Friday, 27 March 2009

Guest post: Paul Henry makes a bad bad choice

We've had quite a lot of contact from readers about this matter and one lovely soul, Gina, has offered up a guest post on the issue.

You really have to watch the video to appreciate what happened here.

For those who can’t get the video working- in summary- Paul Henry and Alison Mau were interviewing Stephanie Mills on Breakfast. After the interview Paul elected to read a fax out from a viewer about how they noticed Stephanie (a woman) has facial hair (who doesn’t?). But Paul makes it’s worse than that - watch the vid.

I can’t presume to know how Stephanie Mills from Greenpeace is feeling about this. Maybe she’s laughing it off somewhere. Maybe she’s devastated.

If you are reading this Stephanie and you feel like you want to take this issue further there are women here who will support you.

All I know is how I felt when I watched this. I started to shake with rage. Paul Henry- you had a choice. You had a choice about whether or not to repeat the crap on the fax.

Gina

66 comments:

Anna said...

Bravo, Gina, for feeling so strongly about this and writing on it. I didn't know about this incident, and I was so bloody sickened by it that I couldn't watch the whole clip you linked to.

The only thing preventing me from suggesting an action is the feelings of Stephanie Mills - I certainly wouldn't want to compound the hurt she is likely to be feeling.

Kia kaha, Stephanie - you are a brave woman with a voice and an opinion, and that's exactly the type that gets targeted for misogynist bullshit like this.

Deborah said...

I've seen Stephanie Mills on TV many times over the years, since she was quite a young woman, and I've noticed that she has a moustache, and that she doesn't wax / bleach / depilate / whatever. She is so comfortable with herself and the way she looks, and she absolutely refuses to buy into the mindless body preening and pruning demanded by the patriarchy. She is an awesome woman. I doubt that she will be too worried by the small minded Paul Henry's of this world.

I started shaking with rage when Alison Mau (co-host) asked him, repeatedly, not to read the faxes out, not to go ahead with it. "Please" she said. And the blokesy-bloke-bloke fool just carried on, putting her right in her place. And making every woman watching who has ever worried about her own facial hair squirm, and feel belittled, and thoroughly reminded that no matter what she does, she doesn't look good enough.

He's not reinforcing the patriarchy - he's actively working to make it even bigger and stronger.

WTF is it with this obsession with women's appearance.

Would you excuse me for a while? I'm just going to go outside and have a little scream.

stargazer said...

there is a good discussion of this over at PAS. details of making a formal complaint are here:

http://publicaddress.net/system/topic,1744,hard_news_onwards_and_upwards.sm?p=100505#post100505

Lex said...

Hey hey. I have just complained formally to the BSA:

Paul Henry chose to read out a fax from a viewer that contained insulting and denigrating comments with regard to a guest's appearance. This was not only totally unnecessary and unkind, it also deflected attention from what Stephanie Mills had been talking about. On a wider level, this type of behaviour from braodcasters reinforces destructive gender stereotypes and enables the further dehumanisation of any woman who does not conform to narrow 'norms' of femininity. This pattern of dehumanisation contributes to the normalisation and minimisation of agressive and violent action towards women or anyone who sits outside normative appearance. In a country with a record of violence towards women like the one we have, this is totally unacceptable.
Had she been a man, how much or little facial hair resided on her face would have been totally irrelevant. As it is.

Disgusted, but utterly unsurprised.


This is the address: http://www.bsa.govt.nz/complain-formstandard.php

Gina said...

Definately thinking about what sort of complaint I will be writing.

There are three things I'm most angry about:

1. Paul is in a position of power. He has a responsibility. He has a TV audience he can project to and I believe he used his power to abuse women.

2. People on other blogs are saying "He only read out something that somebody else wrote." Yes but he had a choice whether or not to read it, and it's obvious from the footage that he agreed with the sentiment in the fax.

3. I don't believe this is the first time Paul Henry has behaved in a demeaning way towards women on TV. Or lefties. To me the whole thing wasn't just offensive to women- it was offensive to me as a left wing female activist.

Emma said...

I am uneasy about this (after disgusted and enraged, of course). He said 'the voice in my ear is saying not to read them', but somebody, quite consciously, gave him that stuff to read out. If they really didn't want him to read it, they wouldn't have given it to him.

anna c said...

