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Tag Archives: Violence against women

Guest Post: On Harassment, Conditioning, and Silencing

Big old trigger warning for sexual violence on this post. Seriously. [Also, a note from Tallulah – we’ll be being very careful on the comments with this one. Go easy.]

I could talk about the PE teacher in my town who was asked to resign due to his harassment of female students, who was then hired as a school bus driver for a rural route with both primary and high school students. I could talk about how, from the age of seven, I refused to wear skirts or dresses, and from the time I entered high school at 10 to when I moved at 16 I always wore bike shorts or CCC shorts under my dress, because he was not particularly subtle about the way he looked at us – and those bus steps are high. I could talk about how this was common knowledge and was never denied by any authority figure we ever raised it with, but rather we were just kind of brushed off. I could talk about how, sometimes, I was the last person on my bus in the afternoon and I was never quite sure if something bad would happen to me, even though for a long time I probably couldn’t have articulated what it was that I feared.

I could talk about how I spent ten years of my childhood believing it was perfectly normal and acceptable for a seven year old child to stop wearing her favourite clothes because a grown man she relies on to get to and from school from a relatively remote location gets a thrill from looking up her skirt.

I could talk about the art teacher at my high school who used to run his hands up and down our backs, right along the spot where your bra sits. Considering most of us were fairly new to wearing bras in the first place, this was a decidedly uncomfortable experience. I could talk about how he used to get just a little too close for comfort in the supply room. Nothing overt, nothing nameable – just enough to make you drag someone else along with you if you needed a fresh piece of paper or you ran out of ink. I could talk about how the odd comment or complaint that was made was completely handwaved, that we were told to be very careful about what we were saying, that we could get someone in a lot of trouble by “starting those kinds of rumours”, and did we really want to be responsible for that?

I could talk about the first time I was made to feel ashamed of my body, at twelve or thirteen, getting into a water fight with my stepfather and uncle in the height of summer. I could talk about my grandmother completely flipping out, talking about how disgusting it was, how grown men should be ashamed of the way they were behaving with a girl. I could talk about how she then spent the next few hours trying to convince me I was being somehow victimised, while I was mostly confused about what had taken place – it took me a long time to work it out. I could talk about the unvoiced but ever-present fear for months afterwards that my grandma would bring it up again, that she would bring it up in the wrong place or to the wrong people and that my uncle, a schoolteacher, would suffer for it.

I could talk about how that destroyed what had been a fantastic relationship with my uncle, and how, ten years later, he still won’t hug me at Christmas.

I could talk about being called a frigid bitch and a slut in the same breath in high school. I could talk about multiple instances of sitting in a big group of friends, hearing someone trying to get into someone else’s pants, starting off sweet enough but quickly descending into emotional manipulation and thinly veiled abuse. I could talk about the time I went off with someone willingly enough and being followed by someone I considered a friend, someone who would not leave no matter how many times I said “no”, who only went away when the person I was with said that he “didn’t feel like sharing”.

I could talk about the family friend who always made me feel a little bit off for no discernible reason. The one who if I was left alone in the room with him, I would always find an excuse to leave. The one time I expressed this, I was told I was being a drama queen, and that I needed to grow up and stop being so precious, that one day I was going to have to deal with people I didn’t like and I might as well get used to it. I could talk about how he never did anything untoward, never gave me any specific reason to feel unsafe – but years after I last saw him, when he was  found guilty of four historical sexual assault charges, one of rape and three of indecent assault on girls under twelve, I was, for reasons I still don’t entirely understand, completely unsurprised.

I could talk about my boyfriend justifying his rape of me with “you could have fought me off if you really wanted you, you slut”. I could talk about how, when I tried to tell people, I was told I was being a nasty, spiteful, vindictive bitch. I could talk about how selfish it was of me to say such things, that he’d overcome such a hard life and was going to go on and make something of himself, who the hell was I to try and stand in his way?

I could talk about how my response to being raped was to sleep with anyone and everyone because I rationalised that if I never said no, then no one could force me. I could talk about how I have been told time and time again, by people who should know better, that this is a sign that I wasn’t really raped at all.

I could talk about how, when I finally worked up the courage to make a formal complaint of sexual harassment against my boss, I was asked why I had let it continue for so long, and what I had done to make him think his behaviour would be welcomed.

