The Dim-Post

July 5, 2014

On Cunliffe’s apology for being a man

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 7:16 am

Via Stuff:

Labour leader David Cunliffe has sparked a new controversy by apologising to a women’s refuge symposium ‘‘for being a man’’ because they are the main perpetrators of family violence.

‘‘Can I begin by saying I’m sorry – I don’t often say it – I’m sorry for being a man, right now. Because family and sexual violence is perpetrated overwhelmingly by men against women and children,’’ he said.

‘‘So the first message to the men out there is: ‘wake up, stand up, man up and stop this bullshit’.’’ His comments came as Labour headed into its election year congress, and sparked a war of words on social media.

Many ridiculed Cunliffe for apologising when most men were good fathers and partners.

The theory goes like this: Sure, most men are ‘good fathers and partners’ and they aren’t directly committing abuse. But many men hold misogynistic attitudes that perpetuate a culture in which domestic violence and sexual abuse are allowed to flourish, hence there’s a collective responsibility for those crimes. The various scandals around the ‘Roastbusters’ alleged gang-rapes are Exhibit-A in terms of evidence for the ‘rape-culture’ hypothesis in New Zealand. The police who refused to investigate the complaints and the host of media figures who instantly jumped in to defend a pack of alleged gang-rapists by attacking their victims weren’t directly committing crimes, and are probably good dads, etc, but their attitudes create a culture in which rape and violence towards women are tacitly tolerated.

The problem with Cunliffe’s apology for being a man and acknowledging that collective responsibility is that while the rape-culture hypothesis is pretty much accepted as valid by most people involved in left-wing politics, at least under the age of forty, it’s completely alien to most of the rest of the population, who have absolutely no idea what Cunliffe is talking about here. Why is he sorry? What’s wrong with being a man? Most men are good dads, etc.

Also, if you’re a adult male you have an incentive not to believe the rape-culture argument. Rape and domestic violence don’t really affect you, while accusations that you have a collective responsibility for it do – which is why some people are more outraged by Cunliffe’s awkward statements than they are by any of the actual abuse that happens in this country.

137 Comments »

  1. Dear old David just isn’t cut out for leadership. He thinks he is but actions show otherwise. He also needs to fire his advisors and speach writers.

    Comment by transport device — July 5, 2014 @ 7:23 am

  2. It is more mundane than attitude to the likes of roastbusters. The whole concept of “being a man” gives us the underlying attitude. Key’s drivel about not saying this at a rugby club merely confirms the “being a man” model we have in NZ is the problem.

    Comment by Andrew R — July 5, 2014 @ 7:26 am

  3. Key and men who are offended by Cunliffe’s apology show their lack of empathy with the victims!

    Comment by A M Thom — July 5, 2014 @ 7:41 am

  4. I though the issue was more that the media had highlighted this aspect of his speech rather than the policy,

    Cunliffe did lead with this statement so he appears to have intended it as a major part of what he was saying. So it’s hard to see that the media is being unfair. And every article i read outlined the policy as well.

    Or perhaps he intended it as a throw away line not to be considered important.

    But he commenced by talking about himself so it’s not surprising that’s what’s become part of the story.

    As for everyone who disagrees with this form of apology being some sort of rape culture enabler well that’s a bit of a generalisation.

    Comment by Neil — July 5, 2014 @ 7:58 am

  5. I understand where he is coming from and applaud him for that
    But these BS apologies from the Labour Party are just a bit to much
    This is the party that apologised to the Chinese for the Poll Tax, while now thinking or rather talking in an anti-immigrant way

    Comment by rayinnz — July 5, 2014 @ 7:58 am

  6. ” Rape and domestic violence don’t really affect you,”

    Spoken like a true non-parent.

    Comment by scerb — July 5, 2014 @ 8:21 am

  7. If Cunliffe and his advisors cannot see that “I am sorry for being a man” is an incredibly stupid thing to say politically, regardless of whatever well intended context, they just don’t deserve to win.

    It is absolutely beyond me how anyone could have let this one through.

    Comment by eszett — July 5, 2014 @ 8:27 am

  8. “hence there’s a collective responsibility for those crimes.”

    Here’s the thing though. In some areas of our society (eg my extended family) this horrible stuff has been stamped out and it was stamped out a generation or two ago. And the underlying culture that lead to this was one of *personal* responsibility. So we actually have a model to follow – personal responsibility, treat everyone equally etc. Collective responsibilty runs totally counter to that.

    Comment by Swan — July 5, 2014 @ 8:35 am

  9. “Collective responsibilty runs totally counter to that.”

    That’s a nice lazy, evidence-free and meaningless statement. Congratulations on not bothering to think.

    Comment by Judge Holden — July 5, 2014 @ 8:44 am

  10. The police have carried out a long investigation into the ‘Roastbusters’ allegations. That no charges have been laid despite several months of police investigating could indicate that there is little or no evidence that any crimes have been committed. How that relates to our so-called “rape culture” is unclear.

    Comment by Ross — July 5, 2014 @ 8:47 am

  11. The problem for me is that it doesn’t in any way acknowledge those who aren’t part of the culture you speak of. The undercurrent is that no matter what you personally have done, no matter who you have helped, you still need to apologise for being a man. As long as there are any men out there who commit these crimes then I’m also guilty. I think that attitude alienates a lot of people and is a wrong one, but notwithstanding that I also think it’s bad politics and is probably going to hurt support amongst some segments of the population – even those who would otherwise be strong supporters of policies in favour of women’s refuges.

    Comment by PaulL — July 5, 2014 @ 8:51 am

  12. I disagree with setting these arbitrary benchmarks of morality especially when they’re done so publicly.

    I really do not consider a man’s apologising or not for being a man to be an indication of anything tangible.

    And when it comes to this sort of argument and taking sides and saying unpleasant things it seems just another exercise in how high on your sleeve do your wear your heart?

    Comment by Neil — July 5, 2014 @ 9:00 am

  13. I am incredibly grateful to David for apologizing and more importantly following it up with actions. To me the parallel is when Pakeha apolgize to Maori. Sure it was my ancestors, not me who colonized here, but still appropriate to apologize.

    Comment by anker — July 5, 2014 @ 9:08 am

  14. There is a world of difference between apologising for something men did and apologising for being one.

    You can apologise for what Europeans did to Maori, but you wouldn’t apologise for being European.

    Comment by eszett — July 5, 2014 @ 9:18 am

  15. Anker,

    In that situation I am fairly sure it is the crown apologizing for the actions of the crown.

    Comment by Swan — July 5, 2014 @ 9:19 am

  16. It will be interesting to see if the greens top labour by apologizing for being humans.

    Comment by Swan — July 5, 2014 @ 9:28 am

  17. I think it would be appropriate for the State to apologise for damage done but the patriarchial system still currently bring dismantled.

    Individual apologies might be a private affair.

    Comment by Neil — July 5, 2014 @ 9:30 am

  18. Oh I see… thanks for pointing that out to me Danyl. And there was I thinking that Cunliffe Mallard and Labour had shot themselves in the foot twice in one week as the General Election looms ever closer…

    Comment by Lee C — July 5, 2014 @ 9:49 am

  19. Nobody seems to have made a connection with Rolf Harris being sentenced on the same day. And yet there is.

    Comment by Bill Bennett — July 5, 2014 @ 10:03 am

  20. Men are only collectively responsible if they allow, by act or omission, rape culture to go unchallenged (or supported)
    Any man who challenges rape culture (by speaking out when others say rape-culturey things) bears no responsibility.

    At the end of the day, we can only be responsible for our own actions. I do my best. I tell people off for saying “get her drunk” type things. I don’t allow “rape” humour.

    Comment by Vito Andolini — July 5, 2014 @ 10:10 am

  21. “It will be interesting to see if the greens (sic) top labour by apologizing (sic) for being humans.”

    Yawn. You’re some sort of organic inane statement generator, aren’t you Swan?

    Comment by Judge Holden — July 5, 2014 @ 10:12 am

  22. As election year politics, it’s inept. As an attempt to foster debate and focus on a deep social (and yes, male) problem, it’s admirable. But I’d rather he was doing that as Prime Minister. I’d like him to make a difference for 3 years, not 48 hours max.

