White Ribbon NZ Plays ‘Spot The Difference’ Defending Prime Minister


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Yesterday, White Ribbon New Zealand issued a statement concerning the Prime Minister’s recent on-air antics. This was in response to a petition that had been in circulation which called for the Prime Minister to be dropped as a White Ribbon Ambassador due to the fact that our dear PM appears to have a bit of a serial problem with trivializing sexual assault.

Not a great look for a charity whose purpose is to remind us all that as applies sexual violence … “It’s not OK”.

Their statement on Key reads, and I quote:

White Ribbon asks men to stand up and not remain silent when we see behaviour that is violent and/or demeaning to women. Remaining silent allows the violence and sexism to go unchallenged and to be accepted. […] Recently, The Rock radio station created a segment that referenced male rape in a manner that trivialised this horrific violence. It was an awful exercise in bad taste and helped to perpetuate violence by normalising and trivialising it. We understand that some people won’t see it that way, it will be in their eyes just a joke. We however do not agree.
So far, so good.

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But then it also states:

As many people know, a White Ribbon Ambassador (the Prime Minister) was involved in on-air segment on the Rock which was highly offensive. We have reached out to the Prime Minister, and we are informed that he did not know what was about to occur, and did not at the time comprehend the rape references or make any. We take the Prime Minister at his word.
There is, needless to say, more than a bit of a contradiction here. White Ribbon NZ can’t have it both ways.

Even assuming it’s possible to believe that a middle-aged and very much theoretically mature man *didn’t* comprehend what dropping the soap while behind bars was supposed to connotate and entail, this is hardly the first strike.

Who could forget his shameful conduct of less than a month ago in attempting to use rape (or, at least, the supporting and endorsement of rapists) as a political weapon during the Christmas Island debacle – and his hiding behind the Speaker shutting down female survivor voices speaking on our behalf to demand an apology from the Prime Minister.

Or what about the workplace assault (arguably with a sexualized element) which became his apparent calling-card in the popular imagination towards the start of the year. It’s sufficiently closely connected to his public image and perceptions that another radio station – The Edge – felt it a good joke to give him the option of pulling on the pony-tails of a number of female staff in an on-air stunt the same week.

A successful White Ribbon Ambassador would have embodied the organization’s values and virtues by “[standing] up and not [remaining] silent” in the face of problematic on-air behavior … rather than participating in and perpetuating it. If “remaining silent allows the violence and sexism to go unchallenged and to be accepted“, then what exactly does “going along with a puerile and offensive trivialization stunt lent legitimacy by the presence of the Prime Minister” do.

Furthermore, it’s rather difficult to believe that the Prime Minister genuinely felt the prison-rape references went over his head. After all, his own Minister of Corrections has previously obliquely endorsed prison-rape as a deterrence policy for serious offenders.

So the questions must be asked: first, if White Ribbon believes Key’s litany of conduct is acceptable for one of its Ambassadors; second, whether it would be prepared to tolerate this sort of behavior from anyone else representing the organization; and third, if not, why Key’s being given a ‘special pass’ by White Ribbon (and surely, what else does “taking him at his word” that he didn’t know what he was doing was offensive … over and over and over again … represent if not that).

From where I’m sitting, the answer is both obvious and sad.

It’s not just that the office (if not necessarily the person) of the Prime Minister still carries a pretty significant weight of prestige and potency.

As an analyst friend of mine put it: “Look at the way the Key government responds to its critics and those who embarrass the government. The Ninth floor has become very adept at manipulating public opinion against people or groups who get offside.”
And he’s right. Ever since it got into office, the Key government has made quite a specialty out of manipulating public opinion to marginalize if not outright discredit groups and individuals who start to become somewhat inconvenient in their truths. In fact, this literally became such an all-pervading pattern for the government that there was literally enough of it to fill a book with. It was called Dirty Politics. You may remember it.

White Ribbon New Zealand will have made the cruel calculation as to whether the limited positive PR boost supplied by keeping the PM on retainer with a ribbon on his lapel is worth the trade-off from the continued hypocrisy inherent in lending the puller of ponytails and dropper of soap added legitimacy by *their* association with him, rather than the other way around.

They will have decided, one way or the other, that they can’t afford to drop him. Either because the marginal benefits of connection to such a high-profile figure (regardless of *why* he’s making headlines seemingly every other week) will be regarded as too important to lose … or, more insidiously, because they’re too afraid of the fallout to make the right call.

That’s sad.

That’s scary.

That’s “Not OK”.


  1. Well summed up.

    Yes they will have done a risk calculation and they have had to swallow a nest a dead rats by saying, “we take the PM at his word” That MUST have been heart wrenching to utter those lies.

    In a real democracy they could quite rightly criticise and drop Key. They should but they know along will come the inevitable smear campaign, the computer hacks, the personality assasinations and finally meet the fate of the Problem Gambling Foundation by being cut off from funding for a much more National friendly organistion.