Disgusting. Whether Stephanie Mills was bothered by it or not, I can only imagine the position of those who have to work with Paul Henry. The co-host was clearly thoroughly uncomfortable, not to mention those who have even less ability to challenge him than her.

Anna said...

Nice one, Lex!

Emma, I think you're right in that the responsibility for this idiocy is shared, but Paul Henry has final responsibility for the editorial content. He has to make a judgement call about every single thing he says - it's the nature of the job. So I really feel he is no less culpable because some co-fool might have egged him on.

This 'I'm only reading out what someone else said' is bullshit - that's just a childish misuse of his editorial authority. And we're not talking about a lapse of judgement here - he absolutely revelled in mocking Stephanie Mills.

Placebogirl said...

I'm sorry, but I don't buy the "he only read out what somebody else said"--not from him and not from Allison Mau either. He read out what somebody else said, and then commented at great length about "a woman with a moustache" himself. Rgeardless of whether someone else started it, he clearly felt no compunction in continuing the discussion. What an asshole.

Rosie said...

Thank you Gina - and others - for restoring my faith in human kindness. I know Paul Henry is a wanker - he's paid to be one - but what horrifies, angers and down-right upsets me is the cruel comments posted on other blogs that condone this behaviour as a "joke". I don't find public humiliation and disrespect amusing. Ever.

Deborah said...

That's the middle square on feminist bingo, Rosie.

"CAN'T YOU TAKE A JOKE?"

M-H said...

What a dickwad. And the comments are even worse. He was asked not to read it, apparently by several people, but obviously the chance to humiliate a guest (guest - notice that word - don't hosts usually feel some responsibility to make their *invited guests* feel comfortable?), a guest that he probably hadn't agreed with, was just too strong. *And* he went on and on. Beneath contempt.

Anonymous said...

I liked this comment on the matter: http://www.stuff.co.nz/sunday-star-times/entertainment/blog-about-town/2296667/Moustachegate

Anonymous said...

No one has the right NOT to be offended. Laughing at people is a legitimite activity, tastless sometimes but legitimate all the same.

Some things are just damm funny, even in a tastless way.

I wouldnt say that some people dont have a sense of humour, they just object to other people having a laugh, and what they dont get, is their disdain makes the joke even funnier.

Gina said...

Anonymous I hear what you say- and yeah I can laugh at things that are in poor taste too sometimes, but Paul Henry wasn't laughing at the fax in a poor taste joke sort of way- like "This fax is so bad, that it's so funny." He was laughing for different reasons. That much was clear to me.

George said...

It's pretty clear that this breaches at least section 6f of the broadcasting standards, and possibly others (6g and 6b). Formal complaints are definitely in order - which they can't ignore.

Anonymous said...

What was shocking about this incident is the disrespect of the "host" for the "guest". This isn't idiots posting neanderthal comments on Youtube or Stuff"! Unbelievable!

I was also wondering about Alison Mau's role, whether he took her disapproval as a challenge, or whether because she was so clearly disapproving that she provided a "balance" which made him think he could behave worse than he might have had it been Pippa sitting blankly beside him.

Craig Ranapia said...

I liked this comment on the matter: http://www.stuff.co.nz/sunday-star-times/entertainment/blog-about-town/2296667/Moustachegate

Ah, yes... Bridget Saunders, a third-rate (and barely literate) gossip columnist who never, ever lowers herself to making snide, asinine comments about a woman's appearance. Every time I see that creature flogging a dead moral high horse, I don't know whether to call the SPCA or send her the number of my counsellor. (She's very good at reality checking self-delusional bullshit.)

Anonymous said...

I am sure the MOment will go sooner than later. He deserves to be ignored or you will get others to join him.

Anonymous said...

Until I saw the video, I thought that comparisons to David Brent were hyperbole. But the little prick actually SOUNDS like him - not a hint of self-awareness - even if Alsiopn Mau had torn into him, the smug prat would have remained oblivious.

James said...

