Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: It's not OK to just make stuff up

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  • Sacha,

    Absolut cocktails tend to corrupt absolutely.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Sorry no time for a detailed response, but I'd encourage Danielle to re-read River's post which seemed pretty responsibly couched to me. Women have considerable power in the emotional domain of most relationships, just as men tend to have more physical, economic, and political power.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Fair enough, but it sounded like you were throwing down for an academic face-off. And without wanting to come across as a recent immigrant from Philistia, appeals to authority have their own risks.

    No, not academic, though it certainly wouldn't hurt. But I'd welcome as much, or more, informed opinion from police, womens refuge, people running Living without Violence courses, survivors, perpertrators etc. Or qualified researchers looking from the outside in.

    Those people all have a story to tell. I'm just not aware that Ralston fits any of those descriptions, so I'm not sure that he does.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    I am not generally someone who posts before reading things thoroughly, Sacha. I've read that post about 10 times and I'm still irritated. This is stuff you hear a *lot* in feminist webspace from unsympathetic commenters. Two sides to every story, takes two to tango, frustration, helplessness, 'goading' into violence, anecdata about how a woman they know 'sought out' violence so it was really her problem, let's not get bogged down in statistics... anyone up for a round of MRA bingo?

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks,

    Er... I'm sorry, I've missed something here.

    <paraphrase>It's not okay to hit your partner or your kids (for whateverjustification youe care to raise) but it is okay to ask for help</paraphrase>: What part of this message is gender specific and prevents the other gender from watching, listening and acting?

    Yeah I had a similar thought. There are plenty of non gender specific statements in those ads, as I recall. The only gender specific one I can think of right now is the "It's not okay to force your gilfriend to have sex." That's one comment in one version of the ad.

    And as JLM pointed out the statistics are quoted cover family violence in general, not just men hitting woman.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1165 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I think the Ralston article just showed what an unreconstructed Neanderthal wingnuts he is. I get the impression that that's about standard for NZ broadcast and print media, though.

    Though I guess he kept his gob shut while working for a state broadcaster under Labour.

    In some countries, journalism attracts people with progressive attitudes. Why not here?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks,

    This is stuff you hear a *lot* in feminist webspace from unsympathetic commenters. Two sides to every story, takes two to tango,

    That last phrase in particular is annoying in this context. If River wanted to make a reasonably couched observation, it would be better to leave out trite phrases like "it takes two to tango".

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1165 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    it used to, but they got old (cough Rosemary McLeod cough)

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Jonty,

    Ralston should stick to writing about his technical incompetence and his boozy social life, as he does ad infinitum in his Listener column.

    Katikati • Since Mar 2007 • 102 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Having said that, we do still seem to accept female-on-male domestic violence, and wonder why he doesn't just get out. But I wonder if the social context is different i.e. it's not tied into society-wide power structures, and female-on-male domestic violence is still seen as a matter for individuals to sort out. Hence our reluctance to even acknowledge the problem, maybe.

    Without having any empirical data to go on, I also have to wonder if there's an element of 'sticks and stones will break your bones, but names will never hurt you'. Which is kind of bullshit, and I'm saying that as someone who isn't proud to admit I'm perfectly capable of reducing a child to hysterics without getting within arm's length.

    You see someone hit a partner in the face, that's (relatively) easy to deal with -- it's pretty hard to ignore an arm full of bruises or a face that looks like a raw steak. Nasty pervasive little mind-games, the snide put-downs designed to make your partner feel small and powerless? Well, how many times have we all said people on the receiving end of psychological abuse/bullying just need to "toughen up" and stop being "so damn sensitive".

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

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Well, how many times have we all said people on the receiving end of psychological abuse/bullying just need to "toughen up" and stop being "so damn sensitive".

    And to pick an argument with myself, sometimes that's an entirely appropriate response -- fairly often, bullies will STFU the instant you stop giving these psychic vampires the validation they're after. But that doesn't mean that there aren't people out there being subject to the kind of emotional terrorism NOBODY can stand up to forever, and it's no less real because it doesn't have physical symptoms.

