Feminists of the Year acknowledged in Parliament

Yesterday Maurice Williamson used Parliament to boost his male ego and in the process turned Parliament back into a boys’ club,  announcing how fortunate he’d been to spend the last hour in his office with the Miss Universe NZ contestants. Note the extended male laughter. I was told there was also barking but I was too shocked to hear that.

In the words of my favourite tweet yesterday, “1954 called and said it wants its patronising misogyny back.”

I have feminist concerns with beauty pageants but that’s not relevant here. As a woman MP I don’t have any objection to the contestants visiting parliament.

I do however have a problem with a male colleague using his role to turn back the clock to a time when there were not women MPs in the House. To frame his acknowledgement in the way he did “I’ve been fortunate in the last hour to have been in my office with…” was designed to stir up the heterosexual men, and it successfully created a space for all those jokes. Including one joke in response to the Speaker recognising the Wellington contestant “Isn’t she a bit young for you?”

Despite the impression Maurice’s little piece of theatre tried to create of a boys club, voters in New Zealand did actually chose to elect quite a few of us, women, and I know quite a few people out there found the whole episode creepy (creepy is a direct quote from a media producer).

So today we reclaimed Parliament for 2012 by inviting the finalists in the Feminists of the Year competition to come and be acknowledged. This was a celebration of not having to act nicely around strange male politicians and the power of an ironic analysis over an ass.

I look forward to a time when our country celebrates collective feminist action rather than individual asses (like Maurice Williamson) and when young women have a right to access our House without stirring up crass sexual references, or even more prosaically a time when all male politicians realise what century where in.

Thanks so much to the Feminists of the year for helping to reclaim a bit of Parliament for all the feminists.

31 thoughts on “Feminists of the Year acknowledged in Parliament

  1. Bravo for taking a stand against the blatant objectification of women. I do hope you took the time to explain to the contestants that their ongoing participation in a contest where they are being judged on the basis of their sexual desirability is furthering this culture of objectification.

  2. You have got to be joking.

    I am afraid your reaction to this reveals who is in fact in the last century.

    It seems to me that you have a problem with heterosexual men, period.

    I find this more offensive than Maurice and his silly antics.

  3. Shunda barunda:

    Let me give you my “profound” walking man story:

    ———————————————-

    The Walking Man: How and why a neurosis is formed.

    Once upon a time there was a walking man. The walking man loved to walk. One day, as the walking man was walking, he came up to a bridge. The walking man casually walked across the bridge until he got to about half way. It was then that he looked down and made a horrible discovery.

    What he discovered was that the bridge was only one foot wide, and that he could slip and fall to his death at any time. This terrified the walking man to the point where his fear threatened to overwhelm him (too much to consciously deal with). Of course, the walking man could not afford to feel the fear if he was to cope with the situation and survive. His consciousness needed to be devoted towards survival. So what happened?

    What happened was the walking man became unconscious, that is, unconscious to the sensation of fear as induced by the dangerous bridge. This cut-off process is called repression. It is a natural survival mechanism. It’s not that the feeling of fear just “disappeared”, it’s that it became unconscious (our conscious brain blocked it off, it did not “destroy it”).

    As the walking man’s fear became detached from his consciousness, his defence (which was to walk in a straight-as-possible line) was still operating, as it obviously must. However, as the defence was isolated from its feeling, it had effectively become a compulsion*.

    *I should clarify that our need to act-out is experienced as an “urge” – a trauma-induced drive, a compulsion. Mostly, we only feel the urge, not the repression that’s creating it.

    So the walking man walked “fearlessly” to the end of the bridge in his compulsive manner.

    Whoops! When the walking man got to the end of the bridge we made a very interesting discovery. Although the walking man reached the end of the bridge and was on safe open land, he was still walking in a straight-as-possible line!…WHY?

    When the walking man got to the end of the bridge he entered open land with a repressed feeling. That repressed feeling was constantly pushing to get into his consciousness. The repression made him feel as though he was still walking on dangerous ground. In response to this, he started head-tripping over the possibility of earthquakes – his brain rationalized the fear in the ‘open land’ context. To keep the fear out of his consciousness he continued to act-out, he continued to walk in a highly cautious straight-as-possible line.

    From the walking man’s viewpoint he is not responding to an internally generated fear, but only what he interprets as external reality – but he is “wrong”. He cannot deduct that his feeling is a subjective reaction and that his brain is merely looking for an external rationalisation for his feeling state to project onto. The great confusion for the walking man is the belief that the external situation came first, as opposed to the feeling. He can’t be blamed for this, as his subjective experience qualifies the perceived situation as being the cause of his feeling because that is exactly how he experiences it. He cannot usually see that his ‘today’ is really just a symbolic derivative of his yesterday.

    Authors comment:

    The vast majority of us are stuck in our childhoods in the same way that the Walking Man is stuck on the bridge. Early childhood trauma, in particular traumatic deprivations associated with a lack of genuine parental love and very serious infantile trauma, forces us into a psychological ‘prison’ that ultimately overwhelms adult life. We basically remain children (emotionally) acting out our past in an adult context.

