People of the Year

Written By: - Date published: 3:00 pm, December 7th, 2017 - 132 comments
Categories: feminism, news - Tags: , , , , ,

Time has named “The Silence Breakers,” their term for members of the #MeToo campaign and other people breaking the silence about sexual abuse and assault, as its people of the year. This is an incredibly welcome change from last year’s neo-nazi of the year, President Trump1, and a fitting tribute to the dozens of people who came out against Harvey Weinstein, the most high-profile female participants and the seeds of the social phenomenon, and also to people like Anthony Rapp, who braved the stigma against men talking about surviving sexual assault, and confirmed what has long been known in the industry about Kevin Spacey.

This isn’t some thing we’re looking back on, either. It’s still going, just a couple of days ago, John Oliver confronted Dustin Hoffman about his own sexual assault allegations at what was supposed to be a fluff press event, making it obvious to everyone that Hoffman had no real excuse for the allegations, and also making it quite clear that he’s sincere when he talks frequently about women’s rights on his show, because this could seriously impact his opportunities to do similar events in the future. And this campaign has only been talking about the really big stuff, not the small things that add up over time. New women and men are breaking the silence regularly, and old allegations are coming to a head in the US in a way that’s honestly refreshing.

But here in New Zealand, the initial social media campaign landed, with people sharing their stories, but didn’t seem to gain any particular traction or momentum. Despite having a fierce advocate as Minister for Women, and a female Prime Minister, all of a sudden we’re lagging behind the USA, a country whose President is a thoroughly-accused sexual predator, in our progress for women’s right to confront their abusers and actually expect some sort of consequences. Instead, we have empty whataboutisms with no examples of the problems they decry (in this case, overreach in allegations) from lightweight commentators. If you want an example of what it’s like to come out about these sorts of things in New Zealand right now, Angela Cumings is dutifully chronicling the worst of the replies to her experiences on twitter. (You may remember her story from certain ridiculous road sign pictures, and the facts of the case are not in debate anymore, just people’s various interpretations of it) Here is just a taste:

The success of #MeToo in the USA is likely a convergence of factors we simply don’t have in New Zealand: A collective frustration at a leader who is an all-but-proven sexual predator, a powerful abuser whose career and politics are arguably out of favour with those in institutional power at the time the publicity boils over, the ease of sharing stories on social media and the ability for men to actually find out just how many women (and sometimes, men or others) they know have dealt with this nonsense, (okay, we have that one, but it needed mentioning to explain how it happened in the US) and probably most critically, a finally receptive audience of men willing to become allies and join the pressure against this behaviour as unacceptable.

The culture for New Zealand men is deeply embedded in this kind of toxic masculinity- we’re expected to have only two types of visible feelings: anger, or a kind of stoic friendship generally expressed in the terms of “ah, he’s a great bloke, isn’t he?” Anything else is to be dealt with by going out as soon as practically possible and drinking yourself comatose. We defend guys who seem like ‘good blokes’ in public because most abusers never show the same face to everyone else as they do to their victims. If someone like me can accept that Kevin Spacey is absolutely guilty of what he’s been accused of and needs to get help and spend some time in career jail as a consequence of his actions, then rugby-heads, police fan-boys, and But He’s A Good Guy apologists are absolutely capable of accepting that the people they thought were their heroes might actually have some really deep issues, without actually compromising how they see themselves or their interests.

And maybe we might accept that as men we really, really need to have more socially acceptable ways to talk about our feelings that don’t involve alcohol. It’s not enough to say that hitting women, or unwanted sexual advances, are inappropriate. We need to look at the feelings and beliefs that lead to that behaviour and give people healthy outlets for those that don’t result in sexual assault, and hold accountable those individuals that have. It shouldn’t be up to women to take this further than they already have in New Zealand- they’ve been brave, they’ve shared their stories and come to court often enough. The change has to come from us men.

If you want to get involved in fighting this kind of violence or want more information, Women’s Refuge is an excellent starting place for activism, but for those of us who identify as men, probably the first thing we’ll need to accept is that there will be uncomfortable revelations as part of the journey of ending this type of behaviour, and being able to push through that discomfort, and look at allegations from a starting point of giving women the benefit of the doubt, is absolutely the first step we need to take.

If you’re unsure about what is reasonable conduct towards women, there are some excellent resources on the web that will give people confidence about things that are definitely unacceptable. Be aware that frequently people don’t complain about unwanted behaviour directly to the person doing it, because they have learned much earlier in life that doing so often leads to reprisals, so you can’t always expect someone to tell you themselves that your behaviour made them uncomfortable, in fact feedback will usually either be written or passed on by a third party warning you, and you should take those warnings seriously.



Caveats for people who absolutely require them:

Believing women doesn’t mean turning off our skepticism about allegations, it means that we don’t do things like assuming women are making allegations for fame, (something that’s literally never eventuated) that we don’t engage in behaviour that assumes that allegations are false until proven in court. It means we look at factors like plausibility, corroboration of accusers’ stories at the time, and the number of accusers and whether the allegations form a coherent pattern that’s consistent with the facts. You’re all adults, I believe you’re capable of simultaneously giving credibility to someone’s story until it’s proven to be wrong while also not jumping off half-cocked assuming that someone is guilty until you’ve heard their side. The reason so many of these cases have been piled on so effectively is because the other side has been full of absolute rubbish- Harvey had a non-defense defense, as did Hoffman, and Spacey actually invented the first bad way to come out as gay.

While there is absolutely an extrajudicial pile-on going on, this is because factors like non-disclosure agreements in settling sexual assault allegations, systemic failure in the jury trial system, unfair statutes of limitation, and other obstacles are preventing allegations from being determined seriously in a legal setting. If these obstacles aren’t taken down, trial by media will have to continue for high-profile sexual abusers and harassers, because it is the only way to end this sort of behaviour. If the justice system is effectively reformed to make these sorts of trials easier to bring while still giving fairness to the accused, then maybe we can start moving cases back there, but people need to realize that a lot of survivors of this behaviour have no confidence in the justice system right now. That confidence needs to be restored before we ask them to go to the justice system as a first resort.

Not everyone who experienced this kind of behaviour can come forward publicly. Some of the aggressive allies you see of these survivors will in fact be survivors themselves, and others not. This is actually why there’s a woman out of the frame in Time’s cover: she’s supposed to represent those who can’t come forward. Not everyone who can’t come forward is scared- as I alluded to earlier, there are NDAs, family situations, and employment situations that make being public about this sort of thing a practical impossibility. We should still support such people as best we can and according to their wishes. That means not outing them against their will at the very least.

Footnote:

1 Trump has, of course, been awarded second place this year, which is likely more to do with his influence on the political conversation than any actual achievement. Time also failed to make any substantive mention of the myriad allegations of sexual assault against President Trump, an omission that is an absolutely stunning lapse in light of its People of the Year.

132 comments on “People of the Year”

  1. Matthew Whitehead 1

    Hello everyone!

    Just pointing out that I will be holding people to a relatively high standard on this thread, seeking to avoid misogynistic language and any direct personal attacks on women, especially women commenting in this thread.

    I am hoping we can have a discussion that allows for a range of views without having to resort to moderation, but we’ll see how this goes. I do intend to allow plenty of license to constructive points from skeptics of women’s rights and men’s rights activists, but it would be helpful if those people afforded women dignity during the discussion.

    Kia ora.

    • Lara 1.1

      Thank you. For giving us some space. Usually our voices are silenced with hatred.

      • Matthew Whitehead 1.1.1

        You’re quite welcome. I’m keen that TS becomes a place where women feel safe both commenting and writing.

        I think we’re a little bit lucky that traffic is slow today and the trolls are focusing their attention elsewhere. 😉

        • lprent 1.1.1.1

          I think we’re a little bit lucky that traffic is slow today and the trolls are focusing their attention elsewhere.

          I wouldn’t rely on it. That can change in a heart beat. But that said, December is always the month that tends to slowly die a very long and protracted death as we swelter our way to xmas.

  2. One Anonymous Bloke 2

    I have yet to see a serious act of violence that was not provoked by the experience of feeling shamed James Gilligan.