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

  • Steve Withers,

    I lump Bill Ralston in with Garth George and others who shoot from the lip without caring too overly much about the wider picture. So of course these people have columns in daily newspapers because while they confirm prejudice and preconception for many of those who read them, they also spark useful debate, provoke some thought (my hope) and - of course - sell papers.

    Having worked in prisons, I know very well that most people who thump the wife to a pulp do blame her and it may even be that she did her bit to provoke it as some people are twisted in that way. But at the end of the day the swinging fists belong to someone....and it's usually a man.

    Raltson can cry "PC" if he likes....but it won't change that simple fact.

    One of the reasons domestic violence gets worse as we get older is that the toll of 'life mistakes", including alcohol and other drugs, accumulates over time and reduces some people's ability to restrain themselves.

    The law holds the owners of the fists are accountable for what they do with them.

    You aren't smug, Russell. If anyone is smug it's Ralston and his own preference for preconception and prejudice over some very simple and obvious realities.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 312 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    There are two ad campaigns on TV that regularly make me cry.

    The first is John Kirwan's series as the face of depression and mental illness in New Zealand. They are compelling ads and from personal experience I know how much of what he says is true. The ads are designed with careful thought to try and help those needing the help,

    and that is good .

    The second is the "It's not OK" series. Again the ads are well crafted, the message is clear, the voices and faces carry so much feeling in the words they deliver. But what makes me cry is that it's needed at all in New Zealand. The ads try very hard to help those at risk (men) to avoid doing harm to others,

    and that is good .

    What make me angry about Ralston's drivel is that it seeks to avoid addressing a real problem. By attacking the campaign Ralston is also trying to deny the problem of domestic violence by males on females in society. To put it another way Ralston want us to hide away from the harm that is being done to our families,

    and that is evil .

    Ralston selectively quotes research and distorts and ignores the data collected in many countries as well as New Zealand disgusts me. I find it very hard to understand why someone would want to undermine the work being done to reduce domestic violence.

    I personally think the ads are wonderful. They show that New Zealand is slowly but surely growing up as a culture and we are starting to take responsibility for our actions. Russell and the others who gave their time should be commended.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    Just out of interest, what ads are out there with a clear focus on females with regard to behaviour or thought process? My memory is about as reliable as my students. There's the domestic violence ones targetting men, the depression ones with John Kirwan, all the drink driving and speeding ones targetting men. I can think of the sunburn one showing a women with melanoma ??? is there a need to look at the sum of what is appearing on TV and maybe mix things up a bit? That might come across as being token in some cases but as a male it can be a bit negative seeing how freakin dumb NZ males must be on the tellie several times every night. Mind you I could always watch the news and see how dumb males are the world over every night.

    An idle question for an idle tuesday mind.

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    That should read "woman". How can I explain the difference to my students when I balls it up myself.

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    I feel a long comment coming on, apologies in advance.

    That's why we don't see much in the way of , for example, HIV prevention campiagns targetted for straight men - they are such a low prevalence group in NZ that it is not a good use of resources

    And the attitude that AIDS is a 'gay disease' is one of the reasons the rate of heterosexual infection is as high as it is, at least in the developed world.

    Think of the drink-driving campaigns. The main focus is clearly young men. That focus didn't change when they ran one featuring a woman, but it did acknowledge that the problem is not confined to young men. I do seem to remember it causing some controversy. So yes, I would like to see maybe one ad dealing with female violence, one dealing with gay violence, but in saying that, I still believe the focus should be on male violence.

    And on refreshing, I see that Craig's just said part of what I was going to say in response to Deborah. Yes, violence that causes a large amount of physical damage, violence that becomes murder, is more serious but that doesn't mean that violence carried out by women somehow matters less because 'weak little women don't hit as hard'.

    we do still seem to accept female-on-male domestic violence, and wonder why he doesn't just get out

    I don't think that is what people wonder. I might well be wrong. People still laugh at the idea of a woman beating a man, or assume he must have done something to deserve it, or wonder why he doesn't smack her back, or assume the violence is inconsequential because women can't hit hard, and he should just toughen up.

