If Trudeau was female, would the media be reporting how hot he is?

October 23rd, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The muscled, shirtless man stands facing the camera, fists up in a boxer’s pose, with a large tattoo of the Earth surrounded by a raven visible on his left shoulder. The photograph caused social media to swoon on Tuesday over Canada’s newly minted prime minister, Justin Trudeau.

The day after Trudeau’s stunning victory over Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the global focus was not on the Liberal leader’s promise to withdraw Canada from the combat mission against Islamic State, or his pledge to run a C$10 billion ($11.4 billion) annual budget deficit for three years to invest in infrastructure, but on the apparently universal agreement that he was not just good looking, but model handsome.

I’ve got no problem with people and media stating the obvious – that Trudeau is good looking.

However I suspect if he was Justine Trudeau, and she received the same amount of commentary on how attractive she is, we’d have endless lectures and denunciations about how sexist and wrong this is.

Describing someone as a former hockey player is not sexism

April 16th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

In her letter to Henry, Blue said female representation in Parliament had been stuck at around 30 per cent since the first MMP election in 1996, and even went backwards at the 2014 election.

In her letter to Henry, Blue said female representation in Parliament had been stuck at around 30 per cent since the first MMP election in 1996, and even went backwards at the 2014 election. 

Blue questioned whether lawyer and public servant Vicky Robertson, who is the new chief executive of the Ministry for the Environment would have been described as a “former hockey player” in a media headline if she was a man.

There was still “a lot of work to be done,” Blue said. 

There definitely is still significant sexism in NZ, where women in work get judged far more on what they wear, look like etc. However this example from Jackie Blue is not a good one, as I am sure a former NZ representative rugby player would also get a headline of “Ex All Black becomes Chief Executive”. In fact David Kirk is almost always referred to as an ex All Black, even in the context of his very successful business career.

The article I saw at Stuff said this about Vicky Robertson:

A rising star at the Treasury is quitting to head the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) as it prepares for overhaul of the Resource Management Act.

The State Services Commission on Tuesday confirmed Vicky Robertson, who is deputy chief executive at the Treasury, had been appointed chief executive of MfE, replacing Dr Paul Reynolds, who quit last November. …

The mother of two is a former national hockey (Black Sticks) representative and has competed at national level in mountain biking.

At Treasury Robertson was responsible for the corporate and financial operations, as well as monitoring the Crown’s commercial investments and debt management.

Robertson, the first woman to head Treasury’s tax unit, was seconded to the United Nations Development Programme in New York in 2010, where she led a strategic and structural review of the organisation.

The sporting mention was minor, and I think of interest.

If there was anything I would criticise it is the mention of being a “mother of two”. You don’t see many male executives described by how many children they are the father of.

UPDATE: It has been pointed out that the reference to “mother of two” comes from Vicky’s own bio on the Treasury website, presumably authored by her.

Cunliffe calls Collins a trout

November 22nd, 2013 at 3:55 pm by David Farrar

David Cunliffe blogs:

A couple of months ago I was asked to write a post for the Ruminator and, rather optimistically, I agreed.The original brief was to respond to a post by Judith Collins. My post was going to be about snapper, not trout. But considering that issue, along with Judith’s leadership aspirations, has floundered, I’ll try another hook.

What is extraordinary is this is a written blog post – not an off the cuff remark.


This is quite correct. If a male National MP had called a female Labour MP a trout, almost every female Labour MP would have done press releases condemning the sexism.

This is not the first time Cunliffe has made an off colour remark about Judith Collins. he previously said:

The controversial radio host asked Cunliffe if he ever contemplated who he would mate with if he was on a plane and everyone else in the world suddenly died.

Cunliffe answered: “Well, I have thought that if Judith Collins was the last woman on Earth, the species would probably become extinct.”

He seems to have a fixation about Judith.

Labour VP calls Goff out

August 10th, 2013 at 6:30 am by David Farrar

Andrea Vance at Stuff reports:

Labour MP Phil Goff is under fire for a “misogynistic” barb directed at Attorney-General Chris Finlayson.

During a parliamentary debate on new spying laws yesterday, the pair traded insults about election defeats.

Goff mocked Finlayson for being “beaten on three occasions, each time by a woman”.

“I’ve won 11 times and I’ve lost once, but the member in the chair [Finlayson] has lost three times,” he said.

“You would think that would be a humbling experience, but the arrogance of the minister shows no sign at all that he’s learnt from being beaten on three occasion, each time by a woman member of Parliament.”

