The Dim-Post

July 6, 2013

Man Ban Thank you Ma’am

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 1:49 pm

Okay. Via the Herald:

Labour yesterday released proposed changes to its selection processes, including allowing local electorate committees to apply to the party’s ruling council to block men from running for some seats.

It is part of a bid to lift the proportion of women in caucus to 45 per cent by next year and 50 per cent by 2017.

The proposal is backed by Labour’s NZ Council and will go up for the vote at the party’s annual conference in November. However, it is already causing division.

There are two proposed changes here. Quotas so that the list is representative and the ‘man ban’ process to ensure that there’s greater diversity among electorate MPs.

I totally get the argument here. Women are just over 50% of the population, so they should be represented to that extent in Parliament. If they ain’t then its safe to assume there are barriers – economic, cultural, institutional, historic, etc preventing proper representation and preventing female candidates being chosen on merit. So you have something like a quota, a form of positive discrimination to ensure that female candidates of merit aren’t excluded on the basis of gender.

But you can’t have a quota system in an electorate seat, and right now the electorate seats aren’t selecting many female candidates. Thus the man ban, in which electorate committees get to block men from running in seats if the council approves.

The backlash against this idea has been overwhelming. The problem, I think, is that the man man isn’t positive discrimination – it’s just discrimination. The justification for that is that it counter-balances discrimination against women, and that people who don’t accept that argument don’t believe in gender equality and the Labour Party shouldn’t rely on their votes if political success means accepting misogyny. Sometimes principles and progress count for more than realpolitik. 

My problem with the man ban is this: I can’t imagine a scenario in which its ever used. If electorates aren’t selecting many female candidates, why would they decide to totally preclude male candidates from the selection process? And, even if they did, almost the entire Labour caucus vehemently opposes this idea on the grounds that it is political suicide – something they realise now even if it eluded them a week ago – which could make it tricky getting approval from council. AND, even if you did get an electorate who requested it and a council granting permission, how many female politicians want to go into a general election campaign after being nominated by a process from which men were excluded only to have that thrown in their face at every candidates meeting by the National MP?

So the ‘man ban’ seems like a disaster. Something that makes the party look absurd to a huge number of voters but with no gain. No progress towards greater gender equality – on the contrary, I predict it will sink the proposal to adopt a quota system for the list which would have led to greater female representation in Parliament.

48 Comments »

  1. On the other hand, they could loudly drop the “man ban”, and quietly implement the quota at the same time.

    Comment by pete — July 6, 2013 @ 2:06 pm

  2. I can’t imagine a scenario in which its ever used.

    Easy. An electorate with a history of having a woman MP might want to continue to help women’s representation that way. An unwinnable electorate might want to ensure a woman candidate gets the practice/experience of running.

    On the less progressive side, an electorate divided against a specific male candidate might want to shut him out that way. It’s against the purpose of the move, but it’s probably the most likely.

    Comment by QoT — July 6, 2013 @ 2:24 pm

  3. But you can’t have a quota system in an electorate seat, and right now the electorate seats aren’t selecting many female candidates.

    I’d like some evidence of this, please.

    For the 2011 election, Labour held 32 electorate selections in which a sitting MP was not seeking the seat (and whose selection was really made in the past, rather than now). Selected as candidates for these 32 electorates were 16 men and 16 women.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — July 6, 2013 @ 3:25 pm

  4. On the other hand, they could loudly drop the “man ban”, and quietly implement the quota at the same time.

    Which will cause even louder whining from Shearer, Cosgrove and Jones when they realise it means they get ranked below 40 on the list.

    Comment by Idiot/Savant (@norightturnnz) — July 6, 2013 @ 3:26 pm

  5. For the 2011 election, Labour held 32 electorate selections in which a sitting MP was not seeking the seat (and whose selection was really made in the past, rather than now). Selected as candidates for these 32 electorates were 16 men and 16 women.

    So the problem is a rump of male electorate MPs?

    Given how many of those are useless, I can see deselection as a solution here.

    Comment by Idiot/Savant (@norightturnnz) — July 6, 2013 @ 3:27 pm

  6. I was surprised it took Shearer 24 hours to outright state he didn’t support the women-only seats. He was weakly against it when first asked by the media, which was the wrong thing to do when he should instead have presented himself as a strong leader who is directing the party rather than one who the party pushes to the side. People’s perception of a party leader is half the battle in an election
    but I don’t see Shearer winning any points there.

