What the Waitakere Myth says about pundits’ attitudes to the working class

Written By: - Date published: 7:00 pm, November 13th, 2013 - 99 comments
Categories: feminism, gay rights, labour, leadership, Left, Media - Tags:

I finally found the words, in a comment at The Standard, to explain something I’ve been feeling for years about the Waitakere Man thesis:

I keep thinking about how to express this exact idea: that the whole Waitakere Man myth says way more about Chris Trotter and Josie Pagani’s attitudes towards the working class than it does about the working class.

I’m no avatar of the working class.  I’m from a solidly middle-class family full of university graduates.  I’ve only ever worked retail to get through university.  I’ve never worked in a trade or a factory.  I live in the gentrifying northern suburbs of Wellington and tend to party-vote Green.  So it may be that I myself am in no position to comment on how Labour, or any political party, should appeal to “the working class”, if we assume that such an identity group even exists any more and votes as a group.

But I know and have known many people who absolutely fit that idea.  People who wouldn’t be out of place on Outrageous Fortune – and Chris Trotter himself used a promo photo of Cheryl West to illustrate one of his early posts on the Waitakere Man idea.  People with “real jobs” and a couple of kids, a van, a mortgage, people who still call a smoko a smoko and yes, people who do mutter about “bloody feminists” or “the gays”.  People who, if you just look at the surface shit they talk about around a Christmas barbeque, you might conclude are social conservatives who hate the social-engineering gaggle-of-gays-and-trade-unionists direction of the Labour Party.

So you might produce a political strategy which says “these people are narrow-minded typical rednecks who want to elect a Prime Minister who’s going to burp after meals and wants to shag Liz Hurley.”

I think you’d be wrong.

Absolutely, we’re not talking about people who would be thrilled by the notion of a gay Prime Minister – but without the media constantly talking up Grant Robertson’s sexuality, wouldn’t really have given a toss, because if they really cared about Robertson’s sexuality (or civil unions, or marriage equality, or homosexual law reform) they’d have stopped voting Labour long before 2008.

And absolutely, we’re not talking about people who ever want to get involved in deep discussions of the Bechdel test or the philosophical underpinnings of prochoice feminist philosophy – but if abortion is being discussed, and you put it in terms of “look mate, I don’t like to think about it myself but a chick shouldn’t have to tell the doctor she’s crazy to get one, you know?” they’re not going to freak out and start voting Conservative.

(No, I don’t use such moderate terms myself, but I don’t think it’s a surprise that the primary audience of my blog isn’t Waitakere Man.)

Absolutely, this group of voters is going to feel left out if the only Labour policies they ever hear about are marriage equality, euthanasia, abortion reform and legalising pot (though plenty of people in this group will be occasional pot smokers) – but that’s why Labour needs to cut through the media bullshit around MAN BANS!!!! and present itself as a party which can do more than one thing at a time.

Of course, I could be completely wrong about this – like I said up top, I am not a part of this demographic.  But neither is anyone who’s been whinging about “focusing on the things that matter to people” for the last five years – during which every attempt to appeal to Redneck New Zealand has been a spectacular failure.  Let’s move on in our thinking, and never ever speak of John Tamihere becoming a Labour MP ever again.

99 comments on “What the Waitakere Myth says about pundits’ attitudes to the working class ”

  1. Rogue Trooper 1

    Class Ken. (It was great to see Lynda Topp on This Town. A real trooper).

  2. karol 2

    Well said, QoT.

    What has particularly struck me about the Waitakere Man myth, is the way that it ignores working class women.

    I’m also from a middle class background, though growing up my closest friends were the daughters of men who did manual jobs.

    I also had fiends in London who were working class feminists. Like this woman, they were very critical of many middle class feminists for their class attitudes. I can’t imagine they’d be terribly impressed by the Waitakere Man myth.

    The research mentioned here shows how working class women have received little benefit from focus on the push for gender equality in higher paid professional jobs in the UK.

    And many women in NZ are really struggling under the Key government’s attacks on beneficiaries and employment legislation.

