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Phil Goff’s balls

Written By: - Date published: 2:54 pm, October 29th, 2011 - 208 comments
Categories: uncategorized - Tags:

Guts. Backbone. Chutzpah. Grit. Will. Vision. Courage.

The one thing all of these words have in common is that Phil Goff could quite easily have used them instead of “balls” when he said:

It’s time to make a decision that will build a stronger future for New Zealand. We’ve got the balls to do that. John Key doesn’t.

And I know that Phil knows that, because he’s quoted using at least two of them elsewhere in that story.

Normally you’d cue up a big ol’ Queen of Thorns rant complete with naughty cusswords and all-caps. But seriously? Phil, save us the trouble of firing up a whole two brain cells to figure out your subliminal messaging. We get it. You’re a Man’s Man and you speak like Common People and The Days Of That Nasty Bitch Helen Are Behind Us.

You’ve been listening to Chris Trotter and you wanted to make it very clear, to talkback land and those nasty white-anting progressives at the same time, that you’re A Safe Pair Of Manly Man Hands and Not A Pussy.

You’ve chosen to put yourself firmly, obviously, in the camp (ha) of Damien “gaggle of gays” O’Connor.

Or alternatively you’re a bit shit at figuring out the implications of your own words.

In either case, those of us clinging to a phantom hope of a Labour/Green/Mana-or-Maori coalition actually delivering good outcomes for women, non-whites, queers et al can surely, at this point, take it as read that your party gives not a shit for us if we’re in the way of taking power. (And somehow expects us to vote for you anyway.)

I mean, when Jordan Carter’s pre-emptively parroting the line on Twitter I think we can safely file this crap under “Labour election key message”.

Or I’m just vindictively destroying the Left from within. Again.

Queen of Thorns

For more QoT goodness and a little badness (good badness, that is) head over to her blog: Ideologically Impure

208 comments on “Phil Goff’s balls”

  1. Adders 1

    My neighbour, a widow, said to me the other day that she regularly reminds her ten-year old son that she has more balls than any man.

    It’s simply a turn of phrase in common usage.

    “Nothing too prosaic
    Nothing too archaic
    Here’s your wakeup call”:

    • Dotty 1.1

      Women who describe themselves as ballsy are saying they are like men. That’s the point of using that term.

      Hence the post – Goff is deliberately using a term to that describes strength in terms of gender. He could just have easily used a gender-neutral term, but he is wanting to do 2 things:

      1. Say his leadership is strong leadership, not afraid to make tough decisions
      2. Do it in a way that also distances himself from Nanny State so he can reconnect with Trotter’s “Waitakere Man” – who happens to be sexist.

      i.e. kill two birds with one stone.

      I’m surprised people are finding QoT’s reasoning here problematic. It seems kinda obvious to me. And featuring a couple of female MPs in the opening night video does not make the use of the term “Balls” any less gendered. Or sexist.

      • bbfloyd 1.1.1

        i’m struggling to count just how many assumptions you had to make to come up with this theory… and wondering if you thought no-one would pick up the agenda being pushed….q.o.t’s offering was no more than sexist rant at beast….

        your support of it sounds rehearsed, and an excuse to vent bigotries of your own… sad really…

        • Dotty


          The only thing rehearsed about my comment is that I’m an analytical thinker and a feminist. So it’s “rehearsed” in the sense that I think like this all the time – I’ve been “rehearsing” this kind of comment all my adult life.

          Assumptions? Yeah, I assume that language has meaning. What do you assume it has? No meaning?

          And if we assume Goff chose his words carefully (and that is the biggest assumption here) – what do we assume about the choice of the word “balls” instead of one of the other possible synonyms for courage?

          • QoT

            I totally sympathize with you, Dotty – gods know I’m writing basically the same comments here that I’ve probably done countless times before because the anti-feminist arguments are always the same.

  2. r0b 2

    G’day QoT.  Yeah I wondered if anyone would have a go at the sexual politics of “balls” – but (Like Adders above) I think it’s become a generic turn of phrase (“she’s got the balls”).  Helen Clark had balls of steel!

    And as to “The Days Of That Nasty Bitch Helen Are Behind Us” – yeah, going a bit overboard there. Did you watch Labour’s opening address? 4:10 in?  Featuring Helen Clark, as the champion of a return to Labour values?  Labour is proud of Clark’s legacy, and I’m sure that it always will be.

    • QoT 2.1

      It’s the same argument people use for referring to a mixed-gender group of people as “guys”, r0b. And sure, it’s “just a phrase”, it’s “common”, but do you seriously want to argue that it’s not entirely based on the fact that being “manly” (because all men have testicles, of course) = positive in a way that being “womanly” (because no women have testicles, of course) isn’t?

      Our language is gendered. I object to this. I also object to politicians willingly subscribing to gendered bullshit in order to appease the “mainstream” that they’re not a party run by scary women/a “gaggle of gays”. That’s … pretty much the entire point of the post, really.

      • r0b 2.1.1

        Our language is gendered. I object to this.

        OK, and it’s perfectly valid to do so of course.  But when you get on to “The Days Of That Nasty Bitch Helen Are Behind Us” you blow your credibility.  Because that’s just batshit crazy.

        • IrishBill

          I winced when I heard Goff use the term on morning report. I don’t think it is just a phrase and I suspect that a good chunk of the 60% of labour voters who have no balls won’t think so either.

          I also think that this masculine discourse is deliberately being used by Goff and some of his MPs to distance themselves from the “nanny state” stuff that dogged the last government and from Clark herself. Which is just a polite version of QoT analysis.

          • r0b

            Which is just a polite version of QoT analysis.

            Labour may indeed be going for a slightly “blokier” image (and that may do them good or harm with the electorate, who knows).  

            But they certainly aren’t renouncing the past (as Per Helen Clark proudly in the opening address) and they certainly aren’t signing up to sexism (as per Sepuloni and Ardern in the opening address).  

            So, sense of perspective with the critiques, that’s all I’m suggesting. 

        • QoT

          R0b, I already have very few pretensions to “credibility”. I’m an angry woman with a blog. But I also believe there’s been a pretty clear move by members of Labour, especially O’Connor but also Mallard, to re-bloke-ify (not a word, I know) the party and move away from feminist/social justice/gay rights issues.

          I may have used mild hyperbole and a naughty word to express that. Oh dear.

          • r0b

            I may have used mild hyperbole and a naughty word to express that. Oh dear.

            Said Phil Goff.  And round it goes.

            • QoT

              Oooooh, sick burn. Except that “balls” is hardly hyperbolic and no one’s objecting to it because it’s a cussword.

          • thejackal

            You can’t honestly be arguing that Labour should have toned it down for your female sensibilities and got all PC on us are you QoT? It would seem you’re more guilty than those you accuse.

            Personally I think Labour was just speaking honestly. If you want to blame something, blame the New Zealand vernacular. But once again you cannot expect a political party to conduct itself pretentiously… we get enough of that from National.

            Advocating for MP’s to get media training so they pass your strict regimental idealism of what is acceptable might be OK in plastic land, but in the real world it’s just a waste of money. Most New Zealander’s don’t want it… they want the truth.

            When Damien O’Connor says that the trickle down effect so fabled by the right wing is just the rich pissing all over the poor, he’s right! That’s the truth. Good on Labour for telling it.

            For consistency… would you kindly link to your posts re the bugger advertising?

            • QoT

              Yes. That is exactly what I am saying. I am the God Empress of “Being PC” and will take away all your fun for no reason whatsoever.

              • thejackal

                lol You know QoT, I always thought of you as a guy due to your writing style… no offense intended.

                • QoT

                  It’s a common enough assumption, jackal – all those suspect online “See What Gender Your Writing Is!” “tests” call me as a guy. I think it’s the swearing, mainly.

                  • lprent

                    It is kind of your trademark.. Well not quite – Zet, Irish, and the sprout are known to emphasize using it as well. And I tend to cuss people out whilst moderating.

                    But it is definitely part of your writing signature. So much so, that apon hitting the name at the end of your last post here caused me to reread it because I was convinced that I must have read it too fast and missed content. It was an excellent post and question by the way.

                    Gender assumptions in language are a worthy cause where there is a actual discrimination implied. But I’d say that the real problem is that there is no other good bit ofthe kiwi language that expresses the concept that Goff was throwing out to the craven one to what was expressed in that simple statement. Certainly none of the other ones suggested here come close. It is certainly part of my languaglprentI have heard Phil Goff and Helen use it in the past – so I guess it is theirs as well.

                    But as a stirring suggestion, why not use your evident swearing expertise to find a viable alternative and get it into widespread circulation? Pushing phrases into the language takes a while, but it really is the only way to overcome thousands of years of gender specific expressive language.

                    Anyway, it is Sunday and time to contemplate some code. Otherwise I’ll sit around all day scratching my balls testicles.

                    Ummm doesn’t really have the same impact does it… Scratching my twat? Don’t have one and I am sure that it is insensitive to draw attention to it in view of the sugar fest of all hallows eve.. (do the kids ever get any? Between me an Lyn they aren’t likely to here)

                    Time for a precise language..

  3. KJT 3

    One of the things I liked about Helen Clark is that she “had balls”.

    I think the term is now common usage has gone long past being gender based.

    • QoT 3.1

      So Helen Clark didn’t have grit, chutzpah, vision, will? You couldn’t like her for that? You don’t think saying she “had balls” contributes to an environment where people felt entirely comfortable speculating about her sexuality because she didn’t act like a “real woman”?

      • KJT 3.1.1

        I knew Helen Clark personally and I have enormous respect for her.
        It is a shame her genuine warmth, personality and concern did not translate well on TV.

        And she had all of the above. I just think balls describes it better.

        Key. Does not have balls. Someone with balls would not pretend to be Prime Minister while totally caving in to overseas monetary interests.

        In some ways it was a pity she did not have sufficient time and influence to fully put her principles into practice. Though I suppose that happens with everyone who is dependent the support of others, even Prime Ministers.

        And I think peoples sex lives are irrelevant to their political lives. It is totally their own business.

        • QoT

          But why does “balls” describe it better? Any answer which doesn’t involve the fact that men are considered the norm/”masculine” behaviour is considered superior in terms of politics/leadership/we live in a patriarchal society will, I assure you, stun me.

          • KJT

            I for one, and I suspect a lot of others, did not even think of “balls” in the original gender context. Until you raised it.

            Maybe it did originate in a Patriarchal superior assumption, but I think common usage has gone way past that. Words do evolve.

            And I do not think Helen was masculine. She has her own way of doing things.

