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Category Archives: Media

Not so sharp, Akshually

“We’d cover cripples, left-handers and all the rest of it.”

Seven o’clock isn’t a particularly important time slot to me, darlings, as it’s the time of day I generally get out of bed and have my breakfast champagne. But I understand it’s something that some people get a bit exercised over.

So, I sat down one night to watch this flash new Seven Sharp programme. I thought it might be interesting. I wasn’t expecting to start the day so angry I was shaking.

Let’s talk about women in the workplace, they thought. Let’s do a fine, if glib, piece about women on boards. We won’t talk about the gender pay gap. We won’t talk about work-life balance, or any of the things that are important in terms of getting, and keeping, women in the workforce. But it will be tongue in cheek, and a bit irreverent, and everything will be fine, if hardly ground-breaking.

So….then what should we do? We should get an expert on. Someone who can talk about women in the workplace. Maybe one of the unions? No, not controversial enough. Hey, this chick might know what she’s talking about? No, too…well, expert. And a woman. No one trusts those.

No, let’s get someone guaranteed to give us a good soundbite. Someone whose misogyny, homophobia and general hatred of people he doesn’t like is legend. It won’t add anything to the debate, it’ll allow him to call our host, one of New Zealand’s most experienced broadcasters, “the token female”. Why bother to actually cover a story, an important issue, when we can stir up some outrage?

And hey, in their defence, it worked. I am outraged. Couple of things, Sir Bob. There’s a myriad of reasons women don’t want to stay on after five, many of which involve childcare, and the fact that that’s how many hours they are PAID FOR. But also, it’s entirely possible they don’t want to stay on and have a drink because you are such a raging asshole. This country is dominated by women in politics? That’s why women make up only 32%of the house, and only 6 women in cabinet. COOL STORY BRO.

And then there’s this. Thanks Seven Sharp. You’ve freed up a whole half hour in the evening for me!

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.

Buckes Fizz

Buckes 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

Ten Things I hate about Lady-Hating Comment-Baiting Articles

Paula Joye is well known for her “fashion” “articles”, in which she likes to tell women everything that’s wrong with them, in the name of making them look better. This time, she’s excelled herself at pitching fashion as a “battle of the  sexes“.

I don’t want to comment on the article, except to say that you can pry my leopard print from my cold, dead hands, bitch. But, as a service to you, I read the comments. Because they are brilliant.

First up, James, with my favourite internet comment ever:

Rule number 1: if she is tattooed up, she is not marriage material. Damaged/defaced goods.
To quote FOTLG Oliver, “I think you are confusing marriage with taxidermy”. Two of your friendly Lady Gardeners, at least, are tattooed. I’m damaged goods, certainly, but my men like me that way, James, and you can suck it.
Actually, apparently the men of Australia hate tattoos.
+1 for tattoos. Also fake breasts, most especially when much exposed. Ditto fake tans and large fake eyelashes and too much makeup. You look like those Jersy Shore bimbos.
Sorry, ‘yeah-no’, but I think you are missing a really important point here. You know, the correlation between how women are…encouraged…to dress, and the fact that you think they look like bimbos.
Oops. You know what else you shouldn’t do? Point out that this article just might be sexist.
You forgot the cool word of the day “Misogyny” all the sheeple’s are using it
Sigh. Oh, also, ladies. This should probably go without saying, but don’t be fat.
Saw a trainee checkout worker, size 24? With jeggings tight tee and a skimpy sheer short top just this week. The visual is still in my head.
Not good, and surely the employer should have a word.
I mean, at least if you’re fat, you should have the decency to dress so no one else has to contemplate the idea that you might have a body under that caftan.
I wish I say that to all the overweight women that like to wear them near where I live. Not a good thing to see. Shame they don’t want to dress to suit their figures. And no – black leggings aren’t slimming on those of us that are overweight (and yes I’m unfortunately one of them)
Someone gets it. Thank you Sir. (I mean, doesn’t at all, and wants a cookie for it, but he’s trying. I think. Or trolling. One of the two. I get so confused.)
The worst enemies of women are (1) themselves, (2) other women and (3) women’s magazines. If you are genuine and confident, men don’t really care what you wear. Sure we don’t get animal print but hey, if you look great overall… we don’t care. Have a nice day ladies!
This guy almost gets it, but fails at the last hurdle. And then some more.