    Comment by Ataahua — July 6, 2013 @ 3:41 pm

  7. The idea that the entire Labour caucus vehemently opposes this will come as new to Chris Hipkins, Annette King, Sue Moroney etc

    Comment by Keir — July 6, 2013 @ 4:03 pm

  8. I said almost the entire Labour caucus. According to the Herald the only person overtly supporting it is Louisa Wall.

    Comment by danylmc — July 6, 2013 @ 4:15 pm

  9. The outrage seems to mostly be coming from the right. Most of the opposition seems to come from the Josie Pagani ‘Hey, Labour can’t win without winning the votes of people who despise everything Labour stands for’ school of thought.

    Comment by Hugh — July 6, 2013 @ 5:09 pm

  10. Pagani has stated she will never stand for Labour again if the rule is implemented. Suddenly I feel this is a vital and much needed change.

    Comment by Gurrrraffe — July 6, 2013 @ 5:25 pm

  11. Again, I think you are vastly overestimating the degree to which this is opposed by caucus. If it was hated that much, it wouldn’t have got through the rounds of regional conferences + NZ Council.

    Comment by Keir — July 6, 2013 @ 5:33 pm

  12. You touch on the on the ground reality with a National MP throwing it in the face of a female Labour MP – but take it one step further, imagine an electorate with a female National candidate up against a female Labour candidate who has been selected in this way. To use that horrible word of the moment, the “optics” are just sooo bad, the policy would undermine its objectives. All things being equal, in a situation like that – and don’t doubt the Nats would be capable of strategically “freely” selecting a female candidate precisely for this reason – a quite average female Nat candidate probably starts out even with a very good quality female Lab candidate. Extrapolated across the country you could end up with the situation where the policy did have the effect of upping the % of female MPs … National MPs that is, who then hold the high ground with that achievement and the fact it was done without any ‘man ban’. You have to ask whether this policy would have an adverse selection bias on Labour female candidates – who would want to step forward and expose themselves to the widespread belief/mud throwing that they couldn’t get selected any other way?

    I feel like Labour have been infiltrated by National double agents: the hypothesis that they do all this kind of thing, go sit in corporate boxes with casino executives etc as part of a smart, concerted and decisive strategy to win power is not credible. Nor is it credible that they are just thick as pig sh%t. Nobody is that stupid. No, I’m afraid those scenarios are simply beyond crediblity. The things we’re seeing could only credibly be the result of National party Labour insider double agents undertaking a smart, concerted and decisive strategy to ensure Labour helps National retain power.

    Comment by I Give Up — July 6, 2013 @ 5:42 pm

  13. Which, yes, it is just possible that Ruth Dyson and Lianne Dalziel and Annette King and Megan Woods and Grant Robertson and Sue Moroney and so-on are easily swayed on the subject of under-represented groups in Parliament, but I kinda doubt they are that easily shifted. Look at the Port Hills LEC chair’s comments. That’s not a group of people swaying in the breeze.

    Comment by Keir — July 6, 2013 @ 5:46 pm

  14. It’s a case of self distraction.

    Feed Chris Trotter material and hope no one notices the lack of policy on spying.

    Comment by NeilM — July 6, 2013 @ 6:35 pm

  15. There is an insidious implicit problem: The underlying implication is that the women thus selected are NOT being chosen on the basis of merit but only on the basis of their gender. What woman would want to be selected thus? The underlying assumption is that they are somehow not good enough to be selected on their own merits. Surely that is an insult.

    In addition, I have read in more than one place that many women are approached at every election to stand, and most choose not to do so, because they don’t want to live that sort of life. In many ways, many of the women I know are more practical and level-headed than most men.

    Comment by David in Chch — July 6, 2013 @ 9:06 pm

  16. “…many of the women I know are more practical and level-headed than most men…”

    You patronising twot.

    Comment by Sanctuary — July 6, 2013 @ 10:03 pm

  17. Once again the LP fixes something that is not actually broken. Sigh!

    No wonder no one turns out to vote for them.