    Also, to “scerb” at #6 … stupid, and wrong.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — July 5, 2014 @ 11:23 am

  23. I find it hard to believe that Cunliffe and advisors wouldn’t realise the political/media fallout that the statement would have, especially given it’s high placement in the speech (it wasn’t some minor comment it was the opening gambit). I suspect it is a deliberate political play. It has already garnered massive media exposure and got people talking about domestic violence, rape culture and mens responsibility, all of which plays better for Labour given they have real policy to back it up.
    The positioning is not going to win over vast swathes of male voters who were not already sympathetic to Labour, but I’m not convinced that it’ll cause huge numbers of macho ‘Waitakere Men’ to leave the party in disgust despite what granny Herald may believe.
    Don Brash had an old school somewhat sexist image that polled well with men and took some votes from Labour but it wasn’t enough to win him a majority. John Key came on the scene, softened up the National Party image a lot, was far more inclusive and progressive on things like the anti smacking bill, gay marriage etc. The womens votes that the Key government has won and continue to hold may be the difference between a narrow win and narrow loss.
    Cunliffe’s statement is dangling talkback radio bait in front of every mysoginist dinosaur on the right just inviting a macho backlash. A backlash that will play out very publicly and leave a lot of National voting women questioning who they are putting into office to represent them.
    It’s a risky play, but I think Cunliffe and his team are committed to it, they are not backing down and want to keep this alive. I suspect they have done the numbers and calculated that the likely effects of the male backlash will be a migration of a few votes to NZ First (and Labour needs them above 5%!) and the likely female counter-backlash will be a shift of some female votes from National to a Labour.
    Of course there will be those who think he should have just dyed his hair to make him appealing to women and showed up to conference on a motorbike to appeal more to men, but that didn’t work out so great for Goff. Cunliffe may have decided at this stage of the game to take the risk and if it fails at least he fell on principles…

    Comment by richardg — July 5, 2014 @ 11:35 am

  24. “Also, if you’re a adult male you have an incentive not to believe the rape-culture argument. Rape and domestic violence don’t really affect you,”

    Consider this statement the next time you see someone gleefully rub their hands at the prospect of a convicted criminal “getting a cell with bubba” in prison.

    Comment by Adze — July 5, 2014 @ 12:41 pm

  25. Also note Cunliffe said ” ,right now”. As Bill Bennett points out, some people might feel a little queasy around men right now.
    Aside from that q.e.d, never got a better work out than all the Not All Men going on in these comments. I suppose it’s easier than making a change or doing something about it.

    Comment by Another Kiwi — July 5, 2014 @ 1:22 pm

  26. I suppose it’s easier than making a change or doing something about it.

    You feel you personally know contributors here well enough to insult them like that?

    There’s probably a large number of people who have an issue with what Cunliffe said because they don’t want to drawn into an ostentatious public game of “i care – you don’t”.

    Comment by Neil — July 5, 2014 @ 1:58 pm

  27. Agreed, that’s a nasty game. Who has played it?

    “When National was in Opposition, we still cared about abused children and we did not spend our time playing political games. All those members care about is politics; they do not care about the abused kids of New Zealand … Members on this side of the House care about abused kids, but members on that side do not.”

    (John Key, Parliament, June 2009. Source: Hansard)

    But he’s a nice guy, so let’s not waste time reporting what he actually says.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — July 5, 2014 @ 3:04 pm

  28. But pause for a moment and put those words – Key’s exact words, changing only the party names – in Cunliffe’s mouth. Then imagine the headlines …

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — July 5, 2014 @ 3:06 pm

  29. When Tony Veitch was called out for roughing up his partner, a number of the usual suspects played the ‘boys will be boys’ card.Cunliffe’s remarks seem to have brought them out of the woodwork. All the same, Cunliffe has some decent political products, it’s the marketing he needs to work on. And quickly.

    And to scerb #6: Danyl *is* a dad.

    Comment by DeepRed (@DeepRed6502) — July 5, 2014 @ 3:17 pm

  30. Meh. Some here see only what they want to see – Key is always in the wrong, see we have a quote from 2009 that says so. The point is that Cunliffe made a speech in the present, and that speech many people have a problem with. What “Another Kiwi” is missing is that it’s irrelevant to Cunliffe whether or not individual men have “made a change or done something about it.” They’re still men so they should still apologise. I object to most concepts of group guilt, that people are measured by how they were born rather than how they lived their life. Only a very small proportion of men are rapists or violent to women, children or other men. Being a man doesn’t make you a rapist nor an enabler of rapists, and it’s quite offensive to suggest that it does.

    Comment by PaulL — July 5, 2014 @ 3:21 pm

  31. scerb: I should add, would that make Danyl a self-hating dad in your world-view?

    Comment by DeepRed (@DeepRed6502) — July 5, 2014 @ 3:22 pm

  32. “Some here see only what they want to see”

    Irony overload there, since you’ve chosen not to see the point.

    Oh, and if you want more recent examples of Key acting the obnoxious dick in Parliament, tune in any time you like. It’s a weekly show. Need proof? Hansard is all there for you.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — July 5, 2014 @ 3:45 pm

  33. I went to a school where the Principal (Michael Law’s father – try to imagine what the man who produced him was like – you can’t) believed in collective guilt. Or at least that was what was inflicted on us. Christianity sure, but also whole-school punishments when a culprit for some minor infraction or other couldn’t be identified. I won’t try and tell you what the boys thought of this but it should be obvious.

    From another angle – how is this stereotyping about men any better than racism which presumably some of the statement’s defenders revile?

    I could be guilty of false equivalence in both examples, it’s not leaping out at me, but either way I’m just waving a hand at the sort of responses ordinary voters could have. So at a purely pragmatic, good politics in election year sort of level, I can’t believe it – tell me how this increases net votes for Labour any more than Mallard’s moa efforts.

    And yeah, I didn’t so much support the change to Cunliffe, as thought he couldn’t be any worse than Shearer. My bad.

    Comment by Joe-90 — July 5, 2014 @ 4:57 pm

  34. Apologising for being a man is a powerful way of making the point that all men are responsible for getting rid of rape culture and misogyny. You either get it or you don’t and unfortunately the mainstream men who don’t get Cunliffe’s symbolism, don’t get the reaction to roastbusters until it’s explained to them.

    Even then they slip back to old thinking and need it explained to them again. So in simple terms – We all know men who make derogatory comments about women that are borderline. That is the thin end of the wedge. Like the n word is to racism. THAT is what we have to call out. It’s not ok and that is what Cunliffe’s speech writer was getting at.

    Congratulations to Cunliffe for again kicking against the pricks who contribute much media comment in this country. Labour must stop kowtowing to tabloid media and this shows Cunliffe has spine.

    Comment by Myles Thomas — July 5, 2014 @ 5:29 pm

  35. Joe-90: Was that school in Wellington, and were the uniforms crimson? If so, I went there too, just before he stepped down in favour of someone a lot more sane.

    Comment by DeepRed (@DeepRed6502) — July 5, 2014 @ 5:35 pm

  36. Politically I can’t see this making much difference. People who wouldn’t vote Labour anyway vehemently don’t like it. A lot of people who do vote Labour, particularly their core demographic, older left wing women, do like it. In between it’s going to go both ways. The coded message is that Labour’s leader understands at least some things about modern feminism. That’s important to a big core vote of theirs so it’s a pretty sound thing to do.

    I don’t think it was a very sensible thing at all to attack Cunliffe over this. It comes across like the kind of thing a dickhead would do without thinking, because no one they know is a battered woman in a refuge or a rape victim. Little do they know that that is actually not true and they just sent a clear message to those people, and others around them, about their lack of regard.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — July 5, 2014 @ 5:39 pm

  37. PS: Said principal was a bit of a drunk. Drunk in charge of a school.

    Comment by DeepRed (@DeepRed6502) — July 5, 2014 @ 5:45 pm

  38. I understand Cunliffe’s point and have some sympathy, even though I think he expressed it disastrously. I’m starting to feel genuinely sorry for the man, which is pretty much how I used to feel about David Shearer. Definitely not a good sign.

    I do wonder, however, about the factual accuracy of the claim that “family and sexual violence is perpetrated overwhelmingly by men against women and children.’’ I’m not sure that “overwhelmingly” is necessarily true – a recent study in the UK suggested that 40% of domestic violence is perpetrated by women against men, and we have had some pretty notorious cases in this country of women harming or murdering their partners and children in their care.. None of which is to denigrate Cunliffe’s (presumed) point about misogyny and ‘rape-culture,’ but simply to emphasise that it’s worthy checking your facts with great care. Given the underreporting of domestic violence against men and the fact that our culture views it all as a bit of a joke, it might not be wisest simply to assert that “family and sexual violence is perpetrated overwhelmingly by men against women and children,’’

    Comment by Higgs Boatswain — July 5, 2014 @ 6:09 pm

  39. Judge Holden are you interested in contributing to the discussion?

    Comment by Swan — July 5, 2014 @ 6:25 pm

  40. Dip red, no it means Danyl has not thought through his throwaway put down of most men. Think about it, you’ll figure it out.

    Comment by scerb — July 5, 2014 @ 7:01 pm

  41. There’s probably a large number of people who have an issue with what Cunliffe said because they don’t want to drawn into an ostentatious public game of “i care – you don’t”.

    And yet, that’s not at all what Cunliffe said NeilM.
    I think people who want to be drawn into something, are creating something to be drawn into.

    Personally the pitch doesn’t resonate with me (for the reasons stated by others) but people are losing sight of the fact that Cunliffe was preaching to the crowd.
    It’s no different from Key fronting to a Business Roundtable brekkie and pitching a mea culpa on failing to deliver 10% corporate taxes.

    Comment by Gregor W — July 5, 2014 @ 7:25 pm

  42. “are you interested in contributing to the discussion?”

    Oh how cute, that’s what Swan thinks it’s doing!