LOL – I was in hairdresser recently and commented to wife on how first 1/3 of these mags is all about losing weight & who is thin or lost weight, next 1/3 is about who is fat and gained pounds and last 1/3 is recipes with ads galore all way through for weight loss mixes, pills and other products like makeup & stuff to get rid of cellulite. WTF. How low does self esteem have to be to buy those trash mags ?

Fail – Add the thong hanging out above the jeans like a plumbers crack. Almost as bad as wearing a huge bra with a singlet. Its mens equal to wearing undies over pants.

But again, don’t point out that this article might be sexist – and in fact demeaning to all genders.
The article isn’t all about you Phillip, or you personal tastes and preferences. Nor is it about your mates or most men you know either. It’s just the majority opinion from the author’s sample.The author isn’t telling women how to act, or even what to wear. She is just telling them which clothes don’t appeal to a lot of men.Women take decide for themselves if they want to take any notice or ignore the information.So take your quest for victimhood elsewhere.

(If I go on a quest for victimhood, what do I need to take? A sword, a dragon and a short skirt? No, leggings, right? They REALLY hate leggings.)

Clothes aren’t the issue, it’s who’s wearing them, guys or girls. Muffin tops, cauliflower thighs, camel toes and the trailer park or “heroin-chic” look are NEVER going to be in. Noting worse than seeing a size 16 crammed into a pair of leopard sheen-printed leggings. If you’re overweight, underweight, disproportionate, covered in scars or tatts, then wear clothes that won’t highlight the issue. Wear something that presents you well (as opposed to trying to look the bandwagon part by wearing the latest trend). That’s about it.
YES! Ladies, it’s not about the clothes! It’s about you! And that really annoying way that your body fails to be totally fucking perfect according to whatever arbitrary standard I have decided on. I mean GOD. Don’t you know your job is to look good for me?
And again, that means no, really no, tattoos. Don’t you learn?
I would also add Tattoos. You know the little ones on the ankle, wrist, back of the neck – the ones women think make them so unique, oblivious to the fact that almost every girl/middle-aged woman in the office suddenly has one. And no, the little star you have tattooed behind your ear is not discreet or cool.
Sadly, according to these people,  I am NEVER going to attract a mate. And of course, that’s all I could possibly want.
+1 on tattoo’s, no bigger turn off than a scrag tag.
Perhaps a cigarette hanging out of one side of the mouth goes close.
Fuck. I’m screwed. But it’s OK, I have my feminist friends to keep me company in my long, long, spinsterhood. I’m getting second thoughts about that, though. Cos, it would appear that EVERYTHING is the feminists’ fault.
Men get labelled paternalistic misogynists if we voice an opinion on behalf of women.
Fuck, I wonder why?

Today in Lady Rage

Do you hate men? Do you think they are all a bit useless and pointless, and now that you’ve got your “modern woman” accoutrements like a career and easy sex, wonder why they are still around? Do you refuse to let your “mate” love and provide for you?

Congratulations. You are no longer a woman.

I know, right! I mean here I was, laboring under the albeit cissexist assumption that I am a woman. I’ve always assumed that, even though my uppity ways would suggest that while I might be a woman, I’m certainly no lady.

It’s strange though. You see, apparently feminism won me all these things. A career, though odds are good I’ll still be paid less than the men in my profession. Apparently I can have “sex at hello”. Which would be nice, if I weren’t threatened with sexual assault for doing just that, and if I couldn’t remember in vivid detail the most recent time I was called a slut for wearing a tight skirt. It won me the right to parent as I like – with or without a job – but seemingly I need to cave to men over that, because I need them to “pick up the slack at the office”.

She’s right. I am angry. And probably more than my fair share of defensive. But I’m not angry because I think of men as the enemy. Trite as it is, I think of the patriarchy as the enemy, and that it hurts all genders as much as it hurts me. And Ms Venker here is apparently a High Priestess of the Institutionalised Sexism denomination.

Maybe I should just admit it. I hate men. I don’t want them around, and I don’t ever want to get married or have babies, because that would get in the way of my plans to smash the glass ceiling and have all the sex I want. With *gasp* whoever I want. Oh, and I hate porn.

So, I took the quiz. I thought i might need the 12 step programme to get over my ridiculous fantasies (of equality, perv). I thought, maybe, this was true:

…there’s nothing empowering about moving in and out of intense romantic relationships, postponing marriage indefinitely, or pursuing careers with a verve that belies common sense. There’s nothing empowering about shacking up, rejecting your husband’s surname, ignoring your biological clock, refusing to depend on a husband, or becoming a single mom.