I could talk about how when a much later boss got me completely wasted at my leaving party, to the point where I couldn’t walk, and fucked me in a back alley, he waited until I was sober the next morning to tell me that he had a pregnant wife, because he heard through the grapevine that I was very strict about not sleeping with married people or straight women, and he thought I should “learn my place” and realise that I’m “not such a high and mighty bitch with a moral high ground after all”.

I could talk about these things, but I very rarely do. Since I was seven years old, I have been told that my body is not my own, that my consent is not my own, that my feelings of discomfort are not my own. I have taught myself to suppress my gut instinct upon meeting people. I have been taught to smile, to be polite, to suck it up if I feel unsafe. When I complain, I have been told I’m being irrational, oversensitive, and selfish. The underlying message is, how dare I try and ascertain any kind of control over my own body?

I should talk about it. But I don’t actually know whether I can.

Shutting down rape culture, one election at a time

The Republican Rape Philosophers lost. (H/T Feministe)

Incumbent Roger Rivard (R), lost his Congressional seat to Steven Smith (D). Rivard was the chap who told passed on his father’s wisdom that “some girls rape easy.”

Todd Akin (R) failed to take what should have been a winnable senate seat for the Republicans. Akin was the chap who told us that if a rape was “legitimate”, then a woman could not get pregnant because her body would shut conception down.

Tea Party backed candidate Richard Mourdock couldn’t win what should have been a wide open race, giving the Democrats one more seat in the Senate. Mourdock was the chap who told us that pregnancy resulting from rape was something that God intended.

But why should we care, here in New Zealand, an ocean away from the United States?

Here’s why. We should care because the anti-women rhetoric coming from conservatives in the US travels down here swiftly. Rape culture is alive and flourishing in New Zealand, and concepts like “legitimate rape” and “can’t get pregnant from rape” and “some girls rape easy” and “God meant for you to be raped” play into it, and sustain it.

I am so very glad that voters in the United States rejected these men who endorsed rape. It’s a push back, a small step towards dismantling the narrative of hatred and contempt for women.

Cross posted

Cultural Studies

Trigger warning for sexual assault

Recently, a friend and I were having a conversation, and I used the words “rape culture”. And the conversation went like this:

“What’s rape culture?”

“Fuck. Um…well, it’s the idea that we live in a world where rape is a crime that many, many women, and some men, face, and that as a crime, it is often lessened, because it’s in the patriarchy’s interests to control women’s bodies, and to encourage male aggression. Ok, wait, that’s a really bad definition…”

“The patriarchy?”

“Lordy. Um…look, can I send you some links…?”

“Yeah, I guess, but I mean, why do you care so much? You’ve never been raped…”

I didn’t, but I wanted to explain to him that he had just perpetuated rape culture. First, the assumption that I’ve never been assaulted, because he would automatically know that. Because it would be my responsibility to share that information, or he’d just be able to tell, I guess. Second, the idea that violent crime only affects the victim.

When we talk about 1 in 5 women being assaulted, or whichever statistic you’d care to use about violent crime, we focus on the 1. We think about how many women we might know who have been raped. We think how lucky to not be one of those people. But what that means is that women constantly live in a space where there’s a fairly good statistical chance we’ll be Next. Where my friend can say to me “But I’ve seen you. You’re really good at keeping yourself safe”, and not think about whether it’s reasonable that I have to do that. Where I can be harassed by a group of men walking down the street on a Sunday night, and my first thought is not to fight back, but how quickly I’d have to run to get home safely. It’s using the threat of a violent crime to control women’s behaviour, and lessening the severity of the crime because it suits your purpose.

Rape culture is where a judge can tell a sexual assault victim:

“If you wouldn’t have been there that night, none of this would have happened to you,” Hatch said.

Hatch told the victim and the defendant that no one would be happy with the sentence she gave, but that finding an appropriate sentence was her duty.

“I hope you look at what you’ve been through and try to take something positive out of it,” Hatch said to the victim in court. “You learned a lesson about friendship and you learned a lesson about vulnerability.”

Hatch said that the victim was not to blame in the case, but that all women must be vigilant against becoming victims.

“When you blame others, you give up your power to change,” Hatch said that her mother used to say.

