Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Respectably-Dressed Sensible Demure Lady Stroll

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  • Kumara Republic, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    He blogs for Stuff too now? How do these people choose their left wing voices?! This is beyond token.

    I’m wondering if media bigwigs are aiming for some kind of Golden Mean/Average Fallacy, but in practice they just split readers into polar opposite camps?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5429 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    in practice they just split readers into polar opposite camps?

    If you call socially conservative politically retrograde white males who can't write for shit "polar opposites", then yes.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • kmont,

    Thank you *everyone* for a great thread, this is an amazing discussion and many thanks to Emma for sparking it and Russell for hosting it. I will have to get off my butt and go to Slutwalk.

    I have been incredibly fortunate to escape sexual assault in my life. I occasionally tell people about a certain 'long walk home' with a random in Dunedin when I was 19 that involved two sets of stairwells, the dark area behind two buildings, increasing fear, being physically restrained and mentally toyed with. When I felt well and truly threatened to screaming level I rationalised that it would be better to not scream and to imply that if he got back to my place he would get what he wanted. I had drunk possibly about 9 drinks after an argument with my boyfriend and no doubt he considered me a target. I strongly suspect that he had targeted women in the same way before, in fact I bloody know it in my bones.
    When we got to my house he tried it on and in no uncertain terms I let him know that if he didn't leave I would scream blue murder and my flatmate would beat the shit out of him.

    He left.

    I think the experience helped me be better able to understand that men who do not respect my boundaries mentally or physically can be very dangerous. Smaller things escalate and you can be deliberately set up to think that you asked for it.

    Having said that, I have had so many great fantastic and respectful men in my life. My first boyfriend was left in a sleep out with a drunk me by a couple of my friends and while getting hot and bothered I said hesitantly and quietly 'I am uncomfortable', he clocked immediately what he was dealing with and cooled it without complaint. What a champ and a gent. He was older than me, a Westy who was on PD for drag-racing, who I met in a club while far too young and wearing not a lot frankly. But he understood how to be a man, my mother would have been far more comfortable had she known just what a decent guy he was!

    Far too many of my friends have been sexually and physically assaulted in their lives so it is really important to change our culture, which is essentially a culture that enables rapists and shames 'sluts'.

    wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 485 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Sometimes I just want to weep. How do people get paid to write that poorly?

    The phrase "not a single feather of evidence was plucked from the goose of truth" rather stood out for me.

    Seriously?

    I'm only just recovering from seeing Hilary Calvert on Backbenchers and now Pagani lobs that one at me? Shit's too weird for me.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    ** For clarity: There is absolutely no way I consider this ‘giving in’. Sexual acts are still rape when one or more person doesn’t want to. ALWAYS.

    Consent is a very elusive concept to pin down, and as much as we can deny and exploit that leeway between the word of law and human experience, we will seldom escape our conscience. There are some heartening admissions on this thread, and as I read I feel I’d be disingenuous and doing a disservice by not sharing.

    When I was sixteen I attended one of those barn parties they hold out in the wops. It was the first party I’d attended, I’d never been properly intoxicated or seen people in such a state, and so armed with 6 Toohey’s light courtesy of mum – I wasn’t at any point in the evening categorically drunk.

    As the evening hit it’s crescendo, I was accosted by a girl from school who jumped on me and thrust her tongue down my throat. I managed to extricate myself from the position a few times, but finally rather than playing fugitive, I relinquished, and let her tongue have its way with my throat, and despite the taste of old booze and vomit I let my natural virginal hormonal curiosity get the better of me, and began touching her.

    The notion of consent never occurred to me as her tongue was ensconced in my throat more or less throughout, perhaps she told me to stop, perhaps I blacked that part out, but I had no clear recollection of any significant protest, at least so I told myself. At some point she decided she needed to vomit again, and that was the end of it (or so I thought).

    On returning to school the following week I was confronted by her friend, one of my oldest acquaintances, who accused me of virtually raping her friend. I was taken aback and naturally rushed to defend myself, given that this old friend hadn’t been there and possibly couldn’t appreciate the circumstances, I maintained that I didn’t see it that way, but given that I was only fraction as drunk as the girl, I’d be lying if I maintained that at that moment I didn’t know better.