    Where does this shame arise?

    To put it another way, what is so fragile about our precious ‘masculinity’?

    • Matthew Whitehead 2.1

      Well, one of the things I’ve noted is that sometimes it rests on an assumption of entitlement, such as entitlements to women’s labour, bodies, affection, etc…

      Naturally, under that framing, women’s independence can feel like it shames their partner, especially if there are other underlying causes to those feelings of needing control, or entitlement, such as unhealthy relationships with our parents, or even those partners being victims of abuse themselves (it is a sad reality that on the violence side of the equation, victims of violent abuse will often turn around and abuse their own kids.

      In terms of sexual harassment, it seems to be about never having those boundaries enforced upon us by authority figures in our youth. “Boys will be boys” is a really unhealthy attitude. The best thing any parent of sons can do is to raise them as feminists, or at least men who respect the independence of women.

  3. Matthew Whitehead 3

    Relevant:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lc7GK_rFUU

    Senator Al Franken is likely to be forced to resign as most of his progressive and female colleagues call on him to leave the Senate as additional survivors have broken their silence, although he’s holding on ’till tomorrow before he makes a decision.

    • Matthew Whitehead 3.1

      Update: Franken has now resigned, and has drawn attention to the allegations against President Trump, and the lack of will within his own party to hold him responsible, when he did so.

  4. weka 4

    Interesting,

    Charlotte Alter‏Verified account @CharlotteAlter

    Charlotte Alter Retweeted TIME

    This was conceived, reported and written by women. It was fact-checked by women. The video was shot and edited by women. The layout and photo spread were designed by women. It’s one of the reasons I’m proud to work at @time

    https://twitter.com/CharlotteAlter/status/938388795342323712

  5. timeforacupoftea 5

    New Zealand has moved on dramatically since the 1960’s when women who were getting married were tied up to parking meters or lamppost some only in underwear.

    I remember the capping processions where women would be picked up and lifted into a cattle truck and be touched all over.
    The year I was lifted into the cattle truck a parking meter girl had her pantyhose removed and nearly her pants.

    God those were the days.
    Men at my work thought nothing of putting a hand up your dress and grab a breast at the same time when the fashion was a mini length tent dress.

    I don’t hear of it anymore where I work with over 1000 staff these days.
    Not to say it doesn’t happen I suppose.

    • Lara 5.1

      I don’t think so.

      I was a victim of pedophiles at Centrepoint in the ’80’s. I see it’s happening again right now in a commune in the south island.

      I’ve had instances of sexual harassment as recently as a year ago (I live in a very small town and don’t interact with people much).

      I remember being thrown over a flatmates shoulder in 1991 to be used as an exercise weight. Another flatmate ran his hand up and down my leg just before I left for a date noticing how I’d shaved.

      So many more instances.. this could be a VERY long post.

      I don’t think it’s changed that much actually. Either you’re male or you’re getting older?

      And then there’s the online hostility to women. Try discussing perpetrators of sexual violence or the gender pay gap… see how well that goes down.

      This hostility has the effect of silencing our voices. It’s well and truly silenced mine in most forums on those issues. If it wasn’t for Matthews comment here about moderation I’d not be making this comment.

      • weka 5.1.1

        I also think it’s still prevalent. I think what’s changed is that there are now a sizeable number of men who are pushing back against it too and making an effort to change the culture. That’s a shift in my lifetime (I’m early 50s), and one that gives me hope.

        “If it wasn’t for Matthews comment here about moderation I’d not be making this comment.”

        That’s a very useful thing to know, thanks.

      • Matthew Whitehead 5.1.2

        Thanks for sharing. If I’ve made even one person feel confident to talk in even this one arena I feel like I’ve done something worthwhile today. 🙂

    • Matthew Whitehead 5.2

      It happens, it’s just gone underground. Odds are you know multiple people who have gone through it, whether they can be public about it or not. =/

  6. Ad 6

    Tweet from Lorde, January 30th this year:

    “These old men in power have a storm coming, the likes of which they cannot comprehend.”

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/lorde-predicted-fall-of-powerful-men-january-tweet_us_5a288782e4b0b185e5393d02?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

    She caught it.

    • Matthew Whitehead 6.1

      Did she though?

      I mean, obviously in hindsight the sentiment is right, but I feel like this must have been something lots of talented young women have said through the ages, that surely eventually there’ll be a reckoning they don’t understand, and afterwards maybe things will be better. But I think we’ve had to keep moving on to new reckonings each time, because we’re taking things in chunks.

      I hope this is the last one they need. I hope it’s enough for the US and even NZ to make some serious progress on sexual harassment, abuse, assault, and domestic violence. But I think maybe there’ll be more storms to come in the future before we get there, and Lorde just happened to be really lucky in her timing.

      That’s not to say I don’t think she was smart and reading some very real undercurrents that women were mad as hell and didn’t want to take this anymore, just that I feel like she isn’t the first woman to say those words and may not be the last.

  7. adam 7

    The way our society dealt with the roast busters sums it up for me.

    When donkey came out and said “boys will be boys” – that was it, story ended and they went on with the next news cycle. That the pm could just uttered a turn of phrase, and people just walked away – summed up how much we don’t want to think, or indeed talk about the issue.

    I’d argue our misogyny in nz is embedded in our bloke culture, and that it can’t be challenged until we address the power differentials that goes with that bloke culture.

    • mary_a 7.1

      adam (7) … Yes I agree. Some relevant points raised in your post.

      Interestingly that very same PM you mention, was also exposed as being a predator himself. One case in particular, he kept ignoring his victim’s plea to stop touching her, despite the assault taking place over a period of several months and under the watch of members of the PM’s police protection squad!

      Yet, nothing became of the case. Perhaps that was because the young woman involved, by the nature of her work in the service industry was considered to be subservient to her powerful high profile assailant! The status issue would undoubtedly be one major reason victims are reluctant to speak out.

      Then there was the well known sportsman identified as sexually assaulting a woman. Because of his high profile position, he had name suppression in NZ.

      I’ve never supported NZ following the US in anything. However in regards to this issue, I absolutely do. I have no doubt there are plenty of silent victims, prey of high profile personalities in NZ, who through possible threat and fear, are hesitant to say anything of what they have been forced to endure. They must be encouraged to speak out. Put the spotlight on the deviants. Name and shame their assailants!

      • Matthew Whitehead 7.1.1

        Yeah, it’s worth remembering that John Key wasn’t just a spectator to this, he engaged in the harassment himself. He thought he wasn’t doing anything much wrong, (and how loudly does THAT statement speak?) but in theory, if he had been her boss in a corporate environment, his behaviour would have been fireable had she gone to HR.

        The problem is in practice, as always. People shrug things off if the person is in power, and they’re convenient to them ideologically, or financially, because they don’t want to rock the boat. That was National voters and John Key after ponytailgate.

        This is the most galling part of him being knighted, to be quite honest. We shouldn’t have harassers walking around with honourifics before their names. He should be a name that scores free points any time Labour can reasonably bring him up, in any sort of just society, and makes the National Party feel embarrassed that he was ever their leader, even though the harassment he did at least wasn’t sexually explicit, there were still very creepy power dynamics to it.

        • adam 7.1.1.1

          Two things the whole knighthood thing is always about thuggery at some level. Whether it’s explicit and open, or subversive and economic. The whole class system and titles is about rewards for holding working people in check.

          As for the hair pulling not being sexual, I don’t think we can rule that out. It sure looked like the behaviour of a fetishist to me.

          • mary_a 7.1.1.1.1

            adam (7.1.1.1) … and there’s also evidence of the same creepy behaviour with girls as well from Key. Like you I’d say it was a sexual fetish, something he was unable to control, needing to touch women’s/girls’ hair, ponytails in particular. Quite abnormal.

            As for knighthoods … award for crooks and deviants!

        • Draco T Bastard 7.1.1.2

          He should be a name that scores free points any time Labour can reasonably bring him up, in any sort of just society, and makes the National Party feel embarrassed that he was ever their leader, even though the harassment he did at least wasn’t sexually explicit, there were still very creepy power dynamics to it.