    Comment by peterlepaysan — July 6, 2013 @ 10:29 pm

  18. Sanc: Pardon? Who is being patronising here? How is it patronising when I state my observation? We don’t get as many women doing PhD’s, for example, because they see the economic benefits of doing the MSc and getting good paying jobs. The guys are more often the dreamers,

    So I suggest you step back and look at the comment as it was intended – an observation that attempts to make sense of why a lot of women choose NOT to enter politics. I have read many reports that indicate that many women are asked, and most choose not to.

    Comment by David in Chch — July 7, 2013 @ 8:01 am

  19. @sancy that’s rich coming from you, a master of patronising twottiness.

    Comment by toby — July 7, 2013 @ 10:10 am

  20. Above all else, this story demonstrates in the starkest terms possible that our corporate media has sunk to being nothing more than breathless, lazy, and reactionary repeaters of right wing attack blogs. It most of all disturbs me how the media has attempted to rule out even discussing this issue. As a society, do we really want a hysterically reactionary defence of the status quo by the establishment media to censor what our political parties can even talk about? Labour has been tried and found guilty of what is essentially a thought crime by an entrenched political and media establishment. The same media drones railing against this proposal will be the first to complain that political parties are all the same timid, bland centrists who can’t or won’t change anything. I wonder why? As QoT says over at the Standard,

    “…It’s a draft policy remit from a party committee which is going to the conference to be discussed and potentially included in the party’s rules, which would allow individual electorates to voluntarily request that only women be shortlisted if the party council agrees on a case-by-case basis…”

    A political party has a right to discuss the ideas behind this remit at it’s conference, and a right to expect the media to report it in terms not loaded with sexist, emotional and hostile language. Sure, attack it editorially IF IT IS ADOPTED. But what we’ve seen is a reactionary attempt by the media to censor a political party, not discuss an issue. The sterility of the political debate our tabloid establishment media seems to want to enforce is a direct reason for the decline in democratic participation in my view.

    Now, another poster at the Standard put about another widely held view –

    “…The discussion isn’t stupid. The non-decision to wait for Cameron Slater to initiate the debate was though. Beyond stupid, in fact: the sort of blunder that only a complete tool would make…”

    And it is an indication of how badly served Labour is being served by the lazy time servers in parliament, whose senior MPs should be providing the political nous on issues like this. But equally, yet again we are seeing Labour being put under the absolute microscope of scornful reporting (for a remit!) while John Key gets an armchair ride over his outrageous behaviour in the select committee hearing for his Orwellian GCSB legislation. It isn’t hard to conclude the establishment media has to be dragged kicking and screaming to the mildest criticism of the cult of Key, yet happily kicks Labour at every opportunity it is fed through right wing attack blogs.

    Comment by Sanctuary — July 7, 2013 @ 12:32 pm

  21. Keir wrote: “I think you are vastly overestimating the degree to which this is opposed by caucus. If it was hated that much, it wouldn’t have got through the rounds of regional conferences + NZ Council.”

    does the Labour Caucus really have the power to stop remits going to the AGM?

    In the Green Party, remits that the caucus disagrees with can easily get to the floor of the AGM.

    Comment by kahikatea — July 7, 2013 @ 5:09 pm

  22. Nice party diatribe @sancy.

    Lefty Wankword bingo –
    Reactionary
    repeaters
    right wing attack blogs
    tabloid establishment media

    You sound like a not dude.

    Comment by toby — July 7, 2013 @ 5:58 pm

  23. Bot

    Comment by toby — July 7, 2013 @ 5:59 pm

  24. Annette King’s electorate is a strong women’s branch, when she retires they won’t want her replaced by a man – it is possible that it gets used. And once it is on the books it is easier to strengthen

    Comment by Difficult Lemon — July 7, 2013 @ 6:14 pm

  25. There is no actual problem with the number of women in the Labour caucus as it currently stands at 41 percent, which is respectable and appropriate. I understand what they are trying to do but it is not necessary. To lift the number of women in Labour to 45 percent and then to 50 percent at the expense of other worthy contenders simply because they are of the masculine gender is like if the government were to put through gay marriage and abolish heterosexual marriages. It simply does not make much sense to disadvantage men to make way for women when the amount of women representing Labour is already good.