    The bottom line is that we still excuse violence by women. Either it's not serious because it's not as physically damaging (same reason we're still about a decade behind in dealing with the way girls bully as compared to boys), or social conditioning just doesn't allow us to get our heads around a picture of man as victim and woman as aggressor. I have a strong belief that expanding the paradigm of male behaviour would be good for everybody.

    Just as in the ads it's men standing up (figuratively, literally they're mostly sitting down) and saying to men 'it's not okay', maybe we need to have women standing up and saying to women 'it's not okay'. It's not okay to blame it on the patriarchy. It's not okay to say it doesn't matter because you can't bench-press your own weight.

    When I was thirteen, I had a boyfriend, Pickles. Looking back on that relationship as a 37 year old, it was love, absolutely, an extremely tumultuous two-year relationship. We were both people who'd grown up in extremely violent households. The first time we got into a serious fight, I hit him. As far as dispute resolution went, that was the model I had.

    It didn't matter what the odds were of which one of us belting the other. It didn't matter that he was two years older than me and male and therefore statistically more likely to hold the power in the relationship. And it didn't matter whether I hurt him or not. I hit him and it was wrong. Everything else is just excuses. Accepting that was what allowed me to change my own behaviour.

    But let's not detract from the true focus of Ralston's dickishness.

    Just out of interest, what ads are out there with a clear focus on females with regard to behaviour or thought process?

    There are the 'if you get drunk you'll get raped' ads, those are great...

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Just out of interest, what ads are out there with a clear focus on females with regard to behaviour or thought process?

    Those "stick with the girls" ones (which may be from a Wellington local body).

    I regard them as unbelievably patronising. Adults of either sex should be able to go out solo in our cities if they feel like it. And make choices about who they interact with socially.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    men have poured out their feelings of utter frustration and helplessness at the behaviour of their partner goading them towards violence
    The thread only hit page three before getting one of these posts? Yeesh.

    Cut him a little slack Danielle. I don't think it was meant as "she provoked me so I had to beat her".

    I think part of the issue is that people need to learn how to deal with frustration in a way that doesn't involve violence or abuse. That's one reason I find the ads so compelling, they identify precisely the point above, that yes you will get frustrated in a relationship and yes you will get angry but abuse and violence are not acceptable ways of dealing with that frustration.

    Frustration will occur in relationships. I think what he's saying is that a lot of men seem to have no way of dealing with frustration other than violence. That is the helplessness of it, not that "they were provoked" but instead that "they have no tools for dealing with frustrating situations".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Stevens,

    Emma, forgive me if I've misunderstood you, but in NZ heterosexual HIV infections are a tiny percentage of the whole - you seem to be implying there is some large hidden heterosexually transmitted epidmic - this is simply not the case.

    In the developing world, yes it is, but not in most of the developed world, and certainly not in NZ.
    The Otago AIDS Epidemiology Group puts ot authorative data on HIV in NZ and this clearly shows the prevalence sits in the gay male world, specifically in Auckland even.

    - Didn't meanto hijack the thread folks, just needed to clarify that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 230 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    One of the reasons domestic violence gets worse as we get older is that the toll of 'life mistakes", including alcohol and other drugs, accumulates over time and reduces some people's ability to restrain themselves.

    Wait a mo', Steve, I'm pretty damn sure you didn't mean to go there...

    There are the 'if you get drunk you'll get raped' ads, those are great...

    yeah, I wondered if they should have changed the tag-line on that one to "It's not the drinking, it's how you're acting like a total whore."

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

  • Evan Yates,

    "they have no tools for dealing with frustrating situations"

    "That's it! F*ck youse all. I'm off down the pub..." seems to be the all-purpose tool.

    Forgive my (semi) facetious one-liner, but I actually used to see it a fair bit.

