New Zealand Politics: Too Many Dicks On The Dancefloor

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Wl_uQOABxg

I’m kind of frustrated once again with New Zealand’s ‘Too Many Dicks on the Dance floor’* approach to politics.

When I say ‘dicks’ I’m referring to penises, I’m not trying to insult the leaders as people, and I don’t personally blame them insomuch as I feel they have a responsibility as humans to fight for greater fairness. The government won’t implement a female quota – unlike many other developed countries – with only some parties prepared to implement a voluntary quota.  A global average of women in parliament is roughly 20% – roughly 30% in our country, so we aren’t doing so great. I mean, women make up 50% of the population; this isn’t just a minority gripe.

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I was disappointed to see this photo. I do wonder what organisers are thinking when they produce national-level content like this. Who thought it would be a good idea? “I know, let’s get ALL the mans to debate! Mediated by, you got it, another man!” Genius. No wonder women’s issues are barely being mentioned this election despite a huge level of public interest.  I simply do not get how this is considered normal or acceptable.
unnamed-1With this and the vile, casual normalised misogyny of attack-dogs Slater and Williams last week it’s all getting a bit much. I’d like us to stop pretending misogyny isn’t going on almost everywhere and playing a fundamental role in politics and every-day life. I know a few at this stage will moan “But Crusher Collins and Paula B are examples of awful women in politics!” and they’d be right, but they are an example of a minority few in what is still a male-dominated environment. I’m not saying women can’t be awful or have politics different to mine, I just think it’s important we have a better chance for square representation. The promise of democracy is greater equality, but it fails to supply us with equity – fairness.
Trolls are going to say that women should take “responsibility for themselves” and vote in more women (because women are so notoriously irresponsible, right?), but that’s hard when we don’t have the option of women to vote for, or when social pressures force women into secondary roles because men want to be leaders and see each other as leaders. Literally there is no reason for such a male-dominated political environment to exist beyond the impact of problematic values. Propose another? It’s not child bearing, there are plenty of skilled female or gender-queer leaders who don’t have children (or who have childcare worked out) who could easily participate, yet this situation abides.
When dirty politics and social pressure determine the distribution of power, there is no way you can argue with people in power who fundamentally view women as useful for sex and service and not essentially powerful or useful. There is no way you can argue with misogynists who don’t like it when women are more powerful than them. These are those who say “We believe in equality!” but have a policy of equity-blindness; they refuse to recognise that unfairness, prejudice and social pressures work against genuine equality for huge sections of society. Democracy has a good go at reducing inequity, but it hasn’t worked. I prefer we stop pretending that democracy is a sufficient fix all and just get on with the task of making things fairer.

I do not think 100 years of male political domination is an appropriate situation and it needs to be addressed and the right just isn’t addressing it, they’re knowingly perpetuating it. Preventing male domination is not the same as a “man ban” it’s just that, a ban on domination by a certain demographic. Equality (same rules for everyone) does not equal equity (fair playing field for people). Because, as we have seen in the last few weeks, we live in an environment that rewards unfair, hateful, bullying behaviour and so we need to counter that. I am more than happy to agree there are males who are unfairly marginalised in society and I’d like equity for them too, but as a woman I’m equipped to speak about women’s issues, not theirs. I can support them. However they are misled if they feel that to argue for the legitimacy of their cause they have to deny that women have a reasonable claim to discuss the issues that impact upon our group.I love heaps of guys, plenty have got my heart and my gripe isn’t with individual guys, I just think men-the-group, have too much power, power they haven’t earned and don’t deserve just because ‘penis’, or because the bible says men should be the ones who make the decisions, and that for a great deal of time our political system was based upon that outdated Christian idea. Not bashing Christians here; bashing that ideology.

I tell you what, we are powerful and we are leaders and if we need to be vociferously aggressive to get you to make some space for us then so be it. But you know it would be nice if a simple, reasonable argument would do it, and that those guys who want to hold onto their power would just say “fair enough”.

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So I agree with Flight of the Concords – it’s time you guys “spread the dicks out a bit and create some lady-space”, “It’s easy to fix!”. I’m looking at you, Colin, Jamie, John, also at lots of the union/socialist groups in Auckland here too; Auckland Uni Debating Club? This isn’t just a right-wing problem. Addressing this unfair situation definitely falls to a good number of guys in power. Though shoutout to all of the left-wing parties and New Zealand first who have made concerted, thoughtful efforts to remedy the disparity whilst we wait for the right to sort out their inequity-blindness. My advice? If you’re in a position of power before you do anything public please think: If we want equality, how will we make this situation more equitable? Not just for women, but for others too, I’m not ignoring class or racial inequity here; I’m not saying this issue of gender is the only important issue. I point at the issue of gender, without denying the impact of class and race issues.

