Friday, 29 August 2008

Was that really necessary?


Less than a day after bitching about the anti-PC brigade being lazy bullshit artists I am going to have revert to being a stereotypical feminazi and ask was it really necessary for Chris Trotter to describe the current Winston Peters drama as a the political equivalent of a gang-rape?

Leaving aside Trotter's actual argument, I have to ask why did he feel the need to use that metaphor? Did he not stop to think that a lot of women feel uncomfortable about rape jokes and using rape in a flippant manner because rape is an ever-present background threat to daily life for many of us? Did he not consider that his flippant use of the term might be a triggers for those who have been raped? If he didn't, then he clearly thinks no women bother to read his blog because they aren't interested in the manly business of politics. Or perhaps he had stopped to think, hey that term 'rape' provokes really strong reactions in people so I'll make it even worse by multiplying that horrific by using 'gang rape' for added dramatic effect. This attitude is perhaps worse than thinking that no women read his blog at all, as it appears he is deliberately using the term in order to boost traffic to his new blog.


One the reasons rape isn't taken seriously in this country and consequently under reported, under prosecuted and under convicted is because it is often spoken about in public in a flippant manner. Rape can be the punchline of Mark Ellis' joke or used to dramatic effect in political blog. One of the ways we can stop trivializing rape is acknowledging that rape is a big deal and the very least we can do for those who have suffered its excruciating indignity is talk about it with the honesty and gravity it deserves. So I ask why couldn't he find another term?

As final thought I notice that DPF is clearly not amused by Trotter's use of term but I'm a bit disappointed that he explicitly left it up to the feminist blogs to explain why. One of the reasons the complaints of women are so easily dismissed on topics like this is because we’re for the most part the only ones who complain. I am sure there a hell of a lot of men who don't like it when other guys use rape analogies or jokes but they don't complain in remotely proportionate numbers to the women do.

Update: Carol points out in the comments Russell Brown wasn't amused by Trotters use of language either.


Carol said...

Russell Brown also was critical of it, tho also didn't spell out why. he just says it's staggering. Maybe he assumed it is obvious why it's an inappropriate analogy?

stargazer said...

thanx for raising this, very well spotted. i have to say that i'm sometimes hesitant to comment on things i really object to cos of the "feminazi" label - should probably get more balls, huh?

eg, this has just gone up as a comment on public address, a comment i find deeply misogynistic but am unsure how to react to in a constructive way:

One hopes she doesn't go like Jenny Shipley, spreading her legs for anyone who could promise another month, another week, another day in power.

the fact that there is no response to this from anyone else there bothers me as well.

Stephanie said...

Thanks carol I've updated my blog.

@stargazer, I actually spotted it yesterday but couldn't articulate why I was so pissed by that. Also I find it best to sometimes say 'fuck yeah I'm being a feminazi'

Danielle said...

the fact that there is no response to this from anyone else there

Not any more.

Anonymous said...

Very good post and explanation ex expat.

I used to quite like Chris Trotter, and still remember him singing that Red song when Labour won the election in 1999, which was pretty cool. But he's a really strange person now, you sometimes have to wonder what planet he's on.

Russell Brown said...

the fact that there is no response to this from anyone else there bothers me as well.

I didn't register it initially, I was rushing to go out. Then when I came back to the thread Danielle had just dealt with it in her most excellent way.


Julie said...

Thanks for doing this e-e, I haven't read Trotter's post yet and I'm not sure I want to now.

I'd also note that it's very nice of Mr Farrar to defer to "the feminist blogs" given that he's yet to link us on his blogroll.

Deborah said...

Well said, Stef. And thanks for doing the dirty work. Thanks also to Danielle for sorting out the PAS problem du jour.

Lucia Maria said...

I've been watching Trotter for a while now, and the thing I've noticed is that he will stoop at nothing if he thinks it serves his purpose. So, if he wants to get women on his side, he will likewise do the same. Ultimately, the ends justifies the means for him.

Craig Ranapia said...

Meanwhile, Chris Trotte responds at

Sorry for the extensive quote, but you've got to get the full flavour of Trotter getting his stupid on:

Apparently, it is also wrong to use the act of rape as a metaphor.

But how else to describe the experience of an individual whose character has been trashed day after day, and whose reputation has been assaulted over and over again in the mainstream news media?

What exactly are these faux feminists trying to say? That no man can ever employ the metaphor of rape to describe the all-too-similar experiences he has undergone at the hands of his psychological tormentors? Or, that whenever a man uses the expression “rape”, he actually intends it to be taken as nothing more than a joke?

Or perhaps these “feminists” are trying to say that, in spite of the the fact that practically the entire Parliamentary Press Gallery joined together to hurt and humiliate one particular human being - Winston Peters - the use of the expression “the political equivalent of gang rape” is, somehow, inappropriate?

Because, if that is the case, then the women who purport to be the legitimate successors of the people who blazed the trails to sexual equality in the 1970s and 80s are, in fact, complete charlatans. People who really do believe that there is absolutely no justification for, or utility in, linking the vicious behaviour which men unleash upon one another, with the awful behaviour they unleash upon women.