    I did rape her. Despite her lack of protest, despite the degree of apparent enthusiasm, I knew that at no point was she in a fit state to issue informed consent. Ultimately I admit I took advantage of her and her situation. This is wrong and I deeply regret having done that to her.

    What stays with me is how passive I was about the whole thing. You’d think I’d have shouted, or jumped out of the chair – dude touched my cock! – but I didn’t. And I thought that was instructive.

    When I was 20, a friend and I took the dreaded lysergic, he returned to his apartment and told me to come over an hour later, which I duly did. When I arrived I found another friend with him. Acid kicking in, they informed me they wanted to have sex with me, I tried to escape, but given the psychological effects of the drug and not having a key to the only exit, I was in no state to either escape or defend myself adequately.

    After what seemed like hours of running around the loft I gave up, succumbed, found a seat, which seemed like my best course of defense. I remained passive for the duration of what went down which ended up being a couple of hours until they got bored of my total lack of arousal. It was in no way physically painful and pales in comparison to what Craig endured, it was simply, in a word, humiliating. Subsequently I always reasoned that either it wasn’t that serious or that my lack of aggressive defence equated to a degree of culpability on my part.

    For a long time it was just stored in my memory as ‘that thing that happened’ and it wasn’t until about five years after that I finally resigned myself to categorizing it as rape. I confronted the perpetrator, he apologized, somehow that will never be enough, just as my own admission above isn’t. But I guess the more these experiences are shared, the better these situations can be avoided. so thanks Emma for starting this thread, and everyone for being so candid, good on you.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    <i>I further suspect that you would not say the same about John Key, who has had his own moments this year, not least in the company of Tony Veitch. Please, stop it.</i>

    Good night, Russell. Going to bed before I hit enter instead of delete and live to regret it.

    I’m going to ask two things of you though, and would like you to accept they’re made in good faith:

    1) If you sincerely think I’ve defamed Henry, or exposed you to legal risk in any way, shape or form please delete the offending comment.

    2) When you’ve done that, please delete the comment a reasonable person could read as a claim I’ve called anyone a rapist here. I don’t like being exposed to potential defamation actions any more than you do.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    2) When you’ve done that, please delete the comment a reasonable person could read as a claim I’ve called anyone a rapist here. I don’t like being exposed to potential defamation actions any more than you do

    I felt it was a profoundly unhelpful way for the discussion to go, and I had to be firm about that. I wanted a couple of hours off and I didn't want to leave that unaddressed.

    I do have serious misgivings about the careless use of the phrase "rape culture", and I thought yours was careless. "Rape" is a powerful word and even if you knew what you meant, not everyone would. It was an inflammatory statement that was of no service to the discussion. I had to be firm about that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I’m only just recovering from seeing Hilary Calvert on Backbenchers

    How long does it take for TVNZ to put that stuff up on demand?

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2932 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Cloister home...

    I’d blame the nuns for global fucking warming if I could figure an angle...

    ...it's all that black - absorbs all the light and traps the heat - then radiates it out to the surrounding area, ergo: local warming. Not too mention all that driving around on Vespers!

    the old grey Goose...

    “not a single feather of evidence was plucked from the goose of truth”

    I believe that is the standard pâté line...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7943 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I do have serious misgivings about the careless use of the phrase “rape culture”, and I thought yours was careless.

    Well, that’s your call. I did have a rather precise point to make which you made it crystal clear would be deleted on sight.

    I’ll repeat something Emma said at the top of this thread, and throw out a modest proposal I’d like you to read while taking a very deep breath:

    . I’d like to see ONE discussion where people talk about what they – and everyone else – can do about rape prevention.

    Perhaps, just perhaps, rapists won’t rape when we all live in a media culture where men like Henry and Michael Laws aren’t enabled – and rewarded – for derogating women like Stephanie Mills who don’t conform to their heterosexual white middle class cis-male privileged idea of how “real” women look, think and act. (And let’s remember what cooked Henry’s hash at TVNZ – it wasn’t his sexism and homophobia, but racism directed at the Governor-General and a senior Indian politician with a funny name.)