    There’s been a strong fight back from the women in the Tamaki Housing Group’s campaign against removal of/from state housing.

    Yet I don’t see them being taken up by the likes of Trotter as the kind of people that Labour should be targeting in election campaigns.

    The Greens co-leader, Metiria Turei though, has described what it was like for her growing up in an NZ working class family – and she has been championing policies to make life better for others in low income households.

    • felix 2.1

      I am sorry to hear you had fiends.

      • weka 2.1.1

        Don’t you have any fiends felix? 🙂

        • Rogue Trooper 2.1.1.1

          a litter of them probably.

        • Will@Welly 2.1.1.2

          Karol, I’ve been saying it for ages, I think Metiria is one of the better performing M.P.’s, and until David Cunliffe took over, I thought she was the best leader in the house. Sorry, Russel just doesn’t do it for me. Metiria and the late Rob Donald would have been a dream team. Winston, when he focus’s, plays Key for the fool he is. For no other reason, I like the guy.
          The problem is Labour, and even Trotter and Pagani are focused on the middle classes – that’s who they represent. Going down to the Coast, to Pike River, to Blackball, upto Buller, to the Denniston Plateau, these were all cultural shocks for many of our nice middle class folk. The same when they go into the poorer parts of the local communities – can’t wait to get back out. Therein lies the difference. Those who were born into them, and grew up and climbed their way out, are not afraid about going back, But if you never lived amongst the depravity, the violence, the squalor, the abject poverty, then you never ever want to go there, unless you really want to, and let’s face, too many M.P.’s and their hangers on wouldn’t know a hard days knock or a day with deprivation unless it came up and kicked them in the backside.

      • karol 2.1.2

        🙂

  3. Rogue Trooper 3

    What we need now is some working-class commentary and experience articulated…Maybe people could contribute those perspectives to a politically-oriented blog…and maybe more politicians and paid commentariat might read them…And maybe ” a working class-hero is something to be”.

  4. Rhinocrates 4

    Great as ever, QoT.

    “Waitakere Man” or “Loadsamoney” as he was called by Harrey Enfield way back in the Thatcher years, is a desperate dream of self assurance for a party faction unable to understand the present reality.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ON-7v4qnHP8

    A friend of mine once talked about “aspirational voting” – voting for the party that represented the class you fantasised about already being a member of. In the Goff/Mumblefuck/Pagani era, Labour was itself an aspirational party, wanting to represent the people who wanted to be represented by National. Hopefully that will change now.

    Goodbye Waitakere Man, let me introduce you to the Precariat. Don’t know who they are? Well they’re everyone who doesn’t drive an Audi (I hope that you’re not in BMW – they’re so passé).

    • Rogue Trooper 4.1

      Ivor Lott and Tony Broke Buster

    • greywarbler 4.3

      Good down to earth NZs drive large machines with 4WD and high tyres and projecting fenders so they can look down on the world and show them who’s a mover and pusher and never have to give way when there is indecision as to who should go first.

      Who they would vote for? I would say National. the tradesmen who would have labour affiliations are ashperational. Those ideas have all burnt up.

      Now they are contractors who employ other contractors and they’re on the way up and they don’t need any of this wishy-washy socialist or community crap. They can make it on their own, and could manage well if they didn’t have to pay so much bleeding tax to keep all these other wankers diddling around smoking all day till they can’t do a good day’s work if they are wanted.

      Sound about right for a stream of consciousness picture?

  5. Colonial Viper 5

    Left wing political parties aren’t afraid of pushing through ground breaking socially liberal reforms because none of it goes against the interests of capital, corporates or the banking system.

    Left wing political parties are very afraid of pushing through ground breaking economic reforms for the working class because it all goes against the interests of capital, corporates and the banking system.

    So in the absence of being able to push through ground breaking economic reforms for the working class, what do we get instead to appeal to them? Bullshit like the Waitakere Man model.

  6. BM 6

    First of all you’re correct there is no Waitakere Man class or ruling class or under class.

    In fact there are no classes at all, that’s a wanky British thing and the main reason our ancestors left the shores of Britain and immigrated to NZ.

