GUEST BLOG: Kyle MacDonald – The White Ribbon



Image: Foxy @FoxyLustyGrover

Kate Sheppard is recognised as one of the most historically significant New Zealanders, a suffrage leader in the late 1800’s it was due to her leadership that New Zealand became the first country in the world to grant women the vote in 1893.  

She was a tireless campaigner for equality, and was motivated in large part by seeing the effects of alcohol and violence on women and children, and wanted women to win the right to vote so they could influence policy around alcohol, violence and women’s rights.

When the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) became the publishers of the first women run newspaper in 1895, with Kate as the editor, they called the paper “The White Ribbon” in recognition of the fact that the white ribbon was the symbol of the suffrage movement.

I wonder what the woman who now adorns our ten dollar bill would think of events in the last week, and what has become of her beloved white ribbon?

In 1893 New Zealand was, via granting woman the vote, a world leader in human rights and equality, and an example to others of how to progress women’s rights and to protect the vulnerable from abuse and violence.  Now over 120 years later, we trail the pack, having some of the worst rates of sexual and domestic violence in the developed world.

What went wrong?  

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Kate Sheppard was a leader, she was not afraid to stand up for what was right, to speak out against the injustice she saw and to fight tirelessly for the rights of the less powerful via a more fair and just government.

John Key is not a leader, nor is he a statesman.  Sadly however he is our most “popular” prime minister, but can you imagine for one moment what good could have been done if he had used that political capital, that mandate, to stand up for what’s right?  

Instead we have a Prime Minister, in name only, who is more interested in getting a “laugh” at the expense of those less powerful, and is only prepared to fight for one thing: his reputation.

True leaders take responsibility, and have the courage to admit when they’re wrong.  They don’t hide behind feigned ignorance, or their “office” and wait for the outrage to die down.  They don’t blame others or point the finger.

If John Key was truly fit to be a White Ribbon Ambassador, he would take this opportunity to front up to his mistake, to act like a leader, a role model and apologise.

And if he truly cared about the White Ribbon Campaign, its history and its mana he would stand down as an ambassador.  Because every day that he is associated with the White Ribbon sadly only further tarnishes it as a symbol of equality, non-violence and leadership.

Kyle MacDonald is a psychotherapist and blogger from Auckland.  He has set up a petition with Action Station asking the White Ribbon Trust to remove John Key as an ambassador for their organization.  To see the petition click here and to see Kyle’s regular blog “Off the Couch”  click here.


  1. ” … act like a leader, a role model…”

    The problem is doesn’t matter what he does, to many he does show leadership, he always acts like the leader they want. Apologising is not showing leadership – after all to them he has done nothing wrong, he never does anything wrong. He is their role model.

    Which means the real problem is not John Key but the misguided, disoriented, simple, ignorant and poorly programmed masses.

    We know of course that should he say he was finishing, that group would be delighted to have someone of the ilk of Mike Hosking be his successor.

  2. Key’s not a leader.

    He’s a Crosby Textor construct, trying to be everything to everyone. Crosby Textor says:

    Mince down a stage with World Cup gear; wear a T-shirt saying you’re proud to be a man; pull ponytails at a radio station. Appear on Letterman and run down New Zealand. Get rid of Judith Collins. Bring back Judith Collins. Get in a jail cell and pick up the soap.

    Resign as a White Ribbon ambassador and get counselling for aberrent sexualised behaviour in search of ratings – pending

    • Wow – 6 downvotes. Crosby Textor and the trolls (great name for a right-wing slash band) have been out on droves.

  3. Thanks Kyle, so true. To be able to apologize takes integrity and knowing that you have done something wrong. It requires maturity and conscience.
    Our PM is lacking is his ability to understand or take responsibility so we will not hear ” I am sorry ” coming out of such an arrogant and unethical man. He is an owned man by the corporate elite and he is dictated to. That is why so many have very little respect for him and those that do are unaware of the truths and have their heads in the sand.

  4. I’ve noted Key’s refusal to apologise to Tania Billingsley for the way she was treated over the Malaysian diplomat case.

    Or Key’s trivialisation of the month-long bullying of the waitress, by continually pulling her pony-tail.

    This is not a man who understands how women are treated in society and his “blokishness” hints at the darker, misogynistic aspects of New Zealand culture.

    • He doesn’t apologise – look at the Pike River families, where he promised to get the bodies out, but never did. Political stuntman, poll-driven opportunist.

  5. john key is just an indefensibly horrible little man . There must surely be more good people in NZ than people like him. He fits the profile of a psychopath , or perhaps a sociopath from what I’ve read. When I learned he was The White Ribbon ambassador I thought it was a sick joke.
    He has to go. Altogether. Not just as ambassador to The White Ribbon.

  6. A telling historical reference, Kyle.

    The original white ribbon stood for work on behalf of the vulnerable who lived here.

    This PM works for the abusers and predators, many of whom don’t live here. I mean the really big ones, ‘too big to fail’, for whom everything is legal because they get to make and change laws as they please.

    His public misbehaviour is the real abuse we bear, occasionally failing to grin with it – his message, that status and power is measured by doing whatever feels good and never having to apologise except to someone less vulnerable and more powerful. Ordinary crims might have to run, hide, lie and pretend, but he’s safe doing it in the road with everyone watching.

    Such misbehaviour is the excuse and model for all those men who want to feel more powerful and seek it through abusing the weaker. And let’s face it, his party includes female representatives just as good at it.

  7. Thanks for articulating this so well. Integrity is so important in leadership and this is the main issue I have with our PM, his Crosby Textor style leadership is devoid of integrity.

    How many times will his supporters swallow the story that he forgot, or didn’t know or wasn’t wearing a particular hat, or deleted those particular texts?

    Claire Trevett from the NZ Herald would have people believe that our planking, derp facing, selfie-taking PM has never heard of a well-known reference to prison rape. Really? he’s desperately keeping up with popular culture but had never heard that before? he gets all the other alcohol/drinking , homophobic, sexist references but not this one. it’s kinda unbelievable. the disingeneous excuses are getting old.

  8. FJK’s popularity if it is to be believed, is a reflection of the maladjusted, bigoted attitudes of a portion of NZ society, those who vote for him to keep him and his odious mobsters in business!

    Quite disturbing really! And to think they walk amongst us!

    FJK is no leader. True. He’s the personification of something obnoxious and dark, a servile, creepy instrument representing everything that is repulsive and vile!

  9. Where’s the outcry/rage against Kyle MacDonald? Why hasn’t anyone asked him why he didn’t raise the issue of the ‘rape Key’s daughter’ lyrics when he interviewed ‘Homebrew’?! That’s disgusting and Kyle appears to have let it slide- maybe sexual violence against rich pricks is ok in Kyle’s world?

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