlikely….

      • I’m not entering into debate with you Rajiv as I don’t feed trolls. But no I don’t agree with your conclusion or narrative framing. Blogs, especially the sewer of the right wing blogs are far more dirty than parliamentary politics.

  8. It is my view that more equality for females, males, any ethnic group, any cultural group, for disabled, gay, lesbians, heterosexuals and others, from “working class” or lower socio economic backgrounds in New Zealand, would be achieved by putting sufficient resources in education at all levels from ECE to tertiary and training education. Also would more equality be achieved by abolishing private schools, and by not allowing charter schools, who prepare kids from an early age on to thing they are “different” (and “better”) to others, merely because they enjoy parents with more resources, who can put them there and give them a better education.

    It would result in more equality if education and training is made available at a standard and quality of benefit to all, as skills can result in better employment opportunities. Female, same as male students should be empowered and supported in gaining confidence by performing in roles once performed by predominantly one or the other gender. Sadly in education males tend to perform worse and need support in some areas.

    More equality would be achieved by having a universal basic income, topped up according to need for ALL, and by treating disabled and seriously ill with work capacities with respect, and by being inclusive and work with them as partners, when assisting them into work or training.

    It would be achieved by narrowing income gaps between “classes” of people with different qualifications and levels of experience, with different positions and whatever else.

    More equality would be achieved simply by enforcing equal employment and other laws and regulations, by paying people the same for the same work, by promoting persons independent from whatever gender they are.

    Better awareness, informedness, and thus potentially equality would be achieved if the media would be held accountable to report objectively, fairly and responsibly, rather than deliver the drivel and low standard “news” and other “infotainment” we get. Having more female journalists report on the serious, also analysed political stuff, rather than just read the news as pretty faces would perhaps be a good move.

    We have not even achieved any of the above, and it seems the rule proposed by the LEC is trying to implement “change” from the top down, in this instance only in candidate nominations prefering female candidates in certain electorates, which to me is totally selective and limited as a measure.

    Hence the focus should perhaps be somewhere else, and that is why I remain unconvinced that this proposal by the LEC will work. Sadly it appears to be a pet project by some, with good intentions, but what about the rest of society, please?

    Changing the steering wheel or driver in a car will not result in more power for the engine!

    So perhaps focus on resolving the above before going ahead with this.

    What I must agree on is the right wing bloggers having influenced the also apparently male dominated media, who spread this stupid “man ban” crap around now. That is where Labour’s leadership should have been resolute and taken a clear stand, and not join the “man ban” rednecks.

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