Thursday, 30 July 2009


my posting today has been over at the hand mirror, where i have some questions for nigel latta. also in the past couple of days, i've had posts up about how people are missing the point regarding the training incentive allowance, and an observation about question time last week.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

celebrating te reo and a disclaimer

time for a lighter post today, so i'm going to celebrate maori language week. as usual, i'm loving the extra bits of te reo on radio and television, keep it going post maori-language week i say.

unfortunately, i have to sheepishly admit that i haven't improved my knowledge of te reo since last year. so to redeem myself, i'll encourage everyone else to subscribe to this "word of the day service made available by email and RSS feed". and yes, i've subscribed to it myself! (hat tipped to helen keviom on AEN).

when i'm in a more serious mood, i'll say more things about the way we (don't) value education, about how education has a value beyond the purely economic and about the fact that education is not a means to an end but an end in and of itself. but today is not that day.

instead, i'm going to reproduce this awesome disclaimer by anita at kiwipolitico, because it is just so totally awesome. and it applies to this blog too:

On this blog it is likely that, from time to time, the author and commenters will criticise government policy, speeches, and political tactics.

We would like to reassert that this is neither explicit nor implicit consent to release any private information about the authors or commenters that is held by any government agency, minister’s office, local government organisation, political party, or any other person, organisation or agency.

For the purposes of clarification this non-consent includes, but is not limited to, the following information:
  • benefit status or history;
  • family status or history;
  • ACC status or history;
  • health status or history – including information held by DHBs, PHOs, central government agencies and private providers whether directly or indirectly contracted by the state;
  • interactions with justice or law enforcement – including complaints, interviews, interactions, documents supplied;
  • employment status or history;
  • any grants applied for or received; and
  • tax payments, status or history.
In addition we would like to restate that posting or commenting here does not give implicit or explicit consent for any private information held about any author or commenter to be used for a purpose other than the purpose for which is was supplied. This non-consent includes, but is not limited to, the reuse of personal information for political purposes.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

gatesgate? anyone used that yet?

ok, so i've got to comment on the furore caused by president obama's response to the gates arrest. a very quick background, in case you missed it. harvard professor henry louis gates is trying to get into his own house and having trouble with the key. a concerned neighbour rings the police, who arrive to investigate. mr gates provides them with proof that this is his own home, but they refuse to leave.

mr gates loses his temper and gives them a piece of his mind, during which rant he tells them that they don't know who they're dealing with & that he knows the president. so the police arrest him for "exhibiting loud & tumultous behaviour". i kid you not. the charges have since been dropped. it so happens that mr gates is black, and the question of racism naturally arises. i say naturally, because one has to wonder whether the police would have refused to leave after proof of residence had been provided, had mr gates been white.

mr obama is questioned about this incident at the end of an hour-long press conference that was all about healthcare. and here is his response in full:

Well, I -- I should say at the outset that Skip Gates is a friend, so I may be a little biased here.

I don't know all the facts. What's been reported, though, is that the guy forgot his keys, jimmied his way to get into the house; there was a report called into the police station that there might be a burglary taking place.

So far, so good, right? I mean, if I was trying to jigger into -- well, I guess this is my house now, so -- (laughter) -- it probably wouldn't happen.

(Chuckling.) But let's say my old house in Chicago -- (laughter) -- here I'd get shot. (Laughter.) But so far, so good. They're -- they're -- they're reporting. The police are doing what they should. There's a call. They go investigate. What happens?

My understanding is, at that point, Professor Gates is already in his house. The police officer comes in. I'm sure there's some exchange of words. But my understanding is -- is that Professor Gates then shows his ID to show that this is his house, and at that point he gets arrested for disorderly conduct, charges which are later dropped.

Now, I've -- I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that. But I think it's fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home.

And number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcing disproportionately. That's just a fact.

As you know, Lynn, when I was in the state legislature in Illinois, we worked on a racial profiling bill because there was indisputable evidence that blacks and Hispanics were being stopped disproportionately. And that is a sign, an example of how, you know, race remains a factor in the society.

That doesn't lessen the incredible progress that has been made. I am standing here as testimony to the progress that's been made. And yet the fact of the matter is, is that, you know, this still haunts us.

And even when there are honest misunderstandings, the fact that blacks and Hispanics are picked up more frequently, and oftentime for no cause, casts suspicion even when there is good cause. And that's why I think the more that we're working with local law enforcement to improve policing techniques so that we're eliminating potential bias, the safer everybody's going to be.

it's a simple, straightforward and extremely honest answer. i'd say it was a damn good answer, and it's about time someone at the top started telling it like it is (sorry, that's me talking american, couldn't help it!). i can see nothing particularly controversial there at all.

but not so in america. to the extent that john stewart, of whom i am a great fan, calls his answer stupid. mr stewart's main contention is that mr obama shouldn't have answered in this fashion because mr obama should have damn well known that it would take attention away from all the healthcare issues he had spent a painstaking hour in discussing.