    Comment by Judge Holden — July 5, 2014 @ 7:29 pm

  43. >Given the underreporting of domestic violence against men and the fact that our culture views it all as a bit of a joke, it might not be wisest simply to assert that “family and sexual violence is perpetrated overwhelmingly by men against women and children,’’

    There is domestic violence against men, but can you really compare the kind of threat that actually underlies it? Men can beat women to death with their bare hands quite easily. There’s a difference between being slapped or kicked by a woman in a way that you don’t want to fight back against and feel intimidated by the whole confronting nature of violence, and genuine fear for your life. Few are the women who, when the shit goes down, can actually beat their husbands to death, or even get the better of them in a serious scrap. So it’s not just the quantity, it’s the actual nature of what happens. Yes, the woman can pick up a weapon. At which point she is guilty of a far more serious crime, and the law is extremely harsh on that despite the fact that even with nothing in his hands, a man can usually pick a woman up bodily, get his hands right around her neck, overbear her with his weight, and so on.

    The two are not the same. So fair enough, violence against men IS an issue, but it’s not really in the same league as the issue of male violence against women and children. There aren’t lots of refuges full of battered men fearing for their safety. I’m sorry for anyone in one that does exist, but it’s a false equivocation to compare this issue like it’s apples with oranges.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — July 5, 2014 @ 7:48 pm

  44. It is a sign of Cunliffe’s intellectual vapidity that after apologising for being a male his solution to domestic violence is to become…. more male.
    Utter Face palm

    Comment by Phil S — July 5, 2014 @ 8:42 pm

  45. “but people are losing sight of the fact that Cunliffe was preaching to the crowd.”

    That is half the story. Cunliffe has been accused of talking out of both sides of his mouth since he got the leadership. This adds to that perception of him.

    Comment by Swan — July 5, 2014 @ 8:53 pm

  46. DeepRed: Yes that was the one, not Otago Boys High. Small school, small world. Given your timing comment, we probably once knew one another, at very least by sight. By fact of this blog context I’m going to assume you are another soul for whom the school didn’t quite achieve its intentions – well I certainly left neither a good Christian nor a good Capitalist, I’ll put it that way.

    Comment by Joe-90 — July 5, 2014 @ 9:34 pm

  47. @Ben
    >There’s a difference between being slapped or kicked by a woman in a way that you don’t want to fight back against and feel intimidated by the whole confronting nature of violence
    But you’re ignoring the most pernicious psychological aspects of bullying and control, which aren’t always about the physical threat of violence. In any case, female on male violence isn’t limited to “slapping and kicking”. Violent women also know how to use fists, along with throwing things, using objects, scalding liquids, etc. And there is a genuine disincentive for men to report female DV when the state is more “accustomed” to arresting men while protecting women. That’s without going into the lack of institutional support for male victims, and the general crappy attitudes that persist around men who are victims.
    >Yes, the woman can pick up a weapon. At which point she is guilty of a far more serious crime, and the law is extremely harsh on that despite the fact that even with nothing in his hands, a man can usually pick a woman up bodily, get his hands right around her neck, overbear her with his weight, and so on.
    And that’s why we have Male Assaults Female, which is a more serious crime than Common Assault, which is why it is treated more seriously.
    >There aren’t lots of refuges full of battered men fearing for their safety.
    See above. Also, if you are a male victim of DV, chances are there ARE no refuges available in your city.

    Comment by Adze — July 5, 2014 @ 11:24 pm

  48. Child maltreatment study (US Department of Health and Human Services
    http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/child-maltreatment-2012
    Chapter 5 – perpetrators
    Table 5.3 perpetrators by sex

    I’m sorry for being a human, as overwhelmingly child maltreatment is by humans (roughly 50-50 by gender, slightly more by women).

    Couldn’t find any New Zealand based study from robust data like this one, would love to see one though.

    Comment by rickrowling — July 6, 2014 @ 8:49 am

  49. >But you’re ignoring the most pernicious psychological aspects of bullying and control, which aren’t always about the physical threat of violence.

    Yes, it’s an interesting derail that there is a problem with female on male domestic violence. It’s the standard way to attack the raising of consciousness to the far, far more serious problem of male on female. Be a Men’s Rights Activist! Concern Trolling, FTW! Someone’s got to do it, why not a whole bunch of keyboard warriors picked straight from the privileged demographic? They’ll do it for *free*!!

    Comment by Ben Wilson — July 6, 2014 @ 9:06 am

  50. @Gregor W

    I agree Cunliffe wasn’t trying to do that there.

    It was more the nature of the ensuing commentary.

    It followed on from the demands from Labour and the Greens for MFAT and the govt to apologise to the woman for that diplomatic bungle,

    The problem I have I’d they’re making demands on behalf of someone the don’t know and have no authority to speak on behalf of.

    It was all about ostentatious public display and not about what the person concerned might or might not want.

    And as with this Cunliffe situation saying well I don’t readily agree with this sort of public morality court there’s a thunderous round of enabler allegations.

    Comment by Neil — July 6, 2014 @ 10:42 am

  51. @48. Thanks for treating the topic with courtesy, as I tried to do. No concern trolling here, I think *all* DV is a problem. That is in fact the point. But I guess you have no real argument or else you wouldn’t have responded with that brain fart.

    Comment by Adze — July 6, 2014 @ 10:50 am

  52. Isn’t it great that David’s speech should lead to so much discussion on the terrible violence used by some people against others. Not so long ago such a subject was not really talked about and police called to intervene walked away saying, “Just another Domestic. Not our problem.”
    So well done David.

    Comment by xianmac — July 6, 2014 @ 11:05 am

  53. ‘As a man, I want to apologise for our huge role in family violence. Here’s what I’m doing about it.’

    See, not that hard to claim responsibility without undermining one’s personal position.

    Good on Cunliffe for raising the issue but fire the guy’s speechwriters and advisors for not spotting how that one line would be played. Unlike richard @23 I do not believe this is some cunning ploy, especially given the party’s comms track record so far.

    Comment by Sacha — July 6, 2014 @ 11:24 am

  54. “‘As a man, I want to apologise for our huge role in family violence. Here’s what I’m doing about it.’

    See, not that hard to claim responsibility without undermining one’s personal position.”

    If this had been what Cunliffe had said, the exact same pundits criticising him now would still be doing so, just with a slightly different slant. Who does he think he is to speak for all men, I’m a man and I have no role in family violence, etc etc.

    The problem was not his exact wording, it was the fact that a man was accepting that, as a man, he has a role to play in preventing domestic violence beyond just abstract disapproval. This will always bring a swarm of sharp-tongued conservatives out of the woodwork – and with them, sadly, a parallel swarm of Cunliffe’s self proclaimed allies who nonetheless also want to put the boot in, and have zero interest in discussing the policy.

    I mean, even if Cunliffe’s sentence had been total shite, why are we seeing nothing about his policy proposals, especially here?

    Comment by kalvarnsen — July 6, 2014 @ 1:13 pm

  55. The headlines would not have said “Cunliffe apologises for being a man” would they? And would not have played into the Nat-seeded discourse about Cunliffe being unsure of himself or inauthentic.

    Comment by Sacha — July 6, 2014 @ 1:37 pm

  56. I agree there will always be a backlash, but at least the discussion would be more obviously about that, not about Cunliffe’s deficiencies

    Comment by Sacha — July 6, 2014 @ 1:39 pm

  57. They would have said “Cunliffe apologises on behalf of all men” and played the Nat-seeded discourse about him being arrogant and ignorant. Is that really better?

    Comment by kalvarnsen — July 6, 2014 @ 1:49 pm

  58. Yes.

    Comment by Sacha — July 6, 2014 @ 1:51 pm

  59. Well, fair enough then.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — July 6, 2014 @ 2:01 pm

  60. > Thanks for treating the topic with courtesy, as I tried to do. No concern trolling here, I think *all* DV is a problem.

    Yes, and women’s refuges are almost entirely directed at one particular kind. But hey, thanks for making it about how men feel about it. That’s what this thread is, after all, about.

    >And that’s why we have Male Assaults Female, which is a more serious crime than Common Assault, which is why it is treated more seriously.

    Yes, but assault with a weapon is treated more than twice as seriously again. There’s a reason for that, of course, since a man assaulting with a weapon is like 5 times worse than without. My point, however, is that women are far less likely to inflict lasting severe harm or death on men unarmed than vice-versa. Which is why the domestic violence in that direction is far more severe and far more likely. When the physical power differential is taken into account, it really is like the man is carrying a weapon.

    Put it this way, one guy I know who was subjected to domestic violence on multiple occasions, a rather soft natured guy, one day got a bit sick of it and picked his tormentor up by the neck and slammed her through the wall. That is not the kind of thing that most woman could do to their abusive partner, if subjected to ongoing violence. Quite the contrary, if they’re getting smacked around in even a small way they’ve got good reason to believe that if their partner really unleashed they could end up hospitalized or dead. Because it’s happened to tons and tons of women. I’m sorry if these facts are inconvenient to the story of the poor overlooked male victim that should be paraded in order to make David Cunliffe sound like he’s got the wrong end of the stick on this.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — July 6, 2014 @ 4:00 pm

  61. @Neil (who seems to have lost his M somewhere along the way)

    It followed on from the demands from Labour and the Greens for MFAT and the govt to apologise to the woman for that diplomatic bungle,

    The problem I have I’d they’re making demands on behalf of someone the don’t know and have no authority to speak on behalf of.

    It was all about ostentatious public display and not about what the person concerned might or might not want.