          Best way to do that is to have that honorific removed. And there’s so many reasons to do so.

          The only thing I don’t know is if we can petition the queen to remove it. If we can’t then it’s another reason to remove those honours – again – as they’re obviously not honourable.

          • Matthew Whitehead 7.1.1.2.1

            This is yet another reason to go full republic and have our own national honours, so we can take them back if people are found out as dodgy creeps. 🙁

            • greywarshark 7.1.1.2.1.1

              The Honourable Kiwi David Farrar and Slater Cameron and Matthew Hosking or whatever for services to the republic. Give us a break Matthew, the only thing that holds this country of actors, conmen and tricksters together with some gravitas to look up to is the connection to Royalty, take that away at the top and the inflated rise, and the deflated will fall further down the pecking order.

              • solkta

                Yes, we should keep the queen ’cause her shit don’t stink.

                • greywarshark

                  solkta
                  Oh thank you, I am so grateful that you have deigned to convey your sentiments from your lofty intellect here in words that you can understand. I suppose you consider your remark heavily sarcastic.

                  • solkta

                    Well then perhaps you could explain why you think the British royals are better people than the rest of us? It seems a strange thing to make classist assertions on a left wing site.

                    Perhaps you could answer Matt’s question below?

              • Matthew Whitehead

                Yeah let’s never mind she never actually does anything specific to New Zealand, her son had an enormous and unconstitutional influence on British policy, and there’s all sorts of racism coming out of that family, apparently they’re the ones that’ll save us.

                Give me a break. Name one thing the monarchy has done for New Zealand in the last twenty years that wasn’t a symbol, or wasn’t actually the New Zealand Government doing it “in their name.” (That means even the Governor General doesn’t count, btw, as they’re a government appointee) I’ll wait.

                • solkta

                  Why just twenty years? She has been ‘our’ queen for 55 years.

                  At 91 years old she doesn’t have the good sense to retire.

                  edit *65 years

                  • Matthew Whitehead

                    Because “twenty years” is more than enough time for one significant thing to have happened if she was our Queen in anything but name. I thought I was being quite generous giving twenty, arguably if there’s merit to a monarchy they should be doing something for the population every year.

                    • solkta

                      But why leave any doubt that she has done absolutely nothing, ever?

                    • Matthew Whitehead

                      I’m pretty certain the monarchy has done nothing significant in the modern history of New Zealand, and that the closest we’ve come to it doing anything useful was the UK government telling off NZ settlers for not being sufficiently lawful.

                • I do hear that she does a lot for NZ but I can’t think of a damn thing off the top of my head.

                  It’s probably about time that we actually had it listed somewhere as to what she does and why.

                  After all, we will need that information when we move to become a republic and discuss just what we want out head of state doing.

                  And we need Māori word for the position as well.

        • Lucy 7.1.1.3

          Matthew
          In the corporate environment in NZ if she had gone to HR he would have been fired only in a small number of preset circumstances. If he was someone that had offended some guy with more power he would be gone if not HR would minimize and make it so uncomfortable for her she would need to leave and trails of her actions would follow her to her next job at reference time! Most NZ women wont complain as we know the consequences which continue way beyond the current job. Also if you’re stuck with a creep the next workplace may have a creep four times as bad.

          • BM 7.1.1.3.1

            HR’s role is to protect the company not help the employee damage the company.

            • Matthew Whitehead 7.1.1.3.1.1

              Except the employee damaging the company is the one doing the harassment, abuse, or assault, not the one making the accusation, BM. Dealing with it fairly, promptly, and without consequences for any demonstrably innocent parties should enhance the reputation of a company, not damage it.

              (I accept this is just the theory, in practice there are people who enable this behaviour who won’t see things that way, but the safety and productivity of their female employees should be worth losing face with apologists for sexual harassment IMO)

              • BM

                I don’t think it’s a good thing, it’s just the way HR operates and employees have to consider that before they take their issues to HR.

                If the person you’re complaining about is higher up the ranks there’s a fair chance the company will consider that individual of higher value to the company and it may end up as you who has to leave or gets managed out.

                Especially if you’ve got no proof and it’s a he said she said situation.

                • Matthew Whitehead

                  Even if there’s no photographs or eyewitnesses and it is a matter of hearsay or competing stories, that’s not the same thing as there being “no proof.” There is comfirmation that both people were at the same place alone, the potential for other people to come forward with matching or similar allegations, and whether someone can confirm that the accuser told them about the incident before the complaint was made, and corroborate the story independently. There’s also the potential that if the allegation really is false, that there will be proof that they weren’t alone together and eyewitness counter-testimony, or simply proof that the accused person wasn’t in the place the accuser claimed they were. These things can be sorted out, even without hard evidence, as HR doesn’t need to behave exactly like a court.

                  I do agree that if allegations can’t be sufficiently proven that HR has to let it go in isolated cases, but they should be taken seriously, and shouldn’t necessarily require eyewitness evidence or some similar standard when they’re not going through a formal legal process. Cheers for your thoughts.

                • Sabine

                  and the company ends up supporting a toxic person who will over the next few years of employment abuse many others simply because they can and thus the company will loose many many more people who will simply up and leave taking their knowlege, their skills etc to other places.

                  In the meantime the company pays the wage for a toxic employee, pays over and over again to advertise the same positions, hire staff to fill the positions, train the newbies for these positions just to loose them again in a few month/years time.

                  Yeah, sounds like good fiscal decisions.

                  this reminds me of a complaint i made and the HR person telling me that she will treat this as an un-official complaint. To which i responded : I took a day off to come here and make this complaint, this is an official complaint and i want it treated as such. Her face? Priceless. Never the less she did not ‘make it official’ until i send an email to the boss of my misbehaving manager and the HR Manager. When i finally got my meeting i showed up with a lawyer.
                  T’was very funny to watch. And yeah, this guy was feared in the office. Literally feared, he caused a lot of tears, a lot of stress, a lot of hate, and a lot of resignations.

                  Then one day – just before all of his key accounts came due for renewal – he left, two weeks notice. And his boss, was suddenly discovering that he was not quite as valuable as he pretended he was. He had lost over half of his business portfolio. Ouch, Ouch, Ouch.

            • Bill 7.1.1.3.1.2

              HR’s role is to protect the company not help the employee damage the company.

              That’s true. Unfortunately, manys the employee who’re under the impression HR will act as neutral arbitrators should any issue crop up. They get disavowed of that notion quickly enough.

              HR is essentially the enforcement arm of the company/org that also acts as a buffer zone between worker and boss.

          • Matthew Whitehead 7.1.1.3.2

            Yes, I agree, this is why I gave the proviso “in theory.” In theory this all should have stopped in the workplace once we had sexual harassment policies, but “in practice” is always harder. I’m sorry we haven’t done better. 🙁

            And you’re absolutely right that lots of people don’t submit complaints because they know there will be consequences for them if they do, even if they do actually manage to hold their abuser/harasser/assaulter accountable. One of my friends admitted to being in that situation when this hashtag started, and I totally understand her position and support her in making the best decision for her.

      • adam 7.1.2

        mary_a the amount of high profile types who get name suppression in relation to sexually assaulting women is a rather long list. From tv personalities to musicians, sportsmen to pastors there is a culture of name suppression.

        I’m with you, we should name and shame them if they get convicted in a court of law.

        • Matthew Whitehead 7.1.2.1

          Actually I think we should name them and shame them if they don’t get convicted but are clearly guilty, to force extra-judicial accountability. If someone gets convicted, serves their time, and genuinely learns their lesson, I’m personally okay with letting it go.

          • solkta 7.1.2.1.1

            “they don’t get convicted but are clearly guilty”

            Say what? Who gets to decide that? Would we appoint you to decide who of those found not guilty are actually guilty?

            • Matthew Whitehead 7.1.2.1.1.1

              I’m a citizen, and like every other citizen I get to judge if our justice system is being effective.

              • solkta

                Right, from ya armchair you judge guilt and destroy lives.

