Banter in the Garden
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Tea and Strumpets
[I’m belatedly adding a trigger warning for child violence to this post.]
“The popular public perception is that women and children need to be protected from men, but this ‘gender’ focus is misleading. Mothers killed 15 (45%) of the 33 child victims, comprising 10 daughters and 5 sons,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “If we’re really serious about reducing family violence, we need to talk about family violence, and our violent culture, and the role alcohol and drugs play in fuelling this environment.”
“While Family First is stating a fact, they are being irresponsible by not presenting the numbers with all the specifics. “Only two out of the 15 deaths where mothers were responsible for the child, was physical assault the cause of death. Contrast this with the 10 out of 10 deaths where fathers and step-fathers were responsible for the death of a child and were caused by assault.
Every time I think Bob McCroskie and his cronies could not be any more vile, I am wrong.
Cross Posted from Public Address
Submissions are now open for Louisa Wall’s Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill. They close on the 26th of October. If you want to make a submission, this page contains all the relevant information, and if you scroll all the way down to the bottom, a button for making an on-line submission. If you’re wondering whether or not you have anything useful to say, I’d recommend reading this post at The Lady Garden.
The bill has gone to the Government Administration select committee. That committee consists of:
Chris Auchinvole – NAT – voted yes at first reading
Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi – NAT – voted no
Ruth Dyson – LAB – voted yes
Trevor Mallard – LAB – voted yes
Eric Roy – NAT – voted no
Holly Walker – GRN – voted yes
If, like me, you’re considering submitting in person, that list of names may give you pause. Somehow I don’t think they’re going to let me do it alone with Holly Walker…
Anyway, this is the body of the submission I will be making. (Just the body: check the links for formal formatting boiler-plate, etc.) Supporters of the bill have one almost unfairly huge advantage in making submissions: we can speak about how it will actually affect our lives. Its opponents cannot.
I am bisexual: sexually and romantically attracted to both men and women. Gender is one of the least important partner traits for me, yet currently it defines my options and rights in choosing the form of my relationship. I support this bill partly because it would finally give me equality not just with heterosexual people, but with myself. I would have the same relationship choices with a woman as I would with a man. Currently, I do not.
I have actually been married. When I was at university, I married my then-boyfriend so that he could have access to a student allowance. That marriage was entirely legal. I fail to see how my loving and committed marriage to a woman would be more damaging to Marriage itself, or anyone else’s marriage, than that marriage for money.
I have two children, one male and one female. Today, no-one would argue that they should have different rights on the basis of their genders. Given the roles of both genetics and environment in determining sexual orientation, there’s a significant chance that at least one of my kids will be gay, lesbian or bisexual. I want my children to have the same rights regardless of their sexual orientation, and that includes the right to marry.
I also want them to have an easier time of growing up than I did. I was a teenager in Timaru in the 1980s. I was closeted, because I firmly believed that if I came out, I would be beaten up. Bisexuals have higher rates of suicide, depression, bullying, drug abuse and poverty than heterosexuals, but also higher rates than gays and lesbians. Bisexual women have higher rates of domestic violence than lesbians or heterosexual women. For us, sexuality-based violence is not a theory. It’s a very real risk we run all the time, simply by being who we are.
This bill is not a silver bullet for homophobic bullying. But it would keep our government from saying to our persecutors, “You’re right, you know. Those people aren’t as good as us Normal People.” Those in favour of legal discrimination may not condone homophobic violence, but I certainly believe they allow it room to thrive. How can we expect teenage bullies to treat LGBT people as equals when our State doesn’t? We need to support our LGBT teens by showing them we believe they’re just as deserving, just as much a part of our society, as anyone else.
Ema Lyon & Wendy Lee
Disclaimer: My copy of d.vice advice was given to me by Ema Lyon when we appeared together on the Lust panel at LATE at the Museum.
The subtitle of this book is “real questions and answers about sex, for adventurous everyday people”. And that’s who this book is for: people who, as Girl on the Net said about 50 Shades of Grey, say ‘maybe’ to anal sex. Not those who shudder at the suggestion, or those who are already practised hands. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. (Note: there is no way to say “there’s nothing wrong with that” without making it sound as though there’s something wrong with that. Neither my intention nor my fault.)
I did learn something from reading this book, though, and there’s so much breadth in it that I think most people would. Subjects like anal sex, g-spot stimulation and pregnancy sex are discussed without coyness or shame. There’s a lot of Science, which is presented without being condescending or (gods forbid) too dry. So it’s not just what to do, and what happens, but why it happens too, which is the kind of thing that makes me happy.
Most of each chapter is in the form of answers to questions the authors have genuinely been asked. Because of this, there’s some repetition of information, and perhaps it’s a better book to skim or dip and out of than go through end to end. Like d.vice’s shops, there’s an air of being couples-oriented, without being erasive of less-conventional sexual encounters.