    “The woman” in question personally approached Green MP Jan Logie with her concerns about how she had been treated: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/10237191/Monumental-failure-to-do-right-thing-for-woman.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — July 6, 2014 @ 4:18 pm

  62. Thanks Andrew I hadn’t seen that.

    Logie acknowledges she’s in no position to speak on behalf but other MPs weren’t so reticent.

    I think though she’s jumping to conclusions like many others about what happened in MFAT.

    I’d like to hear their story before claiming its symptomatic of not taking sexual violence seriously.

    Comment by Neil — July 6, 2014 @ 6:31 pm

  63. Logie says she’s in no position to speak as to why the victim chose to come to her to air her concerns (and have her air them on the victim’s behalf).

    And clearly something went “wrong” at MFAT – a diplomat facing serious charges involving sexual violence against a young woman was allowed to go back to Malaysia, when it turns out (with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight) he didn’t have to go. That at least suggests that MFAT didn’t push as hard on the issue as it could (and should) have. Which in turn suggests that it didn’t think keeping the alleged perpetrator in NZ was a high enough priority.

    Quite why the agreement over the diplomat’s fate was reached is something that we may learn in time. But it’s not unreasonable for the opposition to hammer at the issue and put its own spin on it. If you disagree with it, that also is your perogative.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — July 6, 2014 @ 6:43 pm

  64. You’re putting foward one possible scenario Andrew. The nature of the offences may or may not turn out to have influenced what went on.

    But the opposition has been claiming this as fact and has been hammering away at civil servants who are at present unable to reply.

    Comment by Neil — July 6, 2014 @ 7:23 pm

  65. One thing I did notice mentioned very briefly in one report was concern over a process of “compartmentalisation” used in cases of diplomatic sensitivity.

    I gather that would be there to protect against undue influence from other actors such as senior management, politicians and perhaps the police.

    I can see why one might want that but also how it might hinder communication and hinder the realisation that communication hadn’t occurred.

    That’s just my speculation of course.

    Comment by Neil — July 6, 2014 @ 7:41 pm

  66. But the opposition has been claiming this as fact and has been hammering away at civil servants who are at present unable to reply.

    I think you’ll find it is John Key and Murray McCully who’ve been “hammering away at civil servants”. Care to make any comments on Key’s publicly calling on the relevant officials to (in effect) quit their jobs before the inquiry was even launched? Any comment at all?

    Comment by Flashing Light — July 6, 2014 @ 8:56 pm

  67. In the same vein, I’m looking forward to your defense of Hone Harawira’s “I’m sorry for being a Maori” speech.

    Comment by Danny-boy — July 7, 2014 @ 2:29 am

  68. @ Danny,

    That’s an interesting thought experiment. How would we all have reacted if Harawira or Flavell had unveiled, say, a Law and Order policy and begun with saying sorry for Maori overrepresentation in our crime stats? Or if Norman began an enviromental speech with “I’m sorry for being a carbon polluter” or Key announces National’s Tax policy with “I’m sorry for being wealthy”?

    Getting back on topic, the idea of a ‘rape culture’ in New Zealand is questionable to me. I don’t have any data to back it up, but I highly doubt the incidence of sexual assualt or domestic violence in New Zealand is any greater than our international peers (I’m open to being proven wrong if there is evidence). If that is the case, then the effect of any actions we, as a country, take are probably going to be lost in the wider demographic or social trends.

    On Cunliffe in particular, the intent of the speech was bang-on. The line “”So the first message to the men out there is: wake up, stand up and man up and stop this bullshit!”” is admirable and resonates with the ‘It’s not ok’ campaign and the development of positive male role models that we’re seeing now, especially amongst the M&PI community.

    However, Cunliffe chose a terrible way to lead into the speech. I would far rather have heard him say something along the lines of “I am proud to be a man. A man is someone who treats their wife and children with respect and love. AND i’m ashamed of males who abuse their role or position within a family. Men in particular have a responsibility to call out our abusive peers and stop domestic violence becuse it’s us, as a gender, who are overwhelming the perpetrators of this violence”

    That he chose to lead with ‘i’m sorry for being a man’ is another example of Labour failing at communicating a message – not that the underlying message is wrong.

    Comment by Phil — July 7, 2014 @ 12:33 pm

  69. “the idea of a ‘rape culture’ in New Zealand is questionable to me. I don’t have any data to back it up, but I highly doubt the incidence of sexual assualt or domestic violence in New Zealand is any greater than our international peers ”

    Few people are arguing that rape culture is unique to New Zealand.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — July 7, 2014 @ 1:21 pm

  70. I wonder if anyone can define “rape culture”. It looks like an oxymoron to me. I think it is lamentable that some can argue if one finds Cunliffe’s egregious attempt to dog whistle his sanctimony about the issue of domestic violence clumsy, that means it is tantamount to advocating “rape” – sorry – “rape culture”.

    My goodness, the post appears to be predicated on the notion that the clever kids can all knod knowingly, at Cunliffe’s daring perspicacity, and the thick ones are somehow advocating rape because they don’t understand the issues. Bless them.

    Which is worse, being patronised, by Cunliffe’s blatent and dare I say clumsy attempt to suck up to the female voter or having someone explain how it is patronising and how, if one doesn’t ‘get it’ they get to choose between being accused of being a “wife-beater” or a “rapist” by people who apparently think it’s ok to use nonsense phrases like “rape culture” like it’s proven fact.

    Snide dogwhistler or inspirational visionary? Then he comes out and announces a “sledging ban”. I guess you just gotta admire the man …

    Comment by Lee Clark — July 7, 2014 @ 7:05 pm

  71. >I wonder if anyone can define “rape culture”. It looks like an oxymoron to me.

    Rape culture is a phrase used to describe a culture in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender, sex, and sexuality

    From the first thing that came up in a google search on the term, the wikipedia article, first line. Doesn’t look like an oxymoron. Could be contentious, but definitely not self-contradictory. But that was a joke, right, to misunderstand both “rape culture” and “oxymoron”, as a deliberate attack on the whole idea of knowing what shit means, because that’s something for clever kids?

    Comment by Ben Wilson — July 7, 2014 @ 8:24 pm

  72. >I wonder if anyone can define “rape culture”. It looks like an oxymoron to me.

    Oxymoron: a figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect, as in “cruel kindness” or “to make haste slowly.

    Are you playing in a pool that’s a bit too deep for you, Lee?

    Comment by Flashing Light — July 7, 2014 @ 8:30 pm

  73. Neil (M, I assume).

    Perhaps you’re not aware; it is uncouth to double post.

    Given your statements are so frequently subject to correction (/derision) perhaps pausing to ruminate pre-post will save you from discomfiture and us from so many muppet meditations (though I’m sure I speak for many in sincerely thanking you for all the, albeit unwitting, schadenfreude warm fuzzies).

    Your good humoured perverse perseverance in the face of unrelenting rationalism and evidence, whilst having your arguments roundly refuted post after post, is truly worthy of the Pete George Memorial Certificate for Wilful Ignorance.

    Take a bow, SIr

    Comment by Luke. — July 7, 2014 @ 10:01 pm

  74. Yes, ‘Flashing’ I guess I deserved that searing exposure of my intellectual shallowness. Ben, I consider ‘culture’ to be a positive and productive by-product of a society, something that is recorded, shared and endorsed by its institutions, the people in it, and which is afforded a special significance as illustrating the values and history of that society. I cosnider ‘rape’ to be a damaging and destructive set of incidences, so in that respect, I consider the term oxymoronic. I’ll go one step further, and suggest that to glorify ‘rape’ with the mantle of being a ‘culture’ may promote it as if it deserves some kind of reverence. Read the news, even in India where women can be raped while going to the toilet, or in places where civil strife occur and women are raped as ‘spoils’ of war, it is a long-bow to suggest that represents ‘culture’. Their incidences are noteworthy because they are condemned by so many. Then look around you at New Zealand/Aotearoa. Seriously – even if you can claim that what goes on in the places cited constitutes a ‘culture’ is that what you are saying goes on here?

    Comment by Lee C — July 8, 2014 @ 7:56 am

  75. Lee C,

    Other “oxymorons”, according to your putative definitions:

    “Culture of violence”
    “Culture of fear”
    “Culture of poverty”
    “Culture of hate”
    “Gang culture”
    “Criminal culture”

    It appears that common usage of the term requires quite a lot of reform, because the only other alternative is that “culture” is commonly taken to mean something quite different to your narrow and idiosyncratic definition.

    Comment by Flashing Light — July 8, 2014 @ 8:25 am

  76. That’s a pretty weird definition of culture, Lee C.

    ‘Culture’ is a relatively neutral term when applied in a sociological context. It’s just a convenient way of grouping a bunch of related behaviours and social norms. In such a way the cultivation of behaviours or norms occurs within and develops a culture, both good and bad.

    So in that sense, what we might consider unfathomable or abhorrent behaviour (for example, the rape of women as punishment for dishonouring the family) is a cultural peculiarity, but not at all oxymoronic within the context of that culture.

    Comment by Gregor W — July 8, 2014 @ 9:11 am

  77. So, if it’s culture, what I don’t get is why you would apologise for being a man. Surely if it’s culture then everyone in NZ participates in it – or is it a culture that is uniquely exhibited by / nurtured by men?

