The Lady Garden

Tea and Strumpets

Won’t somebody think of the drunk trashy slappers?

Follow along with me here, people. Young people in New Zealand drink too much. I KNOW. We have a problem with binge drinking and violence and people generally behaving badly at 3am on Queen St (And Courtenay Place, and the Octagon and wherever the hell Christchurch twatcocks gather these days. Papanui?)

Yes, this is a problem, one that has many causes, including but not limited to: the availability of cheap pre-mixed drinks, bar staff who fail to police people’s drinking, the concentration of bars in these areas, our general poor attitude to alcohol, and people’s general fuckwittery.

You know what doesn’t cause this problem? Short skirts.

Queen Street, just before midnight – there are pushes, shoving and foul language. We had just arrived, and already we see a woman bloodied after a girl-on-girl punch up….

All night I have seen young drunk revellers. Some of them are underage; most of them are women wearing tight, revealing dresses. They have admitted to me they are binge drinkers getting drunk on a Friday and Saturday night. They come to Queen St because they like the attention.

“The girls here are completely young and drunk,” says Lana MacFarlane. “They are so much younger than I am. It’s so awkward. You feel old at 21. I feel ridiculously old at 21.”

Combine that language with some loving, lingering shots of young women’s asses.

Here’s my question, Amanda Gillies. What on earth does it matter what these women are wearing? God knows, I am all for binge drinking, but I try to avoid the hideousness that is Courtenay Place (and I assume, Queen St, it’s been a long time since I was there after midnight) early on a Sunday morning. Looking after one’s beautiful shoes is much easier when one doesn’t ave to sidestep puddles of vomit. This is an actual, serious problem, and one isn’t going to be solved when the news is served with a good healthy dollop of slut-shaming.

What, exactly, are you trying to say here? Only sluts would get drunk like this? They deserve whatever happens to them because of their behavior and attire? What’s the subtext here? Because the actual text is more than offensive enough.

25 responses to “Won’t somebody think of the drunk trashy slappers?

  1. Emma May 28, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Riccarton. Drinking-life was so much easier in the old days when you just had to avoid The Strip.

    This is sooooo much the attitude from that Listener column all those years ago, and it boggles me that the authors don’t seem to be able to see how sexist the basis for their argument is. Because it seems to be “we can tell our drinking culture is getting out of hand because now WOMEN are behaving like MEN. And women are nicer and more delicate and basically asexual so *zombie apocalypse pearl-clutch*.”

    Yeah. I don’t actually think twenty year old women are supposed to be our moral guardians, are they?

  2. tallulahspankhead May 28, 2012 at 11:38 am

    I was going to link to your Mortgage-slut post, but I didn’t think I could bear to look at it, because I knew I’d get caught up reading the thread, and then I’d have wanted to hulksmash things.

    I don’t think 20-year-old *anyone* are meant to be our moral guardians, but young women do have an obligation to guard their internal chastity orb. That’s how we guard against the moral fabric of society rending.

  3. gaayathri May 28, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    *sigh* It never ends.

  4. Draco T Bastard (@DracoTBastard) May 30, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    Try this one on for size.

    It’s about a young woman going out and enjoying, the way I read it, safe and responsible sex. When the parents find out they virtually imprison and spy upon her and then they get upset that she walked out and told them to fuck off (up to the point of taking them to court).

    Amazingly enough the article doesn’t paint the horrifying abuse that the girl suffered at the hands of her parents as the abuse that it is. No, the article is more concerned about the fact the girls CYF counsellor had actually supported her and even managed to get her out of the house for a month.

    • hungrymamanz May 31, 2012 at 5:24 pm

      You know, if my 14 yr old was dating a 20 yr old I would be uneasy. There is a strong likelyhood that there is a power imbalance in the relationship which may well not be healthy. That said, my primary aims would be to preserve my relationship with my teen, to keep the lines of communication open, to be a safe harbour if it all goes horribly wrong and to prevent anyone getting any Romeo and Juliettish ideas about star-crossed love.

      • Draco T Bastard (@DracoTBastard) May 31, 2012 at 7:15 pm

        I suspect if there had been such a power imbalance then the CYF counsellor would have picked up on it. IMO, it’s the actions of the counsellor in supporting the young woman (support she obviously wasn’t getting form the parents) that has allowed her to develop into the strong and resilient person we see coming through in the article.

        • Psycho Milt May 31, 2012 at 7:38 pm

          I’m picking you don’t have a daughter around this age, or you wouldn’t be so sanguine about a child you not only care deeply about but for whom you have a primary moral, social and, not least, legal obligation of guardianship getting into something like this – “something like this” consisting, as it does in this case, of the child being made the victim of adult sex offenders, and of being pressured into taking contraceptive pills at a very young age so that said sex offenders don’t need to use condoms when they fuck her. A heartwarming love story, it ain’t – and as for “safe, responsible sex,” you must be fucking joking.