                • Matthew Whitehead

                  If people are deliberately going to dodge and stack the legitimate avenues to hold them accountable, then yes, we’re going to need to do it “from our armchairs,” if that’s how you want to interpret social movements. (in reality, it involves a TON more work than that, and even the stuff that can be done from inside a building is much more exhausting than “from your armchair” implies)

                  I would be happy for these cases to be decided in court, (or corporate HR, or so on) if we had a fair system, where women and other survivors felt comfortable and supported coming forward for the ordeal that trials represent, and were confident that there was a strong relationship between the accused being guilty and being found guilty. But we demonstrably do not have such a system, where sexual assault, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and sexual harassment are concerned. We withhold relevant information from jurors. We allow irrelevant targetting of the plaintiff. We have a culture of structural sexism. We need to fix these things before people will be able to go through the court process.

                  And if you want to accuse me of enabling the “destroying of lives,” firstly, I would like to ask you how you think people who actually lived through these sorts of experiences actually feel? Do you think that frequently they don’t feel like their life has been destroyed? Because that’s a relatively common reaction to rape and sexual assault, for instance. Secondly, have we actually had any cases where allegations have had consequences and been demonstrated as false after the fact? Because none seem to have eventuated yet, and many of the people who were accused as part of the #MeToo campaign have actually admitted to the facts of their abuse. They’ve got a pretty good accuracy record. As we’re not talking about legal rights but instead a social movement, the harm of its approach should be determined by looking at evidence for action vs inaction rather than the potential for people to be falsely accused, and right now, action has all the positives on its side here.

                  If people want to have legal protections against false accusation, they need to make participating in the justice system for these sorts of things a reasonable option again.

    • Matthew Whitehead 7.2

      Yes, that was basically the central thesis of the post, so glad you’re on board. What parts do you believe we need to think about, though? Obviously “boys will be boys” is willful ignorance, but that doesn’t tell us what we need to think about.

      My general starting point is that we need to realize that women are people in their own right. So much of the language around respecting women has to be sold to men as “but she’s someone’s sister, or someone’s wife, or someone’s girlfriend, or someone’s mother, and what if that happened to your sister/wife/mother/etc…” No she’s not, she’s someone, and that alone is enough to respect her.

      From there, I reckon we can probably sort the rest out on our own, but it’s sadly such a difficult idea to drill into certain heads, eh?

  8. Fred H 8

    It’s all about a long unchallenged history of male entitlement and ownership, nothing else, not shame, not victims becoming offenders. I’ve been around men and male dominated workplaces my whole life and heard all the bullshit conquests, stories, and justification of sexual assault and belittlement, and it always disgusted me, and was contrasted with all the women I knew from various backgrounds who had all experienced sexual assault and harassment. Left me with an inherent distrust for men, and a hatred and suspicion of especially powerful and entitled men. It’s a great credit to these women as no one ever exposes themselves to such ridicule and critique for any other reason but to see justice done. To the privileged and entitled, equality is oppression.

    • Matthew Whitehead 8.1

      I think at the core of things you’re right, but that entitlement and sense of ownership gets snarled up with other feelings in ways that are a bit more complex, especially when they start being passed on intergenerationally and being interwoven into our structures of male bonding, our schools, our sports, our politics, our scientific community, our everything.

      Unwinding that attitude from each part is really complex. I think if we could pick the two most important, it would be our workplace culture and our family lives. From there we would have the space to get the others sorted, because boy is it energy-sapping trying to deal with extra stigmas on top of actually adulting.

  9. vto 9

    “The culture for New Zealand men is…” something I don’t think you have a full understanding of

    • Matthew Whitehead 9.1

      Of course I don’t. It’s really dozens of slightly different interrelated cultures in different places with different guys that’s changing ever so slightly as people leave and enter it. Nobody can understand all of that.

      But I’m a man, I have participated in the drinking culture when I have felt ready to increase my tolerance for bullshit, (aka. when I was feeling sad about being single and was willing to experiment with bars to try and meet someone- wasn’t a good idea) and there are definitely guys out there who think that way. If that isn’t you, or the people you know, that doesn’t mean I’m wrong about the specific cultures I’m talking about, it just means you’re not one of the people I was generalizing about.

      If so, well done, I am glad for every guy I’m mistaken about. But like all “not all x” statements, have some self-confidence and realize that if it doesn’t actually apply to you, you don’t need to tell me. Besides, I won’t invade people’s privacy by being more specific than that about who I was specifically thinking about, because I’m the only one who signed up to have his life in any way examined by strangers, and no matter how much emotional damage I think people who live this way are inflicting on themselves and other men who buy into their weird BS ideas about not expressing themselves on anything but sports, who they’d like to sleep with, and what they’re drinking next, I’m not going to invade their privacy. But, I’d be surprised if any women here at TS don’t know the sorts of guys I’m talking about and know exactly how problematic they are to these sorts of discussions.

      Cheers.

      • timeforacupoftea 9.1.1

        True words Matthew W.
        Well done.

      • vto 9.1.2

        If you were referring to only small parts of male culture then that should have been made clear. Instead your post states it is all of male culture. Such generalisations are very unhelpful to put it mildly.

        “The culture for New Zealand men is deeply embedded in this kind of toxic masculinity- we’re expected to have only two types of visible feelings: anger, or a kind of stoic friendship generally expressed in the terms of “ah, he’s a great bloke, isn’t he?” Anything else is to be dealt with by going out as soon as practically possible and drinking yourself comatose. ”

        Bullshit.

        If people like you wipe, or sharpen, these sorts of statements to actual reality and stop generalising in the manner you have then your legitimate issue will gain more traction.

        Good luck and keep at it.

        • solkta 9.1.2.1

          He is not referring to a “small part of male culture” but rather to a dominant feature. I think he could have been clearer by saying “the DOMINANT culture for New Zealand men”, but that is obviously implied for anybody who thinks about it.

          • tracey 9.1.2.1.1

            +1

          • vto 9.1.2.1.2

            Disagree wholly.

            And the culture you refer to is not limited to men. It is spread evenly through our society.

            • solkta 9.1.2.1.2.1

              You disagree with my understanding of what Matt wrote or what Matt wrote?

              • tracey

                My understanding is vto is saying women harrass men in equal “even” numbers and women also behave in the way Matthew describes in the same numbers as men. I might have misunderstood.

            • Matthew Whitehead 9.1.2.1.2.2

              It absolutely is mostly men who do this and a majority of men. I apologize if my exaggeration in referring to it as “male culture” implied more than it should, but I don’t accept that it is “evenly spread.” I’ve met two kiwi women in my entire life who participate in this sort of emotional repression.

            • greywarshark 9.1.2.1.2.3

              Good if you could find something to be positive about vto and build on that.
              The critical punitive approach is very authoritarian, and I don’t like that as a first approach whether male or female.

        • Draco T Bastard 9.1.2.2

          If you were referring to only small parts of male culture then that should have been made clear.

          That’s the problem – it’s not small parts of male culture.

          When 1 in 3/4 of women are abused by male friends/family and it’s excused as ‘boys will be boys’ by the rest of the male dominated society then it’s a fairly major part of it.

        • Sabine 9.1.2.3

          To an extend you are correct.

          Rapists are probably only a small segment of the population. But then they also don’t come with a warning. So the women who were and are still educated to the fact that they have to negotiate life in order to ‘not get themselves raped’ will treat everyone as a potential rapist.

          When we don’t take rape accusations serious, society supports the rapists.
          When we find excuses for a rapist, she wore a miniskirt, her cleavage, she is pretty and does not look like a kid, he was only giving her a foot massage, where was the mother society supports the rapists.
          When we talk up the humanity of the rapist, he was a good man, i raised my son well, he is a volunteer, he is a cop, a nurse, a teacher, a priest, a good father etc, but vilify the victim, i.e. why was she there, she must’ave done something, she is a little liar, a temptress, a lolita, does not look like a kid, dresses certain ways to attract male attention, than society supports the rapist.
          When we tell girls that the boy that hit her in the sand box does so becuase he ‘must like her’ then society supports the abuser.

          and at he end of the day all the non raping non abusing non catcalling non harassing male suffer because us Girls/Women have been conditioned to see all men as potential rapists.