    To me that feels like the guts of the reaction many are having – the implication that men should apologise for something a minority of men do. It’s an arbitrary grouping and group guilt that could just as easily be applied to our society as a whole.

    Comment by PaulL — July 8, 2014 @ 9:28 am

  78. PaulL, you could go and google the term and learn a bit about it instead of asking commenters on a blog to educate you. Rape Culture isn’t an idea that sprang out of Cunliffe’s speech, nor is it one that is unique to New Zealand. There’s a lot of literature out there if you’re genuinely interested.

    And yes, it is a problem for men to solve, because we are the ones that are largely responsible for rape, either directly or indirectly. It’s not really an arbitrary grouping when one half of the population is afraid of the other half.

    Comment by simonpnz — July 8, 2014 @ 9:57 am

  79. And I’m not asking people to educate me, I’m pointing out that many people have a reaction to that. I don’t believe that one half the population is afraid of the other half, I’m pretty sure that there aren’t any women who are afraid of me for example. Once again, I find it offensive that I’m being labelled for something that a small proportion of other people who happen to share my gender do. I don’t condone what they do, I don’t see how this became my problem any more than it is the problem of those same men’s mothers, sisters or (in fact) neighbours. I understand that you don’t see that, but that doesn’t necessarily make you right.

    Comment by PaulL — July 8, 2014 @ 10:19 am

  80. I don’t believe that one half the population is afraid of the other half, I’m pretty sure that there aren’t any women who are afraid of me for example.

    Context, Paul.

    No doubt you’re a delightful chap whom all women would be happy to shake hands with and converse over a nice latte in a cafe. But let’s say you’re walking home at 1 am along a quiet suburban street, and a woman is walking the same direction 30m ahead of you. Might she feel scared (or at least, painfully conscious) of your presence behind her? Quite probably. Does she have reason to feel scared of your presence, for no reason other than that you are a man? Yes, yes she does. Because of stuff like this (trigger warning!): http://www.critic.co.nz/features/article/3988/the-underbelly-of-dunedin-streets

    Now, you may say “but I’m not the kind of guy who does this sort of thing!” Which is no doubt true – but what the “rape culture” analysis points out is that the sort of men who do these things are validated and by notions of masculinity and corresponding assumptions about femininity that are embedded into our societal fabric. So to point the finger at a few “bad apples” who can be dealt with in isolation is hopelessly simplistic and ultimately useless as a strategy for actually changing how people behave.

    What Cunliffe was “sorry” about is that it is men that overwhelmingly carry out these acts of violence (sexual or otherwise) against women. Why men do so is then a very complex problem that implicates not only men (although they have a large role to play, given the gendered imbalance of power in our society), but all of us (which includes you, unless you want to magically draw a circle around yourself and declare yourself a sovereign state). Now, you may not see that, but that doesn’t necessarily make you right.

    Comment by Flashing Light — July 8, 2014 @ 10:56 am

  81. To quote you Flashing Light: “that are embedded into our societal fabric”

    Our society as a whole. Singling out men as needing to apologise to me has two problems: firstly, it’s not correct, it’s society as a whole. And secondly, it’s therefore reducing our ability to deal with the problem because we’re seeing it as a man only problem, rather than a societal problem that everyone in society needs to deal with. I’m not saying I’m a special island outside society, I’m saying that picking a subgroup of society and saying “it’s them to blame” is not helpful. It alienates people who are trying to help, but because of their membership of a gender based group will still get told they’re part of the problem, and it leaves out a group of people who are part of society, and therefore also can take some responsibility for helping with the problem (rather than standing off to one side in a group and saying “it’s those people over there’s problem”). (And no, I’m not saying that women as a whole are doing that, I’m saying that the way Cunliffe phrased it made it sound that way)

    In short, I think some people here are letting their desire to see Cunliffe as being right get in the way of acknowledging that this particular phrase in a longer speech wasn’t as useful as it could have been.

    Comment by PaulL — July 8, 2014 @ 11:15 am

  82. No one said men “need” to apologise en masse or even on an individual basis. There’s no loud demands that, for example, you must do so in this comment thread. Nor is anyone clammering for Danyl to post his own “I’m sorry” blog entry. Rather, Cunliffe felt moved to do so in a particular situation (a speech on domestic violence initiatives) before a particular audience (predominently women who either had first hand experience of violence at the hands of men, or work very closely with lots of women who have suffered violence from males). In such a circumstance, I can see why he would feel a personal, subjective sense of sorrow and collective guilt for what others of his gender had done. In the same way as, for example, a Japanese person might feel sorrow, shame and remorse upon a visit to the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall (neatly avoiding a Godwin of this thread.) Would you say such a Japanese person would be wrong to do so? Would you say that the Japanese PM has no obligation to apologise for that nation’s actions towards China in WW2? What about Crown apologies to Maori to redress Treaty wrongs?

    As for the “picking a subgroup of society and saying “it’s them to blame” is not helpful” point … well, it is men who overwhelmingly are the perpetrators of violence against women (as well as other men, of course). How can you make that fact disappear or become irrelevant? Is it purely statistical coincidence that one half of the population seems to be more violent than the other, and does much more physical harm to that other half ? Or, if there is something about that half that “causes” it to act in that way, isn’t it the special obligation on the members of the violent half to do what they can to fix the problem? Where stand you then on the issue of the overrepresentation of Maori in child abuse statistics – not the problem of Maori, but rather everyones’ (and so there’s no particular obligation on Maori to examine their whanau structures and cultural practices to try and fix the problem)?

    Comment by Flashing Light — July 8, 2014 @ 11:40 am

  83. >I’m pretty sure that there aren’t any women who are afraid of me for example.

    I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t know if there were. Also, you may only be considering whether they are afraid of being raped by you. But there are many things surrounding the act of rape for which they might have very good cause to fear your reaction. They might very strongly feel that you would judge the victim harshly. Or that you might do something crazy to the perpetrator if you found out. There could be quite literally nothing good that could come of letting you in on such a secret, and a lot of harm. That is what the concept of rape culture is, whether you are even supportive in any way of victims, whether you really do strongly support their right to go about society without rape being an ever-present threat, and something that endlessly revictimizes the victims when it is brought to light. It’s about the minutiae of the reaction to it. If you’re the kind of person who strongly denies rape culture even exists, then you’re quite a big part of it, even if you never once in your life even consider raping anyone.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — July 8, 2014 @ 2:17 pm

  84. Yet he didn’t apologise for being a politician? Politicians have started wars, sent people to gulags and death chambers, supressed free speech and free association, laid waste to economies (what that rascal Mugabe up to this time) and even environments. The dirty fuckers lie for a living, sponge off the workers and entertain each other as “VIPs”. Pardon me.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — July 8, 2014 @ 2:17 pm

  85. And remember: politicians operate in a CULTURE of entitlement, name-calling, wolf-whistling, buck-passing, obfuscation and often out-right deceit….

    Comment by Clunking Fist — July 8, 2014 @ 2:30 pm

  86. Oh yes, Clunking Fist. You are so very clever.

    (Rolls eyes.)

    However, I’m disappointed in you. Where’s the irrelevant mention of how AGW is a complete hoax? I do hope you are not losing your edge … .

    Comment by Flashing Light — July 8, 2014 @ 2:56 pm

  87. *sigh*. The interesting thing about this to me is I am currently on holiday, so i am for a change looking back in at political discourse from a place which still has decent newspapers. That our MSM is now relentlessly shrill redtops dominated by introspective ox brained rightwing opinionarti is old news. But the way that shrillness infects the general argument by immediately setting everyone’s teeth on edge and creating a hyper-partisan fog isnt immediately apparent until you go away fir a bit, rediscover a proper media, and log back in to home and look at our vulgar and irresponsible sorry excuse of a media and the sort of debate it encourages.

    Comment by Sanctuary — July 8, 2014 @ 4:13 pm

  88. And Ben, that comes back to the point really. You don’t know me, and therefore have no idea whether I’m a part of rape culture or not. What you know is that I’m a man, and therefore you deduce I’m a part of it, as presumably therefore are you. If I suggest I’m maybe not, then that is evidence that I’m denying rape culture. That’s my problem: there’s nothing (apparently) I can do as a man to not be part of rape culture. Is it useful to have a concept that is synonymous with being a man, and which (apparently) it doesn’t matter what I do because I’ll still be part of it?

    Comment by PaulL — July 8, 2014 @ 4:40 pm

  89. That’s a very confused set of deductions from what I said, PaulL. One thing you can do immediately is to stop denying the existence of rape culture. Another thing you could do is apprise yourself of some knowledge about what the idea even means, perhaps by reading up on it. Then you can consider in a far more informed way how much you might have been contributing to it. Perhaps you haven’t. But in a state of completely confused ignorance, how would you even know?

    I’m not accusing you of anything more sinister than denying the existence of something you clearly don’t even understand, and even then the accusation is conditional on your continuing to deny it in that state. There’s plenty you can do about it, if you really care.