            • QoT

              The fact you “didn’t think of it” is part of the problem. See basic Feminism 101 for how unconscious sexism is worse than the blatant stuff because people like you, KJT, who probably don’t consider yourselves Evil Sexist Pigs, will defend it.

              And lots of young folk don’t think calling things they dislike “gay” is a problem. I guess words just “evolve”. And “bitch” isn’t dehumanizing given its origin as a term for female dogs, no one even thinks of that any more! We just, you know, are coincidentally using those words in ways that happen to reinforce the white, straight, male status quo.

              • KJT

                I do not agree with you on this.

                It is not unconscious sexism. If there is any such thing.

                I do not get how you can equate praise for Helen Clark as a “gutsy” “ballsy” leader, who happens to be a women, with unconscious sexism.

                • QoT

                  I sometimes need to remind myself that there are those in this world who, apparently honestly, don’t get basic concepts of social justice. But on this occasion, KJT, you have done my job for me.

                  Who is presumed to have balls?
                  Why is being presumed to have balls equated to being brave, staunch, courageous?
                  Because those are qualities associated with men.

                  Take two seconds to think about why we don’t say “Helen Clark had a lot of vagina”, then consider the implications of terms like “pussy” and “mangina”, and then consider how you defending this kind of thing as “normal” might lead one to a conclusion about the existence of unconscious sexism.

                  • KJT

                    What a load of “bull”.

                    Sorry to associate laying on the crap with a masculine cow.

                    • QoT

                      I can tell you put some real thought into considering my points from an open-minded perspective, KJT. No signs of someone refusing to question the dominant paradigm here!

                  • clandestino

                    Sorry you’re…what is it? ‘Deep in the Forest’.

    • lovinthatchangefeeling 3.2

      Phil-in’s balls? According to Emmerson’s cartoon in today’s Herald, they are in a jam jar on top of the fridge

  4. Tiger Mountain 4

    Any ascribing of positive qualities to human anatomical bits and bobs is going to annoy or disparage the hell out of someone, e.g.“Get up stand up, stand up for your rights”, “See the light”, “grow a pair” are rather obvious as to who they might offend.

    Queen’s suggestion of “Guts. Backbone. Chutzpah. Grit. Will. Vision. Courage.” would do fine as a substitute for balls. But a major workout is not necessary over the next four weeks. Like the Trotskyists pointing out the class collaborationist nature of social democratic parties like Labour Queen is needling, the main enemy is National/ACT that needs defeating at all costs in an electoral manner.

    Phil Goff grabbed the attention of thousands of ears with his words on RNZ this week, his use of the language of the “BBQ pit” has broken the circuit. People are now listening.

    Anyone with half a brain knows that a MMP parliamentary presence is both representative and a platform to do extra parliamentary work. So organise in the community, vote Mana or not at all but save the micro lectures for December.

    • IrishBill 4.1

      That’s what they told the unions in 84.

      • Tiger Mountain 4.1.1

        Those were the days, the Joint Council of Labour. Two certain unions which don’t need further embarrassment here did swallow the line and swung the FOL conference vote. But that was then etc. we now know the real world effect of Roger’s programme. Queen’s points are certainly reasonable in substance, but tactically take an off ramp.

      • QoT 4.1.2

        And that’s what they’ve been telling feminists … forever. It may be a “micro lecture” to you, Tiger Mountain, but the fact is that patriarchy, or ableism, or racism, isn’t just about the big things like “anti-miscegenation” laws or state-sponsored violence against certain groups or permitting marital rape. They are systems which are woven into every single part of our lives, including the language we use.

        Plus, this isn’t just “oh well he accidentally slipped up”. My argument is that this use of language is specific and deliberately targeted at the “Waitakere Man” voter. Like I said in the post. Which makes it much less about “micro-issues” and a lot more about Labour’s specific, deliberate election strategy.

        • KJT

          I always take more notice of what people do.

          I do not think you encourage respect for your position by jumping down the throats of everyone who follows common usage of language.

          I’ve never believed that you can change peoples attitudes by changing the language.

          If you think that, notice how the word “gay” is used now in school playgrounds.

          • Tiger Mountain

            Interesting, on US TV sitcoms people often seem to say “cojones” more often than “balls” which may annoy some hispanic americans. Often scatalogical or genital description words are some of the few learnt by people outside of a culture.

            Language is powerful. Sure take “gay” which has driven me nuts with my teenager’s usage of it as a negative, being a supporter of gay and trans rights. I have a book with fabulous Eric Lee Johnson photos about Opo the dolphin in the Hokianga summer of ’56 where there is a community sign “protect our Gay Dolphin”. Ice Cream brand of the 60s-Gaytime. “Lets all have a gay time..” went the TV ads.

            On todays Stuff website re Maria Tutaia…
            “What makes me want to come back for every tour is definitely the girls,” she said. “We’re definitely a team where we all get on really well with each other. It’s a family environment that we have. It’s funny when we go back home and we’re away from each other – and I know it sounds quite gay – but we really do miss each other.”
            What is the meaning there? Does it matter she is clearly conveying a sense of unity with her team mates.

          • QoT

            A tone argument? So soon? I’m flattered but I didn’t think our relationship was that advanced.

            • Lanthanide

              It seems that no one is allowed to argue with you in any respect, because you’re always right. Or you say they’ve broken rule x, y, z of arguing or whatever.

              • QoT

                You’re welcome to back that up, Lanth. In the meantime I will continue to maintain that the tone argument, i.e. telling someone, usually someone from a marginalized group, that they are “putting people off” or “scaring people away” because they’re “being too mean” or “using bad language”, is a derail which refuses to focus on the arguments.

                It also privileges (yep, attack me for using that word too, if you like) the kinds of discourse dominated by those who have the power, and thus the time and resources and pretentions, to speak “calmly” and “rationally”.

                It also ties in nicely, when used against women, into classic stereotypes about women being “too emotional” or “shrill” to engage in “serious” debate.

                And I can’t help being right so much. It’s a curse. Unless you have some amazing knock-down proof that the use of the word “balls” doesn’t tie into ideas about manliness or Waitakere Man politics and isn’t being pitched to attract a certain kind of voter to Labour etc?

                • Lanthanide

                  I agree with your arguments, but disagree with your tone. How does that fit into your “derailment” idea?

                  • QoT

                    That depends. Are you willing to argue my actual points, or do you (a) only comment on my tone and thus justify refusing to do so or (b) comment on my points with a few jabs at my tone in order to undermine me?

                    Because let’s be upfront here: I don’t give a shit what you think of my tone. I’m a woman raised in Western society who’s had a full fucking share of scoldings about being ladylike and polite and not cussing and how I’m only putting people off by being so aggressive. I doubt you have anything new to say on the subject. But if you want to talk about the actual issue, go right ahead.

                    On the other hand, if my tone is that offputting, then by all means go comment somewhere else and leave me to my bitchiness. It’s fascinating how many people refuse to and continue to insist on lecturing me about why they’re not listening to me … which of course just translates in my head into “ha, clearly touched a nerve there.”

                    • Lanthanide

                      Why would I argue your points when I largely agree with them?

                    • QoT

                      That’s awesome, Lanth. But if my tone is such an issue, feel free to go make the same points elsewhere in whatever style or attitude you prefer. I don’t hold the copyright on them.

                      In the past, a friend and I have both blogged on the same issue – I in my usual style, she in a more diplomatic, meet-me-in-the-middle way. And yes, she got more responses and more engagement from the people involved. Good for her, telling for them.

                      Basically, if I were going to calm down and become a good little varsity-debating-club-style arguer, I think it would’ve happened already.

          • just saying

            I’ve never believed that you can change peoples attitudes by changing the language

            Oh? What do you think in KJT, pictograms?

            Also the very fact of the amount of excitement here about Goff using “balls” pretty much proves her point. What’s so exciting about the word? Surely all the excitement hasn’t been over the use of a swear word?

            Nah, those of you who were delighted, were chuffed because it was yet another (strong) signal that Labour was returning to the ‘one true path’ – dominance of (white, able, straight) men and turning it’s back on “political-correctness-gone-mad-nanny-state”.

            Do you have any other explanation for the use of a swear word causing such exaltation amongst so many on this site?

  5. Tigger 5

    Well, as has been said before balls are weak, they can hardly take a hit, but vaginas, those things take a pounding.

    I’ve got to save I was waiting for this post QoT. But I’m disappointed given its facile nature. I’m most confused about the homophobia you apparently point to. I’ve never experienced it in all my years in Labour. Not from Phil personally, not from Trevor Mallard (another Labour MP accused of bashing) who I worked with in my job when he was a Minister, not from anyone.

    Bottom line, this post is utterly unhelpful because it’s a rant. There no point here, just reactions. It’s the sort of thing I’d expect from Farrar to be honest, which is possibly the biggest criticism of it I can give you.

    By the way, if you’re going to use queer I suggest LGBT (up to you if you want to add an I and Q to it).

    Oh, for the record, gay male and mixed ethnicity here. And I’m proud I have balls. Literally and figuratively.

    • Zorr 5.1

      <3 Tigger

      Also, from personal experience – even if a womans nether regions can take a hit better than a guys, they can't take a punch to the tit. ^_^

      (just throwing in my oar and giving it a mighty swirl for the hell of it)

    • QoT 5.2

      No homophobia? Google “Mallard” and “Tinkerbell”, Tigger. But no, I’m sure that Tinkerbell being a fairy and the target of that jibe being a gay man is just coincidental because it’s just a phrase and language just evolves.

      And I’m sadly unswayed by the idea that using far-less-than-my-usual forceful language makes this a “rant” with “no point”. You might like to review that whole “conclusion”-esque bit at the end, commencing “In either case”.

      Be as proud of your “figurative” balls as much as you like. You’re still using misogynist language. Want a cookie?

  6. rainman 6

    And if ever you wanted to know what is wrong with the Left, look no further.

    • r0b 6.1

      Hey – the Left frets when it thinks its language might be getting exclusive.  The Right frets when it thinks too many damn young mothers are getting a free ride off the taxpayer.  I know which team I’d rather be on…

      • rainman 6.1.1

        You have a point there, r0b.

        I just get tired of us rolling out the knocking machine no matter how good or bad things are. Infighting over Phil’s possibly gender-insensitive terminology,or Labour’s lack of open acknowledgement of peak oil, or whatever issue the haters want to nitpick over, is no way to win an election, particularly given current polling. Now is the time to get in behind the party (pick one, red, green, whatever, as long as it’s left) and push for the only result that matters: a viable left government on 26/11.

