#MeToo

Written By: - Date published: 8:30 am, March 15th, 2018 - 13 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, accountability, activism, International, Politics, us politics - Tags:

It’s been awesome to see feminist activists in New Zealand enable a new and fast liberation occur.  It’s worth reflecting on the success of #MeToo  and all its new forms.

Here’s Fiona McNamara from the Sexual Abuse Prevention Network on TV1 news last night.

Can we still remember the Women’s March of January 2017?

For New Zealand and so many other countries, there’s been a fair bit of good feminist politics occur since then.

At the Washington D.C. Women’s March, about half a million people rallied in Washington D.C. An estimated 4.5 million gathered elsewhere in the U.S. and abroad to stand together. Being treated with respect: a good thing. At the time it seemed an antidote to the decline of civility in so much elected politics, of so many democracies falling to coarse and cruel male leaders: a necessary symbol. This was one event among many that set that ground.

On October 15th 2017, actress Alyssa Milano posted a tweet urging women to speak up and out about their experiences and sexual assault or harassment using the phrase “me too”. The stories attached to it took off right across the digitised globe; in Farsi, French, Arabic, Hindi, and Spanish. Today, women in 85 different countries are using the hashtag to bring attention to the violence and harassment they face in daily life and to demand change.

It won’t be the end of patriarchy. But it’s not over-claiming either.  This one really has momentum.

Also, activists have something of a mixed record when it comes to using the internet to instigate real-world change. As Hayley Tsukayama wrote, online-first movements like Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring “weren’t outright failures”, but they did fall far “short of many people’s expectations”.

So can it last?

Black Lives Matter makes for interesting comparison. It’s a social-media born activist group that campaigns against violence and systemic racism towards black people.  Deen Freelon, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has carried out research on the group and how it moved beyond the hashtag.

First, the group took a data-driven approach to the problem it was seeking to tackle. “Black Lives Matter has been proactive in collecting data to support its cause,” Freelon explains. “Activists have pulled together data on things like the content of police contracts and the laws and policies that are most effective in reducing police violence.”

If the women behind #MeToo want to bring the online movement into the real world, they should look at doing something similar, he says. “They need to figure out what data matters to them and how they can get it,” Freelon advises. Once they have that, “they should be very specific in terms of what they want to accomplish”, he says. “Whether it’s legislative change, institutional change, cultural change or all three, #MeToo needs to define its goals in measurable terms so that success can be measured effectively.”

Maybe. I now look at #MeToo as pretty successful in good old MSM impact. Hollywood remains one of the most powerful ideological engines in the world, and #MeToo feminism is in the process of turning that town on its head. Symbols can lead to real-world change. Stories get amplified, and there are a few billions stories about women which need to be told. Sure, such stories can get commodified as well, but they get amplified. Just telling your own story of personal damage and grief is a power regained. #MeToo also has more star power than any movement I have ever seen, to keep those stories being told and retold. As we have seen in New Zealand in recent days, no political party is protected from such stories being told.

A little over three months after women started using the hashtag en masse to share their stories, this online movement has led to real-world change. #MeToo is already a successful movement, since it has empowered victims of sexual harassment and misogynistic behaviour to speak up, sparked a public conversation on the issue,and forced a number of men to publicly address their wrongdoings and even step down. OMG even the Saudi government is now making tiny little steps in favour of women.

Twitter will only go so far. It’s not enough – it probably never will be – but it is already a successful accelerant  on its way to generating systemic and pervasive change  as great as many of the short-lived 1968 ‘revolutions’ of  50 years ago.

#MeToo  – and its sister outpourings  –  is a movement with a long, long way to run, and it’s a liberation.

13 comments on “#MeToo”

  1. patricia bremner 1

    I have previously on this site talked of being groped at work.
    On two other occasions I have been abused. For a long time I thought I had done something to cause it. The stories all have a thread of coming about unheralded attacked, but on examination of my own circumstance, it was about power.

    It has changed things for women who thought they were alone. The other change has to occur for the perpetrators.

  2. Lara 2

    Like Patricia above, I too have been abused. I was a child and the adults who should have cared for me allowed it to happen. It’s had a life long impact on my sexuality and life.