well, mr stewart, i say you completely got it wrong on this one. as someone who appears to understand marginalisation, as someone who appears to understand the way that minorities are silenced by the majority time and again using a variety of techniques, mr stewart, i would have thought you would be the last person to effectively tell mr obama to shut up about racism in the police force.

as if minorities aren't told to shut up all. the. time. don't get angry. don't rock the boat. be patient. if you only did x, if you only proceeded in y manner, your concerns would easily have been addressed. that protest? you're doing it wrong!! that's from the people who actually recognise there's a problem. the one's who don't recognise the problem will be all "what are you talking about, there's no discrimination at all". even when you've worked in the field, even when you have first hand experience, even when you have the research data to prove you're point. they refuse to listen, to comprehend that there might even be a problem. but they go further, they then criticise the speaker for being bigot, simply for having raised the glaringly obvious issue.

so now you hear all sorts of people claiming that mr obama is racist for stating the obvious. shades of orwell all right. and that someone like john stewart would add to all of this with his "couldn't you just stay on message?", well it really disappoints me.

Monday, 27 July 2009

restrictions on hajj

well, it's pretty unusual for me, but i didn't get a chance to connect to the internet all weekend. like from friday afternoon til this evening, i haven't been on-line at home. which shows that a body can survive without the internet if she wants to. not good for my volunteer activities, as i missed sending something out for one of the organisations i work with, but on the other hand, rather liberating. like leaving your mobile off for a few days, it's actually quite relaxing. i guess we don't realise just how much "on call" we all are these days.

anyway, in case you missed it, i had a brief moment of fame on friday, being interviewed on morning report (radio nz, 24/7/09, 8.44am) about the restrictions on travel for hajj this year. this is a pretty big deal for muslims, because the hajj is not just like any other trip. it's a spiritual journey that begins well before the intention to travel is made. a commitment to go for hajj means a commitment to changing (ie improving) your life. it means setting higher standards of behaviour for yourself, as well as an increase of time devoted to worship.

it's a commitment one doesn't make lightly. once you've decided to go, there are preparations to be made. some of this relates to learning about the practicalities of the trip, getting the right clothing, learning about the rituals. in times gone by, when air travel didn't exist, when land and sea travel were risky business, people would set their affairs in order, make their wills, pay off outstanding loans.

and one of the things that happen even now is that people will go and ask for forgiveness from pretty much everyone they know and particularly from those who are estranged for any reason. that is not as easy as it sounds, as i can testify from having gone through the process! it's not easy to call people who you've had major disagreements with, people who you believe have wronged and hurt you (and who, you guiltily and very secretly admit to yourself that you may have also wronged and hurt).

it was actually my mother who encouraged me in this task, particularly at times when i didn't think i'd be able to do it. and i'm really glad i took the step. not that it suddenly meant that we were all good friends and everything that was in the past just disappeared. rather, i felt it as a spiritual cleansing for myself, an act of letting go. and i must say that every single person i contacted responded very positively, mostly because they understood the significance of the hajj & hence the sincerity of the task i was undertaking.

so yes, being told that you won't be able to go will be absolutely heart-breaking for the people affected. particularly because, for most countries, there is already a quota system in place to manage the numbers. so it isn't like you'll automatically be able to go next year. i can completely understand the reasons behind the decision, particularly because all health services are provided free of charge by the saudi government. even if they chose to charge people, there just aren't the resources available (human, medicinal, etc) to be able to deal with a pandemic.

i'm just very thankful that i was able to go 3 years ago. and i have a very strong desire to go again, inshaAllah. it's a beautiful experience that can't be described, only felt.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

public notices

lazy posting day again today, so i'll just link to other stuff. to start with, almost too late, but submissions are due tomorrow (ie friday) if you want to protest against larger trucks on our roads. the easy way to make a submission is here, and i'll reproduce the summary of the submission from the "campaign for better transport" website:

The CBT considers that the proposal to introduce bigger and heavier trucks onto New Zealand roads is fundamentally flawed. This is for a number of reasons outlined below, and detailed further in later sections of this submission:

  1. Insufficient information has been provided to explain the economic justification for the proposed changes.
  2. Larger trucks will lead to significantly more wear and tear on roads. Unless the extra wear and tear on roads is paid for through increased road-user charges then the changes will simply involve an increased subsidy for the heavy trucking industry.
  3. Increasing the maximum size and weight of trucks will mean that trucking competes more directly with rail for bulk goods transport. It is bizarre for government to subsidise trucking and undermine a railway business that is actually owned by the government.
  4. Potential safety effects of larger trucks.
  5. Other environmental effects of larger trucks, such as greater CO2 emissions, more particulate matter pollution and more noise pollution.

