In defence of strong women and freedom of speech

A certain right wing blog WITH TIES TO National has tried to discredit Tania Billingsley because her friend has links to Rape Crisis and has had her photo taken with me.

This blog was an extreme example of rape culture and was so incredibly offensive that it’s hard to know where to start, or imagine ever ending once started, so I will do my best not to go to the specifics that just make me too angry.

I’m happy to let a lot of attacks go but this hateful and defamatory attack on two women – Tania and her friend – needs challenging.

Shame on them for trying to silence a powerful young woman because she has support. Shame on anyone that would ignore the fire in Tania that enabled her speak out in the hope that she might be able to help us as a society confront what is a major problem.

So many of our community organisations have been silenced by gagging clauses in their contracts, or just by the knowledge that some organisations have lost funding for doing too much advocacy.

Many beneficiaries have been silenced by the members of this government using all their power to misrepresent them and vilify them.

Many people who have experience sexual violence are silenced by the rape myths in our society.

Many in our media have been silenced by the pressure for readership and ratings and efficiency that has compromised their ability to research and run stories that might not be easy to understand.

The role of community organisations is not to just provide services, it is to educate and advocate. I know I used the things I learnt working for refuge to support friends in need. That’s a really important part of the unseen benefit of our community organisations.

Our society needs more people willing to speak truth to power and I have nothing but respect for Tania and her friends and support people.


16 Comments Posted

  1. Spree – try to differentiate between “rape culture” and the specifics of this case.

    One is a political and social problem in this country, the other is a legal problem appropriate to the courts and the hard questions to be asked and answered there.

  2. I guess next time somebody is ‘allegedly’ beaten and robbed the right-wing blogosphere will be up in arms if the victim talks to the media, blaming them for ‘politicising’ the incident. Particularly if they use the media to highlight inaction on the part of the authorities.

    The rightists will come up with a whole bunch of questions that they demand the victim answers, about their realtionship with the crim. And they’ll highlight the fact that the victim had links with the so-called Sensible Sentencing Trust to demonstrate their unreliability.

    Rightists need to stop being soft on criminals, but that’s a characteristic of their rape culture they are unlikely to give up.

  3. The purpose of a complainant who is an activist making it public and a political issue is so that there is an opportunity for some solidarity on the issue. Rather than each and every victim going through it alone and most of the time not going to court.

    Provided it has no impact on a fair trial, there is no problem here.

    Pete, discussion of the politics of “rape” in a culture has no impact on any particular court case.

    Mike, men who object to rape being a public issue and those who make this political are the reason the term rape culture still has legs. Your attack on liberals says it all – are they to blame for advocacy for victims. Don’t they know better than to challenge the culture that men built.

  4. Are some people ignorant of the difference between discussion of the topic of rape as a political, legal and social “cultural” issue and the particulars of any incident to go before the court?

    And the difference between the future court case and comment about the performance of a Minister of the Crown in his duties?

    Cameron Slater is, because he claims to want answers to questions about the particulars of the case as if he is cross examining the complainant about the matter yet to go before the court.

  5. cameron slater is unwell …………..

    He’s not right in the head and his blog shows this in spades.

    Nothing is below him ….. well not much.

    I guess he figures attacked woman are easier targets for him to malign than west coasters.

    Anyway as one who never goes near his sewer ( his blog ), I still find myself offended by the shit which over-flows out of it.

    Stinky national party shit.

  6. So well-said! The whole post reeks of rape culture – talking about students from her school as looking like prostitutes (totally irrelevant, but even if it’s true, it doesn’t justify anything), asking about her relationship with the guy …

    Also, I fail to see why it’s such an issue that she happens to know/be friends with someone who is active in Rape Crisis – we should be CELEBRATING the fact that she had the contacts and the support to know that what happened was not her fault and was not OK, and to speak out and do something about it. If a police officer’s house is robbed, would we start to question whether they’d made the whole thing up just so that they could get a bit of airtime for their “pet” law and order cause?

  7. I don’t know Paul… would YOU say something like this??? I don’t actually think so.

    ” Nayland College is one of Nelson’s way-out-there colleges. Once the school bell rings, it looks like the local youth prostitution convention breaks up. But although I digress, it does paint the picture.”

    …because SOMEONE sure did.