To be truly empowered, you’re going to have to do a 180.

You mean, there’s NOTHING empowering about having a life of my own? That any man who might want to marry me might value my career and not just my capacity to breed. That (get those pearls ready for clutching) I Might Not Even Want Children. That I might want to keep my own name as a sign of my independence and that I am not just my husband’s property.

Anyway, now I’m confused. I don’t need the programme. I felt so sure I would. I felt so sure Ms Venker and Fox news and their ilk would consider me such a pointless woman, with my career and my high heels and my disturbingly silent biological clock. But. I don’t consider myself better than men. I’m not holding out for Brad Pitt. Or George Clooney for that matter. I’m (through luck rather than design) not a product of divorce, nor do I need to be right all the time. As often as possible, but not every time. Smart, stable and kind sounds lovely, though I’d throw in funny, and certain…other requirements. (Mostly grammar-related.) Even mustering the loosest definitions possible, I still only managed four yesses.

PHEW.

One last thing.

What exactly are “the consequences of sex”? As in

It’s all so unfortunate – for women, not men. Feminism serves men very well: they can have sex at hello and even live with their girlfriends with no responsibilities whatsoever.  It’s the women who lose. Not only are they saddled with the consequences of sex, by dismissing male nature they’re forever seeking a balanced life.

You’re talking about babies, right? They’re the consequences of sex? First, how delightful. Second, women are left, quite literally, holding the baby, and it’s FUCKING FEMINISM THAT IS THE PROBLEM?

Well, obviously

Let’s play fatshaming bingo, shall we?

  • The immediate inference that being fat is clearly bad.
  • Using a model who is “not especially fat”, because clearly you’d never want to put an actual fatty on the cover where people might see her. Because: Gross.
  • And especially not in togs. OMG.
  • Vague, possibly spurious, scientific claims.

Don’t believe me about that first one? How’s this from North & South’s FB page?

Is sugar the new fat – and will it cause the next wave of heart disease? (No, our cover model isn’t especially fat but, like many of us, you can bet she’d like to lose a few kilos. What she probably doesn’t know is how much “hidden” sugar she’s eating.) In the new North & South –Donna Chisholm reveals some surprising new discoveries on why we gain weight.

So. North & South is clearly the new Cosmo. Vague, threatening claims about weight on the cover, and references to “breaking up”. Chuck in something about a blowjob, and the transition will be complete.

I mean, do they actually know this woman would “like to lose a few kilos”? To me, she looks strong and healthy and beautiful. But, then, what would I know, being a fatty? And OF COURSE, it’s a woman. Men aren’t fat, right? It’s only women who suffer from obesity. I’ve only skimmed the article, because I value my mental health, and smarter people than me can debunk the claims therein. Also, what I care about is how this issue is presented. But as far as I could tell, this is a stock photo. So HOW DARE someone suggest she might want to lose a few kilos?

Inside the article, there’s a few more photos. A (male) researcher, and a dude who has cut sugar out of his diet. And another stock photo of an overweight woman, back to the camera, hunched over the scales she is standing on. So: Men, capable of talking about weight. Women, just used to illustrate the story.

And this. Everyone’s favourite.

The ubiquitous headless fatty. Sigh.

Want to bet, based on the pose, she’s smiling, or pouting, or something other than looking ashamed of herself? And we couldn’t have that, could we?

Today in victim blaming

trigger warning for rape, victim blaming, and a healthy dollop of institutional sexism.

This letter should have, actually, been titled “Women get dangerous message that it’s wrong to expect not to be attacked”.

Picture stolen from our Coley’s Twitter feed.

It’s doing the rounds on Twitter now, of course. And of course, we’re all angry and pissed off and making arguments about victim blaming and slutshaming and OH MY GOD FUCK OFF ANNETTE WALE.

Not to mention the argument that all men are a few beers and some exposed flesh away from being rapists. You’re all hopped up on testosterone, dudes, and too weak to withstand flirting from a sloppy drunk chick.

So far, so not new. Feel free to combat those arguments in the comments. It’s not like we haven’t before.

Here’s a question though. What the ACTUAL FUCK is the “paper of record” in our capital city doing printing shit like this? Does the Dom have a responsibility to think about how this perpetuates double standards and makes it easier for rapists to commit their crimes? Or is it really just about getting people to look at its letters page?

