This was submitted to Nexus at Waikato University, for the Crime issue.

Nexus decided not to use it, oh well, too bad, here it is anyway.
2016 is a big year in my timeline, because the recently defunct TIB campaign has had a new lease of life.

I’m that occasionally grumpy woman some of you may have seen around campus last year, wearing an oversize black hoody with a bunch of text in white on the back of it, and “Thursdays in Black, demanding a world without rape and violence” in a small logo on the front.

When I first arrived on Waikato campus from Wellington, I was used to wearing my TIB hoody (or a t-shirt in summer) every Thursday, and thinking nothing of it – but in Hamilton, it was something that got me comments from strangers, who had literally never seen one before.

That was when I realised that the disappearance of the WRO position from WSU exec about a decade ago had meant that TIB had also vanished; around seven years earlier than the campaign folded in Wellington during the NZUSA presidency of Max Hardy, in 2011 (update: He says it was still going then, with help from NWRO Caitlyn Dunham. I stand corrected.) 

But there was definitely no merch by the end of trimester two, 2012.I knew when I moved up here that the stock of TIB merchandise at VUWSA had vanished (I had tried to buy another t-shirt before I left town), but it wasn’t until I looked up the NZUSA website in preparation for this story that I realised the campaign had been folded nationwide.

Backtracking a little: what is TIB, and where did it come from?

Thursdays in Black is coordinated by Tertiary Women NZ, a branch of NZUSA, and seeks to transform the policies, practices, and culture that perpetuate and normalise sexual violence. A little of the backstory has been told in launch events around campuses – Craccum, Salient, and the Otago Daily Times have all run stories during O-Week 2016 for the re-launch – basically, it began during an upswing in radical feminist activity that saw campus women’s groups re-started after a post-’70’s slump. Jan Logie was an early mover of the concept of a campus-backed rape crisis service, and Thursdays in Black was born.

The name harks back even earlier, referencing the ‘Mothers of the Disappeared’, women who paraded in the Plaza del Maya demanding information about the whereabouts of their missing family members, wearing black in mourning and anger. This was in Latin America during the 80’s, a very dangerous time for political dissenters in Argentina, Chile, and Mexico.

By 2001, there was a regular presence on many campuses around NZ, with sales of t-shirts, singlet tops, hoodies, long-sleeved tees, and eventually even trucker caps making an appearance. Lunchtime stalls on Thursdays and O-week promotions kept women’s group members busy in term-time. My own personal involvement in the campaign in Wellington included at various times writing about what TIB means. 


In the past, merchandise was sold to help fund Wellington Independant Rape Crisis (WIRC), since around the mid-90’s; each campus around the country chose where they put the funds raised from TIB, so in other areas, survivor support NGO’s were assisted as available.

There were also gigs to support TIB, run as fundraisers during Women’s Festivals on campus, featuring among others Plum Green (goth/folk singer) & Anika Moa in 2006. That was also the year the White Ribbon campaign hit NZ, with a joint TIB/White Ribbon campaign event at the Southern Cross Tavern in Te Aro, Wellington, raising funds for WIRC.

White Ribbon was later picked up by Police National HQ under Commissioner Howard Broad, during the ‘damage control’ phase after the trial of then Assistant Police Commissioner Clint Rickards and his mates, former police officers Shipton and Schollum, for historical charges relating to rapes endured by Louise Nicholas. Rickards, Shipton & Schollum were acquitted; not so their colleague John Dewar, the investigating officer who was convicted of perjury and perverting the course of justice later that same year, 2007. Shipton and Schollum were already convicted and serving time for another, more violent and brutal rape at Mt Maunganui, a fact of which the jury acquitting them was unaware.

TIB campaign was very popular in the wake of both the acquittals and the later conviction, as the public at large began to be aware of historical cases coming into the Rape Crisis networks all over NZ. Many women came forwards for the first time to disclose historical assaults, triggered by the media publicity surrounding the trial in Auckland.

Police attitudes have shifted markedly since that time – Louisa Nicholas now gives seminars and lectures at the NZ Police College, and has assisted production of guidelines for interviewing sexual assault victims, so that vital evidence is not lost by inept interviewing procedures.