    Having said that though there are some fairly loose descriptions that certain groups of people fit into.
    1.Office
    2.Trade
    3.Student
    4 Benies
    5.Retired

    The trades is what the so called Waitakere Man fits into and having spent a fair bit of time within the trades most do tend to display certain characteristics, which are
    1. Telling it like it is
    2.Drinking large volumes of piss
    3.Fighting
    4.Contact sports
    5.Working hard
    6.Distinct dislike for people who don’t pull their weight
    7. Spending money on fun stuff.

    Not exactly who Labour represents and I doubt will ever represent again.

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      Class war continues. The wealthy capitalist class which is winning in a big way, wants to hide this fact so that there is no fight back.

      Of course, a lot of people are realising better.

      • BM 6.1.1

        Seriously? that reads like something Kim Jong-il would say.

        • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.1

          How is it that you know the sayings of Kim Jong-il so well?

        • framu 6.1.1.2

          totalitarian dictators arent the only people who believe in classes – plenty of super wealthy would to

          thats the thing – its all to common to point the finger at lefties talking about class while at the same time forgetting that there would be plenty of righties who are into the whole class thing as well

        • Tracey 6.1.1.3

          WHAT? Someone else said that yesterday… is this the latest whale slick saying or kiwiblog?

          • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.3.1

            Just like photonz going on about how creating new money…which the banks do all the time…is Mugabe economics.

            Just brain dead ways to stop discussion.

        • Hanswurst 6.1.1.4

          That’s quite amusing coming from you, considering that your post, to which it was replying, reads rather like a potted philosophy of Benito Mussolini… or maybe Sir Oswald Mosley.

    • felix 6.2

      Having said that though there are some fairly loose descriptions that certain groups of people fit into.
      1.Office
      2.Trade
      3.Student
      4 Benies
      5.Retired

      The trades is what the so called Waitakere Man fits into and having spent a fair bit of time within the trades most do tend to display certain characteristics, which are
      1. Telling it like it is
      2.Drinking large volumes of piss
      3.Fighting
      4.Contact sports
      5.Working hard
      6.Distinct dislike for people who don’t pull their weight
      7. Spending money on fun stuff.”

      That is the narrowest, saddest, most blinkered, most naive, most ignorant depiction of society I have ever seen. It is the world view of someone who has not only lived a mediocre existence but who has done so completely oblivious to their surroundings.

      No wonder everything you have ever typed on these forums is so utterly worthless. You really, really, really have no fucking idea.

      • Rogue Trooper 6.2.1

        I had come to a similar conclusion, yet…

      • gobsmacked 6.2.2

        1. Telling it like it is – John Key never does that. Ever.
        2. Drinking large volumes of piss – Key probably does that – certainly sounds like he does – but I doubt it’s Lion Red.
        3.Fighting – ha ha ha ha!
        4.Contact sports – a photo op is not supporting the sport. Clark did more for League that Key ever has.
        5.Working hard – on what? Finding other people to blame for his cock-ups?
        6.Distinct dislike for people who don’t pull their weight – See no. 5. How many times has he stuffed up by not doing his job, and then shafted somebody else instead?
        7. Spending money on fun stuff – OK, that I’ll give you. Spends plenty on himself.

        So yeah, if Key is BM Man, then Richard Prosser is the race relations commissioner.

    • QoT 6.3

      It’s funny, BM, but you kind of proved my point there: there’s nothing inherent to your “tradies” class of people which involves being a narrow-minded bigot. And their antipathy for “people who don’t pull their weight” could equally be turned on the banking class as on the beneficiary class.

      But if you think there’s no class structure in NZ, allow me to refer you to this post which may prove illustrative:
      http://thestandard.org.nz/is-it-any-wonder/

      • felix 6.3.1

        “there’s nothing inherent to your “tradies” class of people which involves being a narrow-minded bigot.

        BM thinks that’s what “telling it like it is” means. Because he’s a narrow minded bigot.

    • newsense 6.4

      Yes,

      that would those contact sports such as league of which Helen Clark and David Lange were both the patron and fairly beloved.