    I think that this is the person you are comparing yourself with, and I’m not at all clear on the notion that you actually would be willing to say this about someone who may have been assaulted and is apparently attempting to get some justice from the system and HER government here.

  8. BJChip, you can take offence at whatever you choose to (and it is expressly a choice). The duty of journalists is to ask uncomfortable questions. When someone opens themselves to media scrutiny ahead of legal process, then they should be prepared to face uncomfortable questions just as readily as they face the sensitive ones.

  9. No QUESTION should be offensive.

    Yet every one of us knows that some questions ARE offensive, and several of those posed implicitly cast doubt, even before any court case is begun.

    At some point this “questioning” becomes, quite clearly, a problem for a person who had to put themself forward and “out” the minister and his ministry, to actually get their case heard.

    I suggest that this is not appropriate. NONE of it is appropriate in fact. Had the ministry acted properly would we be having this conversation?

  10. If WhaleOil blog is an extreme example of “rape culture”, then despite my lifelong respect of women, as taught to me as a child by my mother, I must also be an example of rape culture. Ignore the facts that I abhore rape by any gender to any gender, that I was on the nasty end of an attempted rape as a teen, that I have never shown any unwanted attention to any woman, and that I am proud that I have instilled my beliefs to my daughter, as my mother did to me.

    So is she an example an example of rape culture too?

  11. Rimu, the diplomat should indeed have the opportunity to say his side of the story. The media being given one side of the story, and politicians like Ms Logie jumping into it, means we have one side of the story to interrogate. If you like free speech (and the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise) this is a rational response.
    No QUESTION should be offensive. And you can’t open yourself ‘only’ to questions that you find agreeable.

  12. Spree Feech: I notice none of these questions are directed at the Malaysian diplomat. Why is that?

    Also your first couple of questions are based in if she had a relationship with the guy – partners and ex partners that try to have sex with someone against their will are still rapists. You know that, right?

  13. Jan’s point, I think, is two-fold….or even three…
    Firstly, the personalising the victim/critic…. This is a tactic of those with weak arguments about the issue (similar to trotting out the claim that it is “too PC” (politically correct, as if this is wrong…). Much political/issue debate shifts to challenging the individual rather than the issue. Many in current government do this, as do bloggers and newspaper columnists who bemoan the individual or a class of people (such as beneficiaries if they are a “class”) rather than address the issue.
    Secondly, the impact this has on groups/individuals… If through fear of exposure/cuts in state funding – which it is – as opposed to funding from a political party (called a government) voices critical of some policy/proposed law change are silenced then democracy is weakened, and that is a very dangerous slope to start down.
    Thirdly, the specific nature of the blog criticism implies the victim should just shut up and put up with it.

  14. Sadly, you got involved and made it political.
    Like all liberals you hate discussion if it doesn’t agree with you.
    What do you do?
    You paint people with emotional painting words to label and demonise them and therefore to make them and their opinion of no worth.
    Thats abuse, vicious assault in the emotional psyche.

    You detract from intelligent discourse of a very important topic, namely rape culture.
    That McCully must resign and so must several 2nd and 3rd tier offenders against Tania at MFAT is a given.
    You destroy the environment to actually discuss the issues.

    Well done The Greens!

  15. Jan, it is you who is trying to silence legitimate questions, rather than anyone trying to silence Tarn. These questions need to be answered; answering them does not silence anyone, it does the opposite:

    How long have you known the Diplomat?
    How did you meet?
    How frequently have you met before the day he followed you home?
    What was your relationship?
    What was his perception of the relationship?
    Did your relationship change recently?
    What caused this to happen?
    What occurred at the bus stop?
    Did he actually manage to enter your home?
    Did he touch you? At all?
    Did he undress himself?
    At what point did he undress?
    Were any clothes left on? If so, which?
    Where was he when he did this?
    What caused him to get dressed again?
    How much time passed between the undressing and the dressing
    Who called the police?
    At what point?
    From him turning up at the home, to him walking to the street waiting for police, how much time passed
    Please release a copy of the police complaint
    Was there a restraining order in place before he turned up that day?
    What caused that restraining order to be needed?

  16. Well, what did you expect? this incident should never have been politicised in this way. It was your handling of this situation that has now jeopardised police and legal proceedings. Calling people who question this ‘perpetrators of rape culture’ is outrageous. Note I have not commented on the alleged incident and would not do so.

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