        The Nats are unlikely to deliver better policy and support for the “non-Waitakere-man” constituency (being careful with terminology here as it’s a big deal to some) than Labour/Green would. Ditto for Peak Oil/Climate Change issues, or any other issues that really matter. Are any of them perfect on any of these issues? Hell no. But is anything actually gained by this kind of petty nitpicking other than making the left seem divided and fractious? (c.f. the principal criticisms and dismissal of the Occupy movement as “not standing for anything”).

        QoT, methinks, needs to grow some perspective.

    • QoT 6.2

      Oh, rainman. So late on that bandwagon. I’ve had far more Awesome Socialist Heroes decry me as a splitting white-ant before you.

      • rainman 6.2.1

        QoT, I’m sure you’re actually a very lovely person in real life, but you just come across as an angry argumentative, egotistical, bitter and unhappy victim online. Which is sad, because the issues you are passionate about are indeed significant and important, and in need of major attention. Has it occurred to you that your approach may be achieving the very opposite of what you intend, and even harming others along the way?

        I honestly wish you happiness, peace and the fulfillment of your boldest dreams. But try not to fuck up the small hopes of too many other people while you’re at it, won’t ya?

        • just saying

          “Victim”?? Really?

          Could you be more patronising, inaccurate, and ignorant?

          And again proving her point……..

          • rainman

            I have no interest in the silly (my opinion) semantic arguments that are endemic to this set of topics, but I chose the word carefully in that case. This is indeed how QoT appears to me; as someone who is the subject of the actions, attitudes and perceptions of others, which are seen as (and indeed likely are) negative.

            But as I am about to point out below, I am not your enemy,

        • QoT

          Oh, have no fear, rainman. I am angry argumentative, egotistical, bitter and unhappy. It’s a natural consequence of being able to constantly clearly point out the misogyny in our society and consistently getting patted on the head and told to wait my turn until the important straight white men’s issues are out of the way.

          But thanks for somewhat shooting yourself in the foot, by trying to put me in my place by saying the issues I care about are “significant” but I’m just ruining everything with my bitchiness, when in the comment immediately above I apparently “needed to get some perspective”.

          • rainman

            That’s sad. Sounds like a bit of a counter-productive approach to maximising your three score and ten to me… OK, the argumentative is probably actually a good thing, on reflection, but the rest help neither you nor others – take it from me (and I’m not being patronising, just a fellow human offering some advice). There is always a better way than anger and bitterness; I’ve given more of my life than I care to remember to it, and it’s been a poor bargain, truth be told..

            For the record, I have no interest in putting you “in your place” – I would have no idea where that is, for one thing. My comment about the significance of the issues under discussion is just a subjective view – I personally think they’re extremely important and would love to live in an equal society. I’ll bet you view these things as more important than I do though, and they honestly aren’t top of my daily list. But still, I’m not your enemy.

            I don’t think you’re “ruining everything with your bitchiness” but the strategy you’re following seems to be utterly unproductive. I’m more than kinda on your side, but your attitude doesn’t do anything to make me more so, and you waste so much potential in hating and attacking me. “Waitakere Man” is just going to summarily dismiss you in some unpleasant manner, I’m sure. So what’s all the piss and vinegar for, really? Who actually benefits? Not you, not your allies, not your enemies,

            I’d love it if someone found a way to rid us of the misogyny and other prejudice in society. Hell, why stop at gender issues – let’s treat all living things with equal respect. But don’t kid yourself that you’re doing that by railing against everyone but the very converted.

            You do need some perspective, because without it, you won’t be able to step up and do the job that the world needs you to do. Angry issues-ists only achieve bitterness and rejection, whether the issue be misogyny, global injustice, peak oil, climate change… This is not the way to succeed in making lasting change. Lift your game and try a strategy that actually works.

            • QoT

              Slight cluebat, dude: I’m not sure why this isn’t obvious, but I am *so* not writing this for the benefit of Waitakere Man, who is, AFAIC, a figment of Chris Trotter’s imagination.

  7. Dotty 7

    Uppity wimmin with no sense of timing derailing faultless Labour on the Brink of a Brilliant Come Back. Next thing you know they’ll be wanting wimmin’s issues like abortion back on the agenda.

    Feck’n bad sports ruining everything. Why don’t they just STFU and go back to the kitchen and leave the “real issues” to the men to sort out.

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      Oh yeah lets have the Left start internecine arguments about abortion, republicanism, Maori self determination and gay marriage in public, that’ll do us a world of good come Nov 26.

      Fuck off, our people are being crushed, cold, hopeless and dying out there. Get rid of those blue bloods NOW.

  8. Carol 8

    I tend to generally agree with QoT’s main argument here, and I don’t think it’s just in the highlighted Goff (balls) comment. It’s also in the campaign opening vid, but in a softer way. Labour have gone for reconnecting with their traditional base on the socio-economic/income fairness them… and yes embracing Damien O’Connor’s brand on non-PCe I have said on other threads today that I think the video privileges Pakeha history and marginalises cultural diversity.

    But, as I’ve argued before here, it doesn’t have to be either/or: traditional labour values/identity issues. I do think current women MPs get quite a good representation in the campaign video, although, it’s the history of male Labour heroes that is most highlighted.

    Women, LGBT people, Maori, people of colour, non-caucasians, disabled people etc had a long struggle to find space and acceptance within Labour/labour movements, not just in NZ but in other countries too. Then neoliberalism cleverly split identity politics off from the left-wing politics of class, and income/wealth inequalities. They did this because support of diversity issues had become quite popular and also it could be fitted into the individual liberty theme, albeit by shaving off notions of the importance of collective action (See David Harvey and Naomi Klein for a full explanation of how this happened).

    IMO, left wing politics for the 21st century needs to move forward to fully realise the “fairness for all” ideal, by embracing diversity – getting back to where the left was going before the concerted onslaught from rightwing think tanks and other neoliberal cheerleaders. For this reason, this election I’ll be giving 1 tick – Cunliffe and 1 tick – Green Party.

    I’m glad Labour is moving back to it’s traditional class-based ideals, but it also needs some cross-fertilisation with parties like the Greens and Mana to move forward in a new direction fitting the 21st century. And the Greens could do with some input from Labour and Mana, because they need to get more backbone on class and socio-economic inequalities…. and to denounce NAct more explicitly.

    • ak 8.1

      Spot on Carol. Yes, inclusion is the antitithesis and salve of the Left’s eternal archilles heel (infighting, divide and rule) and entirely consistent with its traditional values. And the next logical step after this welcome revival. Perhaps the next ad. And hopefully behind the scenes with gusto before any possible post-election scramble.

  9. i agree with QoT’s analysis. i also think an appalling majority of NZ voters respond to the strategy demonstrated by Labour’s campaign discourse, and they need to be engaged for Labour to win.

    so this discourse does reinforce the inequities Labour professes to abhor. otoh this discourse appears necessary to fight National. not a great palette of options.

    • QoT 9.1

      I cannot deny it’s a shitty situation, sprout. Mr Q did comment as I was writing this, “yeah, but it’s going to connect with a lot of people”. I know I expect more than any NZ politician is going to deliver, I know that no professional politician is really going to fall on their sword for the sake of upholding principle … but I also just wish they’d said “guts”. I don’t think that somehow fewer redneck Waitakere Men would’ve been influenced by slightly-altered language (if they’re going to be influenced by that at all.)

      • the sprout 9.1.1

        agreed. it would have cost nothing to use guts instead of balls, and in doing so half the population needn’t have been excluded by the language.

        • Colonial Viper

          Seriously? Are we really doing this “half the population excluded by the language of anatomy”?

          Where do you think every pair of balls has come from if not directly out of a woman’s body???

          Being a Lefty is so frakin frustrating some days. Mind you, had a good afternoon out with the team campaigning on Labour’s behalf haha 🙂

          • QoT

            “half the population excluded by the language of anatomy”

            Yes, yes they are. And really, arguing “well all the balls came out of a woman’s body”? Come on, CV. Having balls = brave/gutsy because being manly = brave/gutsy. As I have already said in this thread, precisely what connotations does being a pussy or being a mangina have? I mean, that’s [normatively] the part of the body that “balls” came out of … yet, oh look, not such positive ideas.

  10. One Anonymous Bloke 10

    Yes, because as we all know balls are dirty disgusting things and we should be offended by the filthy idea of them ewwww! If the only objection to the use of the word is that it is reminiscent of male anatomy, then I call that misandry. Not only that it is a phrase in common usage among women as well as men, lgbt or not.
    That some people find it offensive is a bad reason to eschew anything, let alone language.

    • QoT 10.1

      Boy, you sure cut through my cunning facade. Yep. I just hate balls.

      • Joanne Perkins 10.1.1

        Apparently you do QOT. Me I’m trans, don’t have any testicles but I guarantee you I have more Balls than your average male. You take thisa crap about gendered language too far. I;m a strong, independant woman and I don’t particularly care who doesn;t agree with me or who wishes I didn’t exist ( there are plenty believe me) butI’m fucked if I care if they use gendered language, FFS I have to live here and if I have to tel the average male that I have more ‘balls’ than they do, that’s what I’ll say. In the end it doesn;t matter a shit, what matters is getting rid of this right wing neo liberal excuse for a government. You want to know about marginilisation? walk a mile in my shoes. Take their words and make them your own

        • rainman

          Best comment of the thread.

        • QoT

          I’m very onboard with marginalized groups reclaiming language, Joanne, and I respect your choices.

          That doesn’t, however, have much to do with the point of my post, to wit: the use of gendered language, which hasn’t been reclaimed or recast by a majority of people, to influence a certain section of voters (guess what: it probably doesn’t include trans people).

  11. Alpacaman 11

    Reading through these comments somewhat pained me. A white male I may be, but at least I attempt to remain aware of my own privilege.

    Labour, as a supposedly left party, have a bigger job to do than just economic policy, they must strive for equality in all aspects of life, not just money. They have already failed to address (and even worked against) equality of LBGTQ people, and Phil Goff here using ‘balls’ as a positive thing, is simply replete with connotations and states of mind that should simply not be here today, and certainly not reinforced by anyone claiming to want equality. To say that I have balls ergo I am better than anybody else is discrimination – even if it is meant as a euphemism for vision. This kind of language only serves to reinforce things that should be actively fought by everybody.

    It may get their point across to more people, but sexism shouldn’t be a matter of compromise.

    And QoT, I know you have one of the thickest hides out there as far as trolls (unintentional or otherwise) are concerned, but please let me say that I appreciate, and will continue to appreciate, your criticisms of the left, and Labour as a subset of it. Self evaluation is a skill politics needs more of.