The CBT considers that the proposed changes will not result in better transport alternatives for New Zealand, but instead increase our dependency on trucking for moving freight around the country.

in other news, the human rights commission is organising its annual diversity forum in wellington this year. i don't think i've missed any of these except the first one, and the programme for this year's forum looks really great. unfortunately the timing coincides with the beginning of ramadan, so looks like i might have to miss this year :(.

and finally, the "my God" series that screened on tv1 is now available on dvd. as you'll see if you click on the link, i was the first person to appear on the first series, and it was one of the best experiences i've ever had. the team involved in creating the programme and the approach they had was totally wonderful. their focus was on getting to know the religion through the people practising it rather than through doctrine, scripture or religious experts/scholars. the best part was how they created a safe atmosphere, so that people could speak of what was important to them without fear of censure. i wish them all the best for series 4.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

learning how to share

really good interview on radio nz yesterday (nine to noon, 21/7/09, 9.29am) regarding matrimonial property settlements. there are a couple of cases that have the potential to change the way property is split when relationships end. deborah has covered issues around the case pretty well here. and part of the interview on radio nz is with the the barrister anthony grant, quoted in the herald.

the radio interview gives more details of the case, and shows that the courts have not been nearly so generous as the media coverage would lead us to believe. under nz relationship property law, there are two types of property. "relationship property" is deemed to be jointly owned, and is split 50/50 on separation. "separate property" is property that belongs to one partner in the relationship, usually as the result of inheritance or gifting. ie the theory is that the other partner hasn't had a hand in creating that property so has no rights to it.

the recent ruling by the supreme court has now made a bit of dent in the split between relationship property and separate property. because the court ruled that the wife should have a part of the increase in value of the separate property. ie she didn't get a share in the property itself, but only in the increase in value over the term of the marriage. and she didn't even get a share of the total increase in value, but only that part of the increase that could be attributed to actions by either partner. in other words, she didn't have any claim to any of the increase that was a result of inflation.

and, on top of all that, she didn't even get 50% of a part of the increase in value. she got 40%, and this was after twenty-four years of marriage. but that's not all folks, there's more! the 40% didn't just include her "indirect" contribution ie the fact that she did the bulk of the housework and child-rearing so that her husband was free to work on and improve the farm. it also included the fact that she had been a financial contributor to the marriage because she had put her own earning towards reducing the indebtedness of the husband. so not even the whole 40% of part of the increase in value was reflective of her "indirect" contribution.

and this judgement is supposed to, according to anthony grant, have wealthy people shaking in their shoes. uh-huh. listen to him in the interview. he skips over the increase in value part very quickly, and in every other sentence emphasises the fact that it was the "indirect" contribution that was given a value - not direct work on the asset, you understand. not any money-making activity. but housework. given a value. as if this is a bad thing. as if it's wrong to recognise that one partner doing all the housework and childrearing gives the other partner more free time to make money. as if the court was overly generous.

and then mr grant provides three solutions to try to avoid such a terrible thing happening. which, as deborah's post covers, includes a tightly worded pre-nup agreement; settlement of property in a trust; or hiring of a housekeeper/nanny. deborah debunks the housekeeper/nanny thing pretty well: as if a salary of $15,000 a year can replace the love, care and attention of a parent!! pathetic.

and the courts are looking to deal with the first two options. in this particular case, the couple had a pre-nup agreement, and the court set it aside. mr grant thinks this was because the agreement was badly worded, and a better worded one would have protected the property. he's the lawyer, not me, but without reading the judgement, could i venture to suggest that the court might look past any contract that provides a very unfair outcome? it's a possibility, especially if your pre-nup agreement sets the value of "indirect" contributions at zero.

the second option of vesting the property in a trust is also now looking shaky. this is because the court of appeal has ruled on a case where the farming business (excluding property) was put into a company, with shares owned 50/50 by both partners. they then vested those shares into a trust (which trust, it appears, owned the property as well).

on separation, the wife's only asset was her share of the loan to the trust, created when they transferred the farming business into the trust. except that she had been gifting it off over the years at the maximum amount allowable of $27,000 (if you want to avoid gift duty, that is). so, it turned out that she had to move out of the homestead with the kids, while the husband stayed on the farm and continued to farm it. and she got no income from the trust.

the court has understandably seen this as an injustice, and has ruled that the property of the trust be resettled into two trusts, one of which will basically be for her benefit. in other words, the court has busted the trust. very scary stuff for our mr grant. fortunately for him, the case is being appealed and will now be heard by the supreme court. the wife may yet be kept in poverty and her contributions, direct or indirect, may yet go unrecognised. watch this space.

one of the reasons i identify with this case is because i've recently seen another where a wife was persuaded to forgo her interest in rather considerable assets after her death, on the basis that the family assets should go to the children of her husband (it was their second marriage). which means that her own kids (who aren't his) will get nothing when she dies. this despite the fact that she spent over two decades working directly on the farm, forget about any indirect work she might have done. but none of that was taken into account, and her rights to wealth she created in her lifetime have been signed away.

the moral of the whole story, according to mr grant, is to indulge in more legal manouvering to try to protect your property. of course. create more work and hence more income for your lawyer. the moral according to me is to stop being so f***ing greedy, and recognise that your partner has a right to wealth they helped to create, be it directly or indirectly. if you're not prepared to share fairly, don't enter into a relationship.