    Comment by Daniel Lang — July 7, 2013 @ 6:31 pm

  26. @Daniel – Surely you jest good sir?

    Comment by Alex Braae — July 7, 2013 @ 8:50 pm

  27. > Women are just over 50% of the population, so they should be represented to that extent in Parliament.

    Why should they? Are men equally represented among primary school and early childhood teachers? I haven’t heard you advocate for more men and less women in these jobs.

    Comment by Ross — July 7, 2013 @ 8:55 pm

  28. More than 98% of early childhood teachers are women. Goodness, there must be huge barriers for men entering that job market. I’m sure Danyl agrees that that has to change.

    http://www.educationreview.co.nz/nz-teacher/january-2013/the-gender-divide-men-in-ece/#.UdkuWoON3IU

    Comment by Ross — July 7, 2013 @ 9:01 pm

  29. @Ross – Yes, you should go out and elect more male primary teachers. Because after all the two professions are completely analogous.

    Comment by Alex Braae — July 7, 2013 @ 10:37 pm

  30. Ross… eh? Of course there should be more male early childhood teachers. a) it should be a decently paid (and highly qualified) profession and b) men and women should have equal access to decently paid and highly qualified professions, instead of women being relegated to jobs where the pay is crap. Such as early childhood teachers.

    Comment by Dr Foster — July 7, 2013 @ 11:35 pm

  31. “does the Labour Caucus really have the power to stop remits going to the AGM?

    In the Green Party, remits that the caucus disagrees with can easily get to the floor of the AGM.”

    Yes, the Green’s internal democracy is incredibly admirable, here’s your cookie.

    Comment by Hugh — July 8, 2013 @ 4:00 am

  32. > Because after all the two professions are completely analogous.

    Oh I see what you did there, Alex.

    More female MPs = good
    More male early childhood teachers = bad

    Comment by Ross — July 8, 2013 @ 10:28 am

  33. > men and women should have equal access to decently paid and highly qualified professions, instead of women being relegated to jobs where the pay is crap.

    Oh I agree, but I suspect there are various reasons – not just pay – that determines where people work.

    Comment by Ross — July 8, 2013 @ 10:29 am

  34. Actually, um, I think most people would agree that the very low rate of male participation in ECE is a super problematic thing, especially given a large part of it is driven by fear of being framed for child abuse. And governments have implemented various policy responses, and almost no one really cares, because when it’s targets, quotas, etc for men, it is, apparently, all quite boring and uncontroversial.

    Comment by Keir — July 8, 2013 @ 10:41 am

  35. @Ross – No, I don’t think you did actually.

    Comment by Alex Braae — July 8, 2013 @ 10:44 am

  36. Just as well there’s nothing important happening in NZ, like slashing climate research.

    Comment by George D — July 8, 2013 @ 11:54 am

  37. It’s a woman ban! IT’S A WOMAN BAN!!!!!

    http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/call-encourage-male-kindy-teachers-5001400

    Comment by Flashing Light — July 8, 2013 @ 12:00 pm

  38. George D, as the science is settled, why do we have to keep funding it?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — July 8, 2013 @ 1:04 pm

  39. Just as well there’s nothing important happening in NZ, like slashing climate research.

    Seems pretty rational to me given that MPI’s focus seems to be largely based on perpetuating agricultural and mining business models that socialise their negative externalities.

    Comment by Gregor W — July 8, 2013 @ 1:07 pm

  40. @ GraemeEdgeler
    I rather suspected that might be the case but couldn’t be bothered to do the research on it myself. So essentially the problem is not that women are unable to gain equal representation in electorates today in 2013. It’s that they faced a number of barriers back in the 1980’s and there is a whole class of timeserving MP’s from that time who have never left.
    So the policy required to ensure more gender equity is not a ban on male candidates it is term limits on sitting MPs to force out the old guard. The problem is that the old guard don’t want change. Men like Mallard and Goff who have been in parliament for three decades would prefer to stick around and continue their influence on the party through a proxy leader who they parachuted into a safe electorate and then into the leadership in the last few years.
    Labour doesn’t need a change to their electorate selection process they just need term limits to clear out the old boys network…