When you blame others. WHEN YOU FUCKING BLAME OTHERS? The “other” is TO BLAME. By the same token, I would never been assaulted if I just hadn’t let a dude slam his way into my house, or led him on with my sexy, sexy flannel pyjamas. What are women meant to do? How are we meant to learn about vulnerability? Never go to bars? Never leave our houses? Never, ever, see other people?

The US election, and the constant use of women’s bodies as political tools must have been wearying for some people, at best. And downright triggering for others. I am on the other side of the world, and I’d like to lock Todd Akin in a room with some victims and some heavy objects. Here’s a good rule of thumb. If you are using the word rape in a sentence, and it’s not to denounce a violent, horrific crime, then you need to take a good look at yourself.

I don’t know what we do to go about ending this. Call it out when we see it, make a fuss, slutwalk. But the thing about living in a culture of fear is that some days, you can’t get yourself out of the bathroom. And that’s OK. It’s a reasonable response. We all need to be pushing back against the Richard Mourdock’s of the world when we can, and we need allies.

So, if, like me, you’re finding the way US politicians seem comfortable talking about women problematic*, and because this has been something of a heavy post, here, have some of the queen.

* Problematic = TLG code for Really Fucked Up

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?

In which I get very, very angry with Louis C.K.

Trigger warning for rape

So this, this right here, this person you like and laugh at and respect in other ways, this person is currently the personification of male privilege.

Thinking that it’s part of a “dialogue” when a woman gets singled out in a comedy club and has someone “joke” about how funny it would be if she was pack raped there and then, that is privilege. It is something only someone who is fortunate enough to not be threatened by rape culture can afford to think.

The fallout from a woman being threatened with rape in a comedy club for the purposes of a “joke”, is only beard-strokingly interesting to people who have never been told that what they’re wearing could get them into trouble. To people who don’t have to think of survival strategies on a daily basis, to the point where they’ve perfected LOUD FAKE CELLPHONE CONVERSATIONS while walking home in the dark. To people who haven’t memorised which neighbours stay up later than others in case you have to run to their door. Or which shoes you can run in and which you can’t. Or which of your boyfriend’s friends you don’t want to get a ride home with. Or what you’d say if you needed to leave somewhere fast.

Rape “jokes” (no matter how public they become) are not part of a dialogue. They are part of a systematic and institutionalised violence against women everywhere and always.

The reactions to those jokes are not part of a dialogue, they are fucking survival strategies. They are attempts to try and protect ourselves, our sisters, our daughters, our mothers, from the ever-present threat of rape, which is now even more dangerous because apparently it’s funny. They are attempts to get people to please stop scaring the shit out of us, or reminding us of something we’re trying to forget, or what could be in our futures, or what has definitely happened to women we love.

It must be really nice to have the ability to enjoy those pleas as part of some interesting anthropological discussion which benefits everyone apparently, because Louis CK got reminded he doesn’t have to worry about it.

A Primer

Last night, I was innocently walking home, and came across a group of young women handing out pamphlets. This being Courtenay Place, you would be right to assume that it wasn’t the local Temperance League they were promoting, but the opening of the capital’s latest strip club.

Just as I was about to open my mouth to tell one of them I liked her (sparkly!) dress, around the corner came a group of men. Significantly older than said young women, and quite a lot drunker, they seemed delighted to come across such friendly and welcoming Wellingtonians.

Because the encounter I then witnessed made me angry, I feel the need to offer some reminders to…well, people in general I guess, but I suspect drunk, white, middle-aged men might benefit from this the most.