clayton weatherston found guilty of murder

all i can say is thank goodness. both for the fact that the jury has come out with the correct verdict, and for the fact that this awful trial is now over. that doesn't mean the media coverage will be over any time soon. there's still the sentencing to come after all, and the judge has asked for some kind of report.

there will no doubt be in-depths interviews, with family members if they can get them, and with experts (and non-experts) of various kinds if they can't. it don't expect that sophie elliot's rights to privacy will be respected in any way.

the bigger issue though is some serious lobbying to get rid of the provocation defence. it needs to go. not that it will stop victim-blaming defences, but hopefully it will stop some trials like this.

one thing i think also needs to be looked at is the fact that the victim-blaming defence has no requirements in terms of burdens of proof. so, for example, in the "banjo killer" case, the defence alleged a criminal act on the part of the victim (from what i understand), being some kind of attempted rape. but the defence did not have to meet any burden of proof requirement in alleging such. similarly in the sophie elliot case: allegations were made, with no burden of proof requirement. all that it required is to create reasonable doubt in terms of the crime the defendant has committed.

i'm wondering if that also needs to be looked at as well.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

losing our holidays?

the government has just announced that submissions are open for the review of the holidays act. they've got a list of questions which they'd like people to discuss in their submissions, and you can find those here.

i can't see anything good coming of this. i'm sure that the end result of the review and any resulting law changes will be to reduce entitlements of employees.

one of the proposals is for employees to trade their existing holidays for cash. seems like a reasonable idea on the face of it, but in reality it's really bad. especially for those on lower incomes, especially in a recession and especially with a government whose not really interested in bringing down the unemployment rate. because what it means is that those desperate for cash (ie the lower paid) will be trading in their leave as they struggle to survive. employers will be able to pressure employees to take the cash instead of their holidays. they will be able to screen prospective employees, and choose those who are amenable to the trade-in.

nz already has a problem with employees working very long working hours compared to other OECD nations. long working hours have a definite negative impact. it means less time with family, it means less time to rest so greater stress and greater health problems. it will mean less social cohesion, less time for sporting and leisure activities. there is not one social indicator that will benefit from this measure. it won't help productivity, because productivity is measured by hours worked, and the more hours you are required to work, the less productive you are likely to be.

the same is the case for easter sunday. it's one of the very few days where an employer can not pressure employees to work. it's compulsory family time, even for the self-employed, and will be under threat with this review.

looking back in history, there were people that fought long and hard for the 40 hour working week. it was a bitter struggle, but they won it. and they won the right to decent holidays. well, the 40 hour working week went with the employment contracts act, and we've never got it back. looks like some of our holidays will soon be gone as well.

the groups that should be most up in arms about this are those who see themselves as proponents of "family values". because working for even more days will mean employees will have even less time with their families. but i somehow don't think that family first will be advocating against this measure to trade-in holidays. neither will maxim or destiny or any other of those religious-political movements that have been so publicly vocal about preserving family values. because they have never been vocal about preserving family time for workers. not that i've ever seen.

another question that, on the face of it, looks really nice and inclusive. there is a proposal to be able to transfer statutory holidays to other days. which works nicely for minority religious groups, who can transfer (in the example they give) good friday for ramadan. that would be wonderful if it happens, cos ramadan is a whole month & who wouldn't trade one day for a whole month!! the fact that they couldn't get something so simple right makes me worry that this is a rather shallow token to diversity.

but that's not the real problem. the hidden cost of this measure is that it will be a way to get rid of the time & a half pay on statutory holidays. although question 8 talks about "protections... necessary to ensure entitlements are not reduced", i just don't believe those protections will be carried across. and while i'd love to be able to celebrate eid-ul fitr instead of good friday, i don't want to have that option at the cost of low-paid workers (particularly in the hospitality industry) having to miss out on pay that they rightly deserve.

so, submissions on the review close on 21 august, and i'd say it's pretty important to get submissions in on this topic.

Sunday, 19 July 2009


i've just put up a post at the hand mirror, about how our identities are often defined by the people we're related to.

i also had a couple of posts up on friday, one on india's first policewoman, kiran bedi and another on some links to other good stuff i'd read that day. speaking of links, this one about aging was sent to me by a friend, in response to my previous post. it's one i've heard several times before, but wanted to share in case you haven't read it previously.

also, i've added brian edwards' blog to the blogroll. i see him as a progressive male that actually "gets it" ie gets what being progressive is about. which is not to say that i always agree with everything he says, but then that would be impossible!

