ANZAC day, redux.

April 25, 2019

WHite poppies for peace

I’ve written about my great-uncles on my mother’s side before, in relation to the NZ obsession with glorifying the massive military defeat at Gallipoli.
Some years, notably during 2014-2018, I have just re-posted those old articles (the earliest sits in my archive here on November 11, 2008) but this year I thought I’d add to the narrative.

I’ve been doing research, off and on, into family history since around 1978, after my grandfather died. That was when I first heard the stories of his two older brothers, Jack and Bob, who went off to fight in France in 1917 & never returned. My mother’s eldest brother is named John Robert in their memory; he was born over a decade after their deaths.

Due to the massive amount of funding the Ministry of Culture and Heritage poured into WW1 commemorations, all of the files from deceased soldiers have been digitised, and sit in the Archway collections of the National Archives. As a peripatetic researcher, I troop through there occasionally during visits to Wellington, so I went looking for Jack & Bob Stevenson a couple of years ago. Yes, their entire military files were available to view; and I looked.

I have no images of these two, the brothers of my grandfather.
They were country boys, educated in a rural school up to age 12, then put to work on the family farm, Blackburn, which was at Alfredton – a location variously described as ‘Pahiatua’ or ‘Kaitawa, Pahiatua’, on their NZDF signup forms.
They were the two eldest, of nine offspring of Alexander and Jeannie Stevenson.
Aunt Margaret became the family housekeeper after her mother’s death; Aunt Jean married and moved to Palmerston North. The men stayed on the farm, gradually being permitted to take wives and have children. My grandfather waited until his 30th birthday in 1928, for that permission.
Bob and Jack were thus single when they went to France, in 1917.

I will illustrate the service of a young farmer in France, with Robert’s record.
Robert Stevenson, aged 21 years. Height – 5’11”, weight – 172lb, complexion – fair, colour of eyes – bluish-grey, colour of hair – brown.
My mother, Beth, was 5’10 at 19 years old, when she married my father. In all other respects, apart frrom gender, Robert matches my mother. My sister also carried the brown hair, but is of shorter stature. We all carried the bluish-grey eyes.

Robert signed up on the 30th May, 1916, at Trentham Army Camp, as a private #26197,  in F Company 17th Regiment.
On 21st November 1916, he was promoted to Rifleman, and moved to 4th Battallion of 3rd NZ Rifle Brigade, and it was with that status that he arrived ‘in field’ in France in March, 1917.
He had sailed from Devonport to Sling Camp, that huge staging post of ANZAC soldiers; and then crossed to France after the New Year, being staged at Etaples on 9 January, then St Omer from 8 March 1917.
The rest of the details of his service are slight.
He was wounded in battle in October 1917, and died of his wounds 13th Ocober 1917, the death certificate signed at ‘No 47 Casualty Clearing Station, France or Belgium’; buried at Dosinghem British Cemetary, Western, north of Poperinghe.
The Field Service Report of the Death of a Soldier was signed by a superior officer at Rouen, France, 27 December, 1917.

The official records continue to show bureaucratic action right up to October 1923, when ‘Medal Action Complete’ is noted on 8 October – almost a full six years after his death.
He was posthumously awarded the British War Medal, and the Victory Medal, whcih were sent to his father as next of kin, at Kaitawa, Pahiatua.
Prior to the delivery of medals, there would have been ‘the telegram’, followed by the dispatch of a Scroll of honour in 21 July 1921, a Plaque on 18 November 1921, and a Certificate (of service, presumably) on 10 November 1922.
The dates are significant – the 11 November 1918 was the date of the signing of the Armistace, and in 1919, the Treaty of Versailles, which awarded such huge damages to France & Belgium, to be paid by the German State. The bureacrats of the NZDF seemd to have been at pains to close off documentation before those significant anniversaries rolled around each year.
The seeds of WW2 were sown in those years of the 1920’s, when rampant inflation hit Europe as the war rebuild carried on. The Black Friday of 31st October 1929 happened just as the nations of Europe were begining to think the worst of the recovery was over.
In NZ, our farmers slowly went to the wall; despite my great-grandfather Alexander Stevenson forbidding any more sons to go to war, their efforts were not enough to survive the downturn.
Other, better historians than I have chronicled those years – I recommend Tony Simpsopn’s The Sugarbag Years, or anything by Keith Sinclair on that period.
John A Lee wrote during the 40’s about the privations of the working classes during the late 20’s and the Great Depression; my grandfather had all of his works on the bookshelf, a fact I should have noticed as a teenager. I collected the volumes again, in my forties, from second-hand bookshops in Wellington.