The other big change in survivor support has been the acknowledgment of the extent to which men have been abused, either as children or adults, in contexts where rape has been used to control or coerce, such as prisons or long-stay mental health institutions. In the Waikato, Tokaanui Hospital in Te Awamutu was a site of child and youth mental health long-stay care, and stories are now being validated about abuse of minors in that facility by orderlies. There is an increased need for community services that help those who were not acknowledged as rape victims in the past, to enable them to come forwards and be supported. Some survivor support services were predicated around being ‘women only spaces’, and this is being complemented by services that cater to men and boys, either in the same service provider or through a separate service.

Thursdays in Black has a place in this journey to healing; firstly by simply bringing rape out into the open, by acknowledging the 1 in 4 women who will experience sexual assault at some point in their lives, and the approximately 1 in 7 men, and seeing this as a symptom of a society that has not historically given consent a high priority in our understanding of sexual relationships. It’s too easy to point to alcohol, to say it wouldn’t have happened if one or other was not drunk or drugged at the time, out on the town. The reality is that we have a rape culture, an acceptance that ‘boys will be boys’, and that women are seductive, flirty, encouraging attention, so “what’s the problem?” Getting beyond that rape culture was the point of ‘Slutwalk’ in 2012, challenging the victim-blaming narratives and placing blame and responsibility for their actions squarely on the shoulders of the rapists.

For every guy who says #notallmen there are women asking for consent to be discussed, and the various myths around how rape happens to be debunked.

Rapists target women they happen to find – it’s a predatory thing, not a woman ‘asking for it’ because she was walking around town, to the shops, going for a drink with mates, wearing a pretty dress on a night out.

We need, as a society, to get over this idea that men are ‘uncontrollable’ in the sight of a pretty woman; it’s just not a thing guys, so if you are tired of women being all defensive about this, then get used to saying to that one guy you know who is a bit of a dick when you’re out, “hey bro, she’s not interested, leave her alone”, when he pesters the living daylight a out of some intimidated young woman.

Since 2009 the National Government has reduced funding available to NGO’s dealing with Domestice Violence (DV) or survivor support groups like Rape Crisis, Women’s Refuge & Te Whare Rokiroki – so for many of these peer-to-peer support groups, staff have been reduced, or services limited to only a few days a week.

The latest Budget in May 2016 has further reduced funding to Women’s Refuge, Rape Crisis and others, including the nascent Men’s Refuge developments, which have not got off the ground due to funding challenges.

New agencies have sprung up – Aviva is one such – in response to the changing funding environment.

In Hamilton, SAATS is the first responder (Sexual Assault Assessment Treatments Services), based in Anglesea Clinic in the CBD, and they liase closely with the Police, as well as running a 24-hour phoneline on 07 858 0800

This year, TIB merchandise is available  via NZUSA’s Thursdays in Black TradeMe page, and you will see students wearing theses shirts on campuses all around the country. (So far, t-shirts in men’s and women’s sizes, made with organic non-toxic dye, printed in Wellington on fair trade certified t-shirts, text available in English or Te Reo.)


“Thursdays in Black Aotearoa” on FB and @ThursInBlackNZ on Instagram and Twitter post images from the campaign, and crowd-sourced selfies every week.

Tertiary Women NZ contacts: Izzy O’Neill, current National Women’s Rights Officer, nwro@students.org.nz

There’s a FB page, NZUSA Tertiary Women’s Focus Group, they tweet @_TWFG and can be found on http://www.students.org.nz/twfg

#TIB selfies can be posted to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to show your support for students’ right to safe campuses in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Check out Thursdays in Black , on Facebook here , or the merch On TradeMe here .

Today is very special for me. I’m a random tourist, doing some post-post-grad research in Dunedin currently, so I’ve been on Otago University campus a bit lately. Hocken Library is a national treasure, btw.