          Thus the onus is on the good man of society to say that they don’t condone that
          stuff. It is on them to call out those that would yell after a women that that ‘ ass is fuckable’, ‘smile bitch’, ‘wanna check out ma sausage’ and so on.
          It is on them to call out those that would explain physical violence as a way of saying ‘i love you’ and tell them that no, you don’t love, you just wanna beat the shit outta her.

          and just to be clear, this is a mindset that allows many men not only to abuse girls but also boys. The only difference is that violence against women seems to be sanctioned (by the bible, even codified in law – duty of the wife vs privilege of the husband) and against boys/men it is against nature. While at the end of the day, its simply just some violent dipshits that get off on hurting other people and they do so because society (and people like you) let it happen for any reason you may want to insert here ………

  10. Sabine 10

    I posted this today on a different thread, but then it relates to this.

    As long as we accept that ‘boys will be boys’ is a get out of jail card for men (of all ages) nothing will change and thus it will be easier for women to say nothing, get on with it, grow harder and only rage when in company of friends who will not hold it against her that she ‘can’t make nice’.

    boys will always be boys no matter how old and how famous, and how rich and how connected and any of the bullshit.

    for the women it is

    when it bleeds it breeds
    beauty must suffer
    if you can’t escape it, try to enjoy it
    close your eyes and do it for England (insert any other country)
    martial duty of the women vs martial right for the man
    they are ‘jailbait’
    what did she wear
    why did she go there
    why did she not speak earlier
    where was the mother
    why did she drink
    to the victor go the spoils
    she must’ave enticed him
    lolita

    etc etc etc

    btw, the ‘me too’ movement is over ten years old, and was started by Tarana Burke, a women of colour from the US.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/20/us/me-too-movement-tarana-burke.html

    SNL did this sketch the other day …….
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9X0CntiDMr8

    Why do women in NZ not speak up? Because this is a small country, everyone knows everyone, everyone is somehow related to everyone, and everyone went to school, Uni with everyone.
    Why risk your career, your well being, your safety in your community by coming out and saying that one has been assaulted, raped, abused, harassed. What is to be gained. And yes, this question should be asked especially in the light of what happened with the “Roastbusters” and the Executive Ponytail Puller from the National Party. Ahh, yeah, that is true, nothing happened, boys will be boys, and women and girls and boys and men will just learn to behave right to make sure they don’t get themselves raped.

    • tracey 10.1

      John Keys conduct, Trumps conduct with no consequence sends a powerful message. We still have a culture where if there are no witnesses her version of events is not enough to usurp his.

    • Matthew Whitehead 10.2

      Thank you for the additional context, Sabine. I was certain there would have been forerunners to the current movement, and it’s good to have that confirmed. Cheers.

  11. David Mac 11

    I’d be horrified to think that I was viewed by the females I work with as a lecherous, ‘wandering hands’ creep. It would become top of mind over any professional tasks we might be undertaking.

    A pending meeting with Harvey W wouldn’t be met with thoughts of landing a role, it would be the anticipation of him reeling out his grubby smut. Trump wears it like a medal on his chest when yakking with the guys… ‘When you’re famous you can just grab them on the ….’

    I’m surprised it makes them feel strong and accomplished, it’s a reputation that would make me feel like a worm.

    I thought this was an interesting quote of Fred’s….

    “To the privileged and entitled, equality is oppression.”

    It’s not like it’s hard to behave: ‘Keep your hands to yourself and try not to hurt others’ feelings.’

    • tracey 11.1

      “To the privileged and entitled, equality is oppression.”
      It is a great quote and one which fits some folk very well. Brash is the most recent to put himself at that altar.

    • Matthew Whitehead 11.2

      I think also, there’s a big difference between people who misbehave but will apologize and accept feedback and change their behaviour and those who misbehave but will dodge, engage in victim-blaming, and become actively hostile at anyone who questions their behaviour.

      Being raised in a culture that had different ideas about where the acceptable boundaries are doesn’t make you a problem on its own. It’s the refusal to accept responsibility for the way a man’s conduct might make women feel unsafe that is the real problem, and the refusal of some men to back women up when they come forward. If we can change the minds of enough of the men currently refusing to actively back women up, then we’ll win in the short term. I expect we’ll win in the long term regardless, because most millenials accept women’s rights as a given.

  12. Cinny 12

    It’s a shame that some men behave in such a fashion, not only is it inappropriate, it also makes them appear desperate and weak (lack of self control).

    Me to… yesterday exiting a shop, a 50yr old (approx) male stranger standing outside, suddenly straightened himself up, did the wolf whistle and said “hello gorgeous”. Ignored him and hopped in my vehicle, then watched as a lady who appeared to be his wife, exited her vehicle and walked over to meet him.

    It’s about women speaking up, but it’s also about ALL of us educating others on what is appropriate behaviour and what could be considered as warning signs of possible future abuse. We are all guilty of turning a blind eye in one way or another.

    Can we please have a free education channel on TV, social/gender issues like this could then be discussed and covered.

    • Matthew Whitehead 12.1

      Thank you for sharing, Cinny.

      • Cinny 12.1.1

        Lolz, I’ve so many stories to share on said subject, isntead am really enjoying reading all the dialogue on this thread/post.

        Here’s a pearler… I’ve even gone to the extent of lying that I was married to avoid the ongoing sexual harrasment and advances of one boss. The bogus marriage technique only works with men of certain cultures.

        I love men so much, I just wish that some would have better self control. Maybe all of this talk/discussion re Me too, across the globe will help.

        • Matthew Whitehead 12.1.1.1

          For sure. And I think as more men join the discussion and say “actually, these are skills we all need to have in a modern environment, and it really is our responsibility not to harass/abuse/assault people, not the other way around,” the debate will shift. I really hope that it’ll make a difference in New Zealand soon enough.

    • Brigid 12.2

      “I don’t whistle at females much these days, but the other day i saw this gorgeous thing and just couldn’t help myself”
      This is from a person who says he sometimes feels guilty being a man because some men behave like pigs.
      When challenged he claimed when he was young, he and his work mates whistled at girls, (they are often described as girls) to see if they might be interested in a relationship. That is, whistling from a 3 story construction site.

      In no way would he accept he and his mates objectify women even though they are described as gorgeous ‘things’.

      He was taken aback a little when I suggested that the women who were subjected to his attentions may consider him an old ugly creep and feel revolted by his attentions. It didn’t seem to occur to him that said women may have an opinion about his actions.

      I just don’t know how to explain to people like this one just how insulting their approaches are, because his defense is always “women dress to attract attention”.

      I don’t know a woman who likes being whistled at.
      I agree with my daughter who says it makes one feel threatened.

      • Matthew Whitehead 12.2.1

        Did you mean to reply to David Mac above? I don’t think Cinny made those comments. I can delete this reply cleanly for you if you want to copy and paste it as a reply to (11). (Now I’ve replied some awkward things happen if we just delete your reply first through the user interface) Let me know. 🙂

        • Brigid 12.2.1.1

          I was affirming Cinny’s comment, confirming the objectification of women by whistling and the typical unsolicited “hello gorgeous” comments.

          • Cinny 12.2.1.1.1

            and it knows no age either, been wolf whistled by teens just as often, learned behaviour, visual media and marketing has much to answer for, time for them to change the narrative, are they brave enough too?

            Men are visual creatures, a non revealing dress gets attention, but painting/gardening overalls, not so much. Difficult for women working in sectors where they are required to dress up for work. Burkas on please, some men are unable to handle the visual jandal.

            Meanwhile women often give a man a second glance if he is carrying out physical work, my brain is wired thus, little voice says.. don’t stare it’s just your default circuits in your head.

            Primal humans we are

            Excellent communication going on here, moderation is fantastic btw

          • Matthew Whitehead 12.2.1.1.2

            Ah, cheers.

  13. One Two 13

    TIME are not the custodians of ‘people of the year’ it is a bandwagon corporate machine with an agenda

    Occupy
    Arab Spring
    Etc

    Where are those ‘movements’ now..

