Sunday, 27 November 2011

If I had a million dollars, could I still have socialism of the heart?

Post-election, my bus driver last night waxed lyrical about John Key "not having a mandate to sell state assets, 75% of New Zealanders are against, they just won't do it". Yet first thing this morning I saw this. Before I even sat down to think about gender equity.

Losing Carmel Sepuloni is terrible news. Not only because there's now no Pacifica women in parliament, but because Ms Sepuloni, with Labour's already departed Lynne Pillay, flew the flag determinedly for survivors of sexual violence:

Gone. Who, out of the current crop of women MPs, is going to take over the role of speaking out for women who survive violence?

Tariana Turia, with her innovative approach to ending family violence, "the look"? Judith Collins, with her rape culture supporting comments on male-on-male sexual assault? (Note: when we dismantle rape culture, it will not be acceptable for ANYONE to be coerced, forced or pressured into doing anything sexual).

The departure of Simon Power, with his personal committment to building better responses to sexual and family violence influenced by the murder of Sophie Elliott, is also a huge loss for parliament. Without him the National Party are harder right, less able to work across difference to produce good policy, like the improvements for survivors of sexual violence going through court process, or the extension of the national advocacy role for Louise Nicholas.

Well-known feminist Sue Kedgley, also gone. Just one feminist act among many, Ms Kedgley voted to decriminalise prostitution alongside all the other Green women, most of the Labour women, and one fifth of the National women.

Carol Beaumont's championing of pay equity, gone from parliament. Departing Steve Chadwick, another committed to women's rights in terms of maternal health, rights-based sexual and reproductive health and abortion reform despite Daddy Left not liking it. These Labour MPs flew the flag for women.

Who is going to pick this up and carry it?

Judith Collins wants to restrict access to abortion. Hekia Parata, an improvement on Georgina Te Heuheu in that she doesn't describe the Ministry of Women's Affairs as a "sexist relic", is yet to impress as a strong advocate for women's rights. Nikki Kaye and Jacinda Ardern are not scared to call themselves feminists - both may be important in putting gender on the agenda in their parties. Annette King and Lianne Dalziel have the experience in the house to continue arguing for where a women's place should be.

Women in New Zealand desperately need some of our parliamentarians to step up to the mark to challenge our violence stats, our pay equity stats, the cultural supports for violence against women, sexism in the media, the positions of immigrant women in our communities, the hypersexualisation of girls (tricky but possible this, without turning into sex-hating abstinence cheerleaders), the work-life balance available to all whether we are parents or not, the different experiences women have of the benefit system because we are often the ones with primary responsibility for parenting and care-giving etc etc etc. The best bet, on current form, looks to be Catherine Delahunty and the band of new Green women.

And queer rights post election? The voting records of National's top ten listed MPs are consistently homophobic. Gerry Brownlee says queer people are "not the same as other people"; Nick Smith says legislation protecting transpeople would be a "step backwards for our country"; and Judith Collins said of civil unions:

Is this a human rights issue? The census figures stated that 0. 3 per cent of adults in New Zealand say they live in a same-sex relationship – not a very large portion of the population – as opposed to the more than 45 per cent of adult New Zealanders who are married.

The queer caucuses will have to work across parties if they want to address queer issues like bullying in schools, adoption and partnership rights, heterosexist media and queer bashing. Will they? Will National's Chris Finlayson realise not all queer people want to be celibate? And will some of the straight parliamentarians support queer rights? History shows if they do, they will probably be women, with 76% of women MPs voting for the Civil Union Act cf just 50% of male MPs.

I realise some on the left will think my interest in rights for women and queer people post this election is playing identity politics when the *real* issues of class and dosh should be being attended to. I disagree. I think we should be aiming higher. It's time for our parliamentarians who believe in equity and fairness and compassion - because those are the values which these issues have in common - to stand up for having a socialism of the heart:

My message to the 1% the National and Act parties - remember this last line. Please.


Anonymous said...

"Who, out of the current crop of women MPs, is going to take over the role of speaking out for women who survive violence?"

Jackie Blue is a survivor of domestic violence:

Deborah said...

I popped in to say what Ele has already said: Dr Jackie Blue is a survivor of domestic violence, and importantly, she's in the ruling party's caucus.

Carol said...

I realise some on the left will think my interest in rights for women and queer people post this election is playing identity politics when the *real* issues of class and dosh should be being attended to.

Actually, I think it's not either/or. Apart from anything else, people struggling to survive financially, and/or to find a job where few exist, can also be victims of domestic/sexual violence, rape etc. And some of the battlers will also be LGBT people. And for such people the struggles are compunded, making life extremely difficult.

There's a small hope that Sepuloni will gain the Waitakere electorate on specials. But, also, I'm hoping some further up the list will resign, clearing a space for Sepuloni to enter parliament from the list.