Today, OUSA Welfare exec Bryn Jenkins managed the Otago Uni re-launch of Thursdays in Black, the anti-violence campaign dating back to the 1990’s, formerly managed by the Tertiary Women’s Focus Group of NZUSA. It’s been in abeyance for a few years, due to funding shortfalls at NZUSA. Call that an outcome of the intersection between the incoming National Government in 2008, and the passing of the VSM legislation through Parliament, supported by ACT.

Violence, gendered and aimed at both biological sexes and most of the LGBTI+ spectrum, has not abated at the same rate as the funding to counter it. If anything, DV rates and alcohol-fuelled aggression have increased in proportion to the funding cuts announced in the devilish detail of every Bill English Budget since 2009.

I rant on about this stuff incessantly, offline and face-to-face with my feminist friends. I’ve written about issues around violence a lot. Seeing a fresh bunch of young people taking up the task of challenging NZ’s culture of violence inspires and energises me. 

There are many other initiatives out there as well – Shama in the Waikato, Shakti in Auckland & Wellington, to specifically address ethnic violence within their own cultures, youth support programs, Queer DV support networks; we need all of these groups. Getting TIB back up again on campus is a major win, though – because for many young people, this is their entry into thinking about consent, violence, social culture in NZ, the whole bowl of spaghetti.

  
Here’s Bryn, on the far right of the picture, with his fantastic vollie crew. Naww, aren’t they lovely!

White Ribbon Pledge

White Ribbon Pledge

I’m going to head off on a short rant about entitlement and privilege. Trigger warning, this one may ramble all over sexual assault, child sexual abuse, domestic violence, and how completely fucked-up the media narratives around power and control are, to do with personal boundaries around women’s bodies and women’s lives. 

What set that off, you ask? Oh, #ponytailgate, Mike Hoskings in general, his comments about the blogpost Amanda Bailey wrote for TDB in particular, and a multitude of instances of male appropriation of the narratives around what women find offensive, whether that should be so, and why they (males) don’t think it’s all that much of a problem. 

Of course, if you happen to belong to the demographic of the 1-in-4 women who (across the whole-of-lifetime) has been sexually assaulted, not to mention the subset who have survived multiple assaults, by various predators, across the span of their lives, then you will find it pretty bloody disgusting that there are a large group of media people who minimise, deny, obfuscate and manipulate, to create the public opinion that says, ‘women who don’t take care of themselves adequately get abused’. The truth is that those 1-in-4 come from every walk of life, are mothers, daughters, wives, grannies, aunties… 

And sometimes, it’s a man you know, who was sexually abused as a child or teenager, who has grown up with fear, anxiety, shame, pain, who has ‘odd’ reactions to incongruous situations; because they are situations that trigger memories of abuse, and bring to the surface those fears of the abuse happening again. 

Our rates of reporting and conviction for sexual assaults (child or adult) are not great. The ‘best guess’ was about one in ten rapes of over-16-year-olds are reported. Child sexual assaults are under-reported, although reporting by medical surgeries who diagnose STD’s in children is increasing the reporting rates. Some areas have epidemic levels of medically-reported child abuse; CYFS and Police do not have the capacity to clear anything like the amount of historical cases, either. Neither do ACC, whose criteria for ‘sensitive claims’ casework has been revised after an avalanche of new cases, some involving abuse going back decades, have been reported in the wake of Clint Rickards’ trial and acquittal for abuse of Louise Nicholas in 2007. 

Meanwhile, abusers drift from town to town, sniffing out the vulnerable and manipulating their way into another situation they can take advantage of. Precarity of housing, jobs, and benefit access, mean that vulnerable people will be targeted by those who have no scruples, who will rip off and abuse where they can get any toehold. There is a growing pattern of elder abuse happening, as middle-aged abusers target their own families in scams set up after ‘moving home’ due to job loss or some other event that has made them temporarily homeless. 

Police are not keeping up with the sociology of abuse. ‘It’s not ok’ defines relationship abuse solely in terms of sexual-partner abuse. The abuse by a dominant adult ‘child’, or the bullying that happens in some flatting situations, is not on their radar; policy around Policing is still reliant on a mid-20th C family dynamic that assumes nuclear, heterosexual, monogamous families, and fails to address modern households comprising multiple generations, extended friends-and-family houses, the post-student-loans indebted 30-somethings who are still renting-with-friends to survive – all of these non-normative households are also sites of dispute, fraud, assault or violence on occasion, and the law has no real regard for the plaint of individuals whose lives do not fit the templates. 