      This is though, a-grade intellectual straining for a right-winger, so excellent job with that attempt.

    • Mary 6.5

      That 1 to 7 list made me think of the people on that TV series called Sylvania Waters. There’s no way they’d be Labor supporters.

    • Tracey 6.6

      BM, seriously, do you re-read your posts before hitting submit??

      I have trades through my house daily and have had for weeks.

      Have offered beer to many to thank them, half, yes half, have said no thanks they don’t drink. Hasn’t been a single fight…

      Only one seems to tell it like it is,which appears to mean having a myth based opinion on many things in NZ.

      • BM 6.6.1

        I was a motor mechanic for a few years, then got into the building trades for a while, then was in the air conditioning trades for a bit.
        I now sit at a desk and work on computers.

        According to you my experiences and observations mean shit compared to you who has had a few tradesmen through the house who didn’t want to share a beer.

        Excuse me while I laugh in your face.

        • Tracey 6.6.1.1

          Never said my observations were more worthy than yours BM. Was sharing my experience of the plumbers, builders, sparkies, air con guys, that have been through my house. It’s not my fault they don’t fit your observations with regard to drinking and fighting. But laugh away, the world will be a better place for it I am sure.

        • Ennui 6.6.1.2

          I have met the guy you describe, well spotted BM. You have been berated that he is not a class. Maybe not but he is a cohort. Next time you have a beer with him give him my regards, he definitely looks like the type of guys I grew up with. Maybe they have become so unPC that their mere existence a question of social opprobrium.

  7. Zorr 7

    To start with, I agree. The Waitakere Man is a myth. Much like Big Foot, there is much noise about him but no solid evidence of his existence.

    When we begin to discuss working-class and middle-class – where does the distinction lie these days? It feels more and more like there is less of a separation between the two as automation, technology and globalization have resulted in the loss of many of the “traditional” working-class careers and turned the educated labor market in to a global market that has meant a lot of the upper end of the middle class now spends itself chasing the work around the globe. We have all been trodden underfoot by corporations and fight over the small crumbs that come our way.

    Potentially, the only difference that truly remains are the formal education levels. Life experience, however, has taught me that formal education is a very poor indicator of intelligence and low socio-economic voters are just as interested in what you may have to say as any “middle-class” person but they don’t have the time or energy to think about it outside of the 5 seconds you may share with them (I know I make a special effort to keep up to date).

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      Don’t forget the under-class.

      • Zorr 7.1.1

        Which one? (I say that only half tongue-in-cheek)

        Where does the line even lie now? There are those who suffer severe poverty and food insecurity that are already as low as it gets and this is deplorable and they need to be lifted as quickly as possible out of that. However – how many of us live in daily fear of that very situation for ourselves? What happened to our employment laws? Our social welfare safety nets? All those wonderful things we built in order to free ourselves and our country-men of this fear?

        Apart from the top echelons, all of us know this fear. And currently our government does nothing to help fight it back for us but instead beckons forth the darkness.

        • karol 7.1.1.1

          Where does the line even lie now?

          Actually, the line has often not been so clear cut, at least back as far as the 19th century. I’ve been reading a bit lately about the history of 19th century England. People working in manual/tradesmen occupations didn’t always identify as part of the working classes. There was a stronger sens of class identity towards the end of the 19th century with the rise of automated manufacturing. But, even so, people tended to identify as working class in some low income occupations and not others.

          There were hierarchies within the so-called working class occupations. Some from the skilled manual classes (eg tinworkers) saw themselves as “middle class” and superior to the “lower classes”. (G. R. Searle, “A New England? Peace and War 1886-1918, “)

          So the blurring of class boundaries really isn’t anything new.

          There are clear differences in quality of life between those on low incomes, and those in middle income brackets. Education is also a factor. And women have always fitted uneasily into conventional classifications of class.

          • Colonial Viper 7.1.1.1.1

            Maybe this rule of thumb.

            If you’re unlikely to cope for a month with your income suddenly disappearing, you’re under-class.

            If you’re unlikely to cope for 5-6 months with your income suddenly disappearing, you’re working class.