Thursday, 16 July 2009

another year over

i'm another year older today. well, actually only another day older, but it's just the day we choose to mark another year gone by of our lives. pretty eventful year, what with an election campaign, an overseas trip, a ramble around the far north, being featured in a book, the death of a good friend and various other goings on. on the global scene, there was the election of the first black president in america, the awful siege in gaza, upheaval in iran, and bombings in bombay.

it's certainly been quite a year, full of rich experiences both positive and negative. it's really nice to have the blog to look over the past year, to remind me of the things i've been doing and the things i've been thinking. mostly, thinking back over the last year, i can only come up with that terrible cliche: it's a wonderful life. all of it.

have posted at the hand mirror, about j k rowling. yup, we've got tickets for the latest harry potter film, should be seeing it tomorrow!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

fiona's story

another too-tired-to-post day, though i have a post up at the hand mirror about a film on child pornography that i watched over the weekend.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

g(l)ory days

july 14th - bastille day! allons enfants de la bastille, le jour de gloire est arrive... and all that. yup, i always remember bastille day when it arrives, more than i recall indian independence day (which i should identify with more, but there you go) or american independence day (at which time i get invited to an american consulate function, nice of them but usually difficult for me to make cos it's on a week night).

the main reason for this is that i studied french all through high school, up until second year university. and the fact that i did well at it and won various alliance francaise awards over the year helped too. there's nothing like learning a language to help you learn about a culture and identify with it. then there is the fact that i've visited france back in 1998, went to marseilles and to paris, and yes, i absolutely love love love paris. the history, the culture, the architecture, the museums... i could go on forever.

however, at the time i visited france, i didn't wear a headscarf. i wonder if the experience would be different now. it seems the love i have for france is not reciprocated these days, and i wouldn't be so welcome there anymore.

but back to bastille day. i think another reason i identify with it is because it represents the downfall of an aristocracy that was extremely oppressive and irresponsible. of course that downfall was a rather bloody and nasty one, and the replacement regime wasn't any kind of an improvement really. bit like the russian revolution and the chinese one. nonetheless, i have a soft spot for a people's movement, if only because it gives me hope that ordinary people without the resources of wealth and power can make a change to their circumstances through collective action.

what an imperfect world we live in...

i have a post up at the hand mirror about the practice of reclaiming words, if you'd rather go read about that.

Monday, 13 July 2009


another brief hiatus in posting, as i got some important things done over the weekend. one of which was my tax return. i know, i know, i'm an accountant and should be totally on top of these kinds of things. and really, it's only about one and a half hours of work so i don't know why it looms as such a large job in my mind. but there you go. at least it's done and posted, and i can relax for another year (on that issue at least!).

i haven't linked to a couple of posts that went up at the hand mirror last friday, one on the media coverage of the sophie elliot trial, and another on the tragic murder in a german court of a pregnant egyptian woman, and the shooting by a police officer of her husband who was trying to get to her. earlier this evening, i put up a post on the kirsten dunne-powell interview aired on 60 minutes, tv3.

all of which is serious stuff, way too serious. so i'll just briefly reflect on the three roses that are in bloom outside my window & the very pretty camelia flowers i saw on a bush at our mosque in hamilton. i have no idea why these flowers would be out at this time of the year, but they look especially pretty at a time when many of the trees are without leaves. and in a few weeks the spring blossoms will be out. the plum trees that line my parents street have the loveliest pale pink blossoms, and it's a real pleasure to drive with them lining the road on both sides. unfortunately they only last for a little while, but definitely worth it.

i really hate gardening (i'm no good with bugs and slimy creatures in the soil, and i definitely don't like the mess), which is funny because i really love the beauty of nature & can spend quite a bit of time just looking at things and savouring the beauty of them. i think i could easily spend several hours watching waves at the beach, or watching leaves rustle in the wind. i don't get too much time to do things like that just now, when there seems to be so many other important things to do. but i think i really should make time. contemplation is an end in itself.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

language matters

i have a couple of posts at the hand mirror today, one about sarah palin's resignation as governor of alaska, and another about a report by the equal employment opportunities commission about demographics of the professional workforce.

i'm pretty full of outrage today, and most of it will come through tomorrow on a couple of posts i've put up at the hand mirror. but one other thing that has me pissed off is to do with the civil unrest in western china. now i'll put down clearly my total lack of ignorance of the issues in this particular part of the world.

nonetheless, there is plenty to be pissed off about. the fact that it would appear that there has been significant and on-going discrimination against uighurs, leading to this current round of violence. the fact that so many innocent people have been killed during this current round of rioting. the fact that hundreds of people have been arrested, and their chances of a fair and transparent trial are not likely to be high.

of course i'm upset about all of these things. but the other thing that is really getting on my nerves is that in media coverage of this issue, the word "uighurs" is always (and i do mean always) preceded by the word "muslim". the chinese are described by their ethnicity, being han chinese but never by their religion.

as far as i know (and again, i admit that isn't a lot), this is an ethnic dispute and not a religious one. and in media coverage of the unrest in tibet last year prior to and during the olympics, you didn't hear the term "buddhist tibetans". even though most people would know that a good proportion of tibetans are buddhist and even though the dalai lama featured in much of the coverage, the descriptor was not used.

so i'm really failing to understanding why the uighurs can't just be described as such, without any religious descriptor being added. i can only conclude that it's another attempt to link muslims and violence, regardless of the underlying factors that have lead to this situation. and that is just sick.