Wait, how did I get here from ‘entitlement & privilege’? Heh. Because every abuser I’ve ever met (a long and inglorious list) has had one thing in common with all the others: an overwhelming sense of entitlement, a conviction deep inside that s/he deserves everything his/her heart desires, and the privilege of having had no wait for gratification of those desires imposed, ever. Dinner on the table, someone else to clean up the mess, and sex on-demand, livestreamed, no concerns about ‘consent being sexy’, because the only person who matters in these exchanges is the narcissist, the psychopath, him/herself. 

‘Femicide’ was the name I labelled a file in which I kept clippings of domestic violence related killings, for one traumatic twelve-month period. I had to give it up (it was research for a tentative writing project), because the sheer scale of the number of incidents overwhelmed me. Because so many of these events involved murder-suicides, there were constraints on reporting the crimes; thus, the stories sank quickly from view, and the general public, readers of media, fail to note the severity or frequency of domestic violence killings. 

A pony-tail pull seems infantile, innocuous by comparison with the previous paragraph; but the underlying principle is the same: unequal power, use of that imbalance to impose upon another person’s body without their consent, and the sense of entitlement that gives the abuser permission to deny any agency to the person being so abused, in the expression of the gratification of the abusers desires. It seems that ‘top-down’ change in the attitudes of the NZ male around abusive behaviour is not going to happen. 

Laydees, looks like it’s up to us to enact ‘bottom-up’, grassroots (or flaxroots, if you prefer) change, to break the power binary, to stop the abuse in our communities. Those who control the narratives (Police, media, politicians) are not doing enough to prevent abuse, nor to hold abusers to account. Now it’s our turn. 

Resource: Power and control wheel 

All of these headings, the segments on the wheel, are forms of abuse, behaviours used to control, manipulate, and break the spirit of a victim. To become a survivor, the victim has to escape the abuser. For some, this never happens; the period immediately after leaving the location of abuse (home, workplace, school) is often the time when the victim is most vulnerable to further abuse. The media court the ‘powerful’, and the narratives around ‘victim-blaming’, ‘slut-shaming’ and the like allow abusers to continue to perpetrate crimes by walking away from their abuses, and on to the next victim.

I realise that many readers of this blog will think that I am merely an artsy, stroppy feminist with too many opinions traversing policy areas across the spectrum. This is a deliberate strategy that I have undertaken for this stream of publication.



So to ‘break the fourth wall’, I am now going to give you a little of my IRL specifics, in order that what I say about the GCSB Bill now before the House in New Zealand, has a little more validity.



I have been around the IT industry in our country since my early university days. Yep, I failed Comp 101, because it bored me rigid, rather than not understanding how to write binary code. I didn’t want to end up working with those kinda people, doing that kinda work. My sister is of a different personality type, and she loved it, and has had a twenty-five-year career (and counting) in IT, as has my ex-husband. It was during my marriage that I learned most of what I know about the internet, due to contracts my then-husband was working on for his employer, a major MNC which operates in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. 



Don’t kid yourselves that there is anything ‘private’ about what you do on the net.


Don’t buy into the idea that you are ‘a consumer’, the internet is ‘a product’, nor that it is there to entertain you.



What we now call the internet began as Arpanet and DArpanet, projects of the USA Department of Defense, in collaboration with research projects at hand-picked Universities in the USA. It was originally an IT research program to create a secure way of transmitting and collecting data for the DOD. These days, we’d call that an intranet, similar to the kind of WAN that operates inside most corporations for administrative purposes.



The Bill going through our Parliament at the moment is a stage of DOD ‘taking back’ the internet from public use. Surveillance and transmission of surveilled data was always the primary purpose of the net; the Patriot Act in 2001, followed by Terrorism Suppression legislation in most global jurisdictions, was a first attempt to ‘plug the holes’. Creating crimes of knowledge, of dissemination of information, was the beginning of a global campaign by DOD to regain domination of the medium of internet traffic.