    ———————————————-

    It is estimated that 25% of woman are sexually abused by someone they know (a man – often their father) as children. This is an incredible trauma. Many feminists will be imprinted with this pain (making them feminists in the first place) and have a resultant and maybe intense anti-male feeling within them, which is entirely understandable.

    It’s difficult for people to see past their neurotic distortions – if not impossible. We all have them, some to serious degrees though, and this leads to frequent misinterpretations of others.

    I’m not saying this is Jan Logie’s reality (I have no idea about her history), but it is a common reality nonetheless.

  4. AA @6:05 I never knew women were my enemy.

    Given that you advocate policies like reproduction licences and forced sterilisation i find your surprise surprising.

  5. solkta:

    There are many woman who agree with my stance that children should not be born to monsters. Not every woman lives inside a politically correct fantasy world.

  6. What’s worse.

    Parliament acknowledging the presence of the Miss Universe NZ contestants who were in the public gallery

    or

    the huge over-reaction and palpable hatred shown above by Jan?

    Might be time to have a look in the mirror.

  7. I see some (understandable) grumpiness and exasperation, but I can’t see any hatred, palpable or otherwise.

    What is it you think shows ‘palpable hatred’ photonz?

    Or is it time you looked in the mirror?

  8. Now I get it, at the time (was in the house) I thought it was a bit weird.
    But now that I have the back story it was certainly creative and well received :)

    Maurice was being chauvinistic and there’s no doubt that was an intelligent reply, well done Jan

  9. I would just like to wade in for a second and welcome the cheers of many of the men in the House today and also to offer big ups to my colleague Gareth Hughes for his campaigning brilliance that came up with this idea.

    Thanks for the comments.

  10. Sam – If Helen Clarke had had a visit from George Clooney or Brad Pitt and he was in the public gallery and she introduced Parliament to them, I could never imagine her being called “creepy”, “strange” an “asse”, or that all female polititians need to realise what century they are in.

  11. @photonz1 I think it’s more about the reaction of the members that attributed those comments rather than the mere introduction of the Miss Universe NZ contestants

  12. photonz, if you really don’t understand the sleazy implications of the comments of Williamson et al, it’s best you don’t comment on matters concerning human behaviour.

  13. Sam, if you don’t see Jan’s comments as a gross over reaction, then I think it’s best you don’t comment on matters concerning human behaviour.

  14. With people like Jan, it appears to me that heterosexual males like myself can do no right, we are flawed creatures that are full of hate and rape and nothing we do can change that fact.

    I am sick to death of angry hurt women labeling non abusive people as monsters because they dare to acknowledge that the opposite sex is attractive to them.

    I find females beautiful, this doesn’t make me a monster it makes me a heterosexual male.

    All I feel when people like Jan start saying this stuff is that I should be carrying around guilt and shame for simply being born male and straight.

  15. If Helen Clarke had had a visit from George Clooney or Brad Pitt and he was in the public gallery and she introduced Parliament to them….

    @ photonz1

    Clark would have been lambasted if she had made equivalent nudge-nudge-wink-wink comments about spending some private time with George Clooney.

    Then again, Clark would never have opened herself up like this so it’s kind of academic.

    All Williamson had to do was courteously acknowledge the contestants presence and not, as Jan has pointed out, indulged in a pointless and demeaning little piece of political theatre to stroke his own ego.

    Though a call of ‘misogyny!’ is overblown, it’s certainly extremely patronising and unworthy behaviour from a senior representative of the House.

  16. “All I feel when people like Jan start saying this stuff is that I should be carrying around guilt and shame for simply being born male and straight.”

    That’s terrible, why do you carry all this guilt? It’s not your behaviour that’s being attacked, yet you feel ashamed to be male and het? You really ought to get some counselling.

  17. Again not to disrupt the narrative of crazed man hater here. I’ve been congratulated for this action by quite a few male MPs too. Seems like quite a few of them don’t like being made part of a nudge nudge wink wink boys club that patronises women either. Go figure :-)

  18. Oh and the ass comment was a bit overblown but I couldn’t resist the imagery. It made me laugh. Sorry for the self indulgence.

  19. Get real Shunda, this isn’t about making men feel guilty for normal behaviour , but about women being recognised for achievement, not just looking pretty. It is also about recognising that different standards of behaviour are expected in different places. It is not OK for male politicians to exchange smutty comments in this country’s House of Representatives.
    Re- your very first comment on this thread- I reckon last century was better in some respects. In recent years we have gone backwards, in that there are far more sleazy, sexual images of young, attractive women in the media than there were back in (say) the 80’s. There has been an increase in ‘bimbo-ism’, eg cheerleaders and the ‘tui’ ad women, I’m sick of it.