in other news, this press release from the migrant action trust regarding their recent meeting with the minister of immigration may be of interest. let's hope that the minister does actually take some action regarding:

interim emergency measures for migrants in distress, short term solutions that can bring relief to affected persons and solutions to address a long term immigration policy that make New Zealand a preferred destination of would be migrants who can contribute to the growth of the economy of this country.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

meeting friends

a bit light on posting the last week. partly cos i was busy putting up the carnival & partly because my health is still troubling me. another visit to the doctor today, another afternoon off work. in fact, i don't think i've felt well since queen's birthday weekend.

but i've still been managing a few things. one of which was to visit julie in the weekend and meet wriggly again. he's running around now, rather than crawling as when i saw him last. he decided that he really loved my car keys and spent the whole visit with them clutched tightly in his little hands. another highlight was to visit a friend from my childhood, whose parents run the hollywood dairy featured on radio nz's asian report (afternoons, 3.30pm). as is the case when you meet up with childhood friends, we reminisced about growing up in 1970's nz and how different it is for our now teenage daughters. damn, i must be getting old! i'm certainly feeling old just now, but hopefully that will go away as the weather warms up.

in the meantime, i've put a more substantial post at the hand mirror, about a speech hon margaret wilson gave earlier this year.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

14th down under feminists carnival

kia ora everyone, and welcome to the carnival. as always, there's a whole heap of wonderful writing to be shared. so i won't waste your time any further, let's get right into it.


from elisha, we have a brilliant post about women's issues related to weight. she talks about how positive she felt about her body when she was pregnant:

The fact that clinched my body confidence was that I found myself beautiful anyways. The compliments were simply fans to an already existing flame. I could feel life inside of me, effusing from my pores, coursing through my veins, and willy nilly in my gut.

and the issues that arose post baby, including dieting and the MILF myth:

An attractive mother could not just be an attractive woman. Because she was a mother, her assumed status was unF-able, which is why the mother who is F-able deserves her own acronymic nickname.

the queen of thorns deconstructs a fat-hating op-ed in a new zealand paper. dr alice boyes talks about the effect of weight on relationships, concluding that weight stigma has a negative impact for heavier women. and ele at homepaddock talks about the problem of pregorexia.


on the related issue of appearance, witty knitter highlights another case of a woman being put under unfair scrutiny. hell on hairy legs shows the narrow beauty norms involved in the use of women's bodies to sell noble causes.

FP talks about the focus on appearance for women in sports, in particular the comparison between serena williams and kirilenko:

I’m not suggesting she ought to have more, that she needs to stun me with her beauty in order to play tennis. But when those people who DO assert that sort of nonsense, also try to assert that “beauty” is an objective thing, I do take exception to WHAT is being called ‘beauty’ and then being set against what is apparently unacceptable to beauty.


linda radfem writes about some below-par dudebro comedy by the men on "the chaser":

This is soo not what The Chaser men do, and I refer to them as men despite their habit of behaving like giant toddlers, because I believe that refering to them normatively as “the chaser boys” kind of minimises their behaviour and lets them off the accountability hook a bit.

and concludes not only that their humour doesn't come close to political satire, but it is also harmful.

in other news, dave letterman got into hot water for some misogynistic jokes about sarah palin's daughter, and finally came up with a pretty decent apology. and wellywood woman discusses the difficulties for women trying to make feature films:

A while ago, I wrote an article about how it’s harder for New Zealand women to make feature films than it is for men. And I discussed how having women as script assessors and decision-makers appears not to help women filmmakers. And how I came to realise that I, too, tended to favour men’s work (as I also wrote here). The editor took those bits out and I wondered: Is this reality sometimes too hard to acknowledge?


a political scandal of the sexual kind led to plenty of victim-blaming in nz over the past month. for non-kiwis, a minister was fired for reasons not known (apparently it's still not in the public interest for the prime minister to tell). it turned out that said minister was under investigation by the police for "a sexual matter". it then turned out that he had been allegedly harassing a different woman via txts and phone calls. the political bun-fight began.

this post by julie at the hand mirror gives a rundown of the allegations. maia, also at the hand mirror, tackles this particular round of victim-blaming. and here, the marvellous queen of thorns takes down one of the nastier commments on another blog. then she takes on the even nastier "women should just harden up" type argument:

It’s got to mean shooting down every man who wants to get you a coffee after you’ve done him a favour. It’s got to mean even bluntly refusing to do a coworker or superior a favour in the first place. It means never letting a guy be nice to you, never letting a guy buy you flowers on your birthday or after a big project winds up or when a close relative dies, because if you won’t say "fuck no get away from me I have no sexual interest in you whatsoever" at the slightest provocation, well, how is he meant to get the message?

aside from the awesome writing, these are a couple of the best titled posts i've seen in a long while!

keri hightlights a case of victim-blaming by commentors on a [alliteration alert!] female footy fans forum, in regards to women who had made allegations of sexual assaults against carlton footballers.


the hand mirror bloggers took on the pr0n debate, starting with this initial post on objectification by ms enid. there was a response of sorts by moi, and a further guest post on the topic by AUSA women's rights officer caroline, the latter generating some pretty heated debate. the queen of thorns jumped into the fray, with her take on the issue. and back at the hand mirror, maia put up an excellent post about why pr0n debates by feminsts so quickly turn to custard:

Media that has been created for the purpose of sexual arousal and produced to be bought and sold ... sits at an intersection: Desire, sex, the construction of men’s sexuality, the construction of women’s sexuality, bodies, work, the role of the state, objectification, the creation of rape culture and commodification ....