For our family, the patriarch decided, in his fervent Calvinism, that he would not be mortgaged. The produce of the farm was not selling for enough to cover the seasonal purchases of seed, and there were issues of getting produce to market, so he sold the farm out from under his remaining five sons and their families, around 1933. All were sent down the road, except for Aunt Margaret, who accompanied him to a small bungalow in Palmerston North, where they lived near Aunty Jean & Uncle Reg Forbes.

My grandparents functionally separated, my grandmother taking their two toddlers & becoming the unqualified teacher at Kaitawa School; my grandfather went swagging, begging work and a roof over his head wherever he might find it.
They were both so ashamed that this had been their reality, that when WW2 began, and younger men were conscripted into the Armed Forces, they never spoke about the years apart, after my grandfather obtained a position managing a farm at Motea, near Dannevirke. They lived there well into the 1960’s, raising four children in total – two born before the Great Depression, and two born after they reconciled in 1939.

These stories came painfully into the light of day after my grandfather died in 1978, just shy of his 80th birthday & Golden Wedding anniversary. My teenage years were bookended by school holiday visits to my grandmother, retired and living in Hastings, and the gradual teasing out of those stories.

We are a family of war resisters – Uncle Bob was withdrawn from high school in Dannevirke & put to work on the farm during WW2, lest he be press-ganged into service.
He was 16 years old when my mother was born in 1944; quite recently, we had a chat about that, and he said it was dreadful – all of the siblings were the height of adults at 12 years old, so he was perceived as a young man shirking his duty, and presented with white feathers if he was seen in town with his mother.
At my mother’s funeral in 2015, he was still resentful of his father’s attitude, which had caused him to be questioned about his lack of war service throughout his adult life.
Both of my mother’s brothers are still alive; and there are still conversations to be had.
Uncle Bob left the farm after the war, going to live in Auckland and becoming a mechanic, later owning a small fleet of courrier vans and a property of ten acres at Waimauku, where we visited as ‘country cousins come to town’ in the 1970’s.
He was always a gentle man, and despite his lack of education, a sensitive and knowing person. His sister June had training as a hairdresser, Mum went to Teacher’s College at Ardmore in the early 60’s, and only my younger Uncle Dave stayed in farming, being one of the first to take up deer farming in earnest in Waipukurau in the 1970’s.

In my generation, there are Accountants, Nurses, a cousin with a PhD in Maths, a Pharmacist, along with a few of the cohort without tertiary degrees who are mechanics, truck drivers, an airhostess, an IT professional. My own trajectory through academia is neither unusual nor taken for granted. These days, we meet at family funerals more often than at weddings, and we acknowledge that our connections are waning as my generation welcome grandchildren, and farewell our parents.

I’m slowly writing versions of the family histories, for each of the major branches of my family, both maternal and paternal. Archives and Museums are slowly giving up their records to my searches, sometimes finding truths that dismay my relatives, who have a rosy view of the past, based on several kinds of elisions of the depressing realities our forbears survived.

My committment to pacifism continues, despite recent events in my own life that were not of the best outcomes. Again, others have written while I was incapacitated, so I’ll link to that rather than repeating the work.

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This was a think-piece I put up on Twitter, which caught on in a way most of my writing really doesn’t. So, I thought I’d stash a version of it here, with a few corrections that were happily crowd-sourced from readers.

I’ve seen a lot of confusion around the ‘alt-right’, ‘white supremacy’, ‘neonazi’ labels in recent weeks. So, as an historian, I’m going to do a little facism 101 thread to disambiguate for the confused.