How may I erase thee? Let me count the ways.

Cross posted

Bouquets and brickbats time, for the New Zealand Listener.

The cover story this week is about weight loss myths. It’s not on-line yet, but if you can buy a dead tree version, it’s worth it. The story is familiar to people who have even a passing acquaintance with the fatosphere and fat acceptance, as I do. The standard points:
– Dieting doesn’t work for the great majority of people (that would be 95% of people).
– Fat seems to be linked to poverty;
– Diabetes and heart disease don’t have a causal relationship with fat, or if there is a causal relationship, it’s a minor one, or it comes about through side effects.
– The death rate for fat people is no better and no worse than the death rate for thin people.
– Health At Every Size (HAES) is the way to go.

So far, so good. The story even ventured into some difficult territory, talking to a woman who had instigated severe diet control, and lost a huge amount of weight, going from size 22 to size 12 through dieting alone. But is she happier?

“… It’s still the same me and in some ways I am happier. There’s no doubt you have more social approval…. but there are things that I miss from when I was a larger woman. I got enormous pleasure from eating and loved to feel as though I could eat when I wanted to eat. That’s a wonderful thing and a wonderful pleasure…” She weighs herself every day and says sometimes she feels that her life is destined to be one “where I hardly eat anything”.

The story works hard against all the myths about weight and weight loss. There’s no alleged “balance” from people think that it’s just a matter of will power and diet. It’s all about debunking the myths. In the mainstream media. That’s fantastic.

But… the writer talked to four people, all of them academics: Andrew Dickson, Linda Bacon, Robyn Longhurst, and Cat Pausé. The printed article had pictures of three of them: Andrew Dickson, Linda Bacon, and Robyn Longhurst. Dr Dickson is a large man. Dr Bacon seems to be of slender to moderate size. Dr Longhurst is slim. Only one largish body in sight, and certainly not a fat body. The only person who was interviewed for the article, and who was not pictured, is a fat person, Dr Cat Pausé. Cat is fat. Not large. Not weighty. Not chunky. Fat.

So as far as the New Zealand Listener is concerned, we can talk about fat, but we can’t picture it. Erasing people who are fat, and hiding them from view, turning fat people into just words, but not whole people with bodies and faces and lives and realities, even in a sympathetic article. Erasure. So many ways to do it.

So here’s a picture of Cat. It’s her signature piece.

Dr Cat Pausé

And here’s a google image search.

Here’s her page at her place of employment.

Here’s a 20/20 segment about fat acceptance in New Zealand, featuring Cat.

And here’s Cat’s reflection on the 20/20 segment on fat acceptance in New Zealand.

Comments Bingo

Once again, my darlings, I’ve read the comments so you don’t have to. The things I do for you. You should all buy me bourbon and bonbons.

Liam Dann, whose columns I normally enjoy, wrote about the NZX requiring gender reporting from listed companies. So far, so…fine. He’s aware that writing about gender issues might “get him in trouble”, so I assume the very middle ground he’s steering is because of that. Though, why he’s mixing up reporting and actually having quotas is beyond me.

Here’s what we know. There are systemic reasons why there are few women in leadership roles in business, that involve undervaluing women’s skills, the impact of child care, and the fact that few women get mentored into senior positions. Little of this is addressed by the column, or in fact requiring disclosure, but it’s a step. I like to blame the fucking patriarchy, but you can choose your own cause. It’s worth mentioning the even tougher time women of colour and GLBT folk have, but that’s a very different column. That will never be published in the Herald.

So I have no beef with Mr Dann, particularly, which makes a nice change for Herald columnists. But the commenters never fail to live up to the lowest common denominator.

First up, Gavin believes “the number of women in the top tier of our business community is an embarrassment.” to whom? What a total non-issue.”  Well, Gavin, to anyone who believes that women deserve equality in all aspects of society, not just in name but in practice. Also, to anyone who wants our business community to be successful.

Lloyd wants “proper equality”:  “Why is there such an unfair gender imbalance in home executives. Let’s set a quota for home Dads and force 50% of home Mums back into the workforce. Fair’s fair.” I agree, Lloyd, let’s do that. And watch childcare in workplaces increase exponentially. Because no woman ever stayed home to look after children because that’s what made financial sense, not because she’s a lazy slapper, right?