It only takes small differences in feminists’ analysis, weighting or experience of a couple of these before they’re coming at the issue that we call ‘pr0nography’ from completely different angles.

and hell on hairy legs gives a quick explanation of why anti-pr0n feminists and social conservatives are not the same. at all.


rocky at the standard writes about why the current new zealand government is showing its contempt for women. over in australia, kim at larvatus prodeo reproduces a piece about the furore caused by sarah hanson-young, a green party MP, taking her child into the debating chamber at parliament. the topic is also very well covered by deborah at in a strange land and here by bluemilk. from deborah's post:

In the olden days, a child would have been at home with her mother, and it would have been her daddy who was the senator. These days, senators and MPs are female and male, parents and childfree, straight and gay, not as many colours of the rainbow as would be nice, but nevertheless, no longer predictably white, male, middle class, and with a nice wife at home to carry all the childcare. Just maybe, it’s time for the rules to change to reflect [that].

and in australia, they have another big political scandal involving a ute and a fake email. get the whole story from rebekka, told in lolcats form - a wonderful combination of cute & hilarious.


lauredhel at hoyden about town gives us a cracker post about why changes to disability parking rules should be of concern to feminists. wildly parenthetical takes the issue further, and discusses the invisibility of certain kinds of disability:

This suggests that even understanding particular bodies as impaired is the result of a presumption about the body. That is, it argues that disability begins at the moment when you understand some bodies as naturally unimpaired, and others as naturally impaired: the drawing of that line is not a neutral, naturally-given one, as we like to pretend. It is a political distinction that is, in itself, invested with the ability system, which, as Lennard Davis argues, is what constitutes particular bodies as disabled, and thus as the problem.

lauredhel calls out another blogger who trivialises a traumatic brain injury by saying that parents are being too "precious" about everything.


anita at kiwipolitico puts down her thoughts in response to the killing of dr george tiller (see here for a discussion by lauredhel on late-term abortions). i express my outrage at the use of the "provocation" defense in the trial of the man who brutally stabbed sophie elliot. dr sapna makes a not-so-serious comparison of racism in australia and new zeland, particularly in reference to the attacks on indian students in melbourne:

I have been to Melbourne so many times. It is a great city; multicultural and dynamic. It is also Australia. The indigenous people are missing, banished to the desert and boondocks to become unemployed alcoholics and gamblers in a perpetual cycle. The media is full of white people with supposedly Ango-Saxon origin, Australian identity denying anything else. Indian students in Melbourne, the ones I have seen in town, loitering at Flinders Street Station and in the trains and buses are regular middle class kids, a little bit frightened, a little bit out of their depth and a little bit defensive.

sandra of ludditejourno talks about women killed in new zealand recently. lauredhel responds to the criticism of trigger warnings on posts containing graphic violence:

Because feeling disgusted, creeped out, sad, scared, or nauseous at these things doesn’t mean I’m ill. It doesn’t mean I’m broken. It means I’m normal. It means I’m paying attention. And it doesn’t need fixing.


clem bastow of the dawn chorus discusses sentencing in rape cases, and in particular asks what "low-level or less serious" rape might be:

The perceived semantics and language of rape – witness the ongoing debate about “grey rape”, “marital rape” and “date rape” (with many pundits and politicians seemingly believing the latter two don’t even exist) – are doubly frustrating because the fact that we even need to argue about the impact of language in these situations demonstrates that the seriousness of rape is still doubted or misunderstood. If a man rapes me, no matter whether I am given a black eye, a slit throat, a drink laced with drugs, or a bunch of flowers afterwards, a man has still raped me. When will the wider community (and, importantly, the legal world) realise that the issue is not (primarily, at least) what happened before, during or after the rape, but the rape itself?

lauredhel highlights another case of a judge trivialising the sexual assault of minors. crowlie writes about denial of sexual harassment by the female boss of tony scrinis, and a rape culture that makes it increasingly difficult for women to come forward.


hell on hairy legs tells us how she is going to communicate feminism to dudebros:

If I don’t have the mental strength to deal with it, it isn’t my job to exhaust myself to educate someone else how to be a decent human being. I’m tired of feminists being treated like we’re outsourced labourers for caring about women... I have a finite amount of time and if someone wants me to raise awareness about rape tourism in Thailand or Sharia law in the Middle East, then they can damn well do it themselves (and they don’t even have to join the uber special feminist club to do it).

richie of crimitism gives us a brilliant post about the use of stick-figure cartoons to destroy the matriarchy. orlando, guest posting at hoyden about town, blogs about a youth radio station which seems to have forgotten that there are women in the music industry. and brenda at coffee geek wants to talk about "the seriously negative sexist incidents that happen from time to time" in the open source software industry that she otherwise loves working in, but doesn't have the energy to cope with the backlash.


bluemilk reviews kate evans' book "the food of love: your formula for successful breastfeeding". lauredhel very competently challenges the notion that society has "gone too far" in supporting breastfeeding mothers:

Show me the people who won’t allow infant formula in an office fridge because it could be carrying disease.