Facism did not begin with Adolf Hitler, he just exploited xenophobia & economic stresses that were already present in Germany after WW1. Yep, the roots of the Waffen SS begin with the Treaty of Versailles, which accorded massive penalty payments to Germany in 1918.

Aristocrats drove WW1, after the assassination of Prussian Arch-duke Ferdinand by a Serbian national. (Serbia’s simmering resentments led to the 1990’s breakup of Yugoslavia, but we’ll get to that later…)
WW1 was really the last war where British aristocracy told peasants to fight.

Colonial forces, made up of generally ‘lower classes’, were used as cannon fodder in wildly misplanned engagements that ignored modern weapons technology. German machine guns mowed down Allied troops. We in New Zealand celebrate ANZAC day, a complete debacle.
Aristocratic supremacy was maintained, however.
The Military higher ranks are second sons of the landed aristocracy, of course.

WW2 followed a decade of Depression, and widespread economic failure in Europe. The British facists like Lord Moseley (whose family are F1 owners) were some of the first to trot over to Berlin & congratulate Adolf Hitler when he became Chancellor of the Exchequer (German PM). The British National Front is funded (through a few cutouts) by the Moseleys & their allies, some of the old aristocracy of England.

The Mitford daughters, a selection of well-bred beauties, were frontline fans of Hitler & Goering. Diana Mitford married Oswald Mosely who founded the British Union of Facists; Unity Mitford died after an unsuccessful suicide attempt, which caused ongoing health problems due to a bullet lodged in her brain, after having been part of the inner circle around Hitler. Deborah Mitford became the Duchess of Devonshire, and lived into her 80’s.
Propaganda, the dark art we now call ‘marketing’, was developed by Goebbels, Goering & Leni Riefenstahl, their cinematographer. WW2 was a modern psy-ops war, the first of the 20thC.

Now we’re 70 years on from the Nazi exploits. This is about the period when history repeats – my grandfather fought in Egypt, was captured by Rommel’s armies & incarcerated in Germany for most of the war. I’m the generation that has the last memories of direct transmission.

This is the dangerous decade (or two) that we are entering. Facism has been repackaged for the 21stC, & it comes with some fancy new propaganda tools that Goebbels would have loved. Ayn Rand, a right-wing libertarian, is popular again. Algorithms are being tailored to push neonazi ideas.

Eugenics as an ideology is rising again – a deplorable (yes, I’m using that term…) belief in racial purity that was the foundation of the KKK in the Southern USA, and was even used in NZ by Dr Truby King, who founded Plunket.
It deifies white supremacist ideals & norms. There are also troubling attacks on the disabled & those who suffer illnesses of old age, within eugenics.
Hitler’s ‘death list’ of ‘types’ of human to eliminate came from eugenicist thinking – Roma, disabled, homosexuals, Jews, & political dissidents for good measure.

In a modern liberal state, there are checks & balances to protect the most vulnerable. Trump is removing those checks, by the simple expedient of not appointing Chiefs of Staff to some White House positions, causing logjams. He’s gamed the US Constitution. This is facist.

Pastor Martin Niemöller gave us the 20thC’s most often-quoted mea culpa; which I will paraphrase here:
‘When they came for the others, I said nothing… Then there was no-one left to speak up when they came for me.’

Speak up now, while you still have a voice to use against facists.

 

I was also asked by a commenter to address why Facism is being re-positioned as ‘Socialism’ by those on the alt-right who want to distance themselves from accusations of neonazism. So here’s that part of the thread:

Well, they’re doing that for people who know zip about German history.
Short answer, look up the Weimar Republic.
The use of ‘Nationalist Socialism’ in Germany, soon shortened to Nazi, was about capturing the impoverished working classes who were heavily taxed to pay for WW1.