    • QoT 11.1

      Thanks Alpacaman. Not always as thick as it could be, but we’re in an election season so some degree of shit has to be borne.

    • thejackal 11.2

      Self evaluation? I’ve not kept up to date with what QoT has been writing about lately, since she stopped me from commenting on her blog for apparently writing too many words in disagreement to her attacking Labour and undermining the Greens. That is perhaps what she terms as a troll.

      However I’ve seen no evidence that she’s keeping the left honest or in fact that she’s leftwing at all (you’re welcome to correct me here). From my observation, her regular unfounded attacks on leftwing proponents and fascist administration practices are not particularly akin to fairness, political integrity, environmentalism and social equality… in other words all things that the left hold dare.

      It may be that QoT takes exception to the use of the word balls because there are other words that would seem more appropriate to her… or it might be that she detests the word because it refers to male anatomy. It could be that QoT dislikes the mere thought invoking mention of a word that references male genitalia. If this is the case, QoT is being just as sexist as the misogyny she supposedly rallies against.

      I’m all for feminist rights and equality, but not when it turns into generalized hatred of men and dishonest summations concerning regular terminology. Although I can understand why such a dynamic exist (because many men treat woman like shit), it’s correspondingly just as unacceptable. If we want to create a more equal society, people need to break the cycle of sexism from both sides…

      Lumping everybody into the same boat is a sure way to make it sink.

      It’s not appropriate to misconstrue what Phil Goff meant. He is clearly not sexist and to imply such because of him using the word balls is ethically defunct and slightly crazy. To promote that such a turn of phrase lends itself to entrenched sexism is equally wrong!

      I mean where does the PC madness end? For QoT to propose that we rewrite much of the English language to adhere to her faked delicate sensibilities is preposterous! For her to use such a pretext to try and besmirch what was an outstanding opening address by Labour makes me wonder about her morals and allegiances?

      I presume the use of the descriptive word cock would elicit the same kind of response QoT? Keep in mind that without a few cocks in the world, you wouldn’t exist. How do you like that for a facetious argument?

      • QoT 11.2.1

        Oh, you’re right, jackal. I just hate men.

        You were barred from commenting on a post because after already posting one 300+ word comment which derailed, ignored key issues, and told me I was blogging about the wrong issues, you were advised not to do all those things … and promptly posted another comment saying exactly the same stuff but denying that they were derails or telling me what to blog about.

        I apologise for not giving a fuck to let you turn my blog into your personal approved-conversations-only space.

        • thejackal

          Is that the extent of your argument QoT? Very weak!

          You claimed I was a troll when I was clearly just disagreeing with what you said. Thankfully your superiority complex doesn’t cut the mustard here.

          Perhaps you should let people know that any comments that don’t fit with your meme are not welcome at Ideologically Impure… I’m sure the misanthropists will be drawn there like flies to shit.

  12. Jan 12

    Rainman’s “you just come across as an angry argumentative, egotistical, bitter and unhappy victim online. Which is sad,” I think these words are just a splurge of misogyny. I’ve re-read the post and nothing in the post conjures up the words you use. It is however the kind of comment routinely used by men to shut women up.

    Meaning is conveyed by language. The exact words used set the tone. Citing ‘common usage’ is a complete cop out. Women are excluded when language equating male anatomy with bravery is used. Period. No excuses. Labour is a broad church and contains some unreconstructed blokes. Thankfully it is not constrained by the Nats over-focussed grouped platitudes. However the word appears to have been used with intent. Bloke-ify is I think a perfect word to describe the intent. Labour in the UK is doing something similar with a concept called “Blue Labour” and sadly it’s let a few Neanderthals run riot. Luckily for them they are not a month away from an election.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 12.1

      “Women are excluded…” perhaps, but if so they are equally excluded by other less flattering uses of male anatomical euphemisms. Basically, unless you can say you’ve never described anyone as a “prick” (etc etc) you haven’t got a leg to stand on.
      Men, for example, are “excluded” every time someone “gives birth to a new idea”. It’s a rich language as well as a broad church.

    • rainman 12.2

      Jan, you don’t know me but if you really did you’d find I’m extremely unprejudiced against everyone. (Or arguably, equally prejudiced against everybody, definitely including myself). My observation wan’t based on one post; I generally know QoT’s work here and on II. And as I’ve expressed elsewhere, I have no desire to shut QoT up. I also don’t actually know if QoT is a man, woman, other human, or for that matter a small furry creature from Alpha Centauri. Nor do I care one whit.

      (For that matter, why do you assume I’m a man? I am, at present).

      My point is that if QoT wishes to eradicate gender injustice from the world them jolly good show, but instead of trying to undermine and alienate those most likely to help in the cause, perhaps QoT (god, gender-correctness is tiresome!) could actually pull finger and do the job QoT has chosen for QoT’s life mission. It certainly does need to get done, and this thread is not the way to do that.

      And, OAB – spot on.

  13. I see another problem with Goff using this term. Like a lot of disconnect between what he has been saying and his known persona and body language over the past months it is a term that just doesn’t suit him. It doesn’t fit.

    If he could just be himself I think he would come across a lot better. I say balls to the authenticity of yet another attempt to be what he isn’t. Seems like just more try hard.

  14. randal 14

    how they hanging pete george, you pussy whipped pumpernickel.
    How are yours?

  15. Colonial Viper 15

    The voters I talked to today fraking love Labour standing staunch and hard for its values.

    And yeah, the wording I used there might even have gender based connotations.

    Get over it and lets throw these blue blooded bastards out.

    • Craig Glen Eden 15.1

      Exactly CV its this kind of pedantic bullshit that holds the left back. It does nothing to forward anyones life not one thing its pathetic, it rights no social injustice, gets no one a better education, lifts no child out of poverty, gets not one person out of an abusive relationship ( male or female) gets no one a job. These are the things we need to achieve surely for Pete sake put your energy towards getting rid of the Nats instead of this mindless dribble. So what he said balls big friggen deal get over it.

      • Dotty 15.1.1

        Not sure I get how this is holding the left back. As Carol says, why does it have to be either/or class or identity issues? Why not address both and stop arguing about the hierarchy of these things.

        I’m a feminist *and* a unionist and I don’t want to see National in government again. But that doesn’t mean I have to leave my critical faculties behind and nod and smile everytime a left wing politician opens their mouth.

  16. mike 16

    Can’t believe a post this pointless got so many responses. Ballshit.

    • sophie 16.1

      plus 1

    • QoT 16.2

      It is funny, isn’t it, mike, how my opinions are so worthless and juvenile and bitchy that [largely] men are just queuing up to tell me how little effect I have … as I have commented above, it just shows I’ve touched a nerve.

      • rosy 16.2.1

        Mike says this post is pointless.
        QoT re-writes this as Mike confirming QoT’s opinion is “worthless and juvenile and bitchy”. An interesting interpretation, I think.

        Edit: I do agree Goff could have used a different word and reminding him of that is valid, however I’m not going to have sleepless nights because he didn’t.

      • rainman 16.2.2

        Not really that funny, considering you’re the one throwing in words like juvenile, worthless and bitchy. That’s just sad.

        What is odd though is that your statement above clearly shows you think it unsurprising that men (specifically, by gender, not by any other attribute or quality) would react in a particular way to your rant and subsequent comments. Sorry, but from where I sit you’re looking a lot like just another bigot. And, while I’ll argue and debate with idiots, trolls, crazy people and ideologues (and occasionally even the sane and intelligent), I do draw the line at bigots.

        Have a nice life, hope you sort out your issues.

        • QoT


          It is completely unsurprising to me that a large number of commenters ID’ing as men are making exactly the same comments they have done every single time I have guest-posted about feminist/social justice issues on the Standard.

          Because, you know, it happens every single time.

          Thanks also for confirming a related issue, the “men will happily write off women as emotional or psychologically damaged if they don’t conform” tactic.

          • rainman

            Perhaps you should think about why that is.

            If you were just crazy (hey, who isn’t?), I’d happily debate with you. But you’re nasty and bigoted. Which incidentally, is nothing to do with your gender. None of my criticisms of you have anything to do with your gender, or mine, and it’s entirely sexist for you to assert otherwise.

            Your anger is corroding and corrupting you, and drawing you away from what you could be doing. It is profoundly bad for your being. Anger is a poison, an obstacle to realisation, a basic cause of samsara. Expressing anger doesn’t “get it out of your system”, it feeds it. Anger causes, and is caused by, weakness. Compassion and patience take courage and skill.

            You cannot achieve what you want like this, you can just destroy yourself and others. As I support your broader intentions (not your enemy and all that), this seems to be a spectacular waste of effort. To win this fight you need to be strong, you need to build others. You’re only modelling weakness and division as far as I can see. How’s that help those you want to help? How’s that help you?

            And before we go there, no I’m not writing you off as a “weak woman”. I don’t care one iota about your gender – all of the above is still true whatever you are, or whatever I am.

            “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

  17. Descendant Of Smith 17

    I’m happy to say I thought, and continue to think, the use of the term was outdated, sexist and in, an English language full of alternatives, completely unnecessary.

    It’s somewhat sad that he felt the need to use such a phrase when he could have used a much more useful, non-alienating, neutral piece of language.

    It’s not like he doesn’t have a choice to use something else.

    Language is a powerful tool and sends powerful messages – it’s oft used by the right to debase and dehumanise – the move to “human resources” so staff, employees, people, clerks, … could be treated like other paper-clip type resources always springs to mind.

    The way that some describe people on benefit, sole-parents, those who are less capable, or who have physical deformities or psychiatric illnesses all say to anyone who is not like the speaker – you’re not part of my normality when in fact such variation is normal.

    For women the use of language that continually constructs the male as a positive norm can only be seen to put women in a frame as less than normal or negative whether intended or not.

    He could have done much much better.

    I’ve oft criticised the right for their poor language choices, I’m more than happy to criticise the left as well.

    • Colonial Viper 17.1

      Huge swathes of Kiwi voters don’t give a shit about carefully weighted or politically correct language (within fairly wide bounds). Including the bulk of the under class and working class who USED to vote Labour, but are somehow not quite good enough for some of the ‘more refined’ cliques of the modern Labour Party.

      Many many people in fact don’t give a shit, judging by how much Key and his Ministers get away with. They want to hear a Labour leader talking straight up in simple language.

      If someone wants more subtlety in languaging – download the policy documents.

      • QoT 17.1.1

        Because saying “we’ve got the guts, you don’t” would come across as so much less “simple” and so grotesquely PC …

        • RedLogix

          Sighs…I work with these ‘huge swathes of Kiwi voters’ and yes “balls” is the word they use.