    So, and this is too much to try and rationalise, they officially take the Prime Minister at his word. For fuck sake, how after 7 years of this guy can anyone ever ever do that? You have more chance of finding a T Rex wandering the lawns of parliament than finding Key telling the truth or anything close.

    Its an ugly old world we live in but as many a supporter will tell you, Key was either set up (because he is a simpleton), just being a lad and just being a laid back relaxed semi billionare who likes a gag. He is so cute isn’t he?

    • That’s right Paul.

      FJK is intimidating, fond of carrying out his threats when he himself or his corrupt robber baron cronies are themselves threatened!

      If he has intimidated the White Ribbon Foundation, hinting their funding will be pulled if he’s dropped as ambassador, then it proves he’s a despot! White Ribbon should prove its worth and give him the boot as their ambassador. Then if its funds are pulled as a result, it can really go all out, publicly wiping FJK’s filthy nose in the muck as hard as it possibly can, publicizing exactly what the creep is capable of!

      But then msm is just as scared of FJK … would they dare publish or broadcast the foundation’s actions?

      What is it about this personification of evil and everything that is vile FJK, that he is able to get away with anything, assaulting a waitress and now mocking rape?

      He’s just so full of cocky confidence, almost as though he knows he’s untouchable, regardless what he says or does, despite his disgraceful behaviour!

      A dictator in just about every respect I think.

    • @ Richard Christie – I guess FJK is in your moron box. He likes to reach out … to touch ponytails and shock jock’s urine stained soap!

  2. “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

    ― Upton Sinclair, I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked

    • Sure got that right!

      Since White Ribbon is clearly vulnerable to having pressure put on them then it is probably up to the rest of us to put pressure back the other way. I’m going to email White ribbon and ask them what’s going on – I imagine they’ll ignore me but we all need to bombard them so that they can at least point to public pressure as being the reason they had “no choice” but to drop him.

  3. “It is difficult to get a(n) man organisation like White Ribbon to understand something, when his its funding salary depends on his it not understanding it.”

    ― Upton Sinclair, I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked

  4. Interesting that the White Ribbon article from Stuff has been closed off for comments early. Not only that, but the comments already made have been pulled!

    The great dictator FJK at his best again. Intimidating media to publish only good positive news about him! Nothing negative for fear it might fracture his his deceptive facade “one of the lads” image!

    Yet again dear leader wins!


  5. They were never going to dump John Key.

    So basically the message White Ribbon sends out from now on to every New Zealander is that violence towards women IS acceptable if you can get away with it.

    • Exactly, and that’s why White Ribbon NZ no longer deserves our support. White Ribbon’s defence of John key, after what he has done, makes their message to men “to stand up and not remain silent when we see behaviour that is violent and/or demeaning” nothing less than a horrific sick joke. How can the White Ribbon NZ organisation justify asking people to show they are against violence to women when they won’t even do that?

  6. According to the White Ribbon website, all ambassadors “sign a statement that they are living violence-free lives and will uphold the White Ribbon pledge not to commit, condone or remain silent about violence towards women. Ambassadors will be provided with training, information packs and ongoing mentoring.”

    And yet here we have our PM in that t-shirt, attacking a political opponent who expressed empathy towards women who had bravely shared their harrowing experiences of domestic violence at a womens refuge conference. Attacking a political opponent instead of using the incident to add his support, to highlight the problem, to have a debate on solutions. And to be fair it wasnt just John Key who bullied Cunliffe over that incident, the MSM joined in boots and all.

    Apparently we can’t have men feeling emotion towards domestic violence victims in this country. If they do they will be ridiculed. And apparently its more important to mock a man for his reaction, than to discuss the issue of DV. Apparently it’s more important to protect the macho image of men than it is to protect victims of DV. And in the meantime no progress is made and more women in particular are suffering or losing their lives.

    Key is demeaning the whole White Ribbon project. We get a glimpse of his true character with each ‘gaffe’ and he’s not the right man to be an ambassador. He should dropped from the white ribbon campaign but if they wont drop him they’d better book him in for some intensive training and ongoing mentoring. the sooner the better.

  7. Yea, but jonky’s a psychopath. He doesn’t care at all about the suffering of others . He will be completely oblivious to the feelings of other people. I’d hate to be his immediate family.

    Check this out.

    The common psychopath we rub shoulders with on a day to day basis.


    And as you will read, psychopaths tend to flock together. What better a place for a bunch of deviant flockers than in a political context.

    Jonky’s absolutely the worst type of person to be in a position of power over us.

  8. Instead of trying yet again to place a hit on JK (which won’t work), why don’t you take a deep breath and realise the PM is actually helping WhiteRibbon. Joke commercial radio station antics aside, however silly they may be, is not a good reason to take away a face that gives WR a bigger podium. Just spiteful towards Key and counter productive to the ideas you apparently support.