Trump has been playing on the leftover impoverishment (which is real) after the GFC. That trillions of dollars ‘market correction’ came out of ordinary people’s mortgages.
The banks got bailed out. Socialism for capital, but not for workers.
Fear of ‘the Reds’ in USA goes back to McCarthyism in the 1950’s, during the biggest increase of citizen surveillance in the 20thC.
Current fears about another crash (because banks haven’t changed their lending practices in the USA), and a political desire to scapegoat are seeing a repeat of 1930’s tropes. A Cold War, if you will.

So, Trump may not be the smartest tool in the shed, but he buys expertise.
There are many right-wing think-tanks selling their policies whole. Using data analytics, as happened in the 2016 elections in the USA, allows modelling from polling results.
It’s government by marketing.
Using ‘Socialism’ as a hand-wave for Nazi ideology allows the alt-right to claim theirs is a new philosophy of politics, not just a rehash of the usual suspects in the pantheon of dictatorships.

 

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 these 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.

Feministy round-up for 2012

December 30, 2012

I’ve been a bit short on interwebz for a while, so not much posting here has been going on.
Thankfully, there are others who rant more than I do, who’ve been keeping their end up, so I’m gonna chuck a bunch of links atcha.
I’m too hot, it’s mid-summer, and I’m nowhere near a beach, but suffering from limited net-surfing capacity.
Sorry, there are no pictures today!

So, here’s some of the low-lights of this year for me, mostly from the last two months, in no particular order, and some linky-love to people I respect who write far more consistently than I do.

There was an appalling incident of gang-rape in India, reported on desultorily in NZ until it became mega worldwide, when the Herald finally published this. I have no words to describe this tragedy, other than it is appalling that such events happen, and the result is debate about whether laws need to be changed, in the face of huge popular demonstrations by women all over India. The time has come for Indians, whether Hindu, Sikh, Muslim or Christian, to come to an agreement that rape is not the fault of the victim, it is a crime by the rapist.

The Hand Mirror has been fighting fires with logic and reason, notably over the responses to the Sandy Hook mass murders. Autism has become a hot topic, when one would imagine gun control and a review of the ludicrous NRA-sponsored gun laws in the USA should be the concern. More here.

And still with THM, Stargazer had pertinent things to say about the apparent suicide of Jacintha Saldanha in the wake of an Aussie radio DJ’s prank. She also wrote a great post about harrassment women bloggers receive, referencing Anita Sarkeesian’s TED talk.

Not to be seen to be playing favourites, Luddite Journo has also had some good rants, here on consent, and here on Out in the Square. I’m missing Wellington already ….

ALRANZ blog has been busy chronicling activism in – wait for it – Invercargill, as the local fundies try to shame women and Doctors attending the clinic at Southland Hospital. Just to show that shallow thinking and illogical actions are not merely the province of ill-educated american fundamentalists. I applaud the gutsy women who are picketing in the face of right-to-lifers who can’t see the contradiction in terms between their stance on abortion and their stance on supporting women to have decent lives, with a capacity to feed the children they give birth to. *sigh*
I’d be slapping stupid faces by now, I’m just over the specious arguments …. which is really why it’s a good thing I’m not in Invercargill right now.

NORML protest poster 29 Oct

NORML protest poster 29 Oct

Billy McKee is facing four charges of selling small quantities of cannabis to an undercover policeman, and one of cultivating the plant. He is being sentenced 30th October at Palmerston North High Court.

So here’s the plan, we are arriving at Palmerston North High Court on 29th October by 4:00 pm for a public display of non-violent civil disobedience at 4:20 pm, we will then picket the courthouse until 8pm at which our overnight candlelight vigil will begin, devoted to Billy McKee and in solidarity with all medical cannabis users around NZ and the world.

From 10am on 30th October we will picket the courthouse and sit with him in the courtroom until he is sentenced and freed.

Everyone is encouraged to come along. We need to people to share this event and invite their friends, social media is a very powerful tool so let’s use it!

We are traveling from around the country to support Billy McKee, who is a medical cannabis user, amputee and director of GreenCross.org.nz

Recently Green party co-Leader Meteria Turei wrote a post on frogblog about Billy’s case – Billy McKee should be discharged.

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