            If you can pay 25 years in advance for your current lifestyle you’re upper class, albeit perhaps by liquidating the odd minor asset or share portfolio.

            Then there are the intangible factors around one’s ‘breeding’ – the right school, the right suburb, the right connections etc.

        • Wensleydale 7.1.1.2

          The fear is useful to them.

          They openly nurture the notion that if you just keep your head down and don’t make a fuss, you’ll be alright. If you do have the audacity to kick up a stink about trivial concerns like… oh, I don’t know, health and safety or the rights of employees not to be treated like something your feudal overlord would scrape off the sole of his shoe, then you’ll promptly be chucked out into the street, where you and your children will die in miserable penury for the appalling crime of not knowing your place.

          And that’s just they way they like it. God forbid we upset the status quo.

    • Rogue Trooper 7.2

      Some general points concerning Socio-economic Class

      • Zorr 7.2.1

        The problem with that Wikipedia article is that it does very little to enlighten me as to how the terms could even be applied today other than to arbitrarily label some jobs as “working class” while my job makes me “middle class” purely because I sit behind a desk.

        My job security is on the same level as any other employee with a permanent contract outside the 90 day period – with nothing additional. So anyone who works as a mechanic/driver/storeperson/retail assistant/whatever with a similar contract has exactly the same security but would be defined as “working class” just by their job title.

        So this is the reason that I don’t get the distinctions much any more. I personally think the label of underclass is more accurate for the lowest echelon these days. I don’t know what we should label those of us who have a modicum of security in our lives.

        • Rhinocrates 7.2.1.1

          OK, try to think of being highly qualified – at PhD level – highly valued in every performance review and having skills and experience that only a few can offer… but still being bound to short contracts, shifting budgets, no benefits and threatened either with dismissal or “not renewed” every four months if you do anything a manager doesn’t like.

          That’s my reality and it’s the reality for a lot of people now. That’s what it means to be precariat. You can’t make plans, you can’t have a permanent address or partner, you can’t even have a cat.

          • karol 7.2.1.1.1

            I actually think the precariat is not anything new, but perhaps more people are in such circumstances than previously.

            Work can become pretty precarious for many people as they get older, too, no matter how qualified.

            • rhinocrates 7.2.1.1.1.1

              You’re right – the precariat isn’t new – and they’re the reality behind the middle class ashpirashuns now.

          • Jimmie 7.2.1.1.2

            Well Rhinocrates,

            If you have good qualifications and an excellent work ethic then obviously you are a valuable employee. Why not leverage off this qualities and secure much better long term employment elsewhere?

            Or else use your highly educated skills to start/buy your own business and then you can be the boss and no one can threaten you with dismissal etc.

            • rhinocrates 7.2.1.1.2.1

              Are you for real? Of course I’m a valuable employee… and bosses know that valuable employees should be treated like shit. Do you think that I aren’t trying to find something permanent? As for buying a business… what the fuck, I mean what the fucking fuckety fuck?

              OK, I should just use a facepalm, I know… drop the one in with Patrick Stewart.

              [QoT: Dammit, I’m failing at image embedding. Apols!]

              • rhinocrates

                Hi QoT – that was only rhetorical, no probs!

              • chris73

                Of course I’m a valuable employee

                – How are you a valuable employee?

                and bosses know that valuable employees should be treated like shit.

                – None of the bosses I’ve worked for think like that, usually they treat the valuable employees well to retain them and the ones they want to leave they treat like crap (to force them to leave)

                As for buying a business

                – Why not start a business using the skills you have, plenty of people do

                • weka

                  “- Why not start a business using the skills you have, plenty of people do”

                  Yes, and plenty of people are unable to, and of those that do how many fail?

                • Tracey

                  yes they do because contrary to what many supporters of National say on here, NZ is one of the easiest places to open and run a business. But still the business owners complain about all their burdens.

                • rhinocrates

                  – How are you a valuable employee?

