Taking a Stand against rape and rape culture: newspaper opinion piece

I wrote an article about rape and rape culture, and what we can do about it, for my local paper. It’s not on-line, but I’ve made a PDF of it. It’s oriented towards an audience that may not have read much about rape culture before.

Stopping rape culture – pdf – 406kb

And I spoke at the rally against rape culture in my town on Saturday. You can read about the demonstration here, and incidentally, get a nice view of the back of my head.

Square protest against rape culture

The demonstration in Palmerston North was organised by a young man, Mark Byford. Mark spoke very effectively at the rally, and he did a great job organising it. Thank you, Mark!


I’ve been on the radio a couple of times this week.

The first was my regular discussion with Bryan Crump, on Radio NZ Nights. This time we talked about abortion law reform in New Zealand. You can find the discussion here: Abortion law reform in NZ – discussion with Bryan Crump on RNZ Nights 16’45”.

It was as ever, an interesting discussion, and a challenging one.

The second radio appearance was challenging too, in quite a different way. I was on NewstalkNB’s breakfast show, talking to Mike Hosking about this awful “Roast Busters” group in Auckland. I was a bit flummoxed by his opening question: he asked me about the girls, when I had expected to be asked about the boys who were deliberately pursuing girls and getting them drunk with the explicit aim of raping them. However, I recovered, and then had quite a good opportunity, I thought, to focus the discussion on rape and rape culture.

You can find the audio of my discussion here: Roast Busters and Rape – discussion with Mike Hosking on NewstalkZB – about 3 minutes.

Many thanks to whoever suggested that NewstalkZB should contact me. I have my suspicions as to who it was…

Today in rape culture

There was a horrific rape in Hamilton. The two men have been sentenced to 16 and 15 years in jail. They seem to be completely unremorseful. They tried to claim that it was consensual sex, but given that they first abducted the girl that they assaulted, it seems a completely unrealistic claim. Fortunately, the jury wasn’t convinced at all.

The details of the crime are horrid – all reported in the paper.

And courtesy of Stuff, there’s a massive serving of victim blaming at the end of the article.


Travel in pairs

Make sure people know where you are, and when they are next likely to hear from you

Be aware of your environment

Do not travel with strangers

Here’s a screen grab of the helpful hints.

And here’s a link to the article, for the record. Don’t don’t don’t read the article – it’s full of details about the crime. Rapist pair show no remorse

I find this astounding, that at the end of an article describing the brutal treatment of a young woman, a news site could include these “safety” tips, implying that somehow, it was the young woman’s fault that she was raped. This is rape culture in action – blaming the victim, and making it very clear that if only she had done something different, none of this would have happened.

I don’t have access to a physical copy of the Waikato Times, where the story was originally published. To the credit of the Waikato Times, the helpful hints don’t appear on their website. They’re only on the aggregated Stuff website.

Missing the point

There’s a banner headline article in this morning’s Dom Post magazine, “Taming the trolls: tackling the internet haters”. It’s advertised on the front page of the newspaper, and it’s the cover story in the magazine, this time as, “Slaying the trolls: hunting down the internet haters”.

Dom Post front page, 9 March

Dom Post front page, 9 March

It’s not on-line, so you will have to buy a copy if you want to read it. But I wouldn’t bother. The story is blinkered, and narrow, because the reporter doens’t bother to talk to any women.

Which New Zealand bloggers does the journalist talk to? David Farrar and Cameron Slater, of course. And the not-so-prominent Aaron Hape, who runs the Monarchy NZ Facebook page. His major complaint? Once some republicans deliberately posted comments against the monarchy. Wow – big time trolling there.

There’s no attempt to talk to any women bloggers about their experience of trolling. And what we know now is that the abuse handed out on-line to women who dare to blog is outrageous. Check what PZ Myers says about it.

Yeah, the guys get it, too. I thought it was ridiculous before — I had Conservapædia raving about how fat I was, whole blogs dedicated to how stupid I was, and of course, frequent accusations of being gay — but once I got associated with feminism, the hatred reached a whole new level of shrieking. I’ve basically been declared an honorary woman by a whole new category of people, online atheists, who turn out to be worse than creationists, Christians, and Muslims. There are even more rants about my appearance, my ‘irrationality’, my sanity, than ever before.

And the scary thing is that when I compare what I get to what women activists get, I’m getting off easy.

Or James Faa, writing in New Statesman.

First up, there is something disturbingly misogynistic about online bullying. Yes: blokes, male columnists, undoubtedly get it too. But it feels as though there is something far more vicious, gender-related with respect to what women have to endure.

And then there’s the astonishing and horrid abuse handed out to Mary Beard, for daring to be a woman in public with expertise and opinions.