BONUS ROUND: What About The Menz AND gender essentialism. Top marks for you, ‘A Dad’: “Perhaps we can also get the gender imbalance fixed for dangerous jobs too. Too many men are dying from mining, the heavy engineering and the armed forces. Yes, a very divisive subject but very important to air because of the many complexities that relate to each gender. We will never be equal as we are physically and psychologically different.”

YouKnowIt’sThe Truth can’t bring himself make an argument, except to say “The phrase “PC gone mad” is often despised by many as it’s so over-used, but I can’t think of a better one in this instance.” IT’S PC GONE MAD! Next, those uppity bitches will want, like, proper healthcare and education. GOD!

Timespider thinks successful people are special snowflakes and we should laud all of them: “When a woman makes it to the top she deserves it if she made it by herself & good on her – we need more women like this”‘ Because no man ever received assistance, mentoring, special education. EVER. They all got there through hard graft and good genes.

In totally missing the point news, along with a good old-fashioned, strawman, please come down Westiman: “Women are given opportunity to obtain skill sets- as you put it-turn the telescope around and ask the same question for men. How many men are nurses and what a kerfuffle that caused. There is a fundamental difference and as soon as you try to smooth the difference out you have total confusion on the roles/skills of both genders- Quotas are not the answer- are women some kind of “Sealord” catch?”

Speaking of strawmen, thanks Gondwana: “Should the All Black panel be adjusted genderly and when was the last Silver Ferns coach a male (I nominate myself to be the first even though I know nothing about netball). Why not leave people to live their own lives if they are good enough and work hard enough and sacrifice enough they’ll get their regardless of their gender.”

Oh, but wait, Gondwana has more: “This government enforced social engineering will be the death of us all. And you’ll notice it only ever goes one way! Women are always portrayed as the poor innocent little victims of male prejudice and never of their own folly and poor choices in life!” government enforced social engineering! We’re getting close to bingo here, folks.

So, that must mean it’s time for a little bit of drive-by misogyny. Wolfman sez “If you want something stuffed up, give it to a woman, plenty of examples of this around the world.”

Oh, also, we women should just be quiet and wait our turn, according to CGD: “I believe in 20-30 years from now there will be many women with the skills and experience to be in executive roles in bigger numbers than there are now. Good things take time!”

Except, that of course, it’s all our own fault, because we suck, and should probably get back in the kitchen. Right, refugee? “Women dominate in the teaching professions. Boys are failing. Badly. No one seems to have any problem with that, but answer this. Why? The London School of Economics knows.”

BINGO

Look who’s talking

Cross posted

Via Blue Milk, the astonishing statistic that even on issues relating to women, such as abortion, and contraception, men are quoted around five times more than women.

Among 35 major national print publications, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, men had 81 percent of the quotes in stories about abortion, the research group said Thursday, while women had 12 percent, and organizations had 7 percent.

In stories about birth control, men scored 75 percent of the quotes, with women getting 19 percent and organizations getting 6 percent. Stories about Planned Parenthood had a similar ratio, with men getting 67 percent, women getting 26 percent, and organizations getting 7 percent.

Women fared a bit better in stories about women’s rights, getting 31 percent of the quotes compared with 52 percent for men and 17 percent for organizations.

I’ve been thinking about issues of representation, and voice, and presence, and diversity, of late, mostly in a recent op-ed I wrote for the Dom Post, but also in just an idling sort of way, thinking about who gets to write columns for our major newspapers. I tend to read The Dominion Post and the New Zealand Herald. In the Dom Post, I can think of two women who have regular opinion columns there: Tracey Watkins and Rosemary McLeod. Trevett is a political reporter, and Rosemary McLeod is a feminist writer in the same sense that Chris Trotter is a left wing writer (see The Dim-Post for an explication of this). The New Zealand Herald lists four women among its eleven opinion writers: Dita di Boni (parenting, politics of parenting, parenting while female), Audrey Young (politics), Fran O’Sullivan (business and politics), Kerre Woodham (life, parenting, stuff). Plus there’s Claire Trevett (politics), and Shelley Bridgeman (if you can think of a category for her let me know), though their Sunday line-up is fairly XY oriented, especially with the recent replacement of Deborah Coddington by Rodney Hide. Even so, overall, there are noticeably more men than women, especially so in the Dom Post.

Way way back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when I first became aware of feminism, and first started seeking out feminist voices, I would never have dreamed that we would still be fighting to get an equal share of the national discourse.