  • The length of a woman’s skirt does not imply anything about a woman’s sexual availability, marital status, intellectual capacity, or strength of will.
  • Even if it did, that doesn’t mean she is sexually available to you and/or your friends.
  • No, seriously, the short skirt and bedazzled boobs does not give you license to harass her.
  • Even if we are to assume these young women are sex workers of a sort, that also doesn’t mean they’re fair game for harassment.
  • It also doesn’t mean that they are automatically going to fuck you. Quite the opposite actually.
  • Attempting to grope a woman who doesn’t want you to is assault. No matter what you think of her legs. Oh, and that goes for “hugs” too.
  •  Seriously, you’re disgusting, and I don’t care how many rum and cokes you’ve had, calling a young woman a bitch is only acceptable in very specific circumstances. And it has nothing to do with the length of her skirt or her employment.
  • It’s pretty easy to tell when women have ceased to find you entertaining. When they’re backing away, when they’re no longer laughing, and when they’re looking at their friends, worried and rolling their eyes, you’ve crossed a line.
  • The woman glaring at you and calling you a cock under her breath? She doesn’t give a shit what you think of her, and holds you in disdain. She’s also not going to sleep with you. (And had there not been six of you and one of her, she wouldn’t have been “muttering”.)
  • How about I come to your office and comment on the size of your “hard drive”, getting all up in your personal space, and making you uncomfortable?
  • Is it really so hard to treat women, no matter what they’re wearing, no matter how they make their living, no matter what their size or hair colour or the height of their heels, with basic respect? You may disapprove of her career choice, and there are certainly reasonable arguments for that – but why does that give you the right to insult her? Why make her day worse?  That woman you just demeaned? She’s someone’s daughter, someone’s lover, someone’s friend. She could, in fact, be your daughter, your lover, or your friend. And you’ll always be just some asshole who is horrible to women.

Quickie: the same old story

Don’t walk or jog alone, Whanganui women warned

I could write an extended post about victim blaming, and who is being held responsible for women being raped (hint: it’s not the rapist), and who has to change their behaviour in order to reduce the chances of a rape occurring (hint: it’s not the rapist), but you know what, I’ve done that before. Right here: Because the victim is responsible for not being raped.

One day, some police officer somewhere is going to talk about someone who is preying on women who are out jogging or walking, and NOT tell them that they ought to be careful. Instead, she or he will tell the perp that he or she must stop doing this horrible thing.

But alas, that day has not yet come.

Rape culture, ladies and gentlemen. You’re soaking in it.

Cross posted

Dangerous women and “the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals”

Cross posted

People that the Vatican thinks should be disciplined and silenced: nuns who work on poverty and social justice issues.

CHICAGO — A prominent U.S. Catholic nuns group said Thursday that it was “stunned” that the Vatican reprimanded it for spending too much time on poverty and social-justice concerns and not enough on condemning abortion and gay marriage.

In a stinging report on Wednesday, the Vatican said the Leadership Conference of Women Religious had been “silent on the right to life” and had failed to make the “Biblical view of family life and human sexuality” a central plank in its agenda.

It also reprimanded American nuns for expressing positions on political issues that differed, at times, from views held by U.S. bishops. Public disagreement with the bishops — “who are the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals” — is unacceptable, the report said.

People the Vatican promotes and places in positions of authority: priests who actively lie and cover up for other priests who rape children.

The Catholic primate of all-Ireland has said that he will not resign as Church leader despite revelations in the BBC’s This World programme.

It found Cardinal Sean Brady had names and addresses of those being abused by paedophile priest Brendan Smyth.

However, he did not pass on those details to police or parents.

Not only did he not pass on the details to police or children, but he actively coerced the children into staying silent. And he has LIED about the support the children were given.

Sean Brady’s role in the affair became clear in 2010, when it became known that he had been present when the abused boy was questioned.

He claimed, however, that the boy’s father had accompanied him, and described his own role as that of a note-taker.

However, the BBC This World investigation has uncovered the notes Cardinal Brady took while the boy was questioned.

The child’s father was not allowed in the room, and the child was immediately sworn to secrecy.

The story about Sean Brady will make you sick. And he’s still making excuses. He says that he wasn’t the only one who knew. In other words, it was someone else’s responsibility. And he claims that he had no power to do anything in any case.

“The commentary in the programme and much of the coverage of my role in this inquiry gives the impression that I was the only person who knew of the allegations against Brendan Smyth at that time and that because of the office I hold in the Church today I somehow had the power to stop Brendan Smyth in 1975.

“I had absolutely no authority over Brendan Smyth. Even my Bishop had limited authority over him. The only people who had authority within the Church to stop Brendan Smyth from having contact with children were his Abbot in the Monastery in Kilnacrott and his Religious Superiors in the Norbertine Order.

He is completely wrong about that. He always had the ability to go to the police, instead of participating in covering up a crime, and enabling a rapist to carry on raping children.

And he is now a Cardinal in the Catholic church.