Well done Paul Henry! Finally smeone has taken on PC bullshit and reduced it to tears.....Mills has looked like a Yeti for too long and no-ones had the guts tio tell her straight..."Hey Hairy!...you look gross with that fuzz.....wax for Christs sake and stop scaring the kids"

A real feminist takes Mills and other hair bears apart here...

http://asianinvasion2006.blogspot.com/

stargazer said...

james, why don't you try a read of this:

http://ideologicallyimpure.wordpress.com/2009/03/27/you-can-has-entitlement-issues/#comments

and think about the question QoT poses:

Why the FUCK does Stephanie Mills owe you wankers a hair-free upper lip?

backin15 said...

Henry's on Breakfast TV, easily the lowest form of media life; that he lacks judgment and carries on like a five-year old is hardly surprising but I very much agree his actions should be reviewed. And, although he has to be sanctioned, I'd not expect him to change as it's clear he was not discouraged.

Ultimately, the "talent" is largely expendable and easily replaced - there's countless baffoons who're a twice as competent as Henry - but his producer should have stepped in and didn't. Their inaction must also be examined.

Anna said...

James, think what it would be like for a man to be ridiculed for something considered not masculine. Imagine, for a moment, that you have a very small penis. Perhaps you don't have to imagine. Now imagine having that made fun of in the most public forum imaginable. Still laughing, Mr Teeny Weeny?

The Silent Majority said...

I think every poster here needs to stop feeling like victims and get on with life. Laugh at people who offend you, but don't become a victim.

here's an idea, start worrying about the women who live under the male dominated yoke of Islam, the honour killings, forced marriages and genital mutilation.

Now wouldn't THAT be a good cause for a good feminist to make a noise about.

I think you are not seeing the wood for the trees.

Anna said...

Silent Majority, you can care about more than one thing at once. What makes you think the people commenting here don't care about any of those things you mention? And how does caring about a woman who's been humiliated make us victims? Brush up your logic, matey.

Gina said...

I don't believe we are victims or are allowing ourselves to feel victimised by this.

We are taking a stand and saying that what Paul Henry did was wrong. I don't want to see him do something like that again. Paul Henry as a host should be setting a good example on how to treat women- especially in a society where Family Violence is way too prevelant.

And don't presume that some of us here aren't involved in speaking out or actions against causes like those you speak about above.

The Silent Majority said...

"And don't presume that some of us here aren't involved in speaking out or actions against causes like those you speak about above."

Great news! Let me know when you are next speaking out or taking actions against the treatment of women under Islam and I'll be there to support you!

backin15 said...

SM, I don't think anyone here's playing the role you'd like them too. There's no victim mentality, there's critical comments of a media wannabe. That's it.

Henry's behaviour was out of order. If you don't think so, just say that rather than pretending insight into other's motivations.

I'm not victimised by Henry's comments, I'm simply pissed off that he'd think it was appropriate to carry on like a school kid abusing someone for not looking like he thinks they should. It's that simple.

He ridiculed someone. You wanna support that, go right ahead but spare us all the psych.

Gina said...

But seeing as Silent Majority mentioned Genital Mutilation above- here is a link SM that you can visit that tells you one way of taking action against it:-

http://www.equalitynow.org/english/actions/action_2502_en.html

Anonymous said...

Hear hear SM. As a female I am embarrassed that "my" feminist movement is represented by hairy women who have nothing better to do than to get upset about a moustache. We have it so good in New Zealand and I hardly ever see articles here about the ill treatment of women who live under muslim, christian or communist oppression.

Some peoples agendas are so plain to see here. Paul Henry is a National Party apologist, so he must be bad. The women on this blog already disliked him before this storm in a teacup - so no great issue!

Julie said...

Those commenting that we don't write about the oppression of women overseas show they are not regular readers. While this blog is focused on Aotearoa NZ we often pick up on foreign bits and pieces in our quick hits, and Anjum in particular has written rather a lot about these issues.

As for the feminist movement being represented by women with moustaches - is it? And should it matter if it is? Shouldn't what feminists (indeed anyone) actually say and stand for be more important than what they look like?

Anonymous said...

"We have it so good in New Zealand"

Yeah, so good that if you are a woman you cannot be taken seriously as a spokesperson on a serious issue (compensation for victims of nuclear testing) unless you conform to some ideal of how women should look.

katy

M-H said...