    From the most traumatic to garden variety every day sexual harassment, I’ve experienced it all.

    By the age of 20 I would hazard a guess that #yesallwomen have experienced at least one instance of sexual harassment. Most of us multiple, and for too many of us serious incidents.

    The #metoo movement is for me the most momentous thing for women in my lifetime. It feels like finally something might change.

    Firstly, in NZ because of RoastBusters and the Louise Nicholas case IMO a great many NZ women do not trust the NZ police. For me, it’s so bad that if I were ever abused or sexually assaulted again they would be the one organisation I would most actively avoid. I believe it is upon the NZ police to make significant cultural changes and to make that in a very public way to gain trust again before we can have any expectation of victims to engage with them. Victims of ALL genders.

    I think we need to see legal changes in how sexual crimes are conducted in the court system too. It does not look like justice if the sexual history of victims can be bought up in court, and yet the criminal history of accused cannot. When Louise Nicholas went through her trial one of the accused was in jail for a remarkably similar crime, yet that information could not be revealed to the jury. But her sexual history was revealed.

    I am hopeful too that this movement will bring in a cultural change. That the very many good men out there will stand up for victims of sexual harassment and abuse, and call out sexism and misogyny wherever they see it. That they’ll listen to women and to the other victims of sexual crimes of all genders, hear our pain and support us.

    I want society to stop demanding we fix it on our own, or go away and STFU, or claim we’re just lying or on a witch hunt. I also want this movement to remain in the hands of women and other victims of sexual crimes. Not to be taken over by the louder voices of men who have not experienced this kind of crime.

    Because it’s just not okay for half the population to live our lives feeling like prey.

    • Lara 2.1

      It was a revelation to me when I came across this book.

      And I’m sincerely hope that it can be a revelation to others too, particularly cis white males.

      Kristin Schist wrote “Just One Of The Guys?” Link here.

      There’s a small group of people in our society who have lived life as presenting male and as presenting female. And that gives them a unique insight into how sexism operates.

      Schist quantified some of the experiences of trans male to female and female to male by analysing job retention, pay rates, promotion, and other metrics that can be brought down to numbers. Unsurprisingly to me (and probably most women) she found a statistically significant difference. And it is female presenting people who get less, while male presenting people get more.

      The issues of sexual harassment are less quantifiable, can’t be reduced to numbers. The evidence points to female presenting people experiencing increased harassment.

      The problems for FtM were different. Apart from the higher levels of harassment and abuse trans people experience, once FtM people transition and pass reliably as male, the levels of harassment reduce.

      If anyone here is interested and can’t be bothered buying the whole book, here’s a short article in Time that covers a few points.

      I hope this all makes sense. To me it was a revelation, that the trans community has some unique and fascinating insight and their voices can illustrate the realities of sexism.

  3. ExcludeMeToo 3

    I was also sexually assaulted when I was 16 years old.

    I thought that I would be brave, and the right thing to do was to bring it to the attention of the people in charge.

    I was told that the best thing for me would be to keep the circle of people knowing as small as possible, and not tell anyone.

    I was told that my parents and the police do not need to know.

    I then heard and read that a big part of the population, including victim HELP groups agreed that the advise I was given was indeed correct, and that those who spoke up for me and wanted it blown open did not have my best interest at heart, and was just trying to political point score.

    I guess I am not #MeToo, but rather #ExcludeMeToo.

    • Carolyn_Nth 3.1

      I’m sorry to hear you wnet through such an experience.
      I was told that my parents and the police do not need to know.

      That’s interesting. I’ve seen a few people online saying it is against the law to notify the police or parents without the victim’s consent.

      Yet I am still seeing very righteous people (mostly representing the perspective of parents) emphatically claiming that, in the case of the Labour Summer Youth Camp, the parents and/or police should have been told.

      It’s here today in a blog post from Trotter, and his even more righteous first responder in the comments.

      Today Judith Collins said she’d “rip their throats out” if it were her children who were abused and she hadn’t been told.