          I get non-stop shit at work because I’m pro-Labour (I daren’t tell them I’m a paid up member of the Green Party as well) and because they know I don’t use the language they use. There is a deep unspoken tension around all this.

          I get told most vehemently that “Goff is a nutless dork”, “even my kids think he’s a dweeb and can’t stand him”. And this from someone who for years was our Union delegate.

          Propaganda works by appealing to our most base, animalistic instincts. It does not appeal to our better nature, although one of the purposes of it is to convince us it does. It pretends to appeal to our reason, when in fact it appeals to our most primitive emotions. There is good reason for this: perception travels through the emotional brain first, to the rational brain last.

          Specifically, propaganda works by appealing to three things: emotionalism, tribalism and narcissism.

          Perception travels first to the emotional brain, then the rational brain. This happens to everyone, including people who con themselves they are the most rational and intelligent of intellectuals. Emotion trumps reason everytime.

          As for tribes, we share with every nearly every animal in the world the instinct to form tribes, arranged in a hierachy, with a leader. We are an intensely social animal. The fact we look to a leader to take care of us is one of the most firmly established principles in psychology.

          People instinctively judge a potential leader on their ability to confront, control and impose their will on others. If they fail that test there is no mercy… that aspiring leader will be despised and dumped at the first opportunity. (This is most likely Goff’s fate, despite the fact that he’d likely make a pretty good PM.)

          Yes this is an intensely patriarchal model, and challenging it, evolving wholly new balance between the gender roles, re-discovering a neo-matriarchal model for the basis of power and responsibility in our world seems to me a massive task barely defined, let alone progressed to any degree. Surely it is the work of generations?

          In the meantime the left have an election to fight in less than four weeks. Sometimes it’s just smart to pick your battles. (I don’t write this with any sense of smugness or satisfaction… I truly wish it was easy to just plunk down firmly with you on this…but it ain’t.)

      • Descendant Of Smith 17.1.2

        Huge swathes of Kiwi voters don’t give a shit about carefully weighted or politically correct language (within fairly wide bounds). Including the bulk of the under class and working class who USED to vote Labour, but are somehow not quite good enough for some of the ‘more refined’ cliques of the modern Labour Party.

        But plenty do and given the usually small number in NZ that ultimately influence the final outcome you seem to be saying they should be ignored for the sake of what you deem to be political correctness – which is just a cop out saying for maintaining the status quo.

        I’ve spent most of my life working with predominantly women from a whole range of backgrounds and more get annoyed with the sort of language that was used than do not.

        I grew up as working class as anyone and have quite clear views on what my mother, and grandmother and great grandmother and aunt’s found acceptable and what they didn’t. That doesn’t mean my father and grandfather and uncles always followed those wishes but they certainly knew when they had crossed those boundaries.

        To conflate criticism of language with suggesting that people who do not conform to those standards are “not good enough” however is a big leap that’s non-sensical.

        There’s also in my view an interesting dynamic between the left’s supposed value placed on education for the masses and their criticism of those who do (often despite the odds) in fact get educated.

        Do somehow the educated no longer become working class? Is education not the way to better the working class but the way to escape it – to not belong there.

        Do you also somehow think that the many of the ideas around equality and sexism didn’t come out of the working class – that they are a construct of the well to do?

        Anyway your post misses the point that Phil Goff could have used simple language without using sexist language.

        • Colonial Viper

          Do somehow the educated no longer become working class? Is education not the way to better the working class but the way to escape it – to not belong there.

          You hit the nail on the head.

          So it seems its the fashion that everyone wants to escape the derisive moniker of being ‘working class’. Including the academics and highly educated within Labour’s ranks, as well as the ‘aspirational’ who vote National even though that is actually a vote against their class interests. Don’t you know the NATs figured out this unconscious meme and proceeded to leverage it very successfully with their ‘aspirational’ bullshit?

          This to me explains why many old working class Labour supporters still feel that they did not leave Labour; Labour left them.

          given the usually small number in NZ that ultimately influence the final outcome you seem to be saying they should be ignored for the sake of what you deem to be political correctness – which is just a cop out saying for maintaining the status quo.

          Lets just remember that as real wages have been falling year after year, as National has been laying off hundreds into a recession, as the rich get richer while workers get shafted (oh my is that another gender inclined term???), and almost 30% of our youth are unemployed…

          Labour can’t fraking put together a pathetic 30% three polls in a row.

          If that doesn’t scream disconnect with the country then I don’t know what does. But after last night, I think a few people in the Labour hierarchy get it.

          • Descendant Of Smith

            I don’t disagree that Labour are disconnected – it for instance seems awfully stupid to me that they highlight in their video that widows benefit was put up by a shilling as a positive when they still haven’t corrected or have any intention of fixing their error in not putting up benefit rates when they put up NZS when they came into power last time.

            What are they trying to say – we still suck at looking after the most vulnerable and disadvantaged.

    • rainman 17.2

      I take exception to your implicit assumption that I am or think I am normal if I say someone has balls other than as an anatomical observation.

      Also, “balls” as a term has ambiguous connotations. “Ballsy” is like “shrewd” – can be positive or negative.

  18. Afewknowthetruth 18

    ‘It’s time to make a decision that will build a stronger future for New Zealand. We’ve got the balls to do that’

    Phil Goff is always good for a laugh, if nothing else.

    He’s spent the past two decades running from the truth and now tells us he’s ready to face it.

    Get real!

  19. locus 19

    “Our language is gendered”

    Regardless of how much our language is gendered, it’s an incredibly rich language and pretty easy to find different words to convey a message effectively. If it’s simple to pick words that offend or words that don’t offend, then why pick words that are offensive to some people unless you don’t care about offending them?

    On the subject of whether a gendered language perpetuates gender bias: English is not nearly as gendered as French, Spanish, German and probably others. I’d find it interesting to know whether there’s cross-language research comparing gendered languages and their effects on male and female attitudes and societal norms?

    • QoT 19.1

      Grammatical gender is a funny thing, locus. I studied German at uni and always wondered what effect there might be on societal-gender attitudes given that “Maedchen” or “girl” is neutral, not feminine – so the correct pronoun is “es”, or “[neutral] it”.

      On the other hand, that could just be my English-native attitudes coming through and maybe German-native speakers don’t apply the same genderless connotation to “es”.

  20. Cin77 20

    In all honesty, I just don’t think its that big of a deal. I’ve pretty much grown up with the phrase “got balls” and even though I’ve never had any of my own, its never really bothered me. I call my best mate a ballsy bitch all the time and she’s never complained so I guess it doesn’t bother her either. Each to their own I suppose *shrug*

  21. coolas 21

    Isn’t – ‘You haven’t got the balls’ a challenge to Key. Implicitly saying you’re a coward, gutless, a wimp. Yeah, it’s very rutting male, pissing out the territory, but it’s crafted to rattle Key by pricking at his weaknesses; winding him up. And under pressure Key could go weird. We’ve seen it in the House and with the IRB squirm.

    Goff’s fighting for his political life. He’s like France against the AB’s. With nothing to loose you pull out every stop. He has to take the fight to Key.

    Unlikely Labour will beat National, but a coalition with Greens/Maori/Mana might have more seats, and I reckon Phil Goff would be a sound coalition PM.

    He might even have the balls to run open cabinet with coalition ministers given significant portfolios and a seat at the table.

    ‘Balls’ is gender neutral in this context. Women can have them, and women can also be ‘pricks’ and ‘dicks.’

    And I’m sure by the end of the campaign John Key will come across as a real ‘cunt.’

    • Colonial Viper 21.1

      Thank you for this common sense.

    • QoT 21.2

      coolas, seriously. I’ve been having this conversation all night.

      “‘Balls’ is gender neutral in this context. Women can have them, and women can also be ‘pricks’ and ‘dicks.’”

      No, it’s not. Why does “having balls” imply being courageous? Who is normally assumed to physically have balls?

      If you and CV and others are honestly sitting there going “but of course it’s neutral to ascribe masculine concepts to people we admire, and feminine concepts (because, as I’m really over pointing out, you could easily add “pussy” to that list of synonyms for “coward”) to people we don’t” … well, then I’m sorry but I so do not have the spoons for breaking down the massive cognitive dissonance you’re all suffering.

      • coolas 21.2.1

        I see your point about ‘balls’ QofT, and you’re right, I’m so used to using words like balls, and cunt, dick, pussy, arsehole, that I’m unaware of the dissonance between real meaning and slang use, and the conflict of thinking I’m not sexist, but using sexist slang, is way over my head.

  22. randal 22

    Hitler he only had one ball.
    goebbels had two but they were small.
    himmler had something similar.
    but poor old john key had no balls at all.

  23. fender 23

    As Phil was talking about Key it was more than appropriate to use “balls” to describe the body-part our PM lacks. I saw him in a clip holding a staple gun and he needed to be shown where to put the staple in to secure his pussy face billboard. We saw his true desires when he played model on the catwalk. I would say his wife gets a man in for any little task he can’t perform. He don’t have the balls, the labia or the clit for anything but watching his interest compound.

  24. Bill 24

    Just a wee observation.

    Read the comments so far and well, apart from ‘Sophie’ (who I suspect to be male given the non-comment +1 nature of the comment), it is only males commenting who are defending the terminology and bleating that it has no connotations.

    Maybe. Just maybe, that alone is saying something and saying it quite loudly?

    edit. Cin77’s comment came up and should be added. So one woman making an actual comment in defence.

    • McFlock 24.1


    • locus 24.2

      A supposition about the gender of writers based on their pen names or their views is just that. I reckon that many females might support the use of the word ‘balls’ in the context used by Phil and that a good number of those might be loathe to engage in a debate involving QoT

      • Bill 24.2.1

        Can’t see why women would be any more loathe to engage in debate with QoT than men. Are you suggesting women don’t have ‘the balls’ to debate QoT? Rather ironic claim or assertion given the supposed non-gender slant of the phrase, no? I mean, the flip side of that suggestion is that only men have the balls to debate with QoT. Which only serves to underscore QoT’s point.

        • rosy

          It doesn’t serve to underscore QoT’s point at all. Women don’t have a vested interest in supporting QoTs argument if they’re not that bothered with the use of language in this instance, whereas men do, if they’re not bothered by the use of ‘balls’ (the reverse is true for those who are bothered by the use of language). Sometimes the scorn that might be thrown is not worth the aggro of engaging in the debate.

          The only ‘balls’ in this, for me, is playing the woman, not the ball to score the point.

