In as perfect an example of mansplaining you could ever imagine yesterday AM host Ryan Bridge said this in response to the claims that misogyny had a large part to play in Jacinda Ardern’s decision to stand down.
“Some of the headlines have been ridiculous. There was one headline I saw the other day about the Prime Minister being driven from office by online trolls. I mean, that is so melodramatic,” Bridge said on AM on Monday.
“It’s just bizarre because, one, it assumes that she’s reading all of the online troll messages from the misogynists and whoever. And second of all, it kind of undermines the fact the polls weren’t going well,” he added.
He thought that the polls had consistently shown that support for Ardern was dropping.
Bridge said the polls had consistently shown support for Ardern was dropping and her decision to leave makes sense.
“Any smart politician will look at that and they will say, ‘Do I have another campaign in me? Do I really want to be scrapping with Chris Luxon over the cost of living when I’ve just got us through COVID? I might be going on to some international job after this. The longer I am here, the worse my reputation will be tarnished as I go through a very bloody campaign. Wouldn’t the smartest thing to do would be to pull out now?’ And I think that’s what the Prime Minister’s done.”
His comments were, surprise surprise, echoed by former National Party ministerial advisor Brigitte Morten who called Helen Clark’s remarks “naive” and “condescending”.
“I think it’s a little bit condescending and perhaps a little naive to say that this [online hate] played a role,” Morten told Newshub Late.
And their comments occurred after Christopher Luxon came out with this extraordinary comment when being interviewed on Morning Report:
Guyon Espiner: Are you subject to abuse?
Christopher Luxon: I know I am, I’m sure I am but the reality is I handle it and I don’t live my life on Twitter
Espiner: Is it worse for women
Luxon: I’m not sure about that…there is just deep polarisation of political views.
Luxon did try and walk back his comments after this. But you can see that the imperative of scoring a political blow is more important to him than actually making a proper concession.
From each of them there is no concession that Jacinda Ardern was subject to the most level of vitriol and hatred that I have ever witnessed.
Things are that bad that she, and her daughter Neve and partner Clark, are going to continue to require police protection as pointed out in this article by David Fisher in the Herald:
Jacinda Ardern will need special police bodyguard protection well beyond the end of her time as Prime Minister even as new figures show the extent of the abuse she faced.
Security and disinformation experts spoken to by the Herald say there would be cause to maintain protection after Ardern steps down and into the future.
It comes as University of Auckland researchers dive into data showing Ardern was the target of consistent abuse and threats well beyond others.
Those researchers pulled posts relating to Ardern and six other bureaucrats and politicians from some of the internet’s less regulated regions – 4Chan, 8kun, Telegram and Reddit – and found 93 per cent of abusive, angry or threatening messages were aimed at the Prime Minister.
The Herald’s own investigation into the online targeting of Ardern has discovered threats of rape and murder, her portrayal as demonic or “evil”, depictions of her as Adolf Hitler and other extreme messaging.
Those include false claims Ardern had broken international law and would be brought to justice – then executed when found guilty.
At least eight people have been charged with threatening to kill the Prime Minister during her term. The Herald is aware of evidence to emerge in other cases showing violent intent towards Ardern, including a video in which her image was repeatedly shot at close range by someone using a silenced rifle with telescopic sights.
Paul Buchanan has this explanation of when the hate started.
Intelligence analyst Dr Paul Buchanan of 36th Parallel Assessments said the events of March 15 and Ardern’s response “galvanised the most retrograde elements of the far right”. “Then the pandemic hit.”
“This is about being young, female and successful. It’s a whole different level of vitriol.”
Remember how the Parliament protest was heavily influenced by far right activists? Claims that the protest was some sort of peaceful counter culture popular uprising are well wide of the mark.
Ardern herself put a brave face and denied that the attacks were part of the reason for her standing down. But they must have had an effect. After all the police dealt with 18 threats of violence against Ardern in 2019, 32 death threats in 2020 and 50 in 2021. And continuous threats were also made against her partner and her child. How could this not have affected her or her decision.
Helen Clark and her partner Peter Davis went through not too dissimilar experiences when she was Prime Minister. Progressive women in charge appear to set some people off.
But my impression was that when Clark was in power the hatred did not have the same intensity. Helen and Peter were subject to the most awful of allegations but social media at the time was not able to amplify and repeat the attacks the way that it can now. And she did not have a similar issue to the Christchurch Massacre to deal with.
To those opposing hate speech law reform all that I can say is that this level of hatred and vitriol needs to be managed and regulated and sufficiently bad cases banned.
And to Christopher Luxon your politicising of the issue reinforced my very strong impression that you completely lack the leadership skills that a Prime Minister needs. John Key would never have replied in the way that you did.
There has to be a better way of doing politics in Aotearoa New Zealand. To everyone out there, please be kind.