                  Feedback from performance reviews and anonymous student assessments.

                  usually they treat the valuable employees well

                  I don’t know about your delusions, but “treat ’em mean to keep ’em keen is a widely applied rule.

                  the ones they want to leave they treat like crap

                  Oh indeed, a former employer did just that for openly admitted personal dislike – by breaking the law. They had to pay me a shitload to keep out of court when they discovered that I kept notes.

                  Why not start a business using the skills you have, plenty of people do

                  My skills are very specialised, so I’m in demand, but again, back at square one – treated mean to keep keen.

                  And capital, dipshit. “Hi, I have an idea…” “What’s your capital?” “Um…” “Fuck off”.

                  I suppose that under other circumstances, the naive faith that righties have in the inherent goodness of banks, the police and other authority figures would be sort of charmingly amusing, in a childlike way. Personally, I’m amazed that these sheltered souls can even feed themselves.

                  Plenty of people have won Lotto – perhaps that’s my solution?

            • rhinocrates 7.2.1.1.2.2

              I think that in Jimmie we see the failure of neoliberal economic theory – it assumes rational choice with full opportunity and complete information… but it depends on complete fucking idiots.

              • Colonial Viper

                Funny how the neolib Jimmie’s of the world keep trying to describe scenarios based on advantageous pre-neolib times.

                • rhinocrates

                  Here’s Ayn Rand in a nutshell: An object falling in the earth’s gravitational field accelerates at 9.8 m/s2 Acceleration is a form of inflation, which is caused by socialism. Without socialism, falling objects would descend at a constant rate and parachutes would be unnecessary. Therefore this must be the case and if you don’t think like a socialist, you should leap off cliffs and out of aeroplanes without a parachute and suffer no harm. Remember “should” is a word that makes “is” and “can” unimportant.

              • Rogue Trooper

                laughed out LOUD

            • Tracey 7.2.1.1.2.3

              What about the research scientists we have in numbers who took up Joyces call and now cant find work cos we don’t “do” research in NZ.

              When I was at varisty a Bachelor degree got you work and meant you were qualified…

              Now you need a conjoint or a Masters to be viewed the same way.

        • Sacha 7.2.1.2

          And the old ‘tradie’ is now a self-employed businessperson with staff, tools and an accountant.

          • Colonial Viper 7.2.1.2.1

            Its the “staff” who are often getting screwed. And the staff are often not even “staff” they are subcontractors (often also “self employed”). Who usually get screwed twice as much.

          • Tim 7.2.1.2.2

            …. sometimes even sub-contracting to a sub-contractor contracted to a large monopoly/duopoly corporate – all created in the name of efficiency and effectiveness with ticket clipping all down the chain.

            Btw @Zorr – that ‘modicum of security’ is what often keeps people content – right up until the time they get it and discover it doesn’t mean shite.

        • Rogue Trooper 7.2.1.3

          I believe that this Theory of Taste may tease it out Zorr.

          Furthermore, I settled on this definition of Tolerances today (being in the garden can do that) , ability to endure: disposition or willingness to tolerate or allow: permissible range of variation.
          I appreciate this conceptualization, but then that’s my taste: economically my advised income last year was $13403 before tax, outgoings, what remained after tax; socio-culturally ? , well , Trade, Degree, Professional level attained ‘Allied Health professional’ / inter-disciplinary team member; Managerial level attained, ‘Workshop Manager’ (staff of five, fleet of 47); Trade level, ”Service Supervisor”, yet I would position myself as working-class, through solidarity with others of similar (yet not identical) tastes- 1. Telling it like it is 😉 (well, even a BM is useful for somethings).

          • karol 7.2.1.3.1

            Bour-dieu!

            • Rogue Trooper 7.2.1.3.1.1

              btw, the $80 discretionary per week limits me to trouble I can get myself out of. 😀

            • Rogue Trooper 7.2.1.3.1.2

              divinite 😉 Anyway, next to me is Understanding Bourdieu , Jen Webb, Tony Schirato and Geoff Danaher. Allen & Unwin. 2002
              It all began with Friedrich 😀

          • miravox 7.2.1.3.2

            Now there is a man who didn’t come from the elite academic chocolate box. They did however save a little space for him to pop inside. Kudos for one who knows how hard it is to open the lid on existing structures.