Anonymous (the coward!) says "Some peoples agendas are so plain to see here. Paul Henry is a National Party apologist, so he must be bad. The women on this blog already disliked him before this storm in a teacup - so no great issue!"

I'm a regular reader of this blog, and contributor to its comments. But I'm in Australia, and I had never heard of PH before this happened, so none of that can be said about me. Nothing that's been written here changes my opinion, on the evidence of my own viewing of the video, that he's a dickwad. Rude, obnoxious and a dickwad.

Julie said...

On the issue of Breakfast being the lowest form of media life, Henry's appearances are not restricted to that - he's frequently the stand-in host for Close Up too :-(

Julie said...

James you knew that comment was never going to be ok. Using a smiley face doesn't make it alright. Kindly respect our rules in our space. Disagree in a manner that isn't offensive and your comments stay. Otherwise they go.

Anna said...

James, if you looked at the past posts on this blog, you'll find several on international and religious issues, including Islam, many of which were written by our Muslim colleague who is very knowledgeable about these issues.

I don't think you will look, though - I get the feeling you're not the type to worry too much about basing your opinions on boring stuff like facts.

And I think you've confused having a big willy with being one, darling.

Julie said...

James your latest comment was no more acceptable than the previous one and has also been deleted. Respect our rules in our space or leave.

Julie said...

Try again James without the abuse.

You might want to read our comment policy seeing as how you are having so much trouble keeping within it:
The Hand Mirror's Comment & Link Policy

James said...

No thanks.....this blog is a humorless pit of self indulgant wallowing for gender tribalists....I have better things to do.

Julie said...

I have better things to do.
Oh so now that you're asked to be reasonably polite you don't have time. I think that makes your motives in commenting here pretty clear.

James said...

No....its just that its so sterile here (well for men replying to women who can dish it but can't take it without a cry anyway...)whats the point of carrying on...?

Is a bit of return fire too much for you Amazon super babes to handle..?

That is the sort of PC wetness Paul Henry was on about.....and its striuck a cord with so many people who have had enough of this crap and are breaking out and saying so....its not about bashing women....its about being able to speak and not feel repressed to not be able to.

And that was the point Henry was making, not that Mills had a mo...but WHY was it taboo to mention the thing that everyone noticed right off...that Mills, a women, had a Mo? He was fascinated by this taboo...not so much the mo.

Julie said...

James you have finally managed to make your point in a manner that is not unacceptably abusive. It's borderline, but I can see you've made an effort. Congratulations.

Of course I still don't agree with you. By focusing on the guest's appearance, rather than the issue she was talking about, Henry was being a bad bad journo. And a bad host. And - wait, how about you read this post rather than I just recreate it all yet again?

Other commenters please feel free to rebutt James (or not).

Julie said...

And then you had to go and spoil it all with a second comment James that did break the rules. I will let the earlier one stand. For now.

Anna said...

James, don't you think people should be polite to each other? Didn't your mum teach you that? Most people grow out of the kind of behaviour you're defending when they're about 11. I don't see that being rude to someone makes you a hero.

Anna said...

NB Can you also explain to me why thinking Paul Henry is a git with no social skills is self-pity? Or why this is a sign of tribalism? Or why this all makes you angry enough to abuse strangers?

James said...

"James, don't you think people should be polite to each other?"

Henry was polite...he didn't attack Mills...he read out viewers letters after Mills had gone,he said clearly that it was no big deal....the viewers had the issue with Mills mo...and have for a long time.Henry was more fascinated by the "cone of silence" that is assumed to be in place around things like this...he pricked the bubble..it was television at its entertaining and thought provoking best.

"Didn't your mum teach you that?"

Julie! Nows shes bringing my Mum into it!

"Most people grow out of the kind of behaviour you're defending when they're about 11." I don't see that being rude to someone makes you a hero."

You wouldn't understand...you are at the heart of the problem that is engendering a fightback...see the supportive comments on youtube ...many from Women.People have had enogh...revolution is coming.

"And then you had to go and spoil it all with a second comment James that did break the rules. I will let the earlier one stand. For now."

Thats it...Im done.If a jokey comment like that is out of bounds then this is site that I want nothing to do with.....you must be very sad and miserable people....if even a humourous reference to a mans p***s gets you all upset then It shows that its not men who oppress you..its your own minds and fears...I pity you and hope you can live to enjoy life standing on your feet one day....










