It’s been exclusively men, so far, who have been trying to persuade me of my flawed understanding of rape politics since I posted about the issue, and Willie and JT, on Friday. Left wing bloggers Giovanni Tiso and Egonomist just tweeted that I’m ‘crazy’ and my views ‘embarrassing’.

I’ve encountered three types of response.

One lot have attempted to claim I was making a wider point about 'working class values’. In fact I was careful to state plainly that Willie and JT are not representing anyone. The point is that their views are representative not of some or ‘Waitakere Man’, but that their attitudes are shared by large numbers of men in general. More on this in a moment.

Another lot said I should have foreseen, years ago (when stating on TV that he has something to offer) that JT would behave like a jackass in future. There might be something to this, although a prediction that a male politician may one day turn out to be a misogynist sets the prognostication bar so low that the real issue is the question of what to do in response.

It’s this third category - what do you do about it - that is important. 

To reiterate my main point, banning people for attitudes you don’t like takes you down an ugly road very fast. Look how it spreads: My Twitter feed has filled up over the weekend with men saying I shouldn’t be in the Labour Party because I said I don’t support a ban on Willie and JT.

I can’t do better than Tim Watkin’s comprehensive refutation of the call for a ban (in the comments of my blog post, where Andrew Geddis has also drawn the line at banning, and makes the point that big corporates like banks and supermarkets shoudn't be telling us what we can and can't talk about).

The men saying I’m not fit to be in the Labour party because I said a ban is the wrong response need to understand about rape culture.

They behave as if excluding men with backward attitudes was in some way possible.  Yet women understand that every day every one of us has to negotiate streets, workplaces and families where rapists or attitudes than minimise rape are present. 

When I was 19 years old a group of boys, not even shaving yet, surrounded me in a London alley on my way home and threatened to ‘do an A40’ on me. A woman had been raped and murdered only the week before when her car broke down on the A40. The boys in the alley ran away when someone came along. There is nothing extraordinary about that scene. I wouldn’t even have thought to mention it because things like happen when you’re a woman. Most of us have a similar ordinary story.

If a woman cannot go out on the street without being aware of rape, then how much ubiquitous are misogynist attitudes to women and rape?  Anti-women attitudes are so prevalent that it is improbable to deal with the problem by excluding the men who express them. 

I fully understand why a woman might react with revulsion. This is a decision women have to make all the time. But I am less tolerant of men telling me how to react. You could only denounce me for opposing the ban if you are unaware of women’s daily experience of sexism. 

I have spent years alongside women whose men are in jail, sometimes for sexual offences. Those men are not only ‘offenders', they are also husbands, fathers, sons and brothers. Women have to work out how to deal with that. 

This is what a rape culture is: An environment where the attitudes that tolerate rape are so widespread that exclusion seems impossible.

Which is why I think the response to the way Willie and JT conducted their notorious interview is to confront and challenge them. Matt McCarten is right about this. Matt’s never lacked the courage to say uncomfortable things. I am hopeful about the future when men take on the job of challenging each other as both Matt and Matthew Hooton did, despite their political differences.

The way many so-called ‘progressive’ men have reacted amounts to deflection and minimisation, and it actually helps to sustain a rape culture.These are the men who already despise John Tamihere - and, for that matter, me. The latest controversy is merely another exhibit for their wider ideological point. And if you are using this controversy in that way, then you are not actually helping to stop rape; you are using the rape culture to further your own views. But here’s the irony - that is such an everyday behaviour, women are used to it.



Comments (6)

by Kay Goodger on November 10, 2013
Kay Goodger

As far as I can tell, it’s also exclusively men who have supported your view that Tamihere and Jackson should not be banned from the radio show. It simply reflects the fact that men still dominate political discourse on the Internet.

I think it’s great to see men debating these issues seriously, and advocating a strong stand against the behaviour of these two misogynists. It shows we’ve come a long way since the 1970s when the issues of rape and sexual violence being raised by young feminists were simply laughed off. It seems that enough people now “get it” to make rape/sexual violence a political issue.

As for the argument that Tamihere’s views represent those of many workers, in fact females make up nearly half of the workforce, have done for years. A forward-thinking party would think about who could best represent young people who reject rape culture and give them a reason to vote.

by Chris Webster on November 10, 2013
Chris Webster

Josie: I cannot accept this statement.

'rape culture .. is such an everyday behaviour, women are used to it.'

I do not accept this is as an everyday behaviour. Or in my community. Or among my colleagues & friends. What woman would accept this willingly - knowingly  or even admit they are 'used to a rape culture'?