    Also, rape culture is not confined to men. Men are just the main perpetrators of rape. The culture around it can also be perpetuated by women, when they slut-shame victims, or really even consider the issue of how much the victim deserved what happened to them. But you’d know all of this from even half an hour reading up on the subject with an open mind, looking first to see if there’s anything useful in it before rushing to deny everything about it.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — July 8, 2014 @ 4:59 pm

  90. Ben,

    Stop victimising Paul with your incessant demands that he just think and try to learn. Can’t you see how everyone is being mean to him, just because he’s a man? Look how many demands are being constantly hurled at him to … well, do nothing at all, really. But somehow all this rape stuff is about him. Because it’s him.

    Oh … and, him.

    Comment by Flashing Light — July 8, 2014 @ 5:27 pm

  91. Guess that’s about what I should have expected. Enjoy your echo chamber.

    Comment by PaulL — July 8, 2014 @ 7:43 pm

  92. “Another thing you could do is apprise yourself of some knowledge about what the idea even means, perhaps by reading up on it. Then you can consider in a far more informed way how much you might have been contributing to it.”

    A somewhat hypocritical bout of condescension from a guy who tries to debate public finance and micro in complete ignorance of basic economic concepts.

    Comment by Swan — July 8, 2014 @ 9:14 pm

  93. Heh, this place is becoming as straitjacketed and desolate as public address. Fail to toe the party line on issues of dogma and they’ll “privilege check” you right into the ground. But they’ll use polite words and say it is to keep it a “safe place” so as to keep up their own pretensions to the moral high ground and truth. Danyl fled public address along with many others. Where do lefties flee to now when they fall foul of the red guards?

    Comment by scerb — July 9, 2014 @ 5:25 am

  94. “Where’s the irrelevant mention of how AGW is a complete hoax?”
    Well, there are some parallels in the language used to “promote” the idea of “rape culture”, and collective guilt. Thanks for raising the point. But, like the Holocaust, there are actual victims, eyewitnesses, of rape and domestic violence. Whereas “victims” of cAGW are few and far between, even though one crowd tried to claim that there’s 300,000 dying of it annually already http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2009/may/29/1
    Turns out, something like 97% of those are folk who live short, brutish, lives in mud huts, suffering from the inhalation of dung and wood smoke…

    I like how the article doesn’t provide a link to the study, nor name it. Apparently, if you read the study, you’d become aware of the smoke inhalation numbers and realise that economic development with fossil fuels, or fossil fuelled electricity, might reduce, substantially, those early deaths.
    I also love this “The paper was reviewed by 10 of the world’s leading experts incluing Rajendra Pachauri” a man who is a railway engineer with some economic qualification, not a climate scientist.

    Thanks for asking!

    Comment by Clunking Fist — July 9, 2014 @ 8:51 am

  95. “world’s leading experts incluing (sic, lolz) Rajendra Pachauri”

    Comment by Clunking Fist — July 9, 2014 @ 8:53 am

  96. @scerb

    Fail to toe the party line on issues of dogma and they’ll “privilege check” you right into the ground.

    I dunno. When someone comes along and says “I just don’t understand this issue”, it’s not entirely unreasonable to say “then go away and learn about it”.

    Alternatively, we could just privilege ignorance and accept that all points of view are equally valid and there are no right or wrong answers and if you really believe it then it must be true. Would that be a better approach?

    @Clunking Fist

    Phew! There it is. Now I know the sun will still rise tomorrow.

    Comment by Flashing Light — July 9, 2014 @ 9:03 am

  97. >Heh, this place is becoming as straitjacketed and desolate as public address.

    This IS a thread about rape culture. Did you seriously expect not to have it even discussed? It’s been admirably devoid of human females, but still you manage to feel put upon? No one of any moderating power is saying boo to your right to say whatever. Say it, if you’ve actually got something to say. So far you haven’t even said anything other than a snide remark that could be taken to mean you think being a dad somehow means you don’t have a different perspective on rape and domestic violence than the people who are likely to actually be victims of it. Who has been stopped from speaking, even from a position of privilege? Or are you saying this is no longer a place that feels safe for you?

    Comment by Ben Wilson — July 9, 2014 @ 10:49 am

  98. I’m glad that concerns about cAGW can be joked away, while proper issues like rape and domestic violence (and child poverty) can engender discussion. FWIW.

    But we all had a jolly (dark) laugh about child abuse a little while back, which pissed off old Pete George. Why is child abuse okay to “joke” about, but not domestic violence? Pete tried to argue that the jokes promoted a culture tolerant of child abuse. Which was crap. Adult on child, dark humour okay, Man on woman, dark humour not okay. What’s the difference? That women have (legitimately) laid claim to a share of power, whereas children haven’t (after all, they’re only children and can’t be expected to handle a share of power like adults can)?

    There’s parallels there with cAGW, where rich world misanthropes like Gore, Prince Charles and Rajendra Pachauri produce vast quantities of co2 each year (often with taxpayer funding), but fret about the masses in Asia and Africa who dare dream of a high energy, high quality standard of life.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — July 9, 2014 @ 2:24 pm

  99. And Sanc’s away on a foreign holiday, how bourgeois, just like his lifestyle block. Sanc, I had thought your silence was because your cat killing, rugby lovin’ ways are the epitome of rape culture enablement. Lolz.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — July 9, 2014 @ 2:35 pm

  100. We didn’t have a dark laugh about child abuse at all as I recall. It was actually a reference to poverty to which someone (DeepRed maybe?) provided a Swiftian reference.
    Pete chose to equate our acknowledgement of Swift’s satire as a tacit endorsement/acceptance of child abuse (and presumably, cannibalism).

    Quite different.

    Comment by Gregor W — July 9, 2014 @ 2:52 pm

  101. OK Ben, let me have one more go at this. I’ve generally enjoyed DimPost, and I’m not keen to be chased off by someone being (to my mind) somewhat sanctimonious.

    Go back and look at what I said, and work out where I asked or needed to be educated about rape culture. My consistent point has been that (the topic of the original post) Cunliffe apologised for being a man. My point was that he shouldn’t have apologised for being a man. If he feels that he hasn’t done enough in the past to combat rape culture, then he could absolutely and sensibly have apologised for not doing enough. But when he apologises for being man, he is saying that the simple fact of being a man makes him part of the problem. I said that many people in NZ would have a problem with that (myself included).

    I can see in post 77 you think I asked to be educated. I didn’t. It was a rhetorical question, maybe that was too subtle. If it’s rape culture, then it’s a thing that people who are enablers of rape culture need to apologise for. Not men *purely because they’re men*. Under the rape culture construct then some women contribute to it to (it’s embedded in a country or a group’s culture, not just the men), and some men don’t contribute to it. It makes no sense to apologise for being a man in that construct.

    At comment 80 flashing light suggests that women might be scared of me on a dark and stormy night. Sure, that may be true. But I’d sometimes be scared of a guy behind me on a dark night if I got the impression he might be following me, does he have to apologise to me? Many people would be scared of a Maori guy near them even in daytime. Should the Maori guy apologise for being Maori? The argument doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

    At point 89 Ben, you could try quoting where I denied the existence of rape culture. I don’t see it in what I said. What I said was that I didn’t think rape culture meant that men need to apologise for being a man, nor that just being a man automatically makes you part of rape culture, and that if in fact that were the definition then it wouldn’t be a very useful one. I think the problem here is that you’re not seeing that distinction, but I’m also fairly sure that you believe that you yourself don’t contribute to rape culture, and that you personally wouldn’t need to apologise. Why do you assume that I contribute to it? Or do you believe that you contribute to it?

    In short, this entire discussion started with me saying that I thought Cunliffe had it wrong when he apologised for being a man. That was the wrong thing, you shouldn’t apologise for how you were born, you should apologise for things you did. I’m still in that same place, and I still think that I don’t automatically become part of rape culture by being a man. If I had done something that enabled, contributed to or otherwise led to the continuation of rape culture, then sure. Possibly I’ve even done that, although you’d have no way of knowing that. But not just because I’m a man. It really isn’t that complex an assertion.

    Comment by PaulL — July 9, 2014 @ 3:05 pm

  102. PaulL you spend all of comment 88 questioning the concept of rape culture in a way that indicated you really don’t get what it is. This was also the follow up to a stream of definitional challenges by Lee C. It’s a whole bunch of inane questions indicating utter confusion at something that is really such a simple idea. I answered them already.

    I have no desire to “chase you off”. But your whole way of arguing is obtuse in the extreme and I have fuck all patience for that, since it is an extremely common tactic in this kind of discussion to just derail it, and it’s continuing.

    >I’m still in that same place, and I still think that I don’t automatically become part of rape culture by being a man.

    No, and I never said you did. That was a consequence of your own false deduction from misconstruing the term “rape culture”, which ultimately came from either not knowing what the idea even means, or knowing and being deliberately difficult. I don’t know which one it is and I don’t care. They’re both equally frustrating to deal with.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — July 9, 2014 @ 4:08 pm

  103. No, in comment 88 I’m questioning the assertion that I’m part of rape culture simply because I’m a man, I’m not sure what’s confusing about that. It ties back to the concept of apologising for being a man, which is what we’re talking about (given the topic of Danyl’s post).

    It’s kinda hard to pretend that didn’t happen and move off into an assertion that I’m questioning rape culture itself. In a sense you’re creating a strawman, you’re trying to argue something other than what I said.