    I grant you, “rape culture” is an incredibly confronting concept – and it’s even controversial among feminists for all kinds of reasons. I’ve never had sex with a woman, let alone raped anyone. But I have perpetuated a “rape culture” by making incredibly offensive comments about women, and even truculently refusing to own my own privilege and arseholism, (“Gee, get a sense of humour” sound familiar? Ugh…)

    I’m so grateful for women like Emma, Megan, Deborah, Tracey Mac and Jackie who’ve just challenged me to be better – and made the love damn tough. I’m grateful to you for deciding Public Address was going to be a femme-safe corner of the net. That didn’t just happen by magic. This community had to decide to make it that way.

    I’d sure like to embed them at 60 Minutes and Random House after watching that Henry advertorial because there’s a hell of a lot of not getting it going down at Paul's house.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Perhaps, just perhaps, rapists won’t rape when we all live in a media culture where men like Henry and Michael Laws aren’t enabled – and rewarded – for derogating women like Stephanie Mills who don’t conform to their heterosexual white middle class cis-male privileged idea of how “real” women look, think and act.

    I've heard a politician in Italy make that argument in a public forum not a month ago, using almost the exact same words (well, different names, obviously). For what it's worth.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Could we please have a local Godwin's law where you lose when Paul Henry or Michael Laws are invoked as the Moby Dicks (possible pun) of New Zealand.

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    The thing is, so many things go into what we term “rape culture”. It isn’t just the physical act itself, the victim-blaming and slut-shaming. It’s the idea that women are, on some level, to some people, property. To be taken, to be shared, to be, as someone up thread mentioned, “saved”. Mostly from ourselves.

    When we live in a world where people feel comfortable making rape jokes (and on a recent visit to my family, I had to literally bite my tongue to stop myself screaming at them that the jokes they were making were not OK), where women’s appearances are up for grabs, for discussion, where our actions are analysed and dissected – as often by us as women as by men – for meeting the “correct moral standard of women”. This all plays into rape culture – because it takes people’s license away.

    An example. A couple of years ago, I had a very short-lived relationship with a man I meet on a train. By short, I mean, well, one day. He was nice, we had fun, it was great. I didn’t tell a number of my friends about it, because I knew they would think that I was a slut – I didn’t know anything about him other than his name, and I had no desire to. And the act of not telling people made me feel bad about myself. Because why shouldn’t I scream from the rooftops that I’d had fun for a day? Because I’d have to justify it….I was lonely, or needed affection, or whatever. Because God forbid I just Felt Like It.

    This all plays into rape culture – because our bodies aren’t our own. They are, on some level, public. Last night, I talked to a friend, who I hope will come on to expand on what I am going to say next. Talking about some of the comments upthread, and over at The Lady Garden, he was saying that by minimising the impact of rape other than male on female, you actually make rape on women lesser too. Because it’s as if if that by raping a woman, you take her magical special female essence, that only girls have.

    Which is all to say (Long comment is Long) I understand where Craig is coming from, if slightly harshly expressed.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Martin Lindberg,

    Could we please have a local Godwin’s law where you lose when Paul Henry or Michael Laws are invoked as the Moby Dicks (possible pun) of New Zealand.

    I'll quite happily not heap that insult upon the injury whales already have to endure. Anyway, where that dim-witted duo are concerned a more appropriate Melville novel would be The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    This all plays into rape culture – because our bodies aren’t our own. They are, on some level, public. Last night, I talked to a friend, who I hope will come on to expand on what I am going to say next. Talking about some of the comments upthread, and over at The Lady Garden, he was saying that by minimising the impact of rape other than male on female, you actually make rape on women lesser too. Because it’s as if if that by raping a woman, you take her magical special female essence, that only girls have.

    And that essence makes them the custodians of everyone's morality, which is why they aren't allowed to be sexually agressive - or in some respects sexual at all. This wouldn't be a bad place to link the documentary __Women's Bodies__, about the portrayal of women in Italian media. 24 minutes, with subtitles.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I do have serious misgivings about the careless use of the phrase "rape culture"

    I have my problems with some of the use of "rape culture", as I do with a bunch of other terms (mansplaining, 'bingo squares') that I feel are sometimes used to dismiss people or shut down discussions. But only sometimes.