And for gods sake shave!

;-)

Julie said...

James I think I'll let that one stand. It rather sums you up nicely.

Isn't this the second time (or is the third) that you've said you are out of here?

Must be our animal magnetism.

James said...

Must be our animal magnetism."

Theres a mo joke just sitting up and begging there....but as you are suffering enough already I'll let it slide...;-0

James said...

Isn't this the second time (or is the third) that you've said you are out of here?"

Yes I know but its like coming across a car accident...you know you shouldn't look and be entertained by the misfortue of others....but you just can't help yourself!

And think how dull it would be around here if I did leave...Who would Anna have to hate? ;-)

Maybe thats why I can empathise with paul Henry...he's like me at a different level...

Ps....any of you gals single?

(oopps!...obvious dumb question)

;-)

Mary-Lou said...

We do have it good in NZ, for you to compare a comment about facial hair with the oppression of women in Muslim countries then you're all barking mad. We are lucky to even be able to show our faces here.

James - your comments are only fanning the flames. Don't give people ammunition, especially as some people here are so short sighted they will attribute your comments as a representation of all centre right men.

Alison said...

To those of you who keep climbing on your moral high-horse to make sweeping generalisations about "oppression in muslim countries";
can I suggest you take the few seconds necessary to read the profiles of the bloggers here? You will find out that one of the Hand Mirror bloggers IS muslim, and has written on multiple occasions about what that means for her and her feminism.

If you're going to attack the premise for the blog, at least get a clue about what you're actually attacking. At the moment you're hitting out at a straw-feminist who bears little resemblance that I can see to anyone posting here.

James said...

"James - your comments are only fanning the flames. Don't give people ammunition, especially as some people here are so short sighted they will attribute your comments as a representation of all centre right men."

As a Libertarian,(by default a individualist-feminist) and therefore neither in the centre nor on the right that really dosen't phase me..but I appreciate the gist of your point.I am a pricker of pomposity,a mocker of sacred cows that aren't worth of the respect...blowing hot air on the cronically wet and whimpy..much as Henry does....I see a lot of that here which is why I comment and try to provoke some thinking amoungst the ladies.You seem all very intelligent and passionate women ...the kind I generally admire ...and desire.BUT...there is this victim mentality ozzing out of nearly everypost that engengers not respect... but derison and pity...is that what you really want to achieve?

In response to Alison...

"To those of you who keep climbing on your moral high-horse to make sweeping generalisations about "oppression in muslim countries";
can I suggest you take the few seconds necessary to read the profiles of the bloggers here? You will find out that one of the Hand Mirror bloggers IS muslim, and has written on multiple occasions about what that means for her and her feminism."

Have known that for awhile and am impressed...but where is the indignation from the rest of you...? Directed at the capitalist (mostly) West that has allowed Women to reach the highest standards of living,education,respect,achievement,position and protection of rights (real individual ones...not those bogus "rights" to a job, etc)...thats where.Hands up those who want the lifestyle of an Afgany women under the Teleban....no? thought not.

Im not saying there aren't some remaining issues here too (I struggle to think of any..) but as Mary Lou said....

'We do have it good in NZ, for you to compare a comment about facial hair with the oppression of women in Muslim countries then you're all barking mad. We are lucky to even be able to show our faces here."

Well said....theres a much greater threat to Women than the odd Un PC joke and thats the rising influence of Islamofascism on the West and the seeming enthusiasm of the Left biased media (your mates) to fawn over it,excuse it and not question its dogma and goals....which for Women everywhere should be the stuff of nightmares...Sure be offended by Henry etc....thats your subjective personal perogative...but there is also no right NOT to be offended....its the price we pay for living in the freest,enlightened and most prosperous era of humanitys history...so far.

It appears to me you are too busy shouting at the Western mouse when the Islamic Elephant gets to stand in the corner unacosted with an amused,evil look on his face.

I will fight to prevent that future from occuring....when you are jailed behing the burca and sharia law.I hope you will be standing at my shoulder when I do so.

Anonymous said...