    Comment by PaulL — July 9, 2014 @ 5:06 pm

  104. >I’m questioning the assertion that I’m part of rape culture simply because I’m a man

    Which, for the umpteenth time, is something no-one here has asserted. It is a straw man and appears to be querying the definition of rape culture in that painfully annoying way of just misconstruing it over and over again so that you can approach the idea by first eliminating what it isn’t. So far, it isn’t anything you’ve suggested. There’s a shortcut to your Socratic method – look the term up.

    >It’s kinda hard to pretend that didn’t happen and move off into an assertion that I’m questioning rape culture itself

    Not really. It’s extremely easy, because you do actually keep questioning it. Over and over and over again. If you genuinely are not questioning it, then please provide a definition of it, so that you can show you don’t think it’s synonymous with “being a human male”. Because it actually isn’t that, in case you haven’t worked that out yet.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — July 9, 2014 @ 6:09 pm

  105. Well Ben you just continue to prove the point. How about you run back off to the whitebread middleaged echo chamber that is pa and get some approval from the commisars for your good fieldwork.

    Comment by scerb — July 9, 2014 @ 6:34 pm

  106. Ben, go back to the start. Cunliffe apologised for being a man. What I said was that this is implicitly saying that the problem is being a man, that men are the ones that are the problem. The difficulty being that I can’t stop being a man. I know that you don’t want to talk about that, but that is actually what the post is about – what Cunliffe said.

    Comment by PaulL — July 9, 2014 @ 6:41 pm

  107. Pete chose to equate our acknowledgement of Swift’s satire as a tacit endorsement/acceptance of child abuse.

    Yes, and I found it depressing but completely unsurprising that he appeared to have no idea who Swift was, or what satire is, or what Swift might have meant by this particular example of it – nor any interest in finding out.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — July 9, 2014 @ 6:43 pm

  108. @Ben: “you do actually keep questioning it. Over and over and over again”
    Let’s make this easy. Point to the quote. Which might have you rereading what I actually posted, and not attributing what other people said to me.

    Comment by PaulL — July 9, 2014 @ 6:56 pm

  109. Well Ben you just continue to prove the point. How about you run back off to the whitebread middleaged echo chamber that is pa and get some approval from the commisars for your good fieldwork.

    The point, scerb? Not something that appears obvious in your two extraordinarily useful contributions to the debate, which seem to consist of “telling someone they don’t know what they are talking about is mean!”

    What I said was that this is implicitly saying that the problem is being a man, that men are the ones that are the problem. The difficulty being that I can’t stop being a man. I know that you don’t want to talk about that, but that is actually what the post is about – what Cunliffe said.

    I already tried linking to it, but WordPress hates me, apparently. Read this: https://medium.com/human-parts/a-gentlemens-guide-to-rape-culture-7fc86c50dc4c

    Comment by Flashing Light — July 9, 2014 @ 7:07 pm

  110. OK, I read it. Sure, it starts out saying “if you’re a man you’re part of rape culture.” Then it gives a list of things you can do to not be part of rape culture. So actually, if you’re a man you’re not a part of rape culture, if you do those things. Kinda subtle, isn’t it.

    So, now that I’ve read your article and therefore am sufficiently educated for you to read my comments, we could discuss the topic of the post…whether we need to apologise for being men (i.e. for who we were born), or we would need to apologise if we were part of rape culture (if we didn’t do the things listed in that article, for example), which would be apologising for something we’d done or failed to do through our silence or tolerance. Which was my point – we don’t apologise for how we were born, we apologise for things we did or didn’t do.

    Comment by PaulL — July 9, 2014 @ 7:21 pm

  111. Dear Paul, you should scroll back up to #20 where Vito Andolini perfectly sums up how rape-culture applies to you, and what you can do about it.

    If you can spare the time you should also read this: http://badassdigest.com/2013/11/14/we-need-to-change-how-we-talk-about-rape/

    .. then come back and let us know how you feel.

    Comment by István Ping Clover — July 9, 2014 @ 7:24 pm

  112. PaulL,

    As I alluded to above, Ben Wilson has a habit of ignoring the point you are making. I wouldn’t waste your time.

    Comment by Swan — July 9, 2014 @ 7:29 pm

  113. Oh, and I should add this. Cunliffe said:
    ‘‘Can I begin by saying I’m sorry – I don’t often say it – I’m sorry for being a man, right now.”

    You wrote:
    “The undercurrent is that no matter what you personally have done, no matter who you have helped, you still need to apologise for being a man. As long as there are any men out there who commit these crimes then I’m also guilty.”

    You’re 100% wrong. There is no undercurrent. You don’t need to apologise for anything. You don’t need to be outraged at Cunliffe saying what he said. No one is accusing you of anything. You’re not collectively guilty for anything.

    Just help fight rape-culture* and you’ll be fine.

    *NB this includes not derailing conversations about rape-culture,

    Comment by István Ping Clover — July 9, 2014 @ 7:30 pm

  114. Actually Swan I’ve interacted with Ben in the past (sure, some time ago) and he was quite reasonable. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt until I conclude he’s lost that.

    Comment by PaulL — July 9, 2014 @ 7:40 pm

  115. Paul, give it up. This is just identity politics played to its banal extreme. You can’t win or gain traction with logic or reason. The rules are set and the outcome decided, if you play the game you just have to accept your role.

    Comment by scerb — July 9, 2014 @ 7:44 pm

  116. scerb@115
    “Paul, give it up. This is just identity politics played to its banal extreme. You can’t win or gain traction with logic or reason. The rules are set and the outcome decided, if you play the game you just have to accept your role.”

    Spoken like a true amateur human.

    Comment by István Ping Clover — July 9, 2014 @ 8:06 pm

  117. PaulL,

    Excellent, Now that you’ve read that article and will in future adopt the measures set out therein, you are officially no longer part of rape culture. The world will be a better place You also have my permission not to apologise for being a man. But, likewise, David Cunliffe doesn’t need your permission or blessing if he felt the personal need/desire to do so. Everybody’s happy nowadays.

    scerb,

    Nice advice. Give it up.

    Comment by Flashing Light — July 9, 2014 @ 9:34 pm

  118. Neil @ 50,


    It followed on from the demands from Labour and the Greens for MFAT and the govt to apologise to the woman for that diplomatic bungle,

    The problem I have I’d they’re making demands on behalf of someone the don’t know and have no authority to speak on behalf of.

    It was all about ostentatious public display and not about what the person concerned might or might not want.

    Turns out Labour and Greens MPs were reflecting “what the person concerned might … want”: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/10249308/Alleged-victim-named-in-Malaysian-diplomats-attempted-rape-case

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — July 9, 2014 @ 9:44 pm

  119. Yes, but the issue is no longer what the person concerned might want. The issue now is trawling through everything she has ever said or done and attacking her, thereby shifting her status from victim to troublemaker. Not directly of course – perish the thought! – but through the proxy-blogs.

    Won’t be long now …

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — July 9, 2014 @ 10:50 pm

  120. Flashing Light: thanks for trivialising it all. The point is that when Cunliffe feels obliged to apologise for being a man, when he’s leader of the opposition, that actually means something. People look at it and wonder whether he thinks that all men should feel that way. You’re quite right, he can feel free to do that if he wants. But, politically speaking, I think that doing so was a bad move. Which was all that I originally said, and apparently led to all these various accusations of me denying rape culture or being ignorant or whatever else you guys are choosing to believe today. Bottom line, this isn’t how you win elections. Last I looked that was the point of being in politics.

    Comment by PaulL — July 10, 2014 @ 12:03 am

  121. >Ben, go back to the start.

    No, I responded to your response to me. Pulling apart what you intended to mean from somewhere back in the thread doesn’t drag me into talking about your original point. You quite specifically challenged the idea of rape culture as useful or meaningful in comment 88, when I responded to a request to define it. I’m not actually even interested in pulling apart whether Cunliffe was “right or wrong” to say what he said. If he wants to apologize, that’s up to him. There’s not really any right or wrong about it.

    >I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt until I conclude he’s lost that.

    I don’t think this debate is particularly rational at any level. It can’t be. It’s not about that. It’s about signalling. At the moment, the signaling I see is for the herd to lock ranks. It’s quite interesting to watch, really, considering that this site could barely be described as a community, since most people are chickenshit anonymous, that this kind of topic has created a little clique of people intent on bringing up whatever past they can on me, like it’s relevant to the discussion. My credibility on DimPost rides on how I respond to a circle jerk? LOL, I don’t care, this isn’t about me. I couldn’t care less if everyone here hates me with a passion. I doubt they do, but really, I’m just glad to point out to the much bigger pool of people who read but don’t write that if they want to know more about rape culture then pulling it apart in a room full of guys is a waste of time and there’s plenty of other places they could look.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — July 10, 2014 @ 12:07 am

  122. No Ben, I challenged your apparent definition of rape culture as being something that was synonymous with being a man, and said that if that was the definition then it wasn’t a useful concept. Anyway, we’ve done this to death. Glad that you got some value out of it at least, not sure that I did.🙂

    Comment by PaulL — July 10, 2014 @ 12:39 am

  123. But Paul, I didn’t give an “apparent” definition of rape culture. I gave an actual definition, in comment 71. You tried unsuccessfully to twist my definition. I wonder if you got confused by this statement of mine:

    >If you’re the kind of person who strongly denies rape culture even exists, then you’re quite a big part of it, even if you never once in your life even consider raping anyone.