    Comment by Richard29 — July 8, 2013 @ 1:55 pm

  41. This is another way for parties to deal with the problem of outstanding women being beaten by mediocre men:http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/2013/04/margaret-thatcher-and-the-missing-votes/
    Whatever happened to Thomas Langton? Did the Tory Party lose out by his “defeat”.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — July 8, 2013 @ 2:05 pm

  42. @ Ross: when I went to school – in the years before 1965 – there were as many – and male teachers as female in most state schools at least. When I began working in primary schools in the late 1960s, that was still the case. From about the late 1970s to early 80s, things began to change gradually. In increasing numbers, men turned away from teaching to other, better-paid, higher-status occupations. There are no barriers to their return, were they to choose to do so. And they still seem to be teaching at the high school level, if our fairly recent experience is anything to go by.

    With regard to the ECE sector, when we were users of early childhood centres in the late 80s – early 90s, there were quite a few young men working in the various centres around the city where we lived at the time. It was, I suspect, the Peter Ellis case which altered the landscape.

    I’ve been dismayed by the negative reaction to suggestions that substantive steps are needed to redress the gender imbalance in Parliament. I have family members in Australia, to whom I’ve been a bit holier-than-thou about the treatment of Julia Gillard. Although the language has been less pejorative here than there, the sentiments look to be broadly the same.

    Why wouldn’t we want to take steps to even up the gender imbalance in Parliament? The National party, in particular, urgently needs to do something about their woeful situation. What are people – men in particular, although not exclusively, I see – afraid of? If it were the case that an electorate ran an all-female selection process, in virtue of what could anyone claim that the successful candidate wasn’t selected on merit? It isn’t necessary to have male candidates as well for there to be a selection on merit: successful candidates for a teaching position may well have competed against an all-female pool.

    I’d like the Labour party to show some courage on this issue, and pursue a strategy that will get more women into Parliament. Slightly over 50% of the population is female, after all. There may well be votes in it. Mine, for instance: I don’t feel disposed to vote for a party which dismisses the need to do anything substantive in this area.

    Comment by Peggy Klimenko — July 8, 2013 @ 2:30 pm

  43. @Alex

    Yes.

    Comment by Daniel Lang — July 8, 2013 @ 4:55 pm

  44. @Peggy: “There are no barriers to their return, were they to choose to do so….I suspect, the Peter Ellis case which altered the landscape.”

    Doesn’t that constitute a barrier?

    Comment by Hugh — July 8, 2013 @ 9:15 pm

  45. @ Hugh: yes, the Ellis case is certainly a psychological barrier to men entering the ECE sector. I have no involvement with that area these days, but I doubt that it’s a selection barrier: it’s just that men are less likely than formerly to apply for ECE jobs. One could scarcely blame them: it was a very sad and unjust situation. I fail to understand why that case hasn’t made it to the Privy Council, when others, less deserving in my view, have been heard.

    But the Ellis case doesn’t hang over the primary sector, which is what I was referring to when I said that there were no barriers to men’s return to the classroom.

    Comment by Peggy Klimenko — July 9, 2013 @ 12:55 pm

  46. @Peggy: I disagree. I’ve heard anecdotal stories about male teachers not being permitted to be alone in one-on-one situations with their students in both the primary and early childhood sectors. There are no such restrictions on female teachers. It’s not just a psychological barrier.

    This ‘we’d be happy to hire them, they just don’t want to apply!’ fallacy is more often used against women, but that doesn’t mean it’s any better when used on men.

    Comment by Hugh — July 9, 2013 @ 2:34 pm

  47. Labours just lost my vote , not for the policy ,but for the lack of foresight and nous at even suggesting such a daft scheme…

    Comment by Loz — July 9, 2013 @ 3:04 pm

  48. @ Hugh: if that’s what’s happening now, I couldn’t agree more. It’s most unfortunate: there’s no justification for applying the “don’t be alone with children” rule to men as opposed to women. Moreover, it’d make the job impossible, at least in ECE. Justifying this rule by claiming that it protects men is simply patronising, even if well-intentioned. I’m no longer involved in either ECE or primary/intermediate sectors, but when I was, I recall that we parents of sons were pathetically grateful when males applied for teaching or relieving jobs. Having blokes in the classroom was a good thing for our boys.

    Comment by Peggy Klimenko — July 10, 2013 @ 12:16 pm


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