This whole discussion is a waste of time. Stephanie Mills obviously doesn't care that she has a moustache otherwise she'd get rid of it. So why does it matter that Paul Henry brought it up, he was merely stating a fact.

All this fuss over the situation makes it all the more funny. Have a laugh once in a while, it feels good.

Julie said...

Thanks James for explaining that you are not only incapable of seeing sexism you are also blind to racism. Such a relief to know that you are an equal opportunity bigot.

Also, your frequent use of elipses annoys me greatly.

Anon, if it's such a waste of time why did you waste yours by even commenting about it? Perhaps because you disagree with the post and wanted to make that clear? And I disagree with Henry's behaviour and attitude and want to make that clear, as have many others here.

A Nonny Moose said...

To those who think we're wasting our time on such a trivial thing: there is no argument too small in the feminist sphere. The moment we leave one small gap, we have the sexist/anti-pc brigade leaping through shouting "Haha! You snooze, you loose! You don't care about THIS section of women's right, you don't care about anything". It's hipocrasy, because when we show we care, we get slammed for crying over infantile issues. What do you want - us to care or not?

You want to deride us for our inconsistency James? Our consistency lies in dealing with EVERYTHING. Every Mouse, and every Elephant.

We can't change you, but as long as the debate continues the education is out there.

James said...

"Thanks James for explaining that you are not only incapable of seeing sexism you are also blind to racism. Such a relief to know that you are an equal opportunity bigot."

As Islam is a religion..therefore a body of ideas that is open to scrunity and challenge, and NOT a race I imagine you are feeling rather silly about now. ;-)

Indeed it is YOU who come closest to racism in that you are a collectivist re women.Racism is the lowest form of collectivism...and the fact that I can clearly see the sexism in Islam,declare my resolve to fight it to maintain the liberty of women like you only to earn a rebuke from same woman shows clearly that female liberation is not you goal....its hatred of men because they are men.

A real supporter of womens rights might have said "Thanks...thats nice to know."


"Also, your frequent use of elipses annoys me greatly"

Good....your frequent denegration of all women by claiming to spout your sad victimhood mantra on their behalf annoys me too....;-)

A Nonny Moose said...

Victimhood? Is that something like that deserved emancipation of downtrodden men (read: feeling their power is threatened) I keep hearing about?

Julie said...

Thank you Moose for bothering with James the Troll. He is going to be gone soon I hope. This blog is not about him, but he's trying to make it so. I don't mind debate, I find that fun, but this is not fun, it is a senseless grind that is taking the fun out of blogging for me and thus it has to end. If it's going to be me or you James then I think you'll find it's going to be you. Don't bother replying.

James said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anna said...

James, your comments are boring and stupid. If you feel like you need to annoy people to get attention, you have some personal problems. You'll note that most other people around here communicate like grown ups. If you can't do that, we'll continue to delete your comments until you manage to grasp some basic courtesy.

Deborah said...

Anna, I'm quite keen on deleting that last comment from James. What do you think? I know he's only making himself look silly, but I feel embarrassed that our blog is hosting that last thing he said. But I can live with it, if you are okay with it. Let me know...

Anna said...

Agreed, Deborah - it's in the trash can.

James said...

And that is game to me.....the silly level of censorship you are sinking to says it all I think....

Ok you've read it ....delete it....as you have to.

A Nonny Moose said...

James, for Flying Spaghetti Monster's sake, it's not a game of who can outlast longest in a debate. You don't "win" just because you have the last word. Operate on logic and you might have a better chance of being taken seriously.

If you decide to throw back "but ur bein the irrational wimmen, not letting it go!" then you've completely lost sight of why we're here in the first place. We fight long, hard, and usually pretty silently for our rights.

And censorship. By gum I get tired of the "freedom of speech!" screech I hear EVERYWHERE. Outright baiting, hate speech, and just plain rudeness (which was the original issue here!) is NOT freedom of speech. It's simply being an asshole. And the world can do with more informed debate and less assholes.

Julie said...

James B (to differentiate from James G) you have already been asked to cease and desist - this blog is clearly not for you. We'll be deleting any future comments from you even if they don't break our comment policy because this is our place not yours and we are frankly fed up with you stamping around in the comment sections putting off other readers who are actually interested in intelligent friendly debate and discussion.