    You seem to have not spotted that this statement has an IF at the start. I did not say you were such a person, at that point. But subsequently you gave me good reason to believe that maybe you are such a person, because you kept on twisting the definition I gave in quite clear terms. Perhaps you are genuinely confused by the definition given, and this reading is unfair. But people who twist definitions around are not usually doing it in good faith, so I felt that you were actually doing your damnedest to deny that definition I gave made any sense. I thought your reason for doing so was to cast doubt on whether rape culture is even a thing at all. This is why I asked YOU to define it. It would be a gesture of good faith that you:
    1. Actually have an idea what it means
    2. Think it is a real thing.

    And I now repeat this request. Please tell me what YOU think rape culture is.

    If you tell me one more time that it means “being a human male” then it will be clear to everyone that your entire purpose is to frustrate the discussion. I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt here because you’ve indicated that you think discussion with me can be rational, and it is possible that you didn’t just say that as a rhetorical trick.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — July 10, 2014 @ 1:39 am

  124. I had a look at the rape culture guide posted above. I can’t see anything about pornography or prostitution. Both of these seem to violate multiple principles of this rape culture definition. Surely a man viewing porn or using the services of a prostitute is perpetuating a rape culture by these definitions. Why do we tolerate this? Should women be prevented from appearing in porn or working as a prostitute, even if they think it is OK to objectify themselves and encourage myths of female passivity and availability, or does their right to choose their own actions in life supersede an obligation to not perpetuate a rape culture?

    Comment by Grant G — July 10, 2014 @ 4:30 am

  125. Grant, I think the idea is that people are supposed keep the two separate; that is, to consume pornography and the services offered by sex workers — without, you know, committing sex crimes.

    Comment by István Ping Clover — July 10, 2014 @ 7:33 am

  126. I wasn’t talking about commiting crime. I was talking about perpetuating rape culture, as set out in the previous link.

    Comment by Grant G — July 10, 2014 @ 8:10 am

  127. Surely a man viewing porn or using the services of a prostitute is perpetuating a rape culture by these definitions

    @Grant – There is plenty of porn that in non-violent and consensual. There is also a ton of porn that depicts (fantasy) violence and female submission. I think however that if it stays in fantasy land and doesn’t change how you interact with real, everyday humans it’s hard to draw the connection that suggests the act of watching a specific sub-kink of porn perpetuates rape culture. I’ll admit it is a grey area though and plenty of people would strongly disagree with me though.

    Also, prostitution is ostensibly a voluntary contractual act in this country. People use prostitute’s services for a variety of reasons, not by any means all related to female objectification. Again, a massive grey area as without examining an individuals circumstances, we have no idea as to the reason why they entered the trade (which could well be a factor of any or all of the ‘rape culture’ drivers) but at that point, we are attempting to make a moral judgement is the absence of knowledge which is never useful.

    Comment by Gregor W — July 10, 2014 @ 8:43 am

  128. Sorry Ben, I have no particular desire to copy and paste a definition from Wikipedia just to make you happy. To me this discussion is not about rape culture and it’s definition, that’s kind of irrelevant. The discussion is about why if you’d apologise for being a man. To me the continued attempts to divert into whether or not rape culture is legitimate, happening in NZ, and whether particular people (consciously or unconsciously) support rape culture are red herrings.

    I have not once told you that “it means being male”. What I’ve consistently said is that it would only make sense to apologise for being male IF being male was synonymous with being part of rape culture. And that IF that definition were the case, THEN that definition would be a particularly useless one. So, what you see is a logical construct in which I demonstrate that it makes no sense to apologise for being a man, because if that did make sense then we’d therefore come to the logical conclusion that to be a man was to automatically be part of rape culture, in which case there’d be no point in attempting to actually do anything….because you’d still be part of rape culture. Clearly it does make sense to do something, therefore clearly that logical construct is incorrect, therefore clearly it makes no sense to apologise for being a man. Surely it can’t be that hard to follow….unless you don’t want to follow it?

    Comment by PaulL — July 10, 2014 @ 9:27 am

  129. Gregor… surely the nature of the porn is of little relevance to perpetuating a “rape culture”. As far as I understand it, one of the aspects of rape culture is accepting the objectification of women and even non-violent or consensual porn typically does this, since, after all, most porn is there because men like to look at women. You can flip the consensuality around as well, if jokes about rape are verboten even in a consensual comedy setting, then why is consensual porn acceptable? Likewise with prostitution, there are a number of social democratic countries that outright ban it on exploitation grounds (France and Sweden I think, others as well?) regardless of any consensual angle.

    I guess my point is that much of rape culture seems to devolve into subjective standards based on who is doing the talking and it risks sounding like “you are perpetuating a rape culture when YOU talk like that, but it is ok for ME to watch this porn or buy a prostitute because I like it and can explain it away as consensual”. Or, not so strongly, “I know rape culture when I see it (dickheads on talkback) but my porn is OK”. This, I believe, is where many men get the gut feeling that they are being set up with a standard they can’t satisfy.

    Comment by Grant G — July 10, 2014 @ 8:02 pm

  130. Got it! Jacking off to female submissive/rape fantasy porn: okay. Failure to smile and say hello to a woman in an elevator or darkened carpark late at night: conducive to rape culture.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — July 11, 2014 @ 3:40 am

  131. ps those comments come after “becoming educated on the topic” at the article supplied by Flashing. I guess initiating conversation with a woman alone in a carpark late at night isn’t considered creepy or threatening? After all, no rapist has ever tried the “friendly” approach before…

    Comment by Clunking Fist — July 11, 2014 @ 3:43 am

  132. a) “A woman must consider where she is going, what time of day it is, what time she will arrive at her destination and what time she will leave her destination”

    b) “I’m out alone at night, I rarely ever fear for my safety. Many men know exactly what I mean. Most women have no idea what that feels like — to go wherever you want in the world, at any time of day or night, and feel you won’t have a problem”

    I appreciate a) is true for women. I don’t accept that b) is true for all men, or even most men. Sure, I don’t fear being raped while abroad of an evening. But I do fear being a victim of a similar senseless power/bullying act of violence, a bashing simply because I’m not a cool, hard guy. I’m a bespectacled suit-wearing accountant nerd carrying a briefcase which may or may not contain a laptop. The sort who might find it fun to hassle me for sport, might also rape, may also get involved in prison rape in spite of not being a homosexual. Yet the author of that article thinks I promote rape culture by just being myself, i.e. by NOT appearing to flirt with strange women in car parks late at night.

    I’m sorry, I can’t help but feel an element of identity politics in the whole “I’m sorry for being a man”.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — July 11, 2014 @ 3:57 am

  133. As far as I understand it, one of the aspects of rape culture is accepting the objectification of women

    Better start burning a lot of paintings and smashing statues then….

    Comment by Gregor W — July 11, 2014 @ 4:17 pm

  134. Very droll, Gregor. Let’s explicitly state “sexual objectification” for all the pedants out there who might be looking for a chance to bait-and-switch.

    Comment by Grant G — July 11, 2014 @ 6:00 pm

  135. No, I’m serious Grant G.
    Better start smashing up all that great art nouveau sculpture and slashing up Klimt, Man Ray works – they all unashamedly objectify women as both sensual and sexual. Do we also burn all of Hemingway’s books for the same reason?

    One persons art is another’s work of “sexual objectification”.
    So in that sense “rape culture” (a modern analysis) is subjective in the sense that it is bound to the time of its identification in some respects. Which is why I am wary of the porn / prostitution angle.

    I think you are also forgetting that a lot of women also enjoy porn and that a huge amount of homosexual porn also exists. Does this bolster the analysis of rape culture or detract from it?

    Comment by Gregor W — July 11, 2014 @ 7:37 pm

  136. Gregor, in which case we return to my questions… why is porn and prostitution exempted from these considerations that humor, debate and other forms of entertainment are not? The claim you are making is that you can do this due to subjectivity and the fact that some people enjoy it, which if turned around excuses much of what is also accused to be rape culture. Just reference Craig Ranapia’s discussions at Public Address for instance, for an extremely low tolerance of these matters. It then becomes as Clunking Fist less diplomatically points out, a rather ridiculous exercise in determining what exactly is perpetuating rape culture with incorrect looks or comments being worse than producing imaginative porn. Any man my claim that his statements or views are not perpetuating rape culture, after all why should he be bound by your subjective views of this particular point in time? The logical conclusion is that rape culture is an extremely nebulous concept with little use and this is obviously why many people reject much of the concept. It comes down to “is so/is not” arguments.

    Comment by Grant G — July 11, 2014 @ 8:07 pm

  137. Sorry Grant. I didn’t realise your questions @ #124 were rhetorical. I mostly agree with you.

    I think the concept is fraught with subjectivity, but I still think that an attempt at analysis holds value – inasmuch as it makes us as sons, fathers and husbands sometimes consider why we might act in certain ways as men toward women, and whether we should make a conscious effort to demonstrate different behaviour to our sons so that they become better men – even though “rape culture” defies specific definition.

    Comment by Gregor W — July 11, 2014 @ 8:29 pm


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