          • Bill

            That men claim in all manner of ways to be superior, including using gendered language that reinforces sexism?

            Locus didn’t say that women ‘lacked the balls’ to engage with QoT. But if the terminology is thrown in (yes, unfairly but on the basis that it’s supposedly gender neutral), then it seems to me it illuminates the baggage of the phrase.

            Or then again, maybe I was trying to be overly smart and merely succeeded in digging a hole for myself…

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              Are you aware that women also “claim in all manner of ways to be superior”? Are any of these claims valid? Possibly. As a ‘mere male’, however, it is my observation that the relative strengths associated with masculinity and femininity are complementary. Gender conflict is often a mask for prejudice.
              The association between testicles and fortitude is flattering to men? Big deal. Does it say anything about women? Not really, since their fortitude necessarily comes from other sources.
              edit: PS: the point of the metaphor isn’t so much the presence of balls as the consequences of their removal.
              PPS. This discussion is ridiculous 🙂

        • locus

          I was questioning your view that “it is only males commenting who are defending the terminology”

          It was you who interpreted my comment as suggesting a flipside “that only men have the balls to debate with QoT”

          I like T’s analysis…. and btw, a lot of the time i don’t have the guts to debate with QoT

          • Bill

            At the time and taking into account that I’ve read numerous comments by most commentators here…enough in most cases to discern their gender even where their ‘name’ isn’t obviously either male or female…and by making a ‘reasoned guess’ on those others that didn’t offer a ‘give away’ in their comment, it looked on that basis, to be the case.

            Took me a while to understand Rosy’s comment though ’cause I couldn’t figure who she was referring to. So there you go. Not full proof.

            • rosy

              It was a bit of a generic comment, I agree. I was going to make it pointed (interestingly, not directly at you Bill), but decided there were a few assumptions and generalisations going on so decided to be less specific. I appreciate you seeing some value in it – I’ll take that as a sign of good character, if I may.

              I guess I think people staying silent on a matter can only be interpreted as staying silent – not support, antipathy, disengagement, disenfranchisement, or anything other than the views held are being kept to themselves.

              I get this a lot in social research where people read meanings into why certain groups don’t engage in the research process and the conclusions to this question often revolve around stereotypes and prejudices.

              • Bill

                Yeah, okay. Silence can be any number of reasons. I get that.

                But I was making a somewhat casual observation about the comments made; the noise. And more specifically, speculating ( from perusing the comments and making some ‘best guesses’) on the apparent common source of the howls that were defending and dismissing as ‘no big deal’, Phil tapping into socially widespread sexist attitudes and (sadly) getting political points for doing so. And the acceptance and in some cases, the follow up that it simply wasn’t sexist anyway, was coming from men only at the time I made the comment.

                It was locus who speculated on the reason for womens silence in that vien of argument, suggesting that some women might support Phils tactic of garnering support, but wouldn’t comment to that effect here, because they were in some way scared or intimidated by QoT.

                Anyway. At the end of the day, I thought was making nothing more than a quirky observation that some people might read and quietly agree with while others wouldn’t. But that all and sundry would, at the end of the day, not treat it as something worth commenting on.

                But I guess when emotions are running high, (for whatever reason and far be it for me to speculate on any underlying factors ;-)) a fair bit of flailing and lashing goes on.

    • rainman 24.3

      To what causal factor do you attribute this correlation?

      • Bill 24.3.1

        What correlation are you referring to rainman? Did I not say ‘maybe’ twice, which would indicate a mere suggestion, no?

        But I’m interested in the correlation. Pray tell!

        • rainman

          “it is only males commenting who are defending the terminology and bleating that it has no connotations”

          Why do you think this is? What is it “maybe” saying loudly to you?

          • Bill

            At the time of writing, I’d looked through the comments. Only the comments made by men were defending the use of the terminology. No comments (at that time) by women were.

            And I see a similarity between the pattern and content of some responses on this post and another where claims of racism were being made and denied. A bit of the ‘protesteth too much’ thing going on.

            • rainman

              That’s mostly restating the observation, not the suspected cause – apart from the “protesteth too much” part. Are you accusing a bunch of people you don’t know of dishonesty?

              • Bill

                no. Like the debate on racism, where some of those who protested that racism was no big deal were peddling arguments that were in and of themselves racist or excusing it. I wouldn’t call that dishonesty. More a lack of perception.

                • rainman

                  There’s a key difference here – those that are saying it’s no big deal are being automatically categorised as wrong and therefore sexist (or some permutation of same), whereas the protagonists for the original point seem to be the ones skirting sexism. Or in the case of QoT, leaping right over into outright bigotry – over at II blog I’ve been written off as a “mansplaining douchebag”, which would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

                  The problem with zealots is they way they repress debate and advancement (thereby acting against the goals they espouse) while they lash out at their friends and those that could be persuaded by a bit of gentler treatment. Gender, like race and all other areas of discrimination, is an important issue and needs grown-up debate, not puerile vitriol the like of which QoT spews. With friends like that, who needs enemies?

                  • Adele

                    Rather than being a zealot I see QoT as a passionate defender of her point of view. I also provoke the ire of QoT on occasions but that doesn’t prevent me from supporting her stance – as largely, she is right.

                    Obviously there are things that we don’t agree upon and will argue about passionately but generally QoT gets a great deal of respect from me.

                  • QoT

                    The problem with zealots is they way they repress debate and advancement

                    This is fucking hilarious, rainman, given you’re commenting on a guest post at The Standard, a blog where I have *no* editorial or moderating control, where *none* of your increasingly repetitive “arguments” have been censored … looks like plenty of debate (but sadly little advancement because Gods forbid anyone take a good hard look at their internalized prejudices) to me!

                    • rainman

                      Perhaps you missed my point. Oh well.

                      And I’m quite happy with my internalised prejudices, or lack thereof, thanks. What’s more I even examine them regularly to ensure they’re in good shape.

                  • just saying

                    ..those that could be persuaded by a bit of gentler treatment.

                    One thing I’ve learned over and over – when it comes to changing ‘hearts and minds’ in regard to any kind of discrimination – “gentler treatment” by itself achieves nothing. It only works in conjunction with direct challenges and protests. Because when we are soothing the sensibilities of those who have angered us to make our case we are also saying “but it’s alright….” I usually use “gentler means” in real life, and I’m grateful to those that take up the direct challenges.

                    In this case I would have cringed a little and then forgotten about it, if Goff had used “balls” genuinely, in the heat of the moment. But this was scripted, and designed to give a clear but tacit message imo. And that message insults me.

                    I also think it underestimates working class men too, but that’s another story.

                    • rainman

                      js, there are many ways to influence others. Being a pussy(-cat) may not be the best choice in most cases but bigotry, anger, bitterness and vitriol never works. Life is not so absolute as to be the case that if you’re not beating your opponents’ heads in with sticks, you’re tacitly supporting them.

                    • just saying

                      replying to rainman below (because I can’t get in there.)

                      I was talking about “gentler means” which involve appeasing another’s outrage at my pointing out that something they have done makes me angry. It’s like saying your right to offend me without challenge trumps my right to protest the offence.
                      Coming straight out and saying “that pisses me off” and saying why is generally taken as provocative and challenging. A la this whole thread.

                  • Bill

                    rainman. It was sexist shit. And if you think sexist shit is ‘no big deal’ then you are wrong. Sexism is a big deal. A very big deal.

                    Economic oppression, gender oppression and race oppression are the three structural ‘biggies’ in our society. And the oppresive dynamics in any one of these areas informs, confirms, reinforces and excuses the oppresive dynamics of the other two.

                    And if only one or two of these areas were tackled, the oppression in the remaining ‘sphere’ would infect the ‘resolved’ area(s) and forms of oppression, informed and ‘normalised’ by those remaining, would take root all over again.

                    Can we move to a non-oppressive economy if sexism and racism remain? No.
                    Can we be rid of sexism if economic oppression and racism persist? No.
                    Can racism be eliminated if sexism and economic oppression continue? No.

                    They are interwoven. And, yes, there are other forms of oppression too. Which leaves us the choice of recognising and tackling oppression in all its forms or being stuck in an endless cycle whereby it’s being constantly reconfigured and reasserted in our social relations (economic, gender, race etc)

                    • rainman

                      Bill, where have I ever said sexism is no big deal? And yes, I know the holy litany of discriminatory causes by heart, thanks – I’ve spent large parts of my life fighting particular forms of the same.

                      My primary objection has been to the discrimination and bigotry displayed by the defenders of the faith in this thread. I’ve repeatedly affirmed the validity and necessity of getting away from all forms of discrimination, race, gender, nationality, class, whatever. And yet if I raise any comments that are even faintly critical I’m a “mansplaining douchebag”.

                      This “for us or agin’ us” rhetoric that tags everyone who isn’t a carbon copy of QoT as the enemy is just stupid and counterproductive. And the bigotry underpinning it is just nasty.

                      Anyway, this whole thread is going nowhere. The zealots will continue their zealotry, the already-converted-but-recently-chastised (yet again) will continue to be confused, and the unreformed will remain so.

                      I’m going out into the sunshine, my garden awaits.

                    • Bill

                      The use of the word ‘if’ in my comment to you is a bit of a pointer, don’t you think?

                      you had written ….”those that are saying its no big deal are being automatically categorised as wrong and therfor sexist…”

                      And I wrote…”If you think sexism is no big deal….”

                      In context, the ‘you’ is as much general as personal. It would be personal if

    • Colonial Viper 24.4

      it is only males commenting who are defending the terminology and bleating that it has no connotations.

      Well I defended the terminology, but I sure didn’t say that there were no gender based connotations.

      In fact, its the connotations which absolutely matter. Further I will add that it is the neutering and overcomplication of language which has helped make Labour seem so fraking distant, soft (word with gender implication) and gutless (word without gender implication) all too often.

      Lets get these blue blooded bastards out.

      • Bill 24.4.1

        For fuck sake CV!

        If a phrase has gender connotations and those connotations matter if a particular impression is to be created, then you are agreeing with QoT…. but dismissing sexism as irrelevent. Way to go!

        If class divisions are done away with, but sexism or racism are left in place then the superior/inferior dynamics inherent to both will eventually recreate some form of class division. They are all subtly and inexorably linked and reinforce one another.

        People can build themselves up and cut others down without bolstering either racist or sexist attitudes in the process. It’s not about being ‘nice’ or polite or PC. It’s a fucking necessity.

        • Colonial Viper

          People can build themselves up and cut others down without bolstering either racist or sexist attitudes in the process. It’s not about being ‘nice’ or polite or PC. It’s a fucking necessity.

