Tuesday, 15 July 2008


As a feminist either you can believe that there is the possibility that violent men can change, or you move to lesbian-feminist commune. I am sometimes uncertain about which option is more unlikely to work. But I've never liked communes so I remain an optimist.

I was going to write a long post on redemption, how it was possible, and why it didn't look like Tony Veitch. But Vic Tamati was on nine-to-noon this morning and demonstrated that in a way I never could.

I disagree very strongly with stargazer - who talks about accountability in terms of a conviction. There are many men convicted of assaulting their partner, or children, who just keep doing it. In this case a conviction would almost certainly lead to a jail term. I may have only seen the corridors and visiting rooms, but jail won't make anyone less abusive. By rendering abusive men powerless it perpetuates the ideas of power and control that feed abuse. External forces, like the court system, are not what's going to create change(although they do at times at as catalysts). What Vic Tamati did, and Tony Veitch didn't do, was talk about what he did without excuses, learn about abusive relationships, and work to help other men who are being abusive.

update I've edited the post because I misrepresented Stargazer's views.


Hugh said...

Playing devil's advocate here, while we can probably all agree that rehabilitation is desirable, is it necessarily the best thing to leave the violent man free to act out his violent urges unrestrained while the rehabilitation takes place? In other words isn't some form of coercion and restraint, which is likely to functionally resemble jail even if it's not called that and has a different legal role, an inevitable part of rehabilitation?

stargazer said...

umm, show me where i said jail? i talked about a conviction, then said "i'm not much concerned about the sentence, in that i'm not much into punitive revenge." i'd appreciate if you'd correct your post to accurately reflect what i said.


jafapete said...

Your main point is well observed and important, unlike a lot of things various people -- including me -- have written.

On a relatively minor point, are you sure that there aren't more options for feminists? What about, believing that a great deal can be done to reduce violence of all types, but accepting that the world we live in will never approach perfection, even on a lesbian-feminist commune?

I am genuinely interested in this, because we all have to live with one another, except maybe those on l-f communes. (Are many of the latter still around BTW?)

stargazer said...

thanx for the changes maia.

having had several days to think about it, and having read most opinion pieces and several blogs, i think i'm about where tapu misa is at. taking responsibility means walking down to the local police station, fessing up and taking the consequences.

those consequences may mean jail. it may be home detention, would be a pretty appropriate sentence in mr vietch's case. it would also hopefully mean an anti-violence programme and some serious reflection by him. i just don't think he's going to get to mr tamati's state of mind without that.

a new line of attack on ms dunne-powell appears to be that she went to police station to figure out her options, then decided to extort money out of him instead. this is just getting too bizarre.

Anonymous said...

"i think i'm about where tapu misa is at. taking responsibility means walking down to the local police station, fessing up and taking the consequences"

Patirarchal solutions to patriarchal problems... really? As I write this I have my mind partly on the hilarious 'Oh Standard' thread from a few days ago but all these struggles, resistances and motivations for social transformation are all connected (in my imagination at least)so...

I'm a Tino Rangatiratanga/Mana Motuhake kinda tane, that's my buzz. So my analysis of in/justice in this colony rolls like this:

the my myriad violent crimes against tangata whenua - land theft, military invasion, murder, ninja cops, etc - are symptoms, expressions or tools of colonisation.

The colonial justice system is an expression, tool and symptom of colonisation. Therefore it will never be the space in which injustices against tangata whenua can be fully and appropriately retributed. In fact the colonial justice system (specifically the Maori land court, Waitangi Tribunal) creates further injustices and greivances and violence as an indelible byproduct of its processes (read: Tamaki Makaurau, Te Arawa treaty 'settlements')

If you exchange colonisation for patriachy and colonial crime for domestic in the above rant then it cuts to the core of why Tapu Misa'a & Stargazers, and a good many other commenters solution of front up to the cops/music/justice system doesnt sit well with me.

How can a patriachal (and colonial to boot), system - the courts - deal with a patriachal disease (i.e. masculine brutality)??


Maia said...

jafapete - To explain a little more what I'm trying to say, it's based very much in my own experiences of feminism and analysis of the extent of abuse towards women in intimate relationships. I don't need any individual man to change, or to believe that every man will change. Just that it is possible that some abusive men can become non-abusive men (I think this can only happen by them working together). The ideas of entitlement to sex, power and control, and abuse and degredation towards women are so normalised at the moment, that more important than any individual man to resist them from birth, is the ability for men to unlearn them.

Stargazer - Which implies a faith in, and a belief of the legitimacy of the police and courts that I just don't have. This is the same police service , and carried out the extremely racist operation 8. That routinely tells women not to walk alone at night, and so on and so on (and don't even get me started on the courts).

I agree that if Tony Veitch were to goto the copshop and confess then that'd be a step above where he is now, because at the moment he appears to only care about himself and his career. However, that would not be the only sign that he had changed. Vic Tamati, for example, never went to the cop-shop. If Tony Veitch started talking about the ways he had been abusive, rather than 'lashing-out' in an incident, then that would be a sign that he had changed, and one that would show deeper understanding and analysis than going to the cop-shop, and therefore longer lasting.

Anna McM said...

Kura, I agree. I think the fact that the colonial justice system we have inherited is primarily about private property rights makes for an ill fit with both tangata whenua issues and women's issues. There's a lot more to it than that, of course, but to my mind that's a big part of it.

Maia said...

Kura - I cross posted with you, but thanks for your comment. I agree with you entirely about the nature of the justice system.