    The digital world front foots and re-directs energy to a channel of preference, and is a vehicle of abuse and censorahip

    Genuine change will not come through a hash tag..

    More a continuation of divide and conquer!

    • David Mac 13.1

      Is there a website where you can make up a mock ‘Time Person of the Year’ front page and print it off? I think your comment has merit and I’d like to appoint my own. I’ll print it on semi glossy paper and attach to the front of an old Time mag. Just leave it lying around. She’ll get a kick out of it.

      • Sabine 13.1.1

        you should ask the current occupant of the white house, it appears he has several fake Times covers with his face on.

    • Tracey 13.2

      Hmmmmm

      The hashtag seems to have provided a means for some women and fewer men to speak out and name their treatment.

      BUT having financial independence is also key to speaking out. A Boss who sexually harasses has great cover in the power of the paycheck. They no longer need to overtly threaten people with its withdrawal, people assume that consequence as a barrier to objecting so Bosses no longer have to.

      • One Two 13.2.1

        Hi Tracey,

        Sure, twitter is an outlet of sorts, similar to this blog

        Abuse of almost unlimited variety is part of daily life for close to, if not 100% of human beings walking in this life

        Some forms of abuse attract higher profile and greater visibility, while other receive little to none

        Some forms of abuse are so intertwined with daily life that most people wouldn’t consider it to be abuse or abusive

        The list of industry from which abuse is rampant, is long and all encompassing

        The entertainment (media arm) would sit towards the top of the list

        TIME is part of that industry as is Twitter

        Both entities are rife with abusive format, and will have cultures of abuse, outwardly obvious, and internally less so

        It starts with the individual becoming aware and making change within themselves..

        First and foremost, by identifying and changing the self abusive tendencies which most are totally oblivious too..

        • Matthew Whitehead 13.2.1.1

          Yes, and this is why I made clear that Time isn’t exactly an uncomplicated actor- they named Trump their #2 after all, and didn’t mention his victims when they did it. The story here is that even Time Magazine gets the importance of this moment, not that Time Magazine is some arbiter of who is actually the best person or movement of the year. 🙂

    • Siobhan 13.3

      And now its owned by the Koch brothers…their involvement in Time magazine is very pertinent to the conversation…be very very aware and cautious of their ‘support’ of any female/gender/equality related issues..I really recommend this read regarding the “Independent Women’s Forum” .
      It highlights the problem of Conservative and regressive groups and individuals like the Kochs latching on to popular movements to eventually give credibility to their own regressive agendas.

      https://www.thenation.com/article/meet-the-feminists-doing-the-koch-brothers-dirty-work/

  14. David Mac 14

    Gifts for the people that have everything they want: My Mum.

  15. corodale 15

    “…welcome change from last year’s neo-nazi of the year, President Trump…” After that light weight statement, I skipped to the last paragraph, only to read a second assault. But in Matt’s defense; I was the foul, to be reading an article associated with the Time rag.

    • Tracey 15.1

      Person of the Year NOT Admirable person of the year hence Hitler made it…

      • +111

        Beat me too it.

        Time Person of the Year

        Person of the Year (called Man of the Year or Woman of the Year until 1999)[1] is an annual issue of the United States news magazine Time that features and profiles a person, a group, an idea, or an object that “for better or for worse… has done the most to influence the events of the year”

    • Matthew Whitehead 15.2

      Are you seriously arguing that Trump isn’t a white supremacist authoritarian?

      How else would you define a neo-nazi?

      He defended a white supremacist running over an innocent women with his car by claiming there was both violence and “good people” “on both sides.” He thinks Black Lives Matter is a terrorist movement, he doesn’t realize that Puerto Rico is a US territory and its citizens are Americans, and he seems to think that all African-Americans live in the inner cities. He’s even proposed having a personal intelligence service, which is a hard policy to analyze without comparisons to Nazi Germany.

      I have several ambitions with my writing, none of which is to be a light-weight. You’re welcome to disagree with my stance on Trump, but as this story isn’t primarily about him, (I literally only mention him in the opening paragraph) I did not go into justifying my stance on him.

      Trump is an unmitigated disaster for the USA, especially now that it’s likely he’s passed his disastrous tax cuts, his first actual legislative accomplishment.

  16. Et Tu Brute 16

    I was ‘that guy’ and I think we as a society can’t address this until men can acknowledge their own demons. How often is dismissive behaviour the result of inner defensiveness (realized or unrealized)? As discussion unfolds, how often do men see themselves in the examples? I never touched a woman without consent, and am not one for lewd jokes, but I did not understand power relationships, and how differences in social standing can prohibit the existence of consent. She said no and that was the end of it. As the saying goes: “There but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford.” So much to learn. So much listening to do.

    *full disclosure: this has nothing to do with the drug addict story a week ago.

    • Cinny 16.1

      Et Tu Brute, have come to conclusion for some it’s a game, for example a powerful person not used to being told ‘no’ is told ‘no’, then takes it as a ‘challenge’ to win the game.

      Also re power, it’s sometimes easier for woman to laugh it off and find somewhere else to work instead of losing their job and never working in this town again, especially when others are dependent on her income.

    • Lucy 17.1

      No NZ has a history of shaming and humiliating women who speak out about serial pests! In both instances the women were named and stalked by the media and the stories went on until both shut down and refused to say anything more. Abusers know how to win in NZ they use shame and secrets and when that doesn’t work they use publicity and fear of exposure via the compliant media or bloggers to ensure that they can continue to abuse the next woman

    • Matthew Whitehead 17.2

      You’ll note I actually linked one of those stories in the arcticle.

      Neither of those stories had acceptable outcomes. The point of the post is that the sharing of stories has arrived in New Zealand this time, but we haven’t had the success holding people accountable that the US has. Previous cases of sexual assault, abuse, and harassment claims largely fit into the same trend, and we need to fix it.

      • NZFemme 17.2.1

        Our justice system is beyond brutal for sexual assault survivors. And many of us (survivors and spectators alike) in NZ have been watching and hearing the peanut gallery’s messages loud and clear. For years.

        Some of us,myself included, watched warily as this last volcano – the 2017 rendition of #Me Too – erupted across our social media, our news-feeds, and our lunch rooms. And we remained silent. Because it takes an awful amount of energy to engage with another round of Breaking The Silence. And it takes an awful amount of energy to hope. Hope that maybe this time, it won’t just be a “few bad apples” plucked of the tree, but the recognition that the whole tree is infected from the roots up, and needs to be pulled up, surrounding soil dug out, and a new orchard planted.

        I’m 47 years old. I was 15 years old in 1985, when the NZ justice system finally made it illegal to rape your spouse. I was born into a culture – grew up with the knowledge – that if I married, even my own body would not be mine; that I had no say, no autonomy, and no voice. I’m relating this primarily to give temporal context. New Zealand is only 32 years on from that moment in which the law finally agreed that my body was mine. 32 years is a blip – a nothing really, in changing a culture.

        I’m not sure I’m in complete agreement with you on male culture. I would be more inclined to say it is our hetero-normative/hetero-patriarchal culture. And all of us are crushed under the weight of it, though we are implicated and affected in different ways by it. Rebecca Solnit talks about this in her most recent book, “The Mother of All Questions”, and points out that the silencing of women has its counterpoint in the silencing of men – specifically, about the silencing of the inner/psychic spaces of young boys that shames them for wandering outside the prescriptive gender rules of boyhood/manhood. It’s no surprise that pussy and girl are used as taunts against boys/men that won’t conform. And it’s no surprise that if you are taught to hate and expel anything coded feminine in yourself, you are going to devalue those coded feminine in the world. It’s no difficult leap from there to understand why boys and men who are sexually assaulted remain silent in so many cases as well. We’re all shamed and harmed by the cultural and systemic structures that hem us in.