            I position myself as working class, others I meet will not. But they’ve not seen my CV or my parents.

            Good post QoT. We’re (the working class, or any other class) not some homogeneous group. I really dislike the way marketing segmentation language blobs people together based on a few economic or identity characteristics. It perpetuates stigma and belittlement, imo, and misses nuances that come back to surprise the analysts when people don’t behave in the way the political market suggests they should.

  8. Tim 8

    …. sometimes even sub-contracting to a sub-contractor contracted to a large monopoly/duopoly corporate – all created in the name of efficiency and effectiveness with ticket clipping all down the chain.

    Btw @Zorr – that ‘modicum of security’ is what often keeps people content – right up until the time they get it and discover it doesn’t mean shite.

  9. Draco T Bastard 9

    Of course, I could be completely wrong about this – like I said up top, I am not a part of this demographic.

    I am and no you’re not.

    To be honest, the so-called Waitakere Man sounds like a bloody wimp and is most likely to (and always will) vote National. Labour, by focusing on these people are doing the rest of the working class a disservice and an injustice by making such simple assumptions.

  10. Ad 10

    There’s some lovely origami-precise folds along gender lines going on right now.

    The Bevan Chuang story hasn’t bled into the Roastbusters story. In fact the Roastbusters story is more likely to elide into accelerating anti-bullying memes than turn sour and inward.

    The Labour gender-balance story hasn’t slid into either.

    So there’s clearly liminal thresholds of discourse that are now allowable, and others that clearly aren’t.

    Advertisers and amplified social stigma have said that drugged statutory rape is entirely separate from the wilful politicisation that went with the mayor Brown affair.

    The Labour-gender balance certainly took hits on talkback radio, but nowhere near as much as when the policy was mooted in its early form, and in the end was supported by some mainstream commentators.

    And the Roastbusters media reaction shows that the residual misogyny within some parts of New Zealand is continuing to shrink and eat itself.

    So QoT is not wrong, and it’s so exceedingly un-Australian that we will look back on the Clark years as the major seminal shift in cultural difference between the two countries.

    • Rogue Trooper 10.1

      That Helen don’t bother me none. (the air-brushing? well…that’s realpolitik when you’ve had funny teeth).

    • Peter 10.2

      It’s with that last sentence I hold out a lot of hope for this country. We’ve tackled gay marriage with limited and pathetic conservative backlash, and with Roastbusters, the issue has primarily been a lingering conservatism within the police to handling sex cases. I’m confident that this too will improve, and this will be a bit of watershed moment for improving it.

  11. The Mad Plumber 11

    First off
    I AM A TRADESMAN not a tradie
    BM, you forgot the hunting, ,fishing, four wheel driving and the boy’s in blue to pick up someone’s Licence.
    We Know who is boss of the house ( and it is not always us)

    We are not very politically correct but want a decent standard of living and not watch our sons and daughters disappear across the Tasman tho when we go across the accomadation sometimes can be cheap (Dad can you pay for………..)

    Yes the old tradesman does employ staff , my Knees are sore, my back aches, my eye sight is going, the hands are sore and someone wants me to work till I am 70, but I pay the apprentice what I can afford because the public will only pay so much an hour, its funny how you characters won’t pay for him to stand around with his finger up his bum while he watches and HOPEFULLY learns something, oh he is oft to blockcourse next week. A break for him and me
    Tim you want to try being a subcontractor and getting paid especially when the main contractor goes belly up.Well back to the paper work now I have had my moan

    And I will never never vote for the smiling assassin, so I am stuck with the Greens or Labour

  12. RedBaronCV 12

    I don’t really think about it as being along income lines but more along a line between “those who are prepared to share and see us as all in this together” and those who are “me first and what makes me feel really good is running other peoples lives”.
    Empathy versus non empathy
    or as we transite to a world stable state not growth some want to fight it out and others want to share to accomodate the change.

  13. Bill 13

    I’m not a part of any fucking ‘identity group’. And I’m not defined by mere demographics. I’m a part of a culture and yup…an ethnicity….not that you’d notice any such option on any official governmental forms.