      I do think parents and other members of the public feel they are asking for what seems to them to be the correct response to an awful crime. And I’m sure parents want to be able to protect and support their children.

      But surely the first concern should be to consider what is best for the victim/survivor.

      It must be hard for them to make the decision.

      ExcludeMeToo, do you now feel you made the right decision in not reporting the assault?

      And I would like to see that relevant law, because I cannot find any legislation where it says only the victim can decide whether to go to parents or police.

  4. CHCOff 4

    Not about patriarchy, or matriarchy.

    Those are very deep emotive issues for people.

    Having dynamism being the rule in medium to large organisational leadership bodies is better for economic value systems. And dynamism involves the ability to learn. Most things worth learning have components requiring the ability to be prepared to make and admit mistakes.

    The group male psych is not naturally geared towards that due to a number of factors. THAT is why it needs to be 50/50 for sustainable dynamism in modern large scale technological societal organisation.

    The naturally occurring old forms and rituals that use to serve such like purposes no longer work the same way in the modern societal technological constructs.

  5. gsays 5

    I wish to salute Patricia, Lara and exclude me too for their courage and honesty.
    Also to the other sisters in wekas recent post. (Got a little fraught, so I watched from the sidelines)
    Anyhow, Tracey asked a poignant question of the blokes about not speaking against ‘misoginistic’ behaviour from their peers.
    While not as serious as the context Tracey’s question was asked in, I have been wrestling with a similar situation at work.

    A colleague of mine at work, 30 years old, single.. has a habit of ‘chatting up/gentle hitting on’ some of the young women.
    I have used humour: asking if they were issued mace as they working with ‘X’..
    It occurs to me I have been a casual enabler of ‘X’s’ behaviour.
    I know this man’s heart, he is not a predator, nor would be want to cause harm.
    I have now summoned the courage to tackle him on his behaviour.
    It will be framed in the idea of providing a safe workplace and highlight the power imbalance ( he is a sous chef ).

    Thanks sisters for helping me in growth and courage.

  6. Michelle 6

    Yes my daughter came home one day from her racist , discriminative bank job and said a man was harassing her and I told her to stand up to the bastard or shall I come there and wait for him to leave work and run the bastard over

  7. rhinocrates 7

    This really needs to be pushed in The Standard. It is not a friendly place for women, people who are queer, or minorities. We have privileged individuals dismissing race and gender concerns as “identity politics” and casual sexism such as synonyms for “girl” being used as put-downs – and even a certain prolier-than-thou moderator thinks that concerns about sexism are “bullshit.”

    If the left’s aspirations for change boil down to “meet the new boss, same as the old boss,”* then I can’t give a shit over reading about them.

    Sure, I’m male, and white (or pale blue – it takes weeks of tanning to turn us Scots white as Billy Connelly says). However, I’m not neurotypical – I’m autistic – and I find the assumptions about ‘normal’ people want absurd. Too much theory and ideology about what people want just becomes a set of directives about what they should want.

    One law for the lion and the ox is oppression – William Blake, “Proverbs of Hell”

    Feminism offers a far more radical critique of society than what crusty old paleoleftists have to offer, especially when it is intersectional – and look up that word!

    I see myself in the mirror every morning when I brush my teeth. I know who I am, I know what I want, but what do other people want?

    Make it safe for everyone who isn’t a Chris Trotter clone to say so.

    *The Who, “We Won’t Get Fooled Again” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYMD_W_r3Fg

    • Incognito 7.1

      Since you’re a regular commenter here whose comments I generally like I’ll respond to your comment, which is thought-provoking (challenging).

      At times, The Standard is not a friendly place. Full. Stop. Other times, however, it is very welcoming, with a community feel with loads of camaraderie and where people can share extremely personal experiences in a receptive & respectful environment.

      Who hasn’t had those experiences with loved ones, e.g. close family members, best friends, spouse, children, or beloved pet, when they were not ‘feeling the love’?

      The paradox of intolerance doesn’t just apply to society. Recently, a commenter said this on stuff:

      For society to remain tolerant, it must be intolerant of intolerance.

      https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/101553280/many-of-the-strident-voices-on-the-left-are-frighteningly-illiberal

      I think they were wrong (two wrongs don’t make a right) and that taken to its logical conclusion we would end up with or at totalitarian absolutism.