It is obvious in the trial of Bradley Manning, the attempts to smear and discredit Julian Assange of Wikileaks, the hunting down of Edward Snowden (still on-going), that the DOD is very serious about extending its’ capacities to control activities outside the borders of the USA.


This is a breach of the sovereignty of every other nation on earth, and most people are just going to sit by and watch as it happens, not making the connections to totalitarian control of their own lives.

So, on these grounds, I urge every thinking citizen of Aotearoa/New Zealand to join in the protests against the GCSB Bill that is before the House. There is a nationwide protest organised for Saturday 27th July 2013, all events beginning at 2pm.
Because this is only the thin end of a wedge that will see a totalitarian surveillance society established in every nation in the world, if we, the people, do not stop it. It’s too late to make submissions, but this is something anyone can do.
Events in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin, Napier are listed on FB and there is also a general group for discussion. (outlinks)

Our MP’s have spoken out against this Bill – here on frogblog and here and here on the main Greens website.

If you want to access the submissions that went to the Select Committee hearings, they can be found here (pdf to download).

If you want to view the submissions made during the hearings, video has been uploaded to You-tube. (outlinks)
Submitters Thomas Beagle, from Tech Liberty, Susan Chalmers and Jordan Carter from Internet NZ, Micheal Koziarski, Vikram Kumar, Simon Terry, all made submissions as working professionals contracting in the IT industry.
Keith Locke and Kate Dewes and Robert Green (nuclear disarmament activists) made submissions on the political aspects of the Bill.

Well, when I first heard about this, I thought it was quaint – after all, we’ve been gender-balancing our Green MP’s in the party lists forever. Ok, so Labour are catching up with us in a slow and unwieldy way, but it’s no real biggie.

I went off to do some essential, offline tasks.
Then I came back to the internet after dinner.

Oh dear, the trolls and the journalists have joined hands and danced around the fairy circle together.

Comments on posts on Facebook have veered from curious to bewildered, amongst the left, and gone straight to blindingly misogynist on the right.

Apparently, Whaleoil started it. No, I don’t link to his festering cesspit of a blog, you can google that one for yourselves if you want to go there.
Stuff had a go at finding a woman to throw the argument sideways.

Andrew Geddis at Pundit was more reasoned, and gave a clear outline of why so many (even Labour supporters) are concerned about both the announcement, and the timing (right when Key is on the ropes with GCSB hearings).

Chris Trotter has done an ‘insider’s view’ post at the Daily Blog, with a stirring look back at the formation of NewLabour Party in 1989. Recollections of Jim Anderton’s breakaway from ‘old’ Labour had me reaching for the chocolate again.
(yep, I’m playing the feminist version of ‘scull for clichés’ by chewing a lump of chocolate each time I see a glaring piece of male appropriation of the debate. Gonna be a long night if I keep reading around, it seems …)

Even The Civilian has had a go. Excuse me while I roflmao.

No-one seems to have made much about the strategic problem of how you do this when list candidates get juggled around by the electorate seat results, and Labour seem to have forgotten just how many female MP’s they have exactly … which makes for some gruelling reading as they back-step & correct themselves in clear view of the journo’s etc firing off hits at them.
[excuse me while I just scoff another piece of chocolate …🙂 ]

I’ll be mightily interested to see how this story plays over the weekend, and slightly curious to see which newsrooms scrabble together a feature in the weekend papers, and with what angle.
Do play along at home, and throw article links into the comments here.

Update:
Well, the pollie journo’s at Granny Herald seem to have a bob each way going this weekend. Fran O’Sullivan comes out with a strong piece in support of gender balance in Parlie, as she also supports workplace gender balance. On the ‘noes’, it’s Adam Bennett, reporting a back-peddle from Shearer and some prize misogyny from Shane Jones and Damian O’Connor (why am I not surprised?).

Back Benches Redux

June 25, 2013

So, here’s another post about Back Benches!
[yes, I’m pasting info directly from Prime’s PR – but why change perfectly good material when you don’t have to?]