          Of course people can converse and argue without embodying racist or sexist terminology.

          But some of the Labour supporters I have been talking to today don’t. They know very well how to give each another shit (and yes sometimes of a gender or race relevant kind) in order to make a telling point, and they will do this as a matter of routine.

          And they appreciate people who can do the same. Even if the Lambton Quay and Molesworth St set doesn’t.

          Different horses for different courses.

          • Bill

            yup. I’m aware of all that shit. But ‘horses for courses’ reinforces and excuses something that, for reasons alluded to above, shouldn’t be reinforced or excused.

            • Colonial Viper

              For all the shit we give John Key and his mumbling and his corny crappy un-PM-like one liners, the public can connect with his style of communication better than they can connect with Labour’s anodyne tight sweatered PC languaging.

              Now you might think thats right or wrong, or not worthy of being reinforced and not worthy of being condoned or whatever, but you give the electorate even the slightest sense that you think that your own morals or choice of English is superior to theirs and they will reward you accordingly at the polls.

              • Bill

                It’s not about being ‘morally superior’ or sickenly PC. It’s about recognising the fact that to cynically tap into any form of oppression is to subtly excuse and perpetuate all forms of oppression.

    • thejackal 24.5

      The context of your observation Bill is a symptom of blogging in general… there simply aren’t many females. Perhaps you would like to elaborate on what exactly you think this is saying?

      “It is only males that are bleating,” really? I feel no shame in being a straight male and will not curb my participation just because females are underrepresented. I would determine that this is mainly of their own choosing.

      The dynamic is the same within the political spectrum and makes me wonder why some commentators have pointed out that Labours opening address did not have much female representation. In terms of percentages within the party it was probably about right. I’m not saying that I like the under-representation, but we cannot expect Labour to disproportionately focus on their female MP’s.

      Now contrast the Labour opening address with National’s… one white guy talking crap, literally. At least their advert represented what their party is all about I suppose.

      The connotations of the words used by Phil Goff are not as relevant as his right to use them. I think this is perhaps more consequential than the male female debate whereby some have feigned offense at the forgettable sentence. There’s always the BSA (joke).

      QoT didn’t like the word “balls” and I agree that there are other descriptive turns of phrase that would have worked just as well. It would appear that your generalization that all males are defending the terminology is therefore incorrect.

      Concocting a number of obviously incorrect assumptions surrounding a triviality is rather amusing.

      • Bill 24.5.1

        I didn’t say that all male commentators were defending the terminology. I said only male commentators were.

        And I know far fewer women make comments than men. But still, none of them had defended the terminology (until Cin77’s comment came up).

        And I said that maybe this said something. Sure. I was shit stirring. But not entirely just for the hell of it.

  25. T 25

    I don’t use the word myself, simply because it still feels too gendered. But I do appreciate the word. I can’t think of a suitable alternative (I don’t have a particularly comprehensive vocabulary).. I don’t know chutzpah, but the other words QoT listed don’t to me convey the same character that balls does.

    [The following are my own personal perceptions of words and I don’t mean to imply that they are or should be universal]

    Grit to me is a word pertaining to determination, much like ‘steel’. Will, is also about determination, but is weak on the courage connotations. Backbone to me has connotations of dignity in courage. Vision has no courage connotations at all (is it ableist language — I personally don’t consider it to be) but sadly to me now has corporate connotations. Courage is the base word– It’s the word that conveys the point without colour and texture. What balls brings to courage is arrogance. An audacity. My vocabulary fails me in suggesting an alternative single word for courage which smuggles this meaning within. Guts comes the closest.

    But it still remains a gendered term to me. Because while women can have balls, men ought to. In reality hardly anyone does- it requires a particular personality, which is I can’t assume to be even the slightest bit gendered, to be ballsy. But nevertheless I am concious of an expectation for men to ballsy in a way that women aren’t. The expectation might often be cloaked in levity, but it’s present enough for me to feel uncomfortable using the word.

    If Phil Goff naturally uses such language, I might consider him as a person wrong to use the word, but right as a politician to do so. If however it was a contrived use of the word, then I would consider it ethically wrong of him as a politician and a person. Tactically, I do appreciate it though. I mentioned that Guts comes the closest to conveying the character of the word balls. The trouble with it is that it isn’t particularly jarring to the mind. If you want to make an audience receptive to what you have to say, I find it’s good to hit them with something that is slightly, to their mind, out of place. This to me is the value of balls in Phil Goff’s answer. I personally prefer a single well-timed ‘fuck’ in an otherwise polite if strong point, but that might be too much for Goff’s intended audience.

    • Carol 25.1

      Actually, T. You just made me think. I hadn’t thought much about it before, but describing someone as having “balls” is just not something I do. Generally I hear others say it (largely on TV/films), but kind of let it fly because it’s used often enough.

      But it also occurs to me that applying the word to a woman is a fairly recent thing. As far as I can recall it came to prominence, first in the US, around the same time as neoliberalism began to bite – some time in the 80s to 90s. I associate it with women being granted honorary power status within a highly competitive and brutal masculine world, with Thatcherism, and the rise of Madonna.

    • QoT 25.2

      “Chutzpah” is Yiddish – I actually had to check that it wasn’t derived from an equivalent for “balls” but I guess I like to think about my language choices like that.

      It basically translates to “being the kind of person who murders their parents then throws themselves on the mercy of the court because they’re an orphan”. (Stole that one from an online dictionary)

      Very US-centric, of course, probably wouldn’t work for the audience Goff was targeting, but incredibly close in meaning from my perspective.

      • rosy 25.2.1

        lol not a word to point at the orphaned son of a Jewish widow like Key then…

      • lprent 25.2.2

        Completely the wrong meaning though.

        Isn’t that what Key is already doing? He is screwing the economy and saying it is all the fault of the GFC that he helped build as a merchant banker?

        And what Goff was saying that he should not do? That he should front up with actual policies for the future rather than his current craven vagueness.

        Perhaps your understanding of the phrase needs some work?

  26. Adele 26

    Te Reo Māori is a non-gendered language. Mana describes everything worthy of a leader.

    • QoT 26.1

      “Mana” would have been a very interesting usage, but unfortunately sends the wrong, “we’re willing to acknowledge Maaori have it a bit shit and have been largely screwed over by Pakeha” signals for the Waitakere Man crowd.

  27. “those of us clinging to a phantom hope of a Labour/Green/Mana-or-Maori coalition actually delivering good outcomes for women, non-whites, queers et al can surely, at this point, take it as read that your party gives not a shit for us if we’re in the way of taking power.”

    On the money QoT except for the phantom hope – that went a while ago. It is a sad state of affairs that goff thinks it’s okay to go that low to connect. I shudder to think what is comning next now that the beast within has been unleashed

  28. clandestino 28

    Fuck yeah, maybe the beginnings of Goff shafting JK with a drive by teabagging. The cojones are strong in this one.

    [lprent: close to pointless. Only relevant because it vaguely relates to the topic. ]

  29. [deleted]

    [lprent:pointless ]

    • pollywog 29.1

      Bullshit Lprent…It was entirely on point. Its not my fault you couldn’t see it.

      • lprent 29.1.1

        Only if you want to have a flame war. Authors can do that in their posts, and I will tolerate commentators raising controversy in open mike (which is why people appear to be getting up earlier and earlier to get first comment in open mike).

        But on a comment in a post if you’ll have to state your point rather than leaving up to people’s imaginations. The troll tactic is to be in a position to disown it because it was just a joke rather than standing by your words and raging for them.

        Show some [unspecified]

        • pollywog

          I’ll stand by my opinion that John Key is a fucking greedy cunt or would you rather i say a fucking selfish prick ?

          The point is, are either of those terms sexist enough to warrant a flame war or are they just everyday blokey language Key, being your everyday bloke himself, might use ?…In much the same way as Goff is appealing to the everyman with his use of the term ‘balls’.

  30. BLiP 30

    ♪ ♫ . . . Brownlee’s got one big ball
    Joyce’s got two, but they are small
    Blinglish’s seemed to diminish
    And John Key’s got no balls at all . . . ♪ ♫

  31. vto 31

    Your post says more about your own seemingly self-limited lifescape views than anything else QoT.

  32. vto 32

    What a pathetic bunch of dribble many of the comments are above. Goff uses the word “balls” and suddenly people think that means that he is going to ditch a whole bunch of groups of people. Really? That sort of thought process springs from the mind of a paranoid stoner.

    This really is one of the post pathetic useless weak brainless posts I have ever read at the Standard.

  33. vto 33

    Don’t you realise QoT that “not having the balls” is in fact a perfect description. Have you ever seen what happens when a male animal has its balls chopped off? It loses its aggression, size, strength and ability to procreate. It is nothing to do with an exclusively male political gendered language thing, it is a description of a phenomenon that has been occuring in the natural world forever and which translates well to our world when people show characteristics the same as a male animal with its balls chopped off.

    As you say above, you are an angry woman with a blog, nothing more. And I have just wasted enough of a blue sky Sunday morning on this already. Out.

    • vto 33.1

      And back in. Btw QoT, if you are so opposed to gendered language (which is just plain nuts imo. oh, oops I used the word “nuts”) then why do you describe yourself as “an angry woman”?

      • just saying 33.1.1

        Wow. Out to the sunny day and back inside again with yet another retort presented to the thread in 3 minutes.
        I think we can assume that vto’s cage has been well and truly rattled

        Big ups to QoT for fighting the good fight, meeting the resulting hostility (and sometimes rage) head on, and being utterly, relentlessly, brilliant.

        These matters will never just “go away”.

  34. One Anonymous Bloke 34

    Labour rainbow policy. Labour women’s policy. The Labour Party has a funny way of abandoning people.

  35. Adele 35

    One Anonymous Bloke

    Those Labour policies, while heavy on feel good (scrotum-less) rhetoric, are light on substance (juice).

    Matters that confront the GLBTQI include the right to marry rather than enter into a civil union. Why is one type of commitment only available to one section of society.

    Another issue is having gender reassignment surgery available through the NZ public health service rather than through Thailand. Also to not make as a pre-condition, a diagnosis under DSM IV (gender dysphoria) to access health services for the transgendered community. Generally, fund hauora / social services for the GLBTQI community to cater for their specific needs.

    In terms of the Women’s Policy, Mana wāhine would like the foreshore and seabed returned to its rightful place and also that Te Tiriti o Waitangi be recognised in legislation. Anything less, Labour is shooting blanks.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 35.1

      I think your use of an impotence metaphor discriminates against the impotent, but I’ll risk it to point out a better analogy. It’s NAct that are “shooting blanks” in this regard; Labour just have a reduced sperm count.