LudditeJourno said...

Hi Homepaddock and Deborah - thank you, yep agreed, Dr Blue has already been vocal, on a number of occasions that I can remember, on domestic violence, which is a great sign.

LudditeJourno said...

Carol - oh so with you on the "and" of this, for exactly the reasons you offer, that all of these issues are mixed up in our lives, all the time.

George D said...

Jackie Blue is unlikely to be a loud voice on anything, but she might be a quiet supporter. She refused to lay down any convictions at a small Mt Roskill meeting I recently attended, so I can't imagine her doing so on the national stage. Still, quiet support can be made use of it indeed exists.

Kevin Hague and David Clendon are both potential strong allies. There's also great potential in the new and existing female Green MPs, as you note. I'll make a commitment to discuss these issues with them, but I do think it's worthwhile contacting them early in their term to tell them what you think is important, asking them to give value to those issues, and promising to liaise with them. MPs like Holly Walker are likely to give a strong public voice, but especially so if supported and empowered.

Others know Labour better than I do and are better able to comment. NZF are a bunch of evil men, and everyone who voted for them should be ashamed.

Anonymous said...

Jan Logie of the Greens has a background in Rape Crisis work. Holly Walker is also representing women's issues. I fervently hope the special votes give Mojo Mathers a voice in parliament too, as she is interested in human rights and particularly disability issues.


Anonymous said...

Oh and Clare Curran of Labour! She is a feminist and at the Dunedin Slutwalk she came out as a survivor of a rape attempt.


Cara said...

Yes I was going to say Jan Logie. She has worked with Rape Crisis, Help and others and will be a definite voice against sexual violence in parl.

anarkaytie said...

I'll second George's comment about Kevin Hague, he's been involved in current work around gendered violence in Wellington, notably keeping a watching brief on the Queer Avengers pressure group which is taking action against violence aimed at members of the GLBTI community.

Both Jan Logie and Holly Walker have been vocal during the campaigning period about their support for victims of violence, for survivors of domestic violence in particular. Holly was a major writer on the Child Poverty policy document; Jan has worked with Refuge up Kapiti Coast ans is well-connected to those who currently work in that area.

David Clendon I know less well, but I know his partner's way of thinking - I doubt he has much option apart from supporting feminist paradigms! He has been a sturdy caucus member for some time now.

Gareth Hughes is pretty feminist for a guy, too - supporting his wife's career as much as his own, doing childcare when he can, ensuring that his offspring have good childcare so that his partner can work in publishing. As one might expect from a pair of former Greenpeace activists.

I will miss Sue Kedgley, I've done a lot of campaigning with her over the years. I doubt she'll stop outright, and I expect to still see her around Wellington Green circles.

Cath Delahunty is a champion of feminist and social class issues, as well as being the strongest disability advocate in Parliament in the last term. She will be ably assisted by Mojo Mathers, who has been the convenor of the disability policy issues group within the members policy loop for many years now, as well as being active in her own region, Aoraki province (Canterbury).

Julie-Anne Genter, whilst being a transport policy specialist, is also feminist in her thinking and application of her life, if with a small 'f'. She has flatted in Aro Valley with friends she made during post-grad years at VUW, and is surrounded by environmental activist friends who will give support as she negotiates the transition from policy staffer at Bowen to MP.

I have huge (yes, biased!) hopes for these MP's, some of whom you won't have known much about if you were outside the Green party loops, but they are all people who have been up-and-coming for many years now.

There really is a lot of long-term planning in the Greens, strategic thinking that goes well beyond Morris Dancing at AGM's, and in-joke about 'highly unlikely' scenarios to get the media to publish press releases. Don't judge the Greens by what the mainstream media publish; or by what spin-merchants from other political parties put on their blogposts.

Judge us only by our own words and deeds, because our integrity is built up from each member who commits to putting effort into achieving the long-term goals - environmental sustainability, social justice, peace and non-violence, equitable division of wealth, democracy and appropriate decision-making.

Jack said...

"Losing Carmel Sepuloni is terrible news. Not only because there's now no Pacifica women in parliament...."

Asenati Taylor (New Zealand First, list) is a first-generation Samoan immigrant.

LudditeJourno said...

Thanks Jack :-) I realised after I wrote this that I knew absolutely nothing about any of the NZ First MPs.

Hugh said...

anarkytie, how is Julie-Anne's flatting in Aro Valley relevant to... anything at all? Does that make her a feminist?

I realise you feel that feminists should support the Greens and I agree with you re: a lot of their MPs, but you're reaching on a few of the others. Not that they necessarily aren't feminists, but I'm going to wait and see.

And frankly, there has to be somebody in the Greens pushing back against the abortion advocates, as Maia mentioned in another pos.