So on the one hand, all those wretched women who dare to spend their time and effort working on issues of social justice are dangerously out of line and need to be reprimanded and controlled, and on the other, a man who participated in covering up the rape of children and is still making excuses for his behaviour, is given a position of high authority in the church. He is an “authentic teacher of faith and morals.”

I do not think that phrase means what the Catholic church hierarchy thinks it means.

Previous posts on the Catholic church and its protection of men who rape children:
Out of touch
Can the Pope be impeached?
They could always turn themselves in
Chanting the script from Rome
Sez it all.

SlutWalk, Part Deux

Trigger warning for sexual violence.

Last night, I went to the wonderful show A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and a Prayer, put on in support of Wellington Rape Crisis. It was moving and tearful, but in a supportive and empathetic space. I cried, darlings. A lot.

One of the monologues, written by Eve Ensler, talked about being angry. So angry you could spit. So angry you scream and rant and lose all sense of propriety and ruin a party. So angry at the violence and mutilation and shame and distress that you can’t understand why everyone isn’t so angry.

That was me last year. Angry, raging frustrated. Furious. Willing to temper my anger with humour, because that’s who I am. But angry nonetheless.

This year, I am not.  I’d like to be angry. I miss the fury. I miss my high atop the Mountain Of Righteous Anger attitude, that got me through the first SlutWalk. Not the March itself, but the comments and posts telling is why what we were doing was pointless, unnecessary, dangerous. Why we were wrong, and our shorts skirts are an invitation to rape.

This year, I am not angry. I am scared. I’ve been scared all my life. This is what I thought about when Jan Logie, playing Eve Ensler asked “How can you not be angry?”

I’m scared of the violence done to our bodies. Of all the little ways we are beaten down, diminished, destroyed. The ways we are taught out bodies are public property. Not wholly our own. That our chastity is our most important virtue.

I’m scared of the half-formed memory. The one that tells me not to think about it, because I don’t want to know, to remember. That knowing, remembering might be something I can’t bear.

What I do remember is being scared of strangers. The first time my mother taught me not to talk to strangers, and illustrated it with the story of a girl from out neighbourhood who had been brutally raped and then murdered. My mother isn’t crazy, she didn’t put it like that, but it was my first taste of that amorphous fear that all women live with. I was so scared, when my uncle tried to pick me up from school one day, I wouldn’t get in the car with him. So scared, I cried when the priest at my family’s church shook my hand.

I’m scared for the girl I was at 17, at my first taste of actual violence. For the man who broke my ribs. I didn’t tell that story for a decade, so scared I was that I’d be blamed. I provoked him, I asked for it, I deserved it. Scared to tell the story because after so long, I wouldn’t be believed. That people who knew me then wouldn’t believe me, that I’d hidden it too well. And that they’d tell other people they didn’t believe me. (They did, and I was angry. But it taught me an important lesson. Don’t tell.)

I’m scared of the street harassment and the casual violence of being yelled at from a parked car. Of being reminded that being a woman in public is dangerous. That I don’t have the right to walk down the street free from fear. Free from being accosted, from being thrown against a wall and attacked. I’m scared for the women I know for whom the statistics aren’t one in three, they’re eight in ten, because they have the misfortune to have been born brown and in another country.

I’m scared of all the times I had sex I didn’t want to have. Of being coerced into fucking someone, cajoled. Not wanting to be a prude, or having a reputation as a Good Time Girl to maintain. Of being too drunk to say no, too stoned to move, too high to know better.

I’m scared of the man who is harassing me now. Who thinks that because he was allowed to touch my body once, that’s an open invitation. That because I opened my legs for him, I’ll do it again and again. And that my desire not to makes me a whore, a worthless nonentity who he can treat how he likes. That he can hurt, scare, torment. I’m scared of his anger, and of my own. I’m scared of walking home, being in my house, sleeping. And I’m scared, again, of talking to people about it.

I’m scared for those one in three women, for those one in five men, for those one in two transgender people. I’m scared, until I remember I’m one of them. I’m scared, but I will march, again. Because it’s important. I hope you will too.

You can follow SlutWalk on the Twitters, or join the Facebook events for Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. We’ll have more details as they’re known, and a number more posts before May 20.

International Women’s Day on Stuff: All you old hags should wear make-up

Cross posted

Today is International Women’s Day, a celebration which takes different forms in different countries. In New Zealand, it serves as a day to consider the progress that women have made, and the progress that is yet to come.