      A good motto might be “live and let live” IMHO.

      I was also going to respond to the other things you wrote (incl. about Trotter), which I found mighty fascinating, but I think I’ll leave at this for tonight.

    • weka 7.2

      One thing that would help is to support feminist authors and commenters when they are writing generally. So support to push back when they are being attacked is good, but also support when the situation is non-controversial as well.

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    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Air New Zealand identifies this enormous plot of unused land as possible second airport site
    Air New Zealand couldn’t believe its luck that this seemingly ideal piece of real estate had so far gone entirely unnoticed. Air New Zealand’s search for a site to build a second Auckland Airport may have made a breakthrough this afternoon, after employees scanning Google satellite imagery spotted a huge, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Redline on the Labour Party
    No-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons. Nevertheless, there ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Labour’s failure
    When National was in government and fucking over the poor for the benefit of the rich, foodbanks were a growth industry. And now Labour is in charge, nothing has changed: A huge demand for emergency food parcels means the Auckland City Mission is struggling to prepare for the impending arrival ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Ardern attempts to vaccinate Clarke Gayford live on television to prove that it’s safe
    Gayford, pictured here on The Project, before things got wildly out of control. A bold public relations move by the Government to encourage parents to vaccinate their children has gone horribly wrong. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared on tonight’s episode of Three’s The Project, where the plan was for her ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Has Mr. Whippy gone too far by parking on our front lawns?
    Mr. Whippy’s business model has driven it down a dark road of intimidation. Residents in major centres around the country are becoming disgruntled by the increasingly aggressive actions of purported ice cream company Mr. Whippy, who have taken to parking on people’s front lawns and doorsteps in a desperate attempt ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Cleaning up the water
    Today the government released its Action Plan for Healthy Waterways, aimed at cleaning up our lakes and rivers. Its actually quite good. There will be protection for wetlands, better standards for swimming spots, a requirement for continuous improvement, and better standards for wastewater and stormwater. But most importantly, there's a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Fronting up
    Today I appeared before the Environment Committee to give an oral submission on the Zero Carbon Bill. Over 1,500 people have asked to appear in person, so they've divided into subcommittees and are off touring the country, giving people a five minute slot each. The other submitters were a mixed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
    Anti-fluoride activists have some wealthy backers – they are erecting billboards misrepresenting the Canadian study on many New Zealand cities – and local authorities are ordering their removal because of their scaremongering. Many New Zealanders ...
    1 week ago
  • Democracy – I Don’t Think So
    So, those who “know best” have again done their worst. While constantly claiming to be the guardians of democracy and the constitution, and respecters of the 2016 referendum result, diehard Remainers (who have never brought themselves to believe that their advice could have been rejected) have striven might and main ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • Government says it will now build just one really nice home
    Following publication of this article, the Ministry has requested it to be noted that this supplied image is not necessarily representative of what the final house will look like, and it “probably won’t be that nice.” As part of today’s long-anticipated reset of the Government’s flagship KiwiBuild policy, Housing Minister ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Imperialism and your cup of coffee
    Over the next week or two we will be running three synopses of parts of the opening chapter of John Smith’s Imperialism in the 21st Century (New York, Monthly Review Press, 2016).  The synopsis and commentary below is written by Phil Duncan. Marx began Capital not with a sweeping historical ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Still juking the stats
    The State Services Commission and Ombudsman have released another batch of OIA statistics, covering the last six months. Request volumes are up, and the core public service is generally handling them within the legal timeframe, though this may be because they've learned to extend rather than just ignore things. And ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Hard News: Time for a New Deal: 25 years on
    In 1994, I was editing an ambitious street mag called Planet, from a fabled office at at 309 Karangahape Road. The thirteenth issue of the magazine was published in the winter of that year and its cover embodied a particularly ambitious goal: the end of cannabis prohibition.I wanted to do ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Not impressed