  20. Get real Shunda, this isn’t about making men feel guilty for normal behaviour , but about women being recognised for achievement, not just looking pretty.

    I watched the video and I can’t see how the hell this has anything to do with that. And it seems to me that women like to “look pretty” despite the objections of angry hate filled feminists.

    It is also about recognising that different standards of behaviour are expected in different places. It is not OK for male politicians to exchange smutty comments in this country’s House of Representatives.

    I didn’t hear any smutty comment from Maurice Williamson at all, the rest was par for the course for the behavior of MPs in parliament, and that includes the Greens.

    Re- your very first comment on this thread- I reckon last century was better in some respects. In recent years we have gone backwards, in that there are far more sleazy, sexual images of young, attractive women in the media than there were back in (say) the 80’s. There has been an increase in ‘bimbo-ism’, eg cheerleaders and the ‘tui’ ad women, I’m sick of it.

    What a shame that a lot of women like to express their sexuality this way, it must be so frustrating for you to realize that feminism is only for a tiny minority of modern women and is largely now irrelevant to our society.

  21. That’s terrible, why do you carry all this guilt?

    I don’t. I will not take that stinking yoke on my shoulders no matter how hard you and Jan try to put it there.

    It’s not your behaviour that’s being attacked, yet you feel ashamed to be male and het?

    I said no such thing, what are you implying?.

    You really ought to get some counselling.

    Oh really?

  22. The women in the Tui ads aren’t ‘expressing their sexuality’, they are just being paid to act out male fantasies to sell beer. Female cheerleaders dancing at (male) sports events are obviously talented performers, but are only there to be ‘eye candy’ for the male sports fans.
    As a self described heterosexual male you may consider feminism irrelevant, but it isn’t. The current discussion about the low wages paid to aged care workers is a feminist issue, the work force is almost exclusively female and it is the undervaluing of the work they do (historically considered women’s work) that has resulted in those workers being treated unfairly. I reckon it’s ok to be angry about unfair treatment, that doesn’t make anyone a ‘hate filled feminist.’

    But yes, it is frustrating to have young women being encouraged to think that ‘flaunting their assets’ is empowering.

  23. Viv, all I am saying is you have got to pick your battles if you want to be taken seriously, overreaction is not going to help.

    Now regarding cheerleaders, I was at a Crusaders game recently and yes, there were cheerleaders pre match. But guess what? when the “boys” ran out on the field the young females next to me were very excited and talking about “Dan” (Carter) and obviously doing exactly the same thing as all those male ‘perverts’, what’s the difference?

    But yes, it is frustrating to have young women being encouraged to think that ‘flaunting their assets’ is empowering.

    For goodness sake, it was the feminists that encouraged promiscuity and casual sex in the first place!!

  24. Sam says “photonz, if you really don’t understand the sleazy implications of the comments of Williamson et al, it’s best you don’t comment on matters concerning human behaviour.”

    That’s ironic.

    The majority of parliament were smiling and applauded Willaimson’s comments – from BOTH sides of the house – INCLUDING women from both sides of the house – INCLUDING Green party members.

    That’s a strange thing for most people to do for comments which you CLAIM are so incredibly offensive.

    Then ironically you criticise people for their reading of human behavior.

    There’s serious issues to deal with and the Greens manufacture this side show?

    It’s obvious who should get out of the gutter.

  25. Jan Logie has enjoyed the privilege of becoming an M.P and representing the Green Party, a party who prides itself on our values of gender equality and social progress – an ethos that goes _both ways_

    With this in mind I would have hoped she would have taken the high ground on this incident.

    Instead, it feels to me like she has (in the heat of the moment) made several off the cuff pejorative references to men before rounding it off with a claim to feminism as a justification.

    Her article is normal activist style but I expect better consideration from an M.P.

  26. Shunda – you said you feel you should be carrying guilt – maybe that’s not what you meant to say, but it is what you said. I’m not at all trying to lay guilt on you, or anyone else – wallowing in guilt is the most useless and stupid reaction to an issue I can imagine.

    Question is, why do Jan’s comments on the behaviour of MPs make you feel guilty (or feel she’s trying to make you feel guilty)?

    And making comparisons between cheerleaders and Dan Carter shows you don’t really get it. If some people find Carter attractive, so be it, but do you really think Dan Carter is put out on a field for that reason – just to provide sexual excitement and pull in female fans?

  27. Good on you Jan. Thanks for doing this. But can anyone tell me what that was about “Riccarton Bush” and I’m not being rude – just want to know.

  28. Newsflash – men don’t care about your career or achievements. Men don’t care about your social status. WE DON’T CARE. It influences us ZERO in finding you attractive. You’re projecting. All you have to do for a male to find you attractive is be good looking. That’s it.

    In fact, to the majority of men your feminist slanted careerism, male criticism and need to tout women constantly as equals makes you LESS attractive. Women in power is often a bad idea based on reasons such as your post – an emotional outrage leading to a backlash of some childish sort to give you a platform for your particular beliefs.

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