I am revolted by the events of this ghastly episode & am damn proud that I can say that publicly.   As a woman I would never accept 'rape culture' as the norm. I am sickened by the harrowing tales that I hear of other women who have suffered the effects of violence & rape.

The fact that the physical act of rape occurs in different environments & places - by different people - on women - who are not expecting to be raped / or caught up in a 'rape culture' - most are unaware that a 'rape culture' exists. Because they do not go looking for it. 

This past week's ghastly events & its resulting & well-aired furore can be interpreted as another form of rape - of the senses - of the moral standards that can be presmed and held by a good percentage of our citizens throughout our communities.

I too have welcomed the many good decent men who have spoken out against what has occured & have publicly denounced the behaviour of all those involved (the initial pair, the NZ police, the radio dj's & the artificialness of the companies which withdrew their products from air.

What is insidious is those companies which have taken advantage of the furore & have been advantaged by the publicity of their actions - publicity that needed no money to spin. 

Many of us (women) are now learning of colleagues & friends who have suffered dreadfully from the physical act of rape. They were not expecting to be raped. They did not like the invasion of their person by some anonymous person with whom they had never shared their life. So how the hell can you say 'women are used to it'?

I have lived & worked throughout the Middle East - in countries where western women who are attractive & have attractive physical attributes & have resorted to wearing an abaya - so that they not attract perverts & or mostly suffer the indignity of personal trespass from religious / fanatical zealots.  I too have worn the abaya - not because I was afraid - but it enabled me to shop & stroll & enjoy the day without 'offending' some unknown male hang-up - had I worn my regular gear blue denim & sturdy Frye boots - all the better for running in & used to deliver very swift hard kicks.  

Yes I agree - let us talk & discuss 'rape culture' & how we as women must deal with it. Not learn to deal with it. But reject it outright. And to reject the boorish responses that have been sent your way.  Those responses equate to humiliation that some males never seem to tire of & in doing so are overriding your rights & thoughts on this most horrible event.


by fine tooth column on November 10, 2013
fine tooth column

This debate which I've followed for days is getting quite divisive for the wrong reasons. Everyone's batting for the same team but there are different emphases or choice of language. It's great that many are against the idea of a "ban"/ removal of their show, but the time emphasising how bad Tamihere is (especially from those who always hated him) could be better spent on using radio, TV, social media, and blogs to discuss the roots of rape culture. That starts elevating experiences like that mentioned by Josie above that of Tamihere to dispell backwards views like his.

Any removal of Tamihere and Jackson wouldn't be so much on corporate advertisers telling us what to listen to but the result of public pressure and damage to their brands. If this blows over for them, advertisers will probably return quietly - given a mea culpa or two.

by Craig Ranapia on November 11, 2013
Craig Ranapia

To reiterate my main point, banning people for attitudes you don’t like takes you down an ugly road very fast. Look how it spreads: My Twitter feed has filled up over the weekend with men saying I shouldn’t be in the Labour Party because I said I don’t support a ban on Willie and JT.

Well, Josie, since I'm not even a member of the Labour Party -- let alone in a position to have any say over the membership -- leave me out of that pathology.  But I guess I just see another ugly road when we keep giving ugly and casual bigotry in the media and politics a pass because what?  They're held by a lot of people?

While you're complaining about being thoroughly man-tronized, perhaps it would be time to check your own privilege.  Because I don't want to support individuals (or their media/political enablers) who tell me that, when you get right down to it, I must have done something to deserve being raped.  Nor do I really appreciate someone with a great deal of heterosexist privilege in this society telling me I should be "tolerant" of people who don't miss an opportunity to smear and sneer at GLBTI.

by Paul Williams on November 11, 2013
Paul Williams

The way many so-called ‘progressive’ men have reacted amounts to deflection and minimisation, and it actually helps to sustain a rape culture.

Wow, that's a broad net you've cast there Josie. I wonder if you might reconsider this lable and the suggestion that disagreeing with you about Tamihere's suitability means you're also minimising rape? Personally, I would strongly object to being characterised in this manner. I'm begining to wonder whether there's much point to continuing with this discussion.

by william blake on November 11, 2013
william blake

I do not benefit from a culture of rape. I do not want my wife, daughter, mother, or any friend, or any woman to be raped or live in fear of it. I am diminished, as a man, by the fear this behaviour perpetrated, and perpetuated, by some men, of all classes and cultures, inflict on our society. 

and why are we surprised when 'shock jocks' shock us? 

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