    And Cunt!… Fuck!… Bitch!… Shite!..intolerant of cliched put me downs, broad brush stroke characterisations or bull-shit pigeon holing. Should I mention I’m intelligent and crass and empathetic…and a part of the working class?

  14. “I’m no avatar of the working class. I’m from a solidly middle-class family full of university graduates.”
    You really didn’t have to let us know how superior you feel you are are compared to us working class Westies ? Your pompous narrow minded article said it all.

  15. newsense 15

    Made the mistake of tripping over to Kiwiblog to have a look and found fairly much evidence for some of the anti-female attitudes which have been discussed here. Really an appalling place.

    Discussing the fame list in the 150th anniversary Herald they say no to Katherine Mansfield (along with Chekov, a celebrated famous guy,) the inventor of the modern short story, and when HC is suggested we get the witty and charming rebuttal: ” We’re talking about humans here, hence Hulun’s exclusion”. I missed a lot of the anti-Helen venom, but I can’t recall that kind of vileness ever being applied to a right wing politician.

    • Colonial Viper 15.1

      Made the mistake of tripping over to Kiwiblog to have a look and found fairly much evidence for some of the anti-female attitudes which have been discussed here. Really an appalling place.

      Need someone to lead the rape culture discussion over there and also on the Trade Me forums. Well, to try 🙂

  16. xtasy 16

    Waitakere Man may sound “bad” to some, but we have just as bad modern day equivalents, like “ipod man”, “tablet man”, “Facebook Man”, “Twitter Man”, and the same of the other sex. It is about steretypes, and they come and go, and while some Waitak mates may appear a bit behind the hills, I see so many others be smart there, and others elsewhere behind “mental hills” every day, no matter, how “progressive” or not they see themselves.

    Dumbing down is nothing new, it is more common than ever, and some in Waitak land maybe more clued up than the rest of us, that is apart from Paula, Beneshit that is.

    • Tracey 16.1

      what about

      undervalued woman, underpaid woman, objectified woman, glass ceiling woman, be more like a man woman…

  17. karol 17

    “The Waitakere Man” reminds me of the NZ fictional character, often referred to as Man Alone and has connections with Barry Crump’s Good Keen Man. This is because WM uses the singular “Man” and is capitalised.

    It makes an ideal out of something quite dysfunctional. Not to mention individualistic.

    Add “Waitakere” to it – in WM’s case literally meaning the Waitakere electorate. But the word also refers to the ranges, with a history of being the wander ground of many a Man Alone, and one or two outlaws.

    So WM does seem quite an NZ establishment trope – one that is embraced by many in the middle classes.

  18. Bill Drees 18

    Oi ha’ta luk it up!

    “The Bechdel test (/ˈbɛkdəl/ bek-dəl) asks whether a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. Many contemporary works fail this test of gender bias.
    The test is named after the American cartoonist Alison Bechdel. In 1985, she had a character in her comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For voice the idea, which she attributed to a friend, Liz Wallace. The test was originally conceived for evaluating films but has since been applied to other media”

    thanks wiki.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bechdel_test

    • rhinocrates 18.1

      There’s this, rating movies:

      http://bechdeltest.com

      The admins note that it’s a measure of a film’s presentation of women, not it’s quality – a film like Das Boot or Dr Strangelove for example, would fail, while both can be seen as devastating critiques of hyper masculinity. Gravity also “fails” but the discussion on the site is good.

  19. BLiP 19

    EPIC post. Thank you.

  20. yabbie 20

    IMHO it IS the aspirational classes that win an election. Waitakere has a fair few of them and finding what floats their boat is why Clark brought in WFF2 and interest-free loans as immediate pre election sweeteners. It’s really was as simple as that. Costs us a fortune and many on the bottom – the unwaged and not remotely university minded or those who can’t afford it miss out terribly. But hey it wins elections.

    Wax lyrical about your principles, but I’ll think the swinging voter has plenty of them – if you don’t like today’s ones, wait until tomorrow.

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