      Oh, and while we’re about it – the use of the word “Labour” is clearly associated with child-bearing and therefore excludes men.

      • Carol 35.1.1

        Actually, the word Labour/or was intiallly referring to work and task (mostly strongly associated with men in the 13/14th century., and after that was applied to childbirth.


        • One Anonymous Bloke

          Since when did the origin of a word have precedence over its modern usage when considering such matters?

          • Carol

            origins of words often remain in connotations of words. In modern usage, “labour” is predominantly associated with manal work, especially paid manual wok. The labour of child birth is a specifc usage that is more secondary.

    • Calliope Redmond 35.2

      “Another issue is having gender reassignment surgery available through the NZ public health service rather than through Thailand.”

      Actually there is surgery available in NZ – sub-par and the surgery alone is more expensive than an entire trip to a top Thai surgeon. Most people want to go there, and not to the local surgeon who admits his technique is only suitable for salvaging severely damaged existing surgical results form other techniques (oh, and it’s rare anyone needs salvage surgery).

      The people in charge know – they’ve been told by transsexual people, their doctors, and the human right commission – that it’s poor, and they keep insisting it’s not. Why? Because the potential side effects of using a piece of colon to create the vagina are so bad most people would never consider it.

      The equivalent would be to offer people a peg leg instead of a proper modern prosthetic in the hope the person missing a limb would turn down anything.

      • Colonial Viper 35.2.1

        Yeah and when the Thai surgery fails or a serious infection sets in weeks down the track, who carries the can to fix up the problem?

        Oh yeah, the NZ public health system and NZ tax payers.

  36. One Anonymous Bloke 36

    “More secondary”? Citation please. I hear people talk about their job or their work or their mahi, but their ‘labour’? Not so much. However, I hear people talk about ‘going into labour’ on a regular basis (and I don’t work in a hospital).
    In any case, the point I’m making is that if you look for offense in language you will find it everywhere. Phil Goff implies that John Key has been castrated and that’s an insult to women? Have a Tui.

  37. Jenny 37

    Dear Thorns,

    Aroha nui. I loved your post.

    I have never so much much macho talk about Balls and Guts and Spine and other body parts since the days of the Backbone Club.

    • Colonial Viper 37.1

      You don’t get out to the rural locals around your town much, do you.

      • Jenny 37.1.1

        Right again CV.
        I don’t get around the local pubs.
        The implication of your comment is that you do, and further that you are hearing lots of talk about Labour in conjunction with body parts.

  38. randal 38

    who goes to pubs? only alchoholics and tweenies looking for sex.
    if you wanta fight then go to a bar and start talking politics.

  39. Meg 39

    I’m a woman. I agree with QoT’s comments. I said as much to my partner when I read the media coverage. Just didn’t bother commenting previously as knew the kind of crap that would be spouted and couldn’t be bothered engaging. Feel the need to now because, as Bill pointed out, it seems to be about 89% men attacking the idea that language can exclude people. “Balls” is only in the common lexicon because we’ve had fucking centuries of sexism.

    I support Labour, I’m stoked with the opening address video. I will be voting for Labour and therefore Goff as leader. QoT is still right, he could have used “guts” but chose to use a gendered term.

    It is possible to hold both of the views expressed in the above paragraph. Some of you so called ‘lefties’ should think about it.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 39.1

      I agree that language can exclude people. I also agree with vto’s remarks about the lexicon.
      But you are only seeing what you want to. Adele’s remark about Labour “shooting blanks” is another gender specific metaphor, but I don’t see any of you criticising her for it – and please don’t. QoT talks of “douchebags” – is she subject to her own rules, or is it just the rest of us? Or perhaps just those with the balls.
      Perhaps you are right though. I am thinking about it 🙂

  40. vto 40

    ““Balls” is only in the common lexicon because we’ve had fucking centuries of sexism.”

    You have got to be joking. “Balls” is in the common lexicon because half of the population have balls ffs, and if you lose them then you lose size, strength, aggression and a couple of other features. Hence its usage.

    You people need to get over yourselves and grow up.

    As the french say, vive la difference.


    • lovinthatchangefeeling 40.1

      Fran O’Sullivan’s “Balls” quote of the weekend

      ” It can’t be that hard to put on a display of balls when there is absolutely no danger of having them cut off” 🙂

  41. Apologies if this has already been said, I stopped reading about a third of the way down the comments.

    I have no problem with women standing up for themselves and pointing out progressive, sensible alternative language choices. However, to do it in an overtly aggressive, provocative way just attracts criticism. It isn’t productive, and doesn’t make the advocates of otherwise totally acceptable change seem like people worth listening to. It might make the angry advocate feel better. However, the shitty presentation of the argument will just result in lots of comments telling the advocate to get a life – comments from people who otherwise would have agreed with the advocate. Normally I’d say “to each their own” but as anyone on the left will know, very few actions only affect the individual. Angry rants help give ALL feminists a bad name.

    Imagine how differently the comments (and subsequent attitude toward the use of the word “balls”) would look if this post had stopped after the quote 🙂

    • Dotty 41.1

      That’s right. Only polite wimmin can make an argument worth listening to. Because the reason so many peeps are objecting to this post is its tone, not its content. Because the people reading this blog can’t separate the ideas from the delivery; and despite being blog readers and left wing political activists, they have such thin skins they can’t cope with an argument that is the least bit direct, confrontational, aggressive or provocative. They need their arguments wrapped up in cotton wool, fluffy ducks and sunshine. Oh why oh why can’t we all just get along????????

      Stop making people so sad for you QoT, get a life worth living and do a stint in PR school. You’re giving feminism a bad name!

      • lprent 41.1.1

        Ummm… I think you have issues, and really haven’t bothered to to learn much about this forum and the people who inhabit it.

        QoT is great writer and always raises interesting issues about issues that other authors don’t cover in quite the same fashion (swearing her way though purely for emphasis – we understand?) in an audience that is prepared to argue back. Which is why she gets space

        They will argue back unsympathetically, cutting as many holes in her argument as possible, and not really giving a pigs arse about her feelings or self-esteem. In other words treating her like an author with an opinion who deliberately provokes.

        Speaking for myself, if it was PR, I’d just be truely offensive if I bothered to respond at all. After a lifetime on the net I can be really Really offensive at a personal level without even bothering to swear. I swear and otherwise speculate when I really want to be make someone’s heat rise – which has not been required in her posts apart from some of her stupider troll-like supporters. There are any others here with similar skills.

        There are the odd trolls around that I haven’t ripped their communications tools from yet. But mostly I am seeing people just disagreeing or agreeing and arguing a case (tis early in this moderation sweep of course). That is a gentle environment in net terms…. It is merely a harsh environment for ideas to survive in because people say pretty much why they think it is crap or otherwise.

        They are not fooled by mere retorical tactics – because we have seen all those weak-kneed techniques before. They mostly indicate a hole in the argument and will get pounded on to expose the weakness.

        But she tenaciously argues a good case. It is going to be fun helping to mature the argument by attacking it. Mostly her arguments need the work (in my opinion).

        • Dotty

          So sorry – forgot to say SARCASM.

          You obviously didn’t read *my* comments above if you think I meant that!

          • lprent

            The short answer is yes you should have. If you don’t want to get misinterpreted then state what you are saying and what you mean. No-one really has time to go around trying to interpret what a newbie actually meant to say rather than what they did say.

            Long answer:

            I don’t tend to read the comments in the usual fashion, and neither do many of the people who read the site.

            I moderate the site, and I’m reading them in reverse time order because that is the way that moderation is set up. That is because I’m interested in what people actually do rather than how they got there. The moderation is based on actual behavior (see the policy) and I’m really not that interested in provocation defenses (learn not to get provoked or if you do then confine the response to the limits of the site policy).

            Many other readers use RSS feeds, which will usually display in forward chronological order. Some will have it set to display comments across all posts. Others separate the comments for posts. Some of those will reconstruct the thread structure.

            Others will be reading the comments in e-mail because they have subscribed to particular post(s). So they will see it in the order that their e-mail arrived in.

            Then of course there are those who actually read the comments onsite in the threaded conversation. But a lot of the time, they will be using the chronological list at the right to pick out recent comments.

            Mostly people can see who you were responding to, and usually there is some way to see the thread.

            But generally there are so many comments that few attempt to read all of the comments here from top to bottom. So be clear

      • rainman 41.1.2

        Dotty, the problem with QoT is not that she’s impolite, or forthright, or even that she rants; it’s not a tone issue, and it’s of course not that she’s a “wimmin”. It’s that she’s a nasty, hypocritical bigot who is so consumed by her anger and bitterness she can’t even see she’s become what she hates. Why anyone thinks she can speak authoritatively on gender issues is beyond me.

        And as I’ve said repeatedly, this is nothing to do with my gender or hers – I’d call her on her hypocrisy and bigotry if we were both small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri..

        • lprent

          Nah – I like her. In my own way. Find her interesting…

          Feels like I did when I was always sure that I was right. Doing MBA at 25 did that for me. Religion did it for others. Political fervor for others (like a friend who went to and died in the Rhodesian Light Infantry). Drugs for others.

          Age slowly moderates almost everyone as you see more of the consequences and get less stupid. But you have to have the blind to come up with new ideas.

      • Zo @ Fix 41.1.3

        Haha, I think you have a slightly warped sense of reality if you think my suggestion of simply leaving out the aggression is wrapping the argument in cotton wool.

        I’m not sure you really understood my original point, which makes your “critique” rather hilarious in that it just further proves my point. You can deny the importance of presentation all you like and attack me (even though, on the topic of this post, I agree with the writer), but meanwhile smile-and-wave will continue to run this country into the ground.

        I don’t see how wasting people’s time with aggressive presentation is somehow a superior way to get your point across. Carry on if it makes you feel better, but do so in the knowledge that you’re just alienating a lot of potential supporters.

        • Colonial Viper

          An agressive presentation is not necessarily a waste of time.

          But a PR wordsmithed, vanilla bland politically correct presentation is definitely a waste of time.

  42. Rodel 42

    I remember Helen Clark in the debating chamber describing Gerry Brownlee as,
    “‘useless as tits on a bull”
    Somewhat similar to Goff’s remarks and also appropriate to describe diddums Key I think.

    (Incidentally our local plumber, a blokey bloke who thinks all politicians especially Goff are rubbish thinks he might now vote for Goff after hearing about the ‘balls’ comment)… takes all sorts.

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