        • Matthew Whitehead 17.2.1.1

          Oh, as a queer man, I agree that it’s about hetero-normativity, too. That’s probably relevant, in fact, to cases where the abuse is same-sex in nature, but I accept that the largest problem is between straight men and straight women as well, so that’s where I focused my attention. I have been trying to be less verbose, so I decided not to delve too deeply into that aspect, but it’s very clear for instance in Spacey’s case, that his father’s violent abuse, his inability to be open with his own same-sex-leaning bisexuality, and other issues were all complicating factors. Had he recieved help for them, he may not have become an abuser of a different flavour himself.

          I don’t begrudge anyone their cynicism on the effectiveness of speaking up, I think it is sadly well-founded.

          Thanks for the well thought-out post.

          • Bill 17.2.1.1.1

            Matthew. What do you think is being referred to by (the hope that) it won’t just be a “few bad apples” plucked of the tree, but the recognition that the whole tree is infected from the roots up, and needs to be pulled up, surrounding soil dug out, and a new orchard planted.?

            Because to me that speaks to ripping up or out all structures of power – ie, not limiting any reaction to a focus on individual people and/or whether they be gay, queer, straight or whatever…or whether gays, straights, queers or whatever are the principle perpetrators of a particular type of abuse.

            • Matthew Whitehead 17.2.1.1.1.1

              I think structures of hierarchical power should definitely be minimized. I’m not sure it’s practical to entirely get rid of them, so I’d possibly accept them if they came a lot closer to be meritocratic than they are now, but I’d much prefer to run most decisions by a consensus-first model. Hence why I’m a Green.

              I certainly think that structures of power based on irrelevant factors, like gender identity, sexuality, race, and so on, absolutely need to go no questions asked. 🙂

              • Bill

                Structural power codifies and can definitely reinforce discriminations that revolve around notions of identity etc. But none are based on those factors.

                If you’re resigned to “structures of hierarchical power” existing in one form or another, then you also have to accept that abuse too, will exist in one form or another.

                • weka

                  depends on what you mean by hierarchical. I think we’ve had this argument before. If I’m having surgery, I want there to be a hierarchy within the operating theatre. Not all hierarchy is bad. Nor all authority or control. What I’d hope is that in the wider context of that surgery (e.g. a health system) there would be much more reliance on power sharing. But in specific instances, the structure that gives more institutional power to one person than another can be useful. For me it’s more about how the people in those are inclined to use that power that is the issue.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    Robot surgeons don’t sample the medicine cabinet; their authority is built on competence and cannot leak out of the operating theatre.

                    Human surgeons, on the other hand…

                    Goes for any field of expertise.

                    …and has me musing that that at least armed drones can’t get elected as war heroes.

                    • weka

                      are you suggesting that we outsource all things hierarchical that can’t be de-heirarchised, to robots?

                    • Matthew Whitehead

                      Sure, but they also can’t squeeze your hand when you’re going under anaesthetic and reassure you, either, so there’s plusses and minuses to having a human surgeon involved. 🙂

                    • weka

                      isn’t that the nurse’s job? 😛

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      @Weka just a thought experiment. A positive outcome of robotics? Who knows?

                    • Incognito

                      Seen this? I think it is too realistic for comfort.

                  • Incognito

                    Structures of hierarchical power mean, to me, artificial imbalance of power. Your example of the operating theatre is quite interesting for a number of reasons. I’m sure you know that hospitals are notorious for power imbalances and bullying cultures, which is a form of abuse. The operating team has got clearly defined tasks & responsibilities so that they perform well as a team. This requires trust. When a member of the team ‘goes down’, so to speak, the whole team should go down with them; this is what shared power & responsibility should mean, not trying to finger point and single out a scapegoat or fall guy. In the Western world, particularly since the Enlightenment, the focus has fallen on the individual. Over time, and certain in more recent times, the community (team) spirit and the idea of shared and collective responsibility have been eroded away. This is not the same in all cultures.

                    What has this got to do with the OP you might ask. In the Western-European culture we have become a collection of separated individuals who are vulnerable and fearful. To counter this we try to gain power, as individuals, over other individuals. Instead of looking at others as our equals, as our brothers & sisters, we look at their differences, their otherness and we use this to gain power over them. We constructed structures and institutionalised these to compensate for our loss of belonging and to counter our fears.

                    I do believe that if we can overcome this much (but not all) of the sexual abuse that is inextricably linked with these human constructs will disappear.

                    I do not believe that burning down everything so that a Phoenix will arise from the ashes (i.e. a “new orchard”) is possible; we can and must evolve from who and where we are here & now to …

                    • Bill

                      We constructed structures and institutionalised these to compensate for our loss of belonging and to counter our fears.

                      No. Those constructs – that institutonalisation of power – that is was what robbed us (and robs us) of our individual and collective sense of power.

                • NZFemme

                  Yes, I would agree with this take Bill. Capitalism (for example) from its inception relied and benefited from the codifying, enforcing, and policing of hetero-normative, hetero-patriarchal and racist ideologies whether the unpaid labour of slavery; via women in the home producing the next generation of wage-slaves; via the introduction of lower-paid women to the workforce resulting in lower production costs and higher profits (with the added bonus of divisiveness between the men and women working for them). And capitalism has always been deeply entwined with the State.

                  • Matthew Whitehead

                    Yeah, there is a very definite interweaving of economic elites, male privilege, hetero/cis-normativity, and all sorts of nasty and irrelevant power heirarchies, and even with necessary and relevant ones like simply having a team manager. It’s a lot of work to unpick them but I think we have to try, because we’re never going to avoid all the heirarchies altogether, but we might successfully flatten them a lot and put in protections in the short-to-medium term to undo a lot of the nasty consequences. (Having a Ministry for Women is supposed to be one of those things, but we don’t really have a political consensus that it should keep doing its job when we have a right-wing government. 🙁 )

                    • Bill

                      The difference between institutionalised power and incidental power is pretty easy to pick Matthew.

                      The surgeon, the glazier or the co-ordinator of, or for, a particular task is empowered (and that’s fine) but when it leaks out (as OAB puts it) from the operating room, then it’s institutional and cultural.

                      And that’s the tree that is infected from the roots up, [that] needs to be pulled up, surrounding soil dug out, and a new orchard planted. (as NZ Femme puts it)

                    • Matthew Whitehead

                      I wasn’t talking about telling the difference, Bill, I was talking about eliminating the parts you don’t want.

                      There is a valid argument that eliminating certain drivers of hierarchy, such as capitalism, will help, but there’s no guarantee that for instance eliminating capitalism won’t still leave sexism, racism, hetero- and cis-normative heirarchies, etc… still in place to a significant degree and simply clear out the economic elitism. We need to address both problems at once IMO, and you can’t “throw out sexism” and start again like you can with capitalism.

                      This is why people who espouse intersectionality of social and economic issues take issue with a purely economic analysis of social problems. Cheers.

                • Incognito

                  @ Bill @ 8 December 2017 at 7:46 pm:

                  Agreed. It has led us further away from what we’re seeking so badly, which is heart-breaking, because it is/was all an illusion.

                  We’ve put our trust in these institutionalised structures and given our power away only to be taken advantage of and to feel less empowered and in control of our lives; it is a Faustian pact, which is so perfectly human and understandable.

                  We are slowly coming to the realisation that it is/was a bad deal and we have lost trust in authority; the patriarchy has forever lost its powerful glow. The result is that we are aimlessly wandering around like lost souls, which in a way we are, while the Earth is burning around us.

                  We do not rely on anything or anybody but our own ‘truth’ and ‘reality’. We fill the emptiness that is burning inside with drugs, entertainment, and consumption to name a few, but these are poor surrogates and only briefly numb the pain or make us forget our fears. We read about how to achieve happiness and listen word-for-word to mindfulness tapes but we fail to get the message. It is no wonder that mental illness is on the rise.

                  That came out a wee bit like a black hole but I don’t actually feel as pessimistic and dark & heavy as it may sound; the darkest hour is just before the dawn 😉

                  • Bill

                    We’ve put our trust in these institutionalised structures and given our power away only to be taken advantage of and to feel less empowered and in control of our lives; it is a Faustian pact, which is so perfectly human and understandable.

                    What?!