    Hamiltron, Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Nov 2006 • 197 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    yeah, I wondered if they should have changed the tag-line on that one to "It's not the drinking, it's how you're acting like a total whore."

    It's bad that I totally LOLed then, right?

    Emma, forgive me if I've misunderstood you, but in NZ heterosexual HIV infections are a tiny percentage of the whole - you seem to be implying there is some large hidden heterosexually transmitted epidmic - this is simply not the case.

    No, Michael, that's not what I said. I'm saying that if individuals take the attitude that 'AIDS is a gay disease therefore, being straight I don't have to worry', that can lead to taking stupid risks. I'm no more saying that there's a straight AIDS epidemic in NZ than I'm saying there's an epidemic of female violence.

    Also concentrating on AIDS as 'a gay disease' can lead to some really nasty stereotyping. Though I've always wondered why the mentality that AIDS is God's punishment for homosexuality doesn't lead to the assumption that lesbians are Gods' Chosen People.

    Threadjack over?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • ThoughtSpur,

    "And Ralston's declaration that the campaign was "a waste of money" appears to be as idle as the rest of his blathering. According to the last monitoring research on the campaign, 95% of New Zealanders were aware of it, and more than two thirds of those interviewed said that, as a result of the campaign they had spoken to family of friends about family violence. And, of course, the reporting of family violence to police jumped 29%."

    All good, though awareness of advertising is meaningless unless it translates to action. The job of advertising is to alter behaviour. In the case of this campaign one would assume that the most desirable behaviour is to have all people (regardless of gender) think twice before behaving violently (in any of its manifestations). A decline in the incidence of domestic violence would indicate success, not simply an increase in reporting - which, at first blush, suggests an increase in the acts themselves. The data just becomes more data to debate - 'torture statistics long enough and they will confess to anything'.

    As someone who works in marketing communications it irritates me to see such large amounts of money being spent in mass media when more effective solutions to the problem should be and could be found.

    Advertising messages constructed like Moses coming down from Mt Sinai with: 'Thou Shalt Not's' just don't work. They are not persuasive. That is why such murky results emerge in this case and others, like the LTSA campaigns - if prosecutions increase then the campaign can only be judged a failure - to alter behaviour and not just awareness or attitude.

    Whatever your ideology is it isn't ok to behave violently. But the spat between you and Ralston is hardly a beacon of pacific manners.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2007 • 15 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    Just out of interest, what ads are out there with a clear focus on females with regard to behaviour or thought process?

    Lots. Just sticking to public service ads, there are also a lot about health and parenting, exhorting women to breastfeed, get various checkups for the sake of your whanau, don't be afraid to talk to your kid's teacher, give your kids healthy food, ya de ya. They seem to be very firmly targeted at Maori and Pacific women - I'd be interested to see how well they go down with their target audience. There must be a "thanks for telling us how crap we are at all these things" factor.

    A fair proportion of the mental health ads feature women, as do the anti-smoking ones. And the anti-binge drinking ones, as pointed out above. The earlier ones, with the drunk/sober doppelgangers, were a bit less victim-blaming.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    The job of advertising is to alter behaviour.

    Sample of one. The campaign is a success!

    I am NOT a violent person I have hit three people in anger in my 47 years of life, and tried to hit 4 but the 4th was too fast for me to catch. The last time I physically hit someone was when I was 15.

    But I can get angry and I can shout and rant with the best of them.

    I also scared the crap out of my wife once by putting my fist through a piece 3.6 metre gib that we were trying to hang on a sloping ceiling, it fell and broke and I relieved my frustration by punching it.

    My wife had never seen me punch anything and seeing me get violent really did scare her. It did feel awefully good to kill that bloody piece of gib board but I really should have considered the effect it had on her to see me release frustration in that way. In short - it was NOT OK.

    The ads resonated with me and yes my behaviour has changed since.

    Oh and my wife isn't scared of me and we did get the ceiling gibbed eventually - after a break and a new plan.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

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