The New Zealand Herald focuses on the biggest concerns facing women, with various facts and stats, and an interview with Rowena Phair, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. The issues are… interestingly framed, in the way that Sheryl Sandberg’s analysis of why we have so few women leaders for TED is interestingly framed (video at link). Sandberg is Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, and her advice for women about how to get to top positions is all about how to behave like men. She pays no attention to systemic problems that confront women, and instead offers advice for individual women, not contemplating even for a moment that it might be better to look at the whole way our society structures work and work expectations. See Julie’s post at The Hand Mirror for a discussion of the Sandberg talk: Too few women leaders.

The CEO of Women’s Affairs tells us that the top five issues facing women are:
1. Balancing home life with paid work
2. Staying healthy
3. Getting the right reward for their skills
4. Backing themselves as leaders
5. Feeling safe in relationships.

All good issues to focus on, of course, but look at the advice that is given for each issue.

1. Balancing home life with paid work:
“A big issue for women is managing those responsibilities.”
2. Staying healthy:
“New Zealand women need to make sure they leave space in their busy schedule to take care of themselves.”
3. Getting the right reward for their skills:
“Women are concerned about their financial future, especially in their 20s, and Phair said one way this can be dealt with is by considering all the options available to them in the workforce.
4. Backing themselves as leaders:
“Women are really active in their communities, they’ve got opinions to contribute, but they’ve really got to have the confidence in their convictions…”
5. Feeling safe in relationships:
“It’s very unusual for men to be physically violent without some behaviours that lead up to that so women can keep themselves safe by being very alert … and to get help as quickly as they can.” She said young women are particularly vulnerable to abusive relationships. “Woman really need to keep their eyes open in relationships.”

With the exception of the first, it’s all about what individual women can do to change things. No discussion of systemic factors that might work against women. For example, it sounds like the easiest thing in the world to find a bit of time to stay healthy, but if you are trying to care for small children, and trying to work, then just finding the time to do anything extra can be difficult, even when it’s home based. As for trying to get to the gym, well, you have to sort child care first, so the cost can be considerable. Getting up and going for a run in the mornings might do, until winter darkness closes in. And even then, someone has to be a home to care for the children.

Getting the right reward for their skills? The evidence is that even when women don’t take time out for child care, and do push just as much for higher salaries, they still don’t get paid as much as their male colleagues, because it’s not nice for women to negotiate, so women who do negotiate are punished for it. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. More recently, Catalyst found that:

When women did all the things they have been told will help them get ahead—using the same tactics as men—they still advanced less than their male counterparts and had slower pay growth. (Source)

Being a leader in your community – it’s up to you to be confident in yourself. No mention of the constant put-downs that women are subject to, from on-going commentary on their appearance and what they wear (vide Helen Clark and Julia Gillard) to being spoken over, to the dispiriting experience of saying something insightful and helpful, only to have it ignored, until a man two seats further along the table says exactly the same thing, and the point is taken up with enthusiasm.

And the last one – that’s a real doozy. It’s up to the woman to keep herself safe in violent relationships, and the person who perpetrates the violence is not responsible for his, or more rarely her, violence at all.

We are hearing the CEO through the filter of the NZ Herald reporter, so we can’t be sure that Phair herself framed those issues and responses in exactly that way. Even so, it is at least disconcerting to find no attention paid to the systemic issues that women face. Instead, it’s all individualised, and the remedies are all focused on what individual women can do.

On the other hand, the Herald’s reporting is several light years ahead of what Stuff has come up on International Women’s Day. You can find out How to look 10 years younger! In a transparent piece of advertising for a book masquerading as editorial content, women are told that they need to use the right make-up so that they can look younger. The book’s author says that she loves, LOVES! working with older women, aged over 35, because they can look 10 years younger with the right make-up. And of course, it is a woman’s duty to look as young as possible, because older women are simply socially unacceptable.

This 46 year old woman declines.

For a much more inspiring analysis of International Women’s Day, take a look at Scuba Nurse’s post, where she writes about all the good things for women in New Zealand, as well as noting where there is still work to be done: International Women’s Day 2012. And over at Hoyden about Town, Mindy has some Sobering thoughts on the eve of International Women’s Day, reviewing the international statistics on violence against women.