A pretty silly thing to say. Goff obviously feels that losing to a woman MP is obviously more humbling that losing to a male MP – otherwise you wouldn’t mention the gender at all.

The insult created a social media stir, with tweeters branding Goff misogynistic.

Megan Hands asked: “Why does @phil_goff have such 1950s views?”

Shaun Willis tweeted: “Neanderthal man is very much alive within the Labour party.”

Kate Sutton tweeted that the Mt Roskill MP’s remarks were “bad form”.

“Its that kind of sexism the Labour Party doenst [sic] need,” she said.

Now it should be disclosed that all three commenters have political connections. Megan and Shaun are Young Nats and Kate is in Labour. What is even more newsworthy is that Kate was the Womens Vice President of the Labour Party for six years – so having her call Goff out in public as making sexist comments is remarkable.

 Goff said the storm was “utter crap” and he was only being accurate.

“It was just a statement of fact. I could have said ‘beaten by a Labour MP on three occasions’. I didn’t really think about it,” he said.

“Nobody in the House took offence at it, least of all my female colleagues. So this is a beat-up … I think it’s drawing a long bow.

“I’ve been a member of Parliament for 30 years and I’ve never been accused of being a misogynist.”

Well you have now, by your party’s own former Womens VP.

And the reality is that Goff didn’t say Labour MP. He said a woman VP, and there was no need to sa the gender unless you thought it was worse to lose to a “girl”. Think of it like this. If Finlayson had lost to a Maori MP, would Goff be saying Finlayson should be more humble because he lost to a Maori MP? Of course not.


Angry journalists

June 20th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Deborah Hill-Cone wrote in the Herald on Monday:

As a young female journalist I was probably sadly before my time in shamelessly trying to schmooze my way to notoriety of any kind like an overpainted attention-seeking goose. Back then, how I would have loved to have been in Andrea Vance’s position, the famous Fairfax journalist who brought down a Cabinet minister. How glorious to be feted for your special powers of turning a powerful man to mush, leading him to say he “made errors of judgment” while in your thrall.

Whether their relationship was romantic or not scarcely seems to matter. Although it does seem disingenuous for Vance to now play the victim. Whatever the background, Vance still exhibited a degree of influence – for that week anyway she was more powerful than any politician – that made her the envy of her colleagues.

Especially those who are a little too dangerously in love with the romantic image of their profession – they are the noble crusader, the Katharine Hepburn wisecracker, the reincarnation of Martha Gellhorn. Even if these days being a female reporter is more like being an “It” girl than a hack.

You have to be good at putting on the different personas that are expected of you, whether that be vampish, coquettish or as “enchantingly nasty” as Rita Skeeter. Most often young female journalists still seem to be cast in these starring roles by older tweedy men. It is in the classic tradition of Pygmalion – anyone remember Maddie in House of Cards?

I wonder how many female reporters in the parliamentary Press Gallery have unresolved “daddy issues”. (Oh I know they will all deny this strenuously, they are tough, independent and staunch. I’d have said the same, too.) I just can’t help thinking it would be progress if female journalists were writing their own parts rather than continuing to play the role of temptress to male politicians.

It is no surprise that this outraged a huge number of female journalists, and rightly so. It’s offensive to both Andrea and her colleagues. Katie Bradford-Crozier wrote a great response:

I’m angry. I’m not sure what’s come over New Zealand in recent weeks. It’s like we’ve decided to take out the prize for holding the most sexist and misogynist views towards women in the media.

As a FEMALE (I’m also blonde and quite small, but don’t hold that against me) reporter with just ten years experience working in a variety of media in New Zealand, Australia and London, I’m gobsmacked. Yes, I’m over 30. So in the words of some commentators, my career is over.

The reality is by the time you get to my age and you’re still in the media, it’s easy to feel positively ancient. Many of my colleagues last just a few years before the bright lights of PR, marketing or pretty much anything else beckons. Despite what so many seem to think about journalism, it’s not easy. Every man, dog and blogger out there is ready to criticise our every move and it’s even worse for those of us in the press gallery.

We work hard, have spent years studying, many of us still have huge student loans, we work late night and weekend shifts for low pay. In the end many of us sacrifice family, friends and an ordinary life to do it. You don’t do this job unless you love it.

I’m not complaining – ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you I am proud to say I am lucky enough to have the best job in the world and I absolutely love it.