First, the misogyny here is truly gobsmacking. The whole site is pretty hateful (and what some of the comments say about Andrew Marr since he’s been ill are almost worse than anything).. but the whole “cunt” talk and the kind of stuff represented by the photo on right is more than a few steps into sadism. It would be quite enough to put many women off appearing in public, contributing to political debate, especially as all of this comes up on google..

There’s trolling on in the internet, deliberately posting perverse opinions in the hope of stirring up trouble, and then there’s vicious hatred. The Dom Post mentions the person who wished WhaleOil dead, and in one paragraph, it quotes a UK expert, talking about the hatred directed at women. But that’s it.

It’s a shame that the reporter didn’t think a little bit more broadly, and talk to some New Zealand women who are blogging. But perhaps that would have required him to do a little more than just hit the quick-dial on his telephone.

Celebrating Christmas with fabulous food

Cross posted

Just in time for Christmas, the NZ Listener served up a dose of food guilt and You Must Diet and food is not for fun and LOSE WEIGHT NOW! To be fair to The Listener, the article avoids saying that fat people are unhealthy (if you are sceptical about this claim, check this story about the non-link between fat and health in the New York Times). However, The Listener story does have an underlying theme of making people feel bad about food, and it tacitly claims that losing weight is just a matter of sufficient willpower. This is despite the magazine having previously run stories on the myths of weight loss (see my summary of the story here), and willpower (long story short – it can be done, but only with huge effort, unless there are structural supports around you).

Whatever. And what a way to cast a pall of nagging tut-tut-tut over a celebration.

So in the spirit of simply enjoying good food and good company, I offer you our Christmas Day menu.

We started the day with Bucks Fizz – champagne version for the adults, lemonade version for the children, although those children who wanted to do so were invited to try some of the former.

Bucks Fizz

Bucks Fizz

For breakfast, we had warmed croissants stuffed with our butcher’s secret recipe homecured bacon, and lightly stewed peaches, still warm from the pan, all drizzled with maple syrup.

Bacon, croissants, peaches and maple syrup

Bacon, croissants, peaches and maple syrup

I made a superb bacon quiche for lunch. I would show you a picture, but we ate it all before I thought about taking a photo. Likewise with the pre-dinner nibbles, alas. Or perhaps not so alas, because the homemade pate, blue cheese, chippies, and homemade hummus were delicious.

This was the main part of dinner.

Brown paper parcel

Brown paper parcel

It’s a whole leg of lamb, studded with cloves of garlic, then rubbed with lemon juice and olive oil, then placed on a bed of freshly cut oregano, and wrapped in baking paper and brown paper. I cooked it long and slow, for about three hours, and I rested it for half an hour before serving it. It was meltingly tender, and flavoursome. The recipe comes from Ruth Pretty.

I accompanied the lamb with asparagus drizzled with lemon infused olive oil, a medley of green beans, broad beans and peas with melted mint butter, and herby Jersey Benny potatoes (best potatoes ever).

Lamb, potatoes, asparagus, legume medley

Lamb, potatoes, asparagus, legume medley

Yummy yummy yummy.

And then there was dessert.

Dessert table

Dessert table

From left to right, fresh cherries, a berry medley, marscapone apricot tart, whipped cream, yoghurt, a strawberry pavlova, and lemon semi-freddo. The pavlova was excellent, crisp on the outside, and soft marshmallow without a hint of chewiness in the middle. The lemon semi-freddo was good too, creamy and tart, and not at all icy. I was very pleased with the way it turned out.

Just in case anyone was still hungry, we finished off with Christmas cake. Lurid Christmas cake.

Bright star cake

Bright star cake

I hope that you ate some wonderful food over the festive season too. Feel free to share.

How to illustrate a story about falling sperm counts

So how should one illustrate a story about falling sperm counts?

Headless pregnant woman

Headless pregnant woman

With a headless pregnant woman, of course!

Well done, New Zealand Herald. Well done.

Tick the tropes: men’s illness = women’s problem, women as bearers of fetuses, women responsible for the human race, women reduced to a state of pregnancy, women reduced to body parts. Any more?

Cross posted

There’s someone for everyone

NZ Truth is due to publish its first edition under its new editor, Cameron Slater, tomorrow. (For my friends and readers in NZ, “Truth” is exactly the kind of newspaper you would expect with a name like that.) Being a social media type, Slater has set up a Facebook page for Truth.

And Truth NZ has a friend!

Truth’s Facebook page, with one friend. Screen capture taken at 9pm on Wednesday 7 November.

This friend.

DPF on Truth. “1 Friend likes Truth”

And really, all this shows is that just one of my friends likes Truth….

By way of disclosure, DPF is indeed my friend, on-line and in real life, and has been ever since we were students at the University of Otago together. I always enjoy seeing him, even if our political views are, well, somewhat opposed.