    • So, you think parodying being raped in prison is silly? You think being in prison is silly? You think the damage done by more than thirty years of neo liberal policies is silly? You think jonky’s hair tugging and his raft of nasty, dirty little tricks as outlined in Dirty Politics is just being silly?

      Being spiteful to jonky?

      Placing a hit on jonky?

      A deep breath you say?

      I see.

      You might like to read this. It might give you some insight before you make yourself look an even bigger arsehole though I doubt you’d care.


  9. White Ribbon are in a difficult position, and we should support them by placing the blame squarely where it belongs – with Key.

    Taking the fight to White Ribbon will do nothing to highlight the problem of violence against women. Key would love that to happen, to muddy the waters, and damage an organisation that does good work, and which he probably doesn’t give a fig about.

    • I will respectfully disagree Annie.

      This is not the first time White Ribbon have found themselves keeping an ambassador who does not uphold their values.

      It took public pressure (mostly via social media) to get them to drop this particular unsuitable ambassador.

      This time they’re not responding to public pressure.

      I do not think they really truly uphold the values they say they have.

      They’re just window dressing for dudes to publicly look like they’re doing the right thing. And that’s not going to help stop violence against women, men or children.

  10. This is the guy who said the Roast Busters should “just grow up”. How did he maintain this role after such a pathetic response?

  11. For this lying unethical PM —- who is a “corporation in disguise of a man”
    to be the poster boy ambassador for White Ribbon just shows that those in charge at this place are in the same sad space of denial. John Key trivializes his abusive behavior whether it is in pulling a girls hair or ripping of investors ( Ireland, Bank of America etc. ) for his gains. He is ripping off and abusing NZ as we speak.

    Very little conscience or ethics when someone pulls another hair over and over and is oblivious to his actions and their impact on his victim. Did he offer any compensation for his abusive behavior to her ??? Yeh right.

    This is an example of a sociopath more than a psychopath who has little regards for the consequences of their behavior on others. He continues to be beyond embarrassing and shame on White Ribbon.

    Wake up all you Jonkey Donkey Natz supporters and smell the hypocrisy and disgusting leadership.
    We are the laughing stock with this kind of a PM. Voters – stop the slumber and get informed and educated about the facts behind why so many are questioning he and his lack of ethics, more and more.
    We deserve so much better in our leadership.

  12. I do not think White Ribbon truly supports reducing the violence that men do against women, children and other men.

    If they did they’d have a zero tolerance policy for their ambassadors.

    That they choose to retain a man who has sexually harassed a woman, thinks making prison rape jokes is okay, thinks young men who gang rape young women just “need to grow up”, uses “backing rapists” as an insult to the political opposition and refuses to apologise when women MP’s try to point out to him exactly why that was so offensive….. is really quite telling.

    They’re window dressing. They’re not going to change anything with ambassadors who behave like this.

    Just another bunch of dudes trying to convince us all they’re doing the right thing. While continuing with business as usual and not giving a fuck about victims of violence.

    I have absolutely zero confidence in White Ribbon.

    I think they’re doing more harm than good with this approach actually.

  13. So it turns out White Ribbon in NZ is an organisation of 2 people who have received donations of $3,691 in the year to June 2015, while receiving Government grants of $309,940 for that same year.


    To do what exactly?

    Salaries and wages paid $131,076. That’s $65,538 per person per year for their employees.

    Cost of trading $57,083…. trading? What exactly?

    “Other” expenses $134,121. For what exactly? It doesn’t cost that much to run a little website (I know, I have several for my business, I know EXACTLY how much it costs to run a website).

    Now I’m really fucking angry.

    That these people can set up a “campaign” to ostensibly support victims of male violence and get that much fucking government money to do it.

    According to the end of year return for White Ribbon NZ for June 30th 2015 they received donations only of $3,691. And government funding of $309,940.

    To run a website. A Facebook page. To make it look like they’re doing something to combat our horrific violence stats.

    While taking money. Quite a lot of money.

    While Christchurch rape crisis is forced to close for lack of $30,000 funding. While Women’s Refuge scramble for funds so direly needed. While so many victims of sexual violence and domestic violence need to much support.

    Bastards. They should give it all to Rape Crisis and Women’s Refuge right now. Because they’re surely not upholding the values they profess to hold. And they’re not helping victims of violence, and they’re not doing anything to change NZ attitudes to violence when they keep “ambassadors” who make rape jokes, engage in public sexual harassment and get away with it…

    It’s all about money. These bastards are just riding a gravy train.

    And since when did charities start paying their employees over $60K a year for their work? I work for a local charity as a secretary. Not only do I do it for free (it’s supposed to be volunteer work for goodness sake) but I pay for the materials to do the job from my own pocket.


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