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National Council of Women open letter to John Key

Written By: - Date published: 7:30 am, April 23rd, 2015 - 28 comments
Categories: john key, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, workers' rights - Tags:

Dear John.

We are disappointed to learn of your unwanted touching of a cafe worker. We appreciate your apology to her and we understand that your actions were well-intentioned and not meant to offend or do the worker any harm.

You no doubt know that it’s never okay to touch someone without their permission. You probably think that you’ve never touched someone in such a way before. However, this incident shows that you have crossed the line. You will now be aware of the impact – the worker described how vulnerable and embarrassed she felt.

We don’t see this as an isolated case and the real story is not about you. Rather, the fact that our Prime Minister has joined the list of people outed for sexism highlights how much sexism is a part of our culture. And it starts at the top.

Up and down this country, day after day, people are touched without giving their consent. At one end of the scale, it is an unwelcome pull on a pony-tail. At the other end, it’s our shocking levels of violence against women.

We need to change our culture so we don’t see touching someone as being our right, unless we know that it’s welcome. We need you to lead from the top.

It’s really hard for women to speak up when men’s sexist actions are ‘well-intentioned’. The National Council of Women of New Zealand commends this worker for her bravery in speaking up, as we expect that given our culture she will now face as much criticism as understanding and support.

We are happy to meet with you to discuss how sexism is playing out in our society. This type of well-intentioned sexism might seem harmless. But sexism has serious impacts. It’s behind the statistics your Government releases showing inequality in our pay, violence, and the lack of women in leadership.

Our organisation works to improve these statistics. We’re currently consulting on a draft white paper that outlines what our country needs to do to achieve gender equality. It looks at the role our attitudes and actions around gender play in our current state. A copy is with your Minister for Women for feedback.

Now your eyes have been opened to how easily sexism can occur, we call on you, as Prime Minister, to do more to reduce sexism and its effects in New Zealand.

Yours sincerely,

Sue McCabe
Chief Executive
National Council of Women of New Zealand (NCWNZ)

28 comments on “National Council of Women open letter to John Key ”

  1. Julz 1

    Excellent to see the Council doing the right thing. this young woman is going to need all the support she can get.

  2. Draco T Bastard 3

    This type of well-intentioned sexism might seem harmless.

    It wasn’t well intentioned. He knew that she didn’t want him to do it and yet he still did it thus it was nothing more than a power play. Him asserting his power over her.

  3. just saying 4

    Yeah, not impressed with this kind of semi-apologism.
    It’s nice to bring in the wider picture, but it’s not okay to absolve Key from moral responsibilty.
    It’s not clear there was any real apology offered and I don’t think it is accurate to just assume good intentions in this or any of the many times this kind of incident happens in the wider communities. People may like to think well of themselves, but it’s mostly about what people with power believe they are able to get away with imo.
    It used to be believed that bullies, and narcisists in general, felt inadequate and were unaware of the effects of their behaviour. Most of the more recent research suggests the opposite is true.

  4. Heather Grimwood 5

    Congratulations to NCW on your stance in sending and ‘broadcasting’ the contents of your letter. It emphasises real nub of the problem. May it kindle a huge much-needed reformation of attitudes and behaviour, and bring a secure and decent community for our women. Goodness knows we’ve tried for ever!!!

  5. tracey 6

    A Letter that should never have to be written to a Prime Minister in 2015.

  6. Heather Grimwood 7

    Perhaps, during his Gallipoli trip he will give some thought to womens’ matyrdom too.

  7. Heather Grimwood 8

    please read ‘martyrdom’

  8. Stickler 9

    Meanwhile, what has the Minister of Women’s Affairs done? Spoken out in support of Key.

    With friends like these……

    Guess she and the waitress were both afraid of calling out the Prime Minister in case they lost their jobs. Good thing one of them found some courage.

  9. Murray Rawshark 10

    “We are disappointed to learn of your unwanted touching of a cafe worker.”

    This is not the only unfortunate phrase in this letter. Disappointed? How about outrage? Disappointment is something you feel when you expect better of someone. What reason did they have to expect better of FJK? Certainly not because he supported Cunliffe when he apologised for domestic violence. Not when he wore his stupid t-shirt that might as well have read “I’ll bash Bronagh if I feel like it.”

    I can only assume that the council is worried about government funding, which is another indictment of FJK.

  10. Potato 11

    Minister for Women Louise Upston defending Key, ‘no comment’ from other women in the Nats with one exception. Wanna guess who is sympathizing with the waitress by saying that Key has ‘overstepped the mark’ ?


    • tracey 11.1

      Collins is making me sick… she is distorting the image of herself and using others for political or personal gain

      she used a poor public servant’s personal detalis for a personal vendetta
      she said “a speech by Turei was “vile, wrong and ugly, just like her jacket today”
      she is no friend of vulnerable or downtrodden woman this former minister of police and justice who presided over appalling police culture toward women and cut down a Law Commission effort to bring justice to sexual violence victims.
      Her public outburst and lies about Katie Bradford?
      She is a bully who now pretends she doesn’t like bullying?

      • Potato 11.1.1

        Agree and she’s also no friend of Key. I personally believe that when Key falls or walks away she’ll be putting herself forward to replace him.

        • tracey

          She’s definitely using SST gig to project an image of someone that is not her

  11. Heather Grimwood 12

    To MS re wording of NCW letter: I certainly would have worded the first sentence more strongly, and think some phrases verging on deferential, BUT THE NCW ARE SUPPORTING THAT WOMAN and I applaud them for doing so.

  12. prosaic 13

    My friend Charlotte was so angry about the PM’s behaviour she wrote a song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHBJ-5h0KV4

  13. peterlepaysan 14

    Actually, it is not just Key.

    National party members have a “born to rule” attitude largely based on wealth and associated “influence”.

    Both Key and Aaron Gilmore are on the same spectrum, and very close.

    It does seem a bit rich that Key cautioned his own party about third term arrogance after winning the last election.

    Ex state house kid, ex Wall Street trader, ruler of NZ, rich enough to give away the ruler’s pittance of a salary, Minister of Tourism and spends ihis “vacations” at home in Hawaiii?

    NZ is a mediaeval fiefdom we are but serfs, peasants and wenches available for the whimsw and pleasures of the aristos.

    Anyone know of good tumbril and/or guillotine makers?

  14. fisiani 15

    Please keep this smear campaign going as long as possible. Obviously many posters reckon it will make people change their voting. You do not seem to realise that with every Honest John gaffe whether his pronunciation or handshake or mincing walk or beer drinking or gentle playful hair tug that the average person realises that John Key is an ordinary bloke with a few flaws doing an extraordinary job. He is not St Cunliffe. He is not like the career politicians. He does the job because he is good at it. Better than anyone else.

  15. Reddelusion 16

    What a silly letter from a person with a silly job

  16. Reddelusion 17

    That’s the problem Paul you don’t think…….

  17. Reddelusion 18

    Not thinking I agree but hardly the crime of the century as some on this site would lead us to believe, please don’t give me this abuse of power, consent bollocks, possibly jk ain’t a bad bloke, a bit touchy feely, not thinking, naive, apologise, don’t do it again, move on unless political mileage make a mountain out of a molehill

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