Show me the mainstream media forums in which it’s just fine to call women “filthy”, “perverted”, “gross”, and “cow-like” because they formula feed.


who says feminists can't construct some wonderful food?! fifty-two acts brings us another batch of feminist cookies. the ex-expat continues to delight us at the hand mirror with her cake-decorating skills. and julie has us drooling over cupcakes.


here are a couple of book reviews. emma finds the feminism in charlotte bronte's jane eyre. sajbrfem reviews the female man:

It seemed to me quite early that the book was a kind of an SF 'what if' imagining of Virginia Woolf's Shakespeare's Sister idea. How do a woman's circumstances really effect her? What would the same woman be like if she was able to grow up in a world without patriarchy? "So plastic is humankind."

pavlov's cat writes about the lack of recognition for female novelists, both in the longlist and the shorlist of the miles franklin literary award:

No, it's this: that the masculine world view is still the norm, the feminine world view a lesser variant; that the masculine representation of women is still accepted as the truth, while female resistance to that representation is seen as some kind of wilful rebellion; that masculine values are still (mis)taken as universal values, and feminine ones seen as aberrant and unimportant in the world. Simone de Beauvoir still puts it best, even after all this time. 'There are two types of people in this world: human beings and women.'


yeah, that would be the colour, not the artist. and a little incongruous given this blog is so full of it (pink, i mean!). ms laurie, on the other hand, doesn't like pink:

I wonder, though, if knowing whether the baby is a boy or girl – and knowing only that really – for several months before they arrive is perhaps driving the seemingly relentless march of pinkification/blueifying of clothing, furniture, and accessories of baby boys and girls? If in the rush to do something in those months of waiting for the baby to arrive, people somehow feel the need to try and connect with the unknown, through identifying clearly that their things were chosen specifically for that child, not a child?

deborah finds that even the parent's car parks are... you guessed it, pink! on the related subject of colours, bluemilk talks about gender and the dressing of babies.


some final bits and pieces: kakariki at radical cross stitch does some awesome animation titled "votes for women". and our own steph from the hand mirror answers bluemilk's 10 questions about feminist motherhood in a way that has not been done before - she gives us the point of view of a (very hard-working and totally involved) stepmother:

I think this is true for many stepmothers who don’t have biological children, one day we are own person the next we have these little people that are suddenly in our lives. There’s no period of getting used to the concept of being a parent through pregnancy and no birth to officially ‘mark’ the point in which we become a parent. I think that’s why feel like I gatecrashing some exclusive party. Biological motherhood is placed so high on a pedestal that any questioning of the status is akin to wondering if there is a god. And by our very existence, stepmothers question the status of motherhood which is why our experience of motherhood is frequently belittled by the admonishment all stepmothers love to hate, ‘you’re not the child’s mother.’ I am aware I am not the child’s official mother, the child is aware that I am not her ‘real’ mother. Now that that has been clarified can everyone just move on?

and saving one of the best for last, julie of the hand mirror writes a letter to her son, in preparation for the inevitable chats about sex.

so that's it for this month. hope you enjoy the various contributions as much as i have.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

first prize

no substantial post today, it's been a busy evening. and afternoon. i'm the person who has never won anything substantial - given that i never gamble so have never bought lotto or the like, that really reduces my chances. but during my trip to the winter show a while back, i entered a competition run by a photography studio. all it involved was giving them my personal details. yeah, i generally don't do that, but i thought i'd risk it this time.

so seddon portrait house rings me a few weeks later to tell me i've won their grand prize, which involves $1,649 worth of free photography. i'm thinking there will no doubt be a catch, but they sent me all the details and it looked above board. what i'd won was one big framed photograph. today was the photo shoot, with me and the girls. we had some lovely photographs taken down by the river - well, i hope they're lovely. i'll see them next week at the "viewing".

i suspect that's where the hard sell will be happening, and their photographs sure aren't cheap. an upgrade to the next size from the prize i've won will cost me $700 ie counting the $1,649 free prize, that's one photograph costing $2,349. now maybe this is normal pricing for this kind of thing, and maybe there are plenty of people who pay this kind of money for photographs. but it sure seems expensive to me.

anyway, i do appreciate the fact that we'll get this portrait for free. and it was a fun experience. i just hope i'm not too much out of pocket this time next week!