    There's a link in the original column to an explanation of rape culture, which is long, but well worth reading. In particular, we have a dominant idea of what rape is like, what a rape victim looks like, where she will be and what she will be doing, which is completely wrong. As that Shakesville link points out, a woman is nine times more likely to be raped at home, or in a friend's home, than when she's out on the street. Yet the ways we suggest women restrict their lives in order to keep themselves safe are based on the myth, not the reality.

    Also. From a US study of convicted rapists which I can't find again, two things. First, people who commit sexual assaults believe sexual assault is far more common than it is. They normalise their behaviour. They think most men do it, and if they don't it's just because they're too chicken-shit. So every rape joke, every shitty sexist remark, every bit of victim-blaming plays into that delusion. And so does every silence in the face of those remarks.

    Secondly, and this was really hard for me, even most acquaintance sexual assaults are carried out by someone who's done it before, and will do it again. So even if I can cope with the situation, even if a friend helps get me out of it, what about the next person?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    And that essence makes them the custodians of everyone’s morality, which is why they aren’t allowed to be sexually agressive – or in some respects sexual at all.

    I believe this is the "internal chastity orb" Emma and I cackle over occasionally.

    I will watch that doco when I am not at work.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Emma Hart,

    I have my problems with some of the use of “rape culture”, as I do with a bunch of other terms (mansplaining, ‘bingo squares’) that I feel are sometimes used to dismiss people or shut down discussions. But only sometimes.

    Thanks. I have similar qualms. And yes, only sometimes.

    I hope you didn’t mind me issuing the edict last night. I was just concerned that a good and productive discussion was not going to be helped.

    Edit: I'm all too aware that my attempt to politely remonstrate over what I thought was a careless (not least, with claims about a well-known woman that were simply wrong in fact) contributed to the end of The Stroppery, so I wanted to be sensitive. But almost every other local blog discussion about Slutwalk has turned into a clusterfuck in one way or another, and the fact that this one is good and useful and full of experience is a minor miracle.

    Anyway, over to you.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan, in reply to Emma Hart,

    I have my problems with some of the use of “rape culture”, as I do with a bunch of other terms (mansplaining, ‘bingo squares’) that I feel are sometimes used to dismiss people or shut down discussions. But only sometimes.

    I actually have more problem with mansplaining, as it is so often used to keep men out of the conversation. But yeah.

    They normalise their behaviour. They think most men do it, and if they don’t it’s just because they’re too chicken-shit. So every rape joke, every shitty sexist remark, every bit of victim-blaming plays into that delusion. And so does every silence in the face of those remarks.

    That's actually incredibly frightening.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    it's all that black - absorbs all the light and traps the heat - then radiates it out to the surrounding area, ergo: local warming

    Genius

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19707 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I was just concerned that a good and productive discussion was not going to be helped.

    Well, I'll quite happily withdraw from the discussion if I'm being destructive -- and no, folks, that's not a flounce. I've got a piece to re-write from scratch in an hour, because I'm increasingly uncomfortable doing my planned critique of Henry's 60 Minutes profile for PAR.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    I actually have more problem with mansplaining

    I'll be happy never to hear that fucking idiotic word again. But hey, it's just me.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Well, I’ll quite happily withdraw from the discussion if I’m being destructive – and no, folks, that’s not a flounce.

    No, Craig, you have more right than most of us to be here in this discussion. You are truly valued. But I have made a couple of moderation calls where I felt what you did was unhelpful. As I said, I felt I had to be firm about it.

    Paul Henry’s an easy target. But if you’re going to propose that he’s “the acceptable face of rape culture”, then you have to say the same thing, and more, about John Key sitting next to Tony bloody Veitch and scoring women out of 10. And you quite quickly reach the point where it’s not all that useful to explore the issue by pinning rape names on personalities. Talk about what was wrong with what they said.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    doing my planned critique of Henry's 60 Minutes profile for PAR

    My sympathies. Might be easier to just focus on the decor of his wee bach..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19707 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    I'll be happy never to hear that fucking idiotic word again. But hey, it's just me.

    It's not just you, you know. And it's not only that it's used to push men out of discussions. It's also that it conceals the fact that women do exactly the same thing. AND, it appears to mean "patronising", and we already have a word for that, it's "patronising".

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

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