Here is a handy guide for organisers all over. Ask yourself:

“Is my event too dudetastic?” Auckland Uni Debating Club… Socialist Aotearoa…
“Are there too many dicks on this dance floor? Do I need to consider women and marginalised-genders?”
“Are there class issues on this dance floor?”
“Is there racial inequity here?”
“Are there too many straight people on this dance floor?”

I’m not sayin’ every single thing needs to be perfect and everyone needs to be represented down to the level of individual, just a good go at race, class and gender (including marginalised genders), and sexuality will do the trick. Those are big groups in society; reasonable considerations to make.

*I hear that the song is a kinda sexist and I’m being crass but you get my point, right?

30 COMMENTS

  1. If the global percentage of women in politics is 20% and ours is 30%, doesn’t that mean we must be doing better than the vast majority of other nations? I’m not saying we can’t do better than that, or that we shouldn’t strive for more women in parliament, but we are on the right track.

    I don’t disagree that women should get involved, but having a quota is fucking ridiculous. That’s not equality. It’s the opposite of. The whole idea behind having elected representatives is that the people being elected are going to do a good job. That doesn’t mean I think men do a better job, but I think people should vote for whomever is best for the job regardless of gender. So if a bloke is up against a women and loses because of a quota system rather than because the woman in question is actually more preferable, that’s bullshit.

    The other problem I have with this rhetoric is that it assumes that only women can be the voice for other women. You can have a Y chromosome and still stand up for the rights and needs of those who do not.

    But then I’m willing to bet, based on your statement; “I am more than happy to agree there are males who are unfairly marginalised in society and I’d like equity for them too, but as a woman I’m equipped to speak about women’s issues, not theirs.” That, like many Right wingers, you can’t seem to comprehend the idea of empathy. No one is saying you can’t discuss the issues that affect you as women, but it seems you are saying that male politicians are unable to listen to the needs of women and speak truth to that within the national political dialogue.

    Talking about the organizers of the political debate like they decided to get ALL blokes is a bit silly. The organizers of the debate don’t decide who the leaders of the political parties are. The parties do that themselves. You may want to ask the Greens why they didn’t send Meteria instead of Russel. Or why Internet-Mana sent Hone instead of Lailla.

    And before you think this is a prideful, knee-jerk reaction that has something to do with my Y chromosome, I need to inform you that you are sadly mistaken. I understand that there is a patriarchy problem in our society. So in opposing a quota is my mind being astute or agile in cognitive dissonance? I would venture to say astute over agile, but then that could be a weighted opinion. I simply believe in people’s rights to vote for whomever they consider to represent them the best, even if that means voting for someone of another gender. I’m sure there are plenty of Christian women suffering from Stockholm Syndrome that will either vote for Colin Craig or John Key, for example. They may think they are doing what’s right for them when they are actually not, but that is their choice. I think you know it’s pointless expecting parties on the Right to try for more women in leadership roles. They perpetuate and believe in the patriarchy of the past.

    Bottom line though, your questions at the end of this blog are ill directed. You’re asking these questions of people who have nothing to do with it.

    • I’ll tell you what isn’t equality, and that is that just about everything is operated under a white, male standpoint to the point that the women are expected to be pseudo male in order to succeed.
      I reckon we give the world a try from a female perspective, sure wouldn’t hurt in the middle east, would it now

    • No, we are not “on the right track”, we have been stuck at 30% for decades. It’s what happens in most countries that don’t implement voluntary or involuntary quotas. I prefer voluntary; either will do. My blog isn’t ill directed, but I’ll tell you what is, your needless attempts at pinning my responses and making sly digs, by using the power of telepathy.

      Mate, you didn’t get it, you didn’t peg my responses at all, and if you believe patriarchy has been an issue in the past it is still an issue now and you should speak more about the impact that has had – if you’re going to be intellectually honest.

      The people I have directed my blog toward include leaders who have not implemented any kind of voluntary equality, and local groups that fail to also do so. You tried to infer that I somehow blame men for all of this, just for being men which is rather boring of you. What I will say is that plenty of men are in a position to support women in a reasonable request for fairness. If you’re one of those men, then please do so.

      You are correct though in one thing, I don’t think men can (OR HAVE) overly represent women that well and especially not in an environment of a good century of male domination. I don’t think – as I say – we need to be perfectly represented down to the individual, we just need better than what we have and an internal drive from those parties to produce something more equitable. Overly, for women’s issues to be understood, it does often require other women.