                    So no recognition of the brutality and violence that were the principle mechanisms whereby land and wealth was ripped from us and …okay, here’s Tony Benn.

                    “I don’t think people realise how the establishment became established. It simply stole the land and property off the poor, surrounded themselves with weak minded sycophants for protection, gave themselves titles and have been wielding power ever since.”

                    • Incognito

                      My comment wasn’t meant to be a comprehensive historical treatise of status quo but only my personal perspective on one facet. That said, in history the land and wealth was owned or held by the few with military power and made available to be worked on, at a cost (e.g. tax) of course. The people were promised protection in return. After the land & wealth were taken, and rate of urbanisation sped up, the system had to adapt to continue and it did so by institutionalising power structures that ensured our dependence on them. The best way to oppress the people is not by force but by manipulation and persuasion so that we entrust them with our lives (literally) and bow to their authority – parallels with Stockholm syndrome can be drawn*. Fast-forward to modern times where we now have the State/Government and corporates making all kinds of promises of protection and what have you, which are necessary to keep the deception going and to keep the plebs passive & pliant/pliable. I don’t know about you but I can see so-called Faustian pacts everywhere …

                      * http://www.chicagonow.com/wordshed/2012/07/the-working-class-right-sufferers-of-stockholm-syndrome/ [I recommend this, not so much for the details, but for highlighting (the) similarities; performance-based pay & promotions could easily be drawn into this too – there are too many parallels. People have also drawn parallels between Stockholm Syndrome and victims & sufferers of sexual abuse, e.g. http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2017/07/sex-abuse-victims-suffer-stockholm-syndrome-study.html ]

  17. AB 18

    This is good to see – let’s hope it rolls on for a while.
    However it is still redress (of a sort) after the fact. To do anything preventative we need a critique not only of socially-constructed maleness, but of power itself.
    We need to eliminate the social and economic power of one person over another, not only because the sense of entitlement it breeds enables sexual predation, but because it is inherently illegitimate.

  18. Sabine 19

    From Shakespears Sister, this post dates to 2009

    http://www.shakesville.com/2009/10/rape-culture-101.html

    “It is not a definition for which they’re looking; not really. It’s a description. It’s something substantive enough to reach out and touch, in all its ugly, heaving, menacing grotesquery.

    Rape culture is encouraging male sexual aggression. Rape culture is regarding violence as sexy and sexuality as violent. Rape culture is treating rape as a compliment, as the unbridled passion stirred in a healthy man by a beautiful woman, making irresistible the urge to rip open her bodice or slam her against a wall, or a wrought-iron fence, or a car hood, or pull her by her hair, or shove her onto a bed, or any one of a million other images of fight-fucking in movies and television shows and on the covers of romance novels that convey violent urges are inextricably linked with (straight) sexuality.

    Rape culture is treating straight sexuality as the norm. Rape culture is lumping queer sexuality into nonconsensual sexual practices like pedophilia and bestiality. Rape culture is privileging heterosexuality because ubiquitous imagery of two adults of the same-sex engaging in egalitarian partnerships without gender-based dominance and submission undermines (erroneous) biological rationales for the rape culture’s existence.

    Rape culture is rape being used as a weapon, a tool of war and genocide and oppression. Rape culture is rape being used as a corrective to “cure” queer women. Rape culture is a militarized culture and “the natural product of all wars, everywhere, at all times, in all forms.”

    Rape culture is 1 in 33 men being sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. Rape culture is encouraging men to use the language of rape to establish dominance over one another (“I’ll make you my bitch”). Rape culture is making rape a ubiquitous part of male-exclusive bonding. Rape culture is ignoring the cavernous need for men’s prison reform in part because the threat of being raped in prison is considered an acceptable deterrent to committing crime, and the threat only works if actual men are actually being raped.

    Rape culture is 1 in 6 women being sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. Rape culture is not even talking about the reality that many women are sexually assaulted multiple times in their lives. Rape culture is the way in which the constant threat of sexual assault affects women’s daily movements. Rape culture is telling girls and women to be careful about what you wear, how you wear it, how you carry yourself, where you walk, when you walk there, with whom you walk, whom you trust, what you do, where you do it, with whom you do it, what you drink, how much you drink, whether you make eye contact, if you’re alone, if you’re with a stranger, if you’re in a group, if you’re in a group of strangers, if it’s dark, if the area is unfamiliar, if you’re carrying something, how you carry it, what kind of shoes you’re wearing in case you have to run, what kind of purse you carry, what jewelry you wear, what time it is, what street it is, what environment it is, how many people you sleep with, what kind of people you sleep with, who your friends are, to whom you give your number, who’s around when the delivery guy comes, to get an apartment where you can see who’s at the door before they can see you, to check before you open the door to the delivery guy, to own a dog or a dog-sound-making machine, to get a roommate, to take self-defense, to always be alert always pay attention always watch your back always be aware of your surroundings and never let your guard down for a moment lest you be sexually assaulted and if you are and didn’t follow all the rules it’s your fault.

    Rape culture is victim-blaming. Rape culture is a judge blaming a child for her own rape. Rape culture is a minister blaming his child victims. Rape culture is accusing a child of enjoying being held hostage, raped, and tortured. Rape culture is spending enormous amounts of time finding any reason at all that a victim can be blamed for hir own rape.

    Rape culture is judges banning the use of the word rape in the courtroom. Rape culture is the media using euphemisms for sexual assault. Rape culture is stories about rape being featured in the Odd News.

    Rape culture is tasking victims with the burden of rape prevention. Rape culture is encouraging women to take self-defense as though that is the only solution required to preventing rape. Rape culture is admonishing women to “learn common sense” or “be more responsible” or “be aware of barroom risks” or “avoid these places” or “don’t dress this way,” and failing to admonish men to not rape.

    Rape culture is “nothing” being the most frequent answer to a question about what people have been formally taught about rape.

    Rape culture is boys under 10 years old knowing how to rape.

    Rape culture is the idea that only certain people rape—and only certain people get raped. Rape culture is ignoring that the thing about rapists is that they rape people. They rape people who are strong and people who are weak, people who are smart and people who are dumb, people who fight back and people who submit just to get it over with, people who are sluts and people who are prudes, people who rich and people who are poor, people who are tall and people who are short, people who are fat and people who are thin, people who are blind and people who are sighted, people who are deaf and people who can hear, people of every race and shape and size and ability and circumstance.

    Rape culture is the narrative that sex workers can’t be raped. Rape culture is the assertion that wives can’t be raped. Rape culture is the contention that only nice girls can be raped.”

    go read the whole thing as this is the best description ever of this culture that allows some to abuse so many while society stands there and says nothing much can be done cause it was always like this.

    • Sabine 19.1

      sorry not from shakespears sister but from Shakesville.

      • Matthew Whitehead 19.1.1

        Fun trivia: I’m actually a former commenter (ie. I’m in historical comment threads, not a contributor) on Shakeville. 🙂

        I don’t visit it much anymore, partially because I don’t need the 200-level discussions they engage in anymore to inform my feminism, and partially because it’s gone full-out corporate democrat as of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, when I would have expected more of them. 🙂

        • Sabine 19.1.1.1

          considering the current mess with the Armageddon, bring the US back to the 1840 – removal of the right to vote for women and hey was slavery ain’t quaint, i don’t think corporate Hillary would have been worse then corporate Trump.

          I have no use for any such bullshit anymore, especially not from men that will never ever have skin in the game of ‘how to remove the few rights women have to their bodies and the use of these bodies.’.

          This is why we are in this mess in the first place, the one woman who had a shot must have been worse then any man at its place, more corporate, more hawkish, more a liar, more a deceiver more more more then any other bloke.
          go fucking figure, and see where it got the world.

          • Matthew Whitehead 19.1.1.1.1

            Oh, I don’t think she’d be worse, she’d measurably be better. I don’t mind people who said that voters should consider their options and swallow Clinton like a bad taste. What Shakesville was doing, however, was saying she was better than Bernie Sanders, and criticising his quite feminist campaign as sexist, which is a rhetorical hill I’m willing to die on, lol.

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