    KiwiBuild was one of the Ardern government's core policies. The government would end the housing crisis and make housing affordable again by building 100,000 new homes. Of course, it didn't work out like that: targets weren't met, the houses they did build were in the wrong place, and the whole ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Solar beats coal
    As the climate crisis escalates, it is now obvious that we need to radically decarbonise our economy. The good news is that its looking easy and profitable for the energy sector. Wind is already cheaper than fossil fuels, and now solar is too:The levellised cost of solar PV has fallen ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • A Step Too Far.
    A Crown Asset? For reasons relating to its own political convenience, the Crown pretends to believe that “No one owns the water.” To say otherwise would re-vivify the promises contained in the Treaty of Waitangi – most particularly those pertaining to the power of the chiefs and their proprietary rights ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Where Money Comes From
    Most people would say, no doubt, that they have a pretty good idea of what money is. They live with the reality of money every day. It is what is needed to buy the necessities of life and to maintain a decent standard of living. You get money, they would ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Banned by the Green Party leadership: Jill Abigail on women’s rights and trans rights
    The article below was an opinion piece that appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of Te Awa (the NZ Green Party’s newsletter) and on the Greens website.  In keeping with their policy of hostility to women defending women’s right to female-only spaces, Green bureaucrats have since removed the opinion piece.  ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • The fallacy of the proximity argument.
    Longer term readers may remember my complaining that, as a political scientist, it is burdensome to have non-political scientists wanting to engage me about politics. No layperson would think to approach an astrophysicist and lecture him/her on the finer details of quarks and black holes, but everybody with an opinion ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 weeks ago
  • Where We Stood: Chris Trotter Replies To Stevan Eldred-Grigg.
    Joining The Fight: Stevan Eldred-Grigg's argument for New Zealand staying out of the Second World War fails not only on the hard-headed grounds of preserving the country’s strategic and economic interests; and not just on the soft-hearted grounds of duty and loyalty to the nation that had given New Zealand ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Universities back the climate strike
    On September 27, School Strike 4 Climate will be striking for a future to pressure the government for meaningful climate action. This time, they've asked adults to join them. And now, Lincoln University and Victoria University of Wellington have signed on:Victoria University of Wellington has joined Lincoln University in endorsing ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Another constitutional outrage
    Another day, another constitutional outrage in the UK. This time, the government is saying that if parliament passes a law to stop Brexit before being prorogued, they may just ignore it:A senior cabinet minister has suggested Boris Johnson could defy legislation to prevent a no-deal Brexit if it is forced ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Ending dairy in Canterbury
    Environment Canterbury has finally proposed nitrogen limits to stop dairy farmers from poisoning Christchurch's water supply. And naturally, farmers are whining about it:A proposed move by Environment Canterbury (ECan) to protect Christchurch's drinking water by setting tough – some would say, draconian – nitrate reductions in the decades ahead and ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Is National the party of climate arson?
    The Zero Carbon Bill is currently before select committee. While its targets are weak, its a generally sensible bill that promises to establish a long-term framework to guide emissions reductions. But National hasn't made up its mind on whether it will support it - and according to Andrea Vance in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Experts warn Harold the Giraffe “well past” typical giraffe life expectancy, may not have long
    Dum-de-doo. Children across New Zealand have known him for generations as the lovable giraffe who tells them to exercise, hydrate and not to shove lit cigarettes up their nostrils. But a world renowned giraffe expert says we shouldn’t be getting attached to Life Education’s Harold the Giraffe, as he is ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • August ’19 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
    Image credit: 22 BLOGGERS WITH ADVICE FOR RESEARCHERS AND EVALUATORS, ILLUSTRATED I notice a few regulars no longer allow public access to the site counters. This may happen accidentally when the blog format is altered. If your ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Bye, bye to the collusion lie
    Sums it up, really. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Opinion: Treat your car by buying extra petrol to snack on while you aren’t driving
    By Mike Hosking. Yesterday morning, I waltzed into work, and as I walked past the drones aggressively typing out news on the computers I’ve repeatedly asked to be moved further away from, I caught a glimpse of the words “climate change”, and noticed that suspiciously they weren’t in condescending quotation ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago

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