  2. There was a long q&a session yesterday at a packed hall to hear Nicky Hager, and male questioners outnumbered female by about three to one. to quote another pop song – “It’s Not Unusual”

  3. Great supporter of the Greens and Russel Norman but I think in this case it would have been a good opportunity for co-leader Metiria Turei to have been representing the party, given all the other leaders in the debate were male.

  4. Well said Jessie.

    When I was raising my son, I taught him that he was equal to everyone else – and he has grown up that way, and is teaching this to his children now – his son, and his daughter. I think this is a good place to start – in the brain-training department at home.

    But then we let them go off to school don’t we, and external influences of institutionalised society corrupts their minds, and the mothers job becomes harder.

    Then the child grows through puberty and begins to explore the world with their penis, and somehow this part of a man never seems to stop with a huge amount of men. And then we have what we have now.

    They should always have a female host at these mantalk things, for two reasons. The pretty woman in front of them will put them on their back foot, and they might even feel as if they need to show a bit of respect because their mother was/is a woman – and you will easily see which of them has a good relationship with their mothers.

    The part you said about the male dominance as the Bible puts it, isn’t quite right – when the Bible mentions man – it is the universal word for humankind. Men who are not Christian may take, and use this out of context – and they do of course.

    There are lots of good men out there in society, men with right-thinking morals, and most of the other kind are either in prison, or parliament. Putting their wrong-thinking ways forward to develop the policies – and now our situation is what it is, because of this.

    This was a bit of a rant, but didn’t want to offend all the good men.
    At the end of the day, evil men seek this power, and good men generally want to stay away from evil – so they do.

    Opinion.

    • My mother was the dominant figure of our household growing up: by example she inculcated in her boys that women could do everything as well as men. if you called her a feminist she would probably wince, she is quite conservative, church going Christian, old Labour.

      When exposed to feminism at Uni many years since I quite often got offside with the feminists because I casually assumed gender equality, it seemed only natural after my mothers influence. When I got “accused” of some assumed male trait, whammo, I personally objected. To be fair I also bit hard at male misogyny. Looking back, the feminists were 100% correct on a general basis, however they did not, have not advanced male thinking greatly. Look at National, at Whale, et al, its so blindingly obvious, there is no commitment to equality for women. Instead there is an assumption women can fight an unfair battle uphill on a sloping playing field, and if they are really tough they can win.

      Persuasion it seems has not worked, much as I dislike any compulsion if we want to give women equal say in government 50/50 quotas are hard to argue against. i for one wont vote for a party that does not commit to that.

  5. I actually saw this a little differently. While the Greens could have had Metiria and Internet Mana Laila represent I think it was a shrewd move on those parties part to have Russell and Hone represent for this debate and the reason why is that “most Nz’ers” are turned off when they see women arguing with men. Hear me when I say that is FKED UP!!! but unfortunately a lot of the voting public are middle age, middle class pakeha with some very outdated ideas. That’s just my opinion but I actually felt it was a wise move by Greens and Mana for this debate!

  6. judith collins , hekia parata , paula bennett , anne tolly , ruth richardson , jenny shipley , helen clarke , christine rankin , maggie barry etc ? Yep , we need more of those girls out there on the dance floor too alright . ( Sorry , that sounds awful , I know . )

    • So you don’t know any male politicians who aren’t decent? What is the purpose of this list, to name women who were able to participate? You do realise this anecdote affirms nothing?

      • Actually what it kinda confirms is that politics is a very, very dirty business. One that, imo quite rightfully, women may willingly choose to not want to participate in, i.e. is it possible that politics just doesn’t interest women in the same way as it does men (as in an insatiable hunger for power and influence)? If that is the case (and I’m not saying it is), is forcing (via quotas) women into positions they don’t really want or aspire to the solution?
        Do women even want to be in politics in the same numbers as men?

        • I’ve been blogging for a while and this is probably one of the stupidest responses I have seen.

          There are plenty of women who can participate, there is no “force” about it. Nor it it women’s fault they have been actively locked out. There is nothing unique to men about aspirations to influence and power. What a sexist and idiotic suggestion. Sorry caller but women aren’t delicate little flowers bro.

          Women have been shut out, and continue to be shut out on the right. Though an argument could be made for the intelligence and decency of the women on the left. I notice the pointless list above (naming a few women does nothing to counter a century of male dominance where women fail to get higher than 30% coverage) is almost entirely comprised of right-wing women so maybe you’re onto something without knowing it… all I can say is the right doesn’t represent us and people can only stomach to vote that way when they’ve been positively bamboozled by giddy stories about Key drinking tea with his wife, whilst ignoring the barrage of revelations that indicate he is nothing less than a sanitised-for-public-consumption slacks n’ blazer puppet.