Which would suggest that “The Hand Mirror” feminists are so bereft of understanding and compassion that, when it comes to the sort of behaviour that reduces human-beings to friendless victims, they cannot recognise in the situation of Winston Peters, and in the right-wing establishment’s determination to remove him from the political scene, something akin to the punishing behaviour reserved for women who step out of line in social environments where female assertiveness is regarded as an excuse for the most condign physical punishment?

How incredibly sad, that women who have the temerity to call themselves feminists are so blinded by their own self-righteousness that they actually feel more comfortable directing their outrage against the use of a simple literary metaphor, than in calling to account the person or persons responsible for tormenting and humiliating a fellow human-being.

That the victim, in this case, was male and Maori, appears to matter not one whit. Not when the metaphor employed to describe his predicament was one reserved exclusively for women.

Can it possibly be true that human-beings are only worth defending when they are female?

Take that racist, misandrist, frigid faux-feminist Tory tools! Gag... I was really tempted to post a critical response, but I'm comming to suspect that he's deliberately trolling for traffic. And I'm not going to play.

Seriously, I was tempted to respond but I'm coming to the conclusion that

Deborah said...

Thanks for doing the dirty work on that, Craig, both here and over at Trotter's place.

I wonder if he realises how much he has in common with WhaleOil.

stargazer said...

ooh, i'm a faux feminist! mabye i should add that to my blog header, in the manner of jafapete...

Idiot/Savant said...

You'll be pleased to know he's repeated it in his Sunday Star-Times column as well.

Cactus Kate said...

I don't think Chris Trotter is writing in a blo-safe zone. He should be banned from commenting on Hand Mirror forthwith.

Stephanie said...


Anna said...

Craig, when I read your comment 'you've got to get the full flavour of Trotter getting his stupid on' I very nearly wet myself laughing.

It's an image that will stay with me forever.

Craig Ranapia said...

BTW, anyone who has Freeview might watch to catch a repeat of 'Eye to Eye'. If looks could have killed, Hekia Parata would have reduced Trotter to a greasy scorch mark after he chided her for failing to understand how Maori think, electorally speaking.


Bevan said...

While I can see your point, Trotter's original comment didn't seem a joke to me, but a metaphor.
In which case, why can't it be used?
He was indicating his distaste for the pursuit of Winston Peters, and it certainly came across through that.
It's not a phrase I would choose to use, but why censure him for it?

Arguments like the one in this post seem to want to protect people from bad things that have happened in their past.
Isn't that a bit idealistic?
I don't see how reading Trotter's metaphor is any different for a former rape victim than, say the victim of a car accident seeing a car accident on a TV show.
Both could possibly instigate painful trauma.
Reminders of these incidents are going to happen whether you like it or not, and unfortunately, the victims will have to learn to cope with the memory.
Isn't this trying to sweep away harsh lessons of life for a cloud-cuckoo-land in which we are all nice to each other and nothing bad ever happens.
We all know life's not like that.

If there's something I'm missing here, please enlighten me.

Stephanie said...

Arrgh. Did you actually bother to read my post?

1. I was aware Trotter was using the analogy as a metaphor, not a joke.

2. The reason isn't just because he mentions rape per say. But because he is using rape in a flippant manner comparing a political scandal with a horrific sexual attack trivalizing a crime which isn't taken seriously by large sections of the population already.

3. I actually think we do need to be honest about rape. It's the most violent crime a person can live through and as such deserves to be treated with sensitivity in the same way we do other horrific topics.

Craig Ranapia said...


Well, you "deal" with the harsh shit in life when you can talk about it soberly, accurately and truthfully. Now, Trotter can use all the metaphors he likes - but as I said on his blog, I've been sexually assaulted and I've had mean (even legally actionable) things said about me in print. While the latter is damn unpleasant, it's not even in the same universe of shame and degradation.

BTW, comparing Helen Clark to Robert Mugabe or Stalin (or John Key to Hitler, for that matter, is also a metaphor. But it's one that's so disproportionate and extravagant it just says more about the speaker than the object of the scorn.

Here's a parting shot, have you noticed how bad writers and speakers cover up a lack of substance with over-blown rhetoric (not least, OTT metaphors)? What really pissed me off about this is that Trotter isn't a stupid man -- while I strongly disagreed with the central thesis of No Right Turn, it did show a writer with a talent for sustained argument using language with some care and sensitivity. I just hope his bloggage comes up to the same mark soon.

Idiot/Savant said...

Now available as Coddingtonswallop:

I wish I'd never written that article. Not because I agree with all the criticism, but because I unwittingly pressed a button which unleashed the toxic nature of this country.


But my apology doesn't extend to those bandwagon jumpers who used the article to excuse their media equivalent of gang rape. These sadists, I suspect, will never be happy.


Bevan said...

NRT, I wonder if you're taking that comment out of context.
She sounded fairly contrite about the article - and fairly perceptive on how the media goes overboard on witch hunts.
Are people not allowed to change their minds?

Craig Ranapia said...


Aw, I'm going to call bullshit on that. Coddington was trotting out the same old passive-agressive voice "I'm so sorry you're offended" non-apology that is a staple of political spin and PR.

And I love the way someone who loves to complain about lilly-livered political correctness, is now trying to paint herself as the vicitm of a media gang-bang because...

Well, she did shabby work and got pinged for it.

Idiot/Savant said...

At least she didn't whine about the "tall poppy syndrome"...

Anonymous said...

Great post Stef.

Trotter's response stinks of troll poo.