Thursday, 23 February 2012

Abuse is not an argument

Putting to one side for a moment the merits (of which I think there are many) of Auckland Feminist Action's campaign against the sexist Tui adverts, what is up with the stylez of the pro Tui people?

A massive amount of vitriol has been spewed in the very precise and targeted direction of Leonie Morris, who put her name to the media statement and has since done some interviews, in particular on Newstalk ZB* and in the Herald.  The hateful responses, devoid of actual argument putting the counter position, are scattered across the interweb, and I know that people have also been calling and emailing Leonie's workplace to give her a hard time.

What kind of an argument is this?  To just make assumptions about feminists in general, and Leonie in particular, then use those stereotypes to dismiss the points Auckland Feminist Action are making? As if whether or not someone shaves their legs, or is a size 16, or their sexual orientation** is at all relevant to the matter?  There's also been a large dose of "feminists need a good hammering" type responses too, which honestly make me feel ill.

This has certainly been a case of Don't Read The Comments (DRTC).  And that makes me sad.  What kind of society are we living in where even raising concerns about some advertising, requesting that people think critically about the media they are consuming, gets you scragged across talkback and blogs and even motivates people to ring your place of employment to tell you off?

Particularly when you think about how people have reacted to the prominent bigotry of Establishment Men in recent times, you know who I mean; Paul Holmes, Paul Henry, Tony Veitch, Michael Laws, Andy Haden, Lockwood Smith, the list goes on and on.  Yes there are some people who call bigots out in unsavoury ways.  But they are far outnumbered by polite people like me (and probably you) who write ranty blog posts which at their worst have some swears in them, maybe sign a firm but non-abusive petition, or call to cancel their subscription to the offending media outlet.  What is it about challenging sexism, about being openly feminist, about taking on a beer company, that brings out the toxic frothing?

Kia kaha Leonie, you are doing good work.  I look forward to supporting Auckland Feminist Action's campaign here and elsewhere as I can, because all the hate has proven to me that we desperately need to take down ads like the Tui ones, and reclaim our country as a safe place for women to challenge sexism.

*  When I wrote this post the relevant interview was on the 3rd page of audio, it's probably on the 4th or 5th by now.  Sorry they don't seem to do direct links.
**  I have no idea what Leonie does with her legs, what size she is, or what her sexual orientation is, and I've worked with her on a couple of projects.  I don't need to know any of that.  If she wants me to know she'll tell me.  


Psycho Milt said...

A lot of people have no idea what an argument is, they just know what they don't like (well, who they don't like, more to the point). Among the male aggressive thicko population, it's pretty much universal.

Nick R said...

What kind of society are we living in?

One where we really, really need people like Leonie Morris.

I have nothing but contempt for Tui ads. At best they are lazy, at worst, just vile. The worst part is knowing that they are designed in the hope of provoking controversy because that will promote the brand - at least to their target audience. Denigrating people for money. Classy.

And the beer is foul.

LudditeJourno said...

You beat me to it Julie, exactly this topic was the next post I was going to write on this. Thank you :-)

Law said...

Awesome to read such a positive, supportive post!

A Nonny Moose said...

I was thinking about this just last night and how sad I am that there's no end in sight for the abuse and continuing assertion of patriarchal rights against People Who Speak Up. I'd hate to think I'll get to the end of my life and there would be no significant change in attitudes towards feminists and their concerns.

Can't these Tui supporters see that the narrow expectation of masculinity this advertising supports harms them too? Are they really happy with being branded beer swilling, female ogling, sexist idiot louts? Are they happy with being branded so dumb that they need tits or things pre-fixed "Man-" to be sold things?