  7. We definitely need more women in the House, and your other points about the importance of diversity and equity of access are all valid (to your list of questions at the end of your article, you could add “do we have too many able-bodiedppeople on the dance floor?”

    The problem is though that this line of thinking (and with quotas of any type) is difficult to align with one of our key democratic principles: that people should be elected to office/chosen for a job/selected for a team based on merit and ability. Does this person, all things being equal, have the requisite skills to do the job? I’d far rather have a Parliament filled with talented, reasoned, and thoughtful people than one deliberately engineered to be diverse merely for the sake of diversity.

      • You could argue the issue lies with women themselves. Women have the vote after all – actually over 50% of the vote if current demographics are anything to go by, so women must nonetheless be voting for men or the current sausage-fest in politics would be a thing of the past. Why is that? Merit does seems the most likely answer, but I’m more than willing to hear all sides.

        • Do you not see the flaw here?

          Women have 50% of the vote… but we don’t see 50% representation in parliament.

          And it’s not going to change just by tweaking a few things… the problem is inherently in the system. It’s our institutions, and the culture that drives these institutions.

          If we keep going as we were, we are not going to see that.

          In my post below, I discredit the argument based on merit. Positions of power and influence in politics and business and institutions are (unjustly) in favour of men. Now hypothetically, consider a board of director who’s been appointed. They say he’s got there on merit… just look at the list of positions he’s occupied over the years. But also consider how he got to each position in the first place, and at every stage of the selection process. Yes – somewhat due to ability and hard work etc… but also having the advantage of being a male (which traditionally means being unencumbered by domestic responsibilities and childbearing… this hinders women’s opportunities even though childbearing is vitally important and significant to our world and society, but not seen this way.) There are also numerous other biases: the old boys network, the glass ceiling and the glass elevator, the gendered pay gap and the gendered division of labour.

          We like to think we live in a society full of equal opportunity, and the truth is that we are far from this. However, it makes us feel better inside if ideologically we believe that this is a land of equal opportunity, that everyone can rise to be the tall poppy and benefit from the rockstar economy… Yeah.

        • But we don’t vote for people (except in electorates which are essentially meaningless vote anyway) we vote for parties and it’s the parties who decide the party list. And it’s mostly men who decide what “merit” actually looks like and chooses who goes on the party list. So men become the gatekeepers to women getting into parliament.

          And besides all that, you can bet the list isn’t based solely on “merit” – I bet the order depends on who owes who a favour or who has been loyal to whom.

      • There would be nothing wrong with women starting their own political party.

        It could be called something like WUP (Womens United Party – first off the top of my head).
        And WUP could make sure they have a token few men doing their secretarial work (but not Mr Ede of course).

        WUP would have a pretty good chance of doing very well in an election too, because over 50% of our population are females.

        Opinion.

        • There is no need for segregation. Simply an informed, balanced approach. An informed balanced approach is markedly lacking on the right. The entire body of the left have managed to create a fairer environment. Why is it the right has not? Because it’s dominated by bullies vying for – and as we have recently seen, paying for – their own seat. Right-wing “conservatives” favour patriarchal values, often having that old-christian conservative, old boys network approach that sees men as the head of the household, but also expecting gender conformity and the kind of neo-liberal attack-dog survival of the fittest environment which rewards dominant behaviour.

          For all of those guys in right-wing parties it is in their favour to be unsupportive of voluntary quotas because it allows them to be in agreement that their merit gives them and their mates a position. Why would they want to change it? There is literally no motivation for right-wing parties to fight for something that sees less men in positions of power. That would be like slapping their mates in the face.

          Thankfully the left-wing parties also consider women their mates.

  8. Well one of the features that has made the Greens so successful is that their early adoption of quotas eliminated the potentially bitter gender warfare that has been so damaging to some other parties.

    But I think there is a problem finding enough female candidates for many parties – there’s also a problem finding males – as Labour’s Gibson demonstrates, not that he is necessarily materially racist but it seems that he is stupid enough that it’s a problem.

    Quotas of other kinds, like the LBGT fraction might prove contentious and debate whether the proportion should be 1 in 6 or 6% would likely be quite damaging if held in public.

    Partial quotas are also worth considering – there is a gender equality provision in Korean law which mandates government intervention and possibly a pay differential if gender imbalance reaches 70/30. Though full equality is better law isn’t necessarily the best avenue to pursue it.