          • MJ May 31, 2012 at 8:44 pm

            I find the implication that if someone doesn’t feel the same way about this story that you do, PM, then they don’t care about their children to be pretty disgusting, actually. Age of consent laws are problematic due to the vast differences in emotional and mental maturity of teenagers at a certain age; there’s no magic age at which kids are ready for a sexual relationship and to write this off as a “child being made the victim of adult sex offenders”, you are actually denying a young woman her sexual agency and her right to govern what happens to her own body. According to the young woman, she is not and was never a victim – so how dare you label her as such?

          • Psycho Milt May 31, 2012 at 9:55 pm

            Maybe there’s some planet on which the 20-year-old guy who fucks 14-year-olds and shares them with his mates isn’t a sex offender, but it’s not this one. When I was her age I wouldn’t have hesitated to do it with a 20-year-old – but that was because I was still a child and didn’t know a good idea from a stupid one yet, which is why we have an age of consent in the first place. You can blather all you like about ‘a young woman’s sexual agency,’ we frown on adults fucking children for very good reasons.

          • MJ May 31, 2012 at 10:17 pm

            Yes, but the age of consent is arbitrary and set by the government – read, old white dudes. I can list several countries off the top of my head where consensual sex with a fourteen-year-old is not “fucking children”, and my point is that just because something is legislated, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily correct — look at the number of countries that have a different age of consent for homo- versus heterosexual sex, for example.

  5. Hugh June 1, 2012 at 3:17 am

    @MJ: Wow, that’s… a pretty big claim to make. I mean, we could argue the specifics of exactly where age of consent laws should be set, and I take your point that a lot of countries do have consent ages lower than fourteen without necessarily suffering all the problems some people might project (teen pregnancy, teen society, adult sex offending etc etc) but do you really think the very existence of age of consent laws is problematic? I mean, is making it illegal for a 6 year old to have sex denying a young woman her sexual agency, too?

  6. tallulahspankhead June 1, 2012 at 6:17 am

    Ok. First of all, I’m just going to remind everyone to, you know, not be a dick, as per our comments policy. This is the kind of conversation that can go downhill quickly.

    Second of all, Isabel’s first comment was that she would be “uneasy” with the relationship. As would I, if I had a daughter. But as someone who was once a 14-year-old girl, who had a relationship with an older man? (Though younger than 20, and it didn’t become sexual until later.) I knew what I was doing. I was lauded for knowing I wanted to Wait, so why are we unwilling to assume this young woman knows her own mind?

    She was aided by a counsellor, who presumably believed she was capable of making this decision. As for the other counsellor? I’d take anything said by someone who says “the country has “robbed parents of actually looking after their children” with a grain of salt. It has a very Family First ring to it.

    I am not denying that a crime was committed here, or that I think 14 year old should be off fucking whoever they want. But this case doesn’t seem as cut an dry as you are making it, PM, and I’m not sure where you get the idea that she was “being pressured into taking contraceptive pills at a very young age so that said sex offenders don’t need to use condoms when they fuck her.” I was on the pill before the age of consent, and that was entirely my own decision, in consultation with my GP.

    Oh, and Hugh. To compare what MJ is saying to a six year old is making a wild leap.

    • Psycho Milt June 1, 2012 at 6:48 am

      You’re right, I’m making assumptions about why she’s on the pill based on having known the odd adult with an interest in under-age girls, and reading defences of them makes me grumpy. Maybe, as you say, this case isn’t as cut and dried as that. But the whole point of the age of consent is to remove consent as a defence for sex with a child. if we go down the track of taking into account whether children actually did consent to sex with adults or not, it’ll become a lot harder and even more unpleasant to convict people like Graeme Capill or Bert Potter in future. If people do want the age of consent lowered, let them take it to a political party and openly argue for changing the legislation – having it instead lowered by stealth via govt officials not doing the job they’re paid to do is the wrong way of going about it.

      • tallulahspankhead June 1, 2012 at 8:32 am

        And I’m making assumptions having known 14 year old girls. And since they’re the ones we’re trying to protect, doesn’t it behove us to, you know, listen to them?

      • MJ June 1, 2012 at 12:37 pm

        PM – Like Tallulah, I’m making assumptions having known 14-year-old girls — and having been a sexually active one. And I find someone implying that there was little-to-no difference between my consensual sexual encounters and a couple of very non-consensual ones at 15 and 16 to be offensive and upsetting. And I find the comparison between the issue we’re talking about and Graeme Capill — someone who raped and sexually assaulted multiple girls, at least one of them eight years old — to be absolutely nauseating, to be completely honest with you.