But the treatment dished out to female reporters is frankly disgusting. The vitriol thrown at the very talented Andrea Vance in recent weeks has been abhorrent. She is a very, very good journalist. I’m not afraid to say that I’m jealous of just how good she is. The comments and insinuation following her stories on the GCSB leak have left me, and many others, infuriated.

For some, it seems the idea a female reporter would (shock horror) manage to get a story purely by working hard and being tenacious, is impossible. Surely some sort of seduction or honey trap was involved? How else could this possibly have happened?

It’s not just the treatment of Andrea that has shocked me. It feels like it’s become open slather on female journalists, particularly those of us in the press gallery. Apparently we all have “daddy issues” and we flirt and flutter our eyelashes to get stories. We’re all temptresses. If only it was that easy.  I myself have been belittled and had my abilities questioned because I’m young, blonde and female – that clearly means I can’t get a job based on my any merits other than how I look. The four years at university and experience at numerous media outlets count for nothing.

I’ve bolded what I think is the key thing.

Katie’s excellent column got retweeted by a large number of journalists, especially the female ones. This led to to ask what was the collective term for a group of angry female journalists. The replies included:

  • A swarm
  • Lovely people who we all admire and love. And respect.
  • I don’t know but I can’t wait for Alasdair Thompson to blog on the subject.
  • a sisterhood?
  • a group of really pissed off journalists
  •  I’d like to declare a moratorium on the use of the word “posse” as any part of a description of a group of female journalists.
  • can we just give DHC a term instead?
  • I’m still holding onto hope a NZ female journalists collective is created. So “collective” is nice.
  • A court. A giggle. A pert.
  •  The term for a group of goldfinches is a “charm”. But bird references.
  • a valkyrie?
  • The press gallery?
  • This was discussed among the Gallery tweeps a few weeks ago, upon discovering a group of male journos is a Pride.
  •  A bulletin? A column?
  •  An umbrage? A vexation?
  •  i like “a glaring”. it’s also a word for a group of angry cats
  • A fury? A vengeance? A wrath? or maybe best described as a Gallery?
  • an agency?
  • a group of pissed off female journalists is a “poutrage”

My favourites were “a valkyrie” and “a poutrage”.


Test your sexism score!

January 13th, 2013 at 9:08 am by David Farrar

The Listener had a link to this sexism test. As with all online tests do not take it as canonical – it is just a bit of fun, reflecting the values of the author who programmed it.

On a 0 to 5 scale, I scored 1.00 on hostile sexism and 1.18 on benevolent sexism. This is below the average for both men and women!

Is this sexism in court?

June 27th, 2012 at 4:48 pm by David Farrar

Photo by Heather du Plessis-Allen Soper

Journalist Laura McQuillan was evicted from the media bench at the Scott Guy trial because some court bureaucrat deemed her Pants unsuitable.

Is this sexism in the courts? I’ve been on a media bench in jeans at court. Would a guy have been kicked off for his choice of leg wear? Plus what does it matter, as you are sitting down and no one sees your legs anyway unless they are deliberately perving?

Or do people think the Registrar was correct? That court is no place for anything shiny?

Rugby jersies in Parliament

June 7th, 2011 at 3:30 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour MP Clare Curran has been kicked out of Parliament for wearing a Highlanders Super Rugby jersey.

Curran appeared at Parliamentary questions this afternoon wearing the team’s old blue, gold and maroon kit in protest at the new lime green colour.

Speaker Lockwood Smith declared the jersey violated Parliament’s strict dress codes and ordered Curran to leave.

Labour colleague Trevor Mallard protested the decision.

I would have thought a rugby jersey was a pretty obvious “no” in terms of meeting the House dress code.

Personally I think the dress code should be relaxed so men do not have to have a tie and jacket, but even I would hestitate to suggest that rugby jersies should be acceptable in the House.

Her ejection from Parliament highlighted the lack of rules around what women should wear in the House, she said.

“I certainly never expected to be thrown out of the House for being a woman wearing a football shirt. I think it was an over reaction.”

She said she was surprised and would consider whether she would change and return to Parliament this afternoon.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei left the House with Curran.

Turei later tweeted saying it was an example of sexism in Parliament continuing. “Has Ross Robertson ever been scolded for his sports team scarves let alone kicked out? No”

I hate it when people cry sexism mindlessly.  And this is mindless.

I have absolutely no doubt that a male MP would be kicked out by Lockwood for wearing a rugby jersey in the House.

If anything, the rules are sexist against men. The dress code for men is far more proscriptive than for women MPs.