    In terms of the media female deficit, an easy step in the right direction might be a female leaders’ debate. It ought to rate well, and some parties like the Greens, NZF and IM would shine. It would present a challenge, particularly to rising parties like the CCCP and Maori, and to declining parties like ACT and United Future to show some breadth.

  9. Women should demand equal representation in parliament.

    Enough of all this ‘selection based on merit.’ Merit it just a nice word… but hiding beneath that mask is patriarchy, the old boys network, the glass ceiling and the glass elevator, the gendered pay gap and the gendered division of labour. Men, including myself, must understand that this is what’s at play here… not some empty, ideological buzzwords perpetuated by those who have power.

    Why don’t we have enough women on boards of directors? Because they weren’t given the chance or the opportunity to. Not because of ‘merit.’ A lot women who do currently occupy such prominent would have had to make sacrifices in relation to childbearing and reproduction (such with the motherhood wage penalty and gendered nature of the workplace and industries)…. yet childbearing is so damn socially important!

    But it’s not enough to be a woman. It’s about bringing your lived experiences into parliament, and become subjects in the process of creating meaning – through interpretations, perceptions and in policies. Hekia Parata and Judith Collins have their life experiences distorted by a patriarchal business scene. Case in point: Paula Bennett who’s given assistance through the DPB to climb the ladder and then pulls it up once she reaches the top of the tree.

    How do we remove this distortion? That is the question we need to collaborate and conceive an answer of. Perhaps this lies in subverting the qualities of patriarchal capitalism, with feminist socialism… where we place more emphasis on qualities such as inclusiveness, non-violence and receptiveness than competition, aggressiveness and productive efficiency.

  10. Instead of resorting to identity politics & quotas, why don’t we recognize that biological sex has very little to do with someone’s ability to represent a given constituency or issue.
    We should expect more of our politicians than to simply parrot the views of some box we’ve put them in.

    • Ben says:
      September 10, 2014 at 4:28 pm

      Instead of resorting to identity politics & quotas, why don’t we recognize that biological sex has very little to do with someone’s ability to represent a given constituency or issue.

      Because you’re looking at it from the p.o.v. of the dominent gender that benefits from the dominance of that gender.

      It would be like having a group that is 1% of society acquiring 90% of all the wealth, and then being surprised when they justify their hierarchical position when they say, “Wealth accumulation should be merit based…”

      Would that 1% say anything else?

      So when 50% of the population justify occupying 70% of the political system (in NZ) by saying, “Political-power accumulation should be merit based…”

      Well…

      ‘Nuff said?

  11. 3 of the parties (Maori, IM and Greens) have women co-leaders, 2 (Labour and National) have had women leaders in the not-too-distant past, 4 (Winston Peters a.k.a NZF, Peter Dunne a.k.a. UF, Colin Craig a.k.a. Conservatives and Brendan Horan a.k.a fuck-if-I-know) are not “parties” (rather, they are individuals dressing themselves up as parties to try and get a slice of the party vote and as such, enjoyed exactly the same opportunity to do so that women have) and 1 of them is ACT.

    It’s more an issue of timing that put all the dicks on one stage than opportunity.

  12. Sadly NZ Politics has been dominated by female politicians who think they have to be men, and in doing so overplay the roll and instead come across as bitchy. Perfect examples are Shipley and Collins. We do need a stronger feminine voice in politics, but they need to be women who provide the wonderful qualities that women have. This will provide balance which is sadly missing from NZ Politics. Men need to be men, and women need to be women and stop trying to cross the lines in between. (Posted with permission of the missus).

    • The media narrative is hugely influential here. I remember the shocking and demonising headlines Helen Clark received, just because she was a woman in power. If I were to imagine the thought processes going on in the editors’ heads: “Women aren’t supposed to be in power, it’s supposed to be men! Oh ok, we’ll just ascribe masculine qualities to this person. And then ideologically, having a woman Prime Minister will make sense in our minds.” Julia Gillard was also on the receiving end of such vitirol attacks by the press. I couldn’t comment on Jenny Shipley since, I admit, I was a baby back then.

      Just because we have had women in power in New Zealand, in a sense, nothing has changed. We still have a long way to go.

  13. Support the Internet Party and its charismatic female leader, Laila Harré … or the Greens with its own charismatic woman co-leader, Metiria Turei MP.

    Two options for a stronger matriarchal/family NZ…
    What with support from an honorable male, standing up for children, families and women… Mana’s Hone Harawira

    Internet/Mana or the Green Party are the only stronger, matriarchal options…

    Nice one Jesse

    Two out three woman ain’t bad for a fairer way to vote… It’s up to us. I’m doing it…

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