        Hugh – there’s a difference between finding something problematic as they currently stand and being against them totally. It is, in fact, quite a wide gap.

        • Hugh June 1, 2012 at 1:44 pm

          So, I realise this might be more specific than you feel like being, but based on your experiences etc, how young would you say is absolutely too young, regardless of the circumstances? It seems like you feel that the law should take into account some circumstances other than age but you also seem to feel that there are certain ages that are just too young regardless of any other criteria.

          • tallulahspankhead June 1, 2012 at 1:48 pm

            The law already takes into account mitigating circumstances – I believe, though I’m willing to be proved wrong, that it’s a defence if the elder party is under 20, and believed the other to be of legal age.

          • MJ June 1, 2012 at 4:50 pm

            I think… and look, I don’t really know the answer, but my immediate reaction to this question was “puberty”. I don’t know, though.

            @Tallulah – “It is a defence if due diligence had been undertaken by the defendant to ascertain the victim’s age, had reasonable grounds to believe the victim was aged 16 or over and consent was given.” — from the Wiki page. So doesn’t look like the elder party has to be under 20.

          • Hugh June 1, 2012 at 5:03 pm

            @MJ: Fair enough, it’s obviously a complicated question. I was just wondering if you did, because you clearly have given the issue a lot of thought.

        • Psycho Milt June 1, 2012 at 3:48 pm

          I find someone implying that there was little-to-no difference between my consensual sexual encounters and a couple of very non-consensual ones at 15 and 16 to be offensive and upsetting.

          Sure – but you inferred that, I didn’t imply it. There’s a fairly obvious difference between kids experimenting sexually with others in their approximate age/development group, and kids being groomed and abused by adult sex offenders. It’s such an obvious difference I didn’t feel the need to point it out, but if you want it pointed out, there it is.

          And I find the comparison between the issue we’re talking about and Graeme Capill — someone who raped and sexually assaulted multiple girls, at least one of them eight years old — to be absolutely nauseating, to be completely honest with you.

          It’s a valid comparison. As Hugh’s pointed out, if an age of consent law is “problematic,” you’ve got no line to draw there. Also, if you believe it’s reasonable to take into account that a child may have consented to sex acts with an adult, you’ve really got to accept that Capill and Potter had a right to raise child consent as a mitigating factor.

          • MJ June 1, 2012 at 4:48 pm

            Sure – but you inferred that, I didn’t imply it.

            You may not have meant to.

            There’s a fairly obvious difference between kids experimenting sexually with others in their approximate age/development group, and kids being groomed and abused by adult sex offenders.

            There’s also a difference between apples and oranges, but we’re talking about pears.

            if you believe it’s reasonable to take into account that a child may have consented to sex acts with an adult, you’ve really got to accept that Capill and Potter had a right to raise child consent as a mitigating factor.

            But… you could make that argument for any sexual assault/rape case. They could have consented, so the perpetrator has a right to raise consent as a mitigating factor.

          • MJ June 1, 2012 at 4:51 pm

            And actually, I think I’m out now, because this discussion is starting to make me feel sick.

          • tallulahspankhead June 1, 2012 at 7:41 pm

            Completely understandable, MJ, thank you for your contributions.

    • Hugh June 1, 2012 at 12:15 pm

      Well, in my defense Tallulah, MJ said “Age of consent laws are problematic”. That seems to imply she’s against the very concept of age of consent laws. Perhaps she does feel that a six year old doesn’t have agency but a fourteen year old does, but I thought I’d ask her directly rather than just assume.

  7. Moz June 4, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    I’m curious about this from a somewhat different angle. If this woman had decided that she was mature enough to drive how would you react? Or mature enough to decide whether going to school is necessary? Or getting breast implants? Why is sex different from the other 200 things that we don’t let kids do?

    IMO there have to be legal lines drawn, and they have to be sharply drawn to avoid getting into the very specific details of particular cases. So we just say “most under-20’s are not competent drivers, so lets arbitrarily restrict it to 16 (or whatever). Taking recreational drugs ditto (with usual silly-drug-laws exemptions).

    My experience here is a FOAF whose younger sister was 15 and in a long term relationship with a 19 year old. Sure, she was “well developed”, and what was fucked up was not primarily that she was having sex with a guy 4 years older than her, but it still wasn’t something I am especially comfortable with. I can easily see a counsellor type looking at her and saying “the problem is that your family don’t approve” (they did, but anyway), rather than “the problem is that you’ve been brought up to value yourself entirely by your fuckability”, then proceeding to solve entirely the wrong problem in a way that perpetuates and exacerbates the real problem.

    Or at least, what *I* think is the real problem. Because right here we have a range of opinions on what the problem(s) are, and what to do about them.

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