This week’s Back Benches panel in Wellington is Labour MP Phil Goff, National MP Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, and Green Party MP Kevin Hague.

THIS WEEK ON PRIME TV’s “BACK BENCHES”: Watch Wallace Chapman, Damian Christie, the Back Benches Panel and special guests discuss the week’s hottest topics!

WHO SHOULD GET THE PILLS?: Pharmac—the Government’s drug-buying agency wants your input on their funding policies? Who should be getting the pills? Where should our priorities lie? Should they put more money extending the lives of the elderly? Or should they prioritise medicines that would improve the lives of younger people? What about the poor—are they more deserving of help than rich people? Should the future earning potential of children be considered? Focusing on preventable diseases vs. genetic?

SPY BILL—IS IT SAFETY vs. PRIVACY?: The Law Society has made their opinion over the GCSB law changes proposals known. They hate it. They say the changes would mean the GCSB would go from a foreign intelligence agency to a domestic one. So, would the new powers be too broad? Why would New Zealanders need to watched? In order to gain safety—is a loss of privacy the price to pay?

There are two ways to get in on the political pub action:
First, you can join the live audience in Wellington’s iconic Backbencher Pub on Wednesday, 26th of June at 6pm. Filming begins around 6:15pm.

Or watch us that night on PRIME TV at 10:30pm!
http://www.primetv.co.nz/

Plus, Follow us on Facebook (BackBenchesTV) or on Twitter @BackBenchesTV.

Update:
I’ve missed my weekly fix of fun at the Back Bencher pub in Molesworth St, but during a flying visit, managed to squeeze in an evening with old mates.
The renovated pub layout is rather swish, I do approve of the changes – it’s been a bit hard to see how it all fitted together from the Prime footage I’ve watched. Up close, there was a lot to enjoy, not the least of which was the new puppets, which I hadn’t seen for myself before.
This weeks episode was full of rather good quotes – if you didn’t manage to watch it on Prime, catch it on i-Sky’s on-demand section, Prime shows are free-2-watch for a fortnight after transmission.

Just finished reading IPCA report on Operation 8, over a few cups of tea.
Just in case you don’t fancy reading the whole 88 pages of self-justification by Police National HQ, here’s some edited highlights:

“Findings in relation to Property searches
387. Police actions led occupants at five properties to have reasonable cause to believe that they were being detained while the search was conducted. The detention of occupants at these properties was contrary to law, unjustified, and unreasonable.” => illegal actions by Police Officers.

“390. Police had no legal basis or justification for personally searching occupants. These searches were contrary to law, unjustified, and unreasonable” => illegal actions on the part of Police Officers.

Now is the time for some actual punitive action to be taken by the Police Commissioner.
The Anti-Terror Unit, based in South Auckland, is composed of Police Officers who were recruited from overseas, from countries and forces that had ‘experience’ with anti-terror policing – namely, London Metropolitan Police who had been trained during the period of IRA bombings in the UK, and Afrikaaners from South Africa, who were trained during the ANC’s activities to gain political power in South Africa.
None of these staff came to Aotearoa/New Zealand without a complete set of personal biases, and they do not appear to be re-trained to cultural sensitivity around rights for all citizens in our country. Out of ten positions in the Anti-terror Unit, only one is held by a NZ-born and trained officer – Aaron Pascoe. The guy who authored the very flawed “Pascoe Affadavit” which was used to obtain search warrants on the 10th October, 2007.

Assistant Police Commissioner Jon White, in charge of the ATU, is one of the Afrikaaners. I strongly suggest that if the IPCA is serious about solving the ‘problems’ identified in the policing of the Ruātoki valley in 2007, then getting rid of the racist police officers in the ATU might be a very good place to start.
Then they might consider removing some of the rest of the Afrikaaner officers who have been recruited in to the NZ Police forces over the past ten years, who are a cohort of racists scattered through our towns and cities, to the detriment of unbiased, legal policing of crime.
If they don’t want to go to South Africa, get the Netherlands to take them back.

Note:
The report is available to download and read in full here.

Update:
Good post from Maui Street went up same day, but I’ve been slack checking around the web.

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