The whole book is written with a breezy air of sex-positivity. There’s a lot of emphasis on the importance of communication. Most people, I think, would feel better and more comfortable about sex after reading it, and I can’t imagine anyone feeling worse. Unless, perhaps, they’re that woman with the cherry. She might be mortified. It gives a good idea of the range of “normal” for things like physical size, physical response, time taken to orgasm, etc, and in only one case did this make me go, “What, really? Shit…”
I will comment on the final chapter, on BDSM. Like other practices detailed in the book, BDSM is made to seem like a bit of unthreatening, fun experimentation. There’s some good advice on things to try just starting out. There’s no mention, however, of the profound emotional reactions – positive or negative – that BDSM can produce. While I wouldn’t want to put anyone off, I think it is advisable to warn people that this might take them apart, and I always do.
This is a great book for couples looking to add variety to their sex lives. It’d also be good, I think, for, say, your kid heading off to varsity. Okay, maybe someone else’s kid. I’ve given it to my (male) partner now, and when he’s done, I’ll add any comments he has.
FotLG Oliver has graciously agreed to write us a post on how – and why – to make a submission to a select committee.
So, it may be of some minor interest to a few of you that something called the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill has been referred to a select committee of Parliament. That committee, the evocatively named Government Administration Committee, may well ask people to tell them what they think of it. So a couple of the Ladies thought it might be useful if I wrote a little bit on how that works and some tips on doing it well.
The short version is: It is definitely worth your time to make a submission, even if it’s just to say that you approve of the bill. (Or indeed disapprove, though if that’s you, you might be in the wrong place) The committee is likely to get a lot of submission s on this one, so everything you can do to make it easier for them to consider yours is a Good Thing. Make it readable, make it memorable, and keep it focused on the Bill.
The mechanics of making a submission on a bill are fairly straightforward. You can make a submission through Parliament’s website once the Committee has agreed to receive submissions. As I write this, the select committee page says “submissions not called for”. Don’t worry, that’s just because the Committee needs to formally agree to receive submissions. In theory, they don’t have to, but that’s not very likely. Use the web form, because it’s free and easier for the committee staff, but attach a nicely formatted document —the text box on the web form produces ugly courier type text.
Once submissions close, they’re all bundled together and sent to the members of the committee, and to the advisors, who will be people from the Ministry of Justice, most likely. The advisors will read and summarise them for the committee. One very important thing is that submissions become the property of the committee, and are published on Parliament’s website. After written submissions are all in, the Committee will make arrangements to hearoral evidence. For this one, they’ll probably do at least a couple of sessions out of Wellington, as well as hearing some people by teleconference. Being heard in person can be an extremely daunting experience. The committee knows that, and will bend over backwards to make you feel comfortable. They get you to summarise your submission, and make any extra points, and then they’ll ask questions. If you want to be heard in person, say that in your written submission.
The booklet published by Parliament is the best guide to the details. (Warning: .pdf)
Having read a lot of submissions, I can assure you that the most important thing is to make your submission readable, and the most important part of that is to make it short. The Committee is going to receive an awful lot of submissions, and they’re much more likely to read yours if it is a page. The officials will read nearly all the submissions, and at least skim over the rest, but if your submission is more than three pages, no one will read it, unless you happen to be the Law Society or similar. I could talk for a long time about the writing, but the best tip I can give you is to get someone to read it and tell you if it makes sense.
The most common mistake I’ve seen in submissions is irrelevance. Keep it focused on the Bill. That doesn’t mean you can’t talk generally about the effects such a measure will have, and stories about despair and suicide are some of the most powerful. It does mean you shouldn’t talk about how people shouldn’t be allowed to get married unless both parties are present; or about how the marriage license form is too difficult to fill in, or how marriage is just an evil plot to encourage breeding and thus hasten the End Times. I’m making up examples, but not exaggerated ones. Also, don’t be mean about anyone. Committees don’t like it, and I was at a meeting a few weeks ago where a committee decided to expunge someone’s evidence from their record because it was potentially defamatory. Focus on why you think it’s a good idea.
The Committee is made up of humans, and what they will be most concerned about is how a proposal affects actual people. If you have a personal example, use it. If you want to get married but can’t yet, say that. If you had a civil union because you weren’t going to get married unless everyone could, say that. Those very personal stories are good to go and say in person, because the committee will remember them, and often refer to them in the next stages of the debate. But even if you have nothing to say except, “This is a wonderful bill, and I think it should be passed immediately”, say that. Those submissions are counted, rather than considered, but they are counted, and the only thing every politician agrees on is that numbers are the most important thing there is.
And that’s about all I have to say. It’s worth your time — make a submission. Make it readable, personal, and focused. Participate in your democracy, so that, in the brighter future, when the children ask, you can say, “yes, I was there, and I told them they should make the commencement a month after the Royal assent, so that people had time to get new forms printed”.
 “Immediately” in government time means within a year.