Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: R.O.A.R.

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  • Kyle Matthews,

    Kia ora Emma,
    Your thinking and work continues to both inspire and challenge me. It's one of the reasons, while no longer a PAS regular, I continue to come back from time to time.
    I recently started my PhD, which is looking at the shutting down of politics in a different, activist sphere. In the back of my mind is my awareness of the elephant in the room, which is how easy it is for me to pontificate on the subject of my research, which is other, ignoring the privilege and personal challenges that I would face if I turned that gaze inwards.
    Ngā mihi

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I don't think any long time regular can fail to notice the lengthy absence of prominent female voices in PAS. Is due to change in the world, or is it a long run inevitability for any cohort of people that the women eventually drop out due to sheer exhaustion from dealing with the imbalance Emma speaks of?

    It's been a revelation to me (and most likely no surprise to outspoken women) how incredibly unbalanced the vitriol women have to deal with is. I was aware of a difference but had not truly appreciated that the differences go beyond the hurt feelings I have occasionally encountered in robust debate. So far beyond. I've never been physically threatened, stalked, privately insulted via different means, doxed, had randos continually coming at me, had unwanted and unwelcome approaches for sex followed by rape threats, threats on my family. But I've come to realize for women in the public eye this is almost normal. Furthermore it's even more extreme again for any woman who makes it their business to speak out against it. Add being a woman of color and its next level again. It was really sobering recently to read the accounts of Lani Wendt Young approaching the police with a humongous dossier of evidence of online threats and being told they would do nothing whatsoever, and being advised to stop being who she is, basically.

    I don't know what to do about any of this. Retreating after being pushed beyond endurance is fully understandable so it's not helpful to say "never give up". "What can I do to help?" is all I have left. It's a genuine question.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10568 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    More on topic (last post done on phone, usually a mistake, given how far it veered off topic), I can only agree to the pushing of every kind of bigotry off platforms wherever you can. Transphobia is so clearly an example of bigotry, despite the continuing institutional failure to catch up with protection of the rights of trans people.

    I am certainly guilty of struggling to treat their rights in more than an abstract way, because I just don't have extensive contact with the community. I rely on stories told by that community, and so clearly places where they can tell their stories are very important. They will still be targeted for cowardly private attacks continuously, but keeping the forum clear is the least we can do.

    But the question of how far to use the arts of the enemies of tolerance against them is obviously somewhat fraught. It's very hard to fight a war for peace, without using non-peaceful methods. Punching Nazis is, IMHO, letting Nazis off lightly, and going further does seem to work quite rapidly wherever it is tried. I have no sympathy whatsoever for people who demand the right for public places to be used to express bigotry, but then find consequences in workplaces, public squares, and obviously, on internet communities. I would have had no sympathy for the Power Station, if their venue suffered in many ways from a choice to platform white supremacists, and I can only guess that saner heads involved in the management saw this very clearly.

    We don't have quite such a groundswell of visceral outrage for homegrown transphobia, though. It must be galling to hear one form of bigotry eloquently and violently opposed by people who then turn around and display another towards you. People you thought were sympathetic, turn out to make an exception for you.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10568 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Oh man, I don’t think bakers should be allowed to refuse to serve gay couples, but I do think restaurateurs should be allowed to refuse to serve members of the Trump administration, am I a hypocrite?

    No your not.

    I think racists should shut the fuck up, does that mean I’m opposed to free speech?

    No, except if you are preventing them from spewing up there sick on the steps of parliament. Freedom of speech is the freedom to address parliament in the appropriate way. Your not protected to say what ever you want in most other places. And actual members of parliament have more freedom of speech than the rest of us.

    Is saying a swear or calling someone a racist as bad or worse than, y’know, being a racist?

    Its illegal to use offensive language in public places. And also same as question one.

    Because sometimes I feel like I don’t know anything any more.

    Same.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4036 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    people being "worth the price of admission" ... that varies from person to person

    That's what makes it hard. In the end you're making choices about which people to welcome, and it's never possible to welcome everyone (like the joke says "You can't have everything. Where would you put it?").

    The question is really about how the decision is made and who makes it. Often it's a contest between loud minorities, and all too often it's between two privileged minorities. Should nice middle-class white women welcome nice middle-class white men, or should they permit non-white women? You can bet the nice middle-class white men will have opinions (don't we always), but the non-white women... hmm.

    You can end up in a "turtles all the way down" situation of trying to work out how to hear voices that aren't currently present to get their ideas on how to better accommodate voice that would let you welcome ... but then are you just asking under-privileged people to do even more work to assuage your privileged guilt? Even telling them that they're invited is implicitly pressuring them to attend...

    Meanwhile I'm about to go off and enjoy the company of some other middle-aged property owners as we work to beautify our local area. Our suburb is so lovely :)

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1120 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    There's also this really good piece on who gets heard in the media and why... in the specific case of the media choosing an angle/who to listen to on a story then all following the judas goat because ... well, anyway, same story.

    https://thespinoff.co.nz/media/24-08-2018/media-are-critical-in-criminal-justice-thinking-so-how-did-they-cover-the-big-summit/

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1120 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to BenWilson,

    I don't think any long time regular can fail to notice the lengthy absence of prominent female voices in PAS. Is due to change in the world, or is it a long run inevitability for any cohort of people that the women eventually drop out due to sheer exhaustion from dealing with the imbalance Emma speaks of?

    I can't speak for "women", but I can say what's happened to me. In part it's time; this year I have started retraining as a medical transcriptionist. I am also doing transcription work for a journalist again, and between those and my kids and my new-ish relationship, the last couple of months have just been... there is no time. I wrote this on Thursday evening because my normal role-playing session fell through.

    Also, I feel like... I've been writing here for ten years. I've said everything. Either things have changed - the dominant voice of NZ feminism has hugely changed, for instance - or they've remained the same, and what more can I add?

    And there is the exhaustion, there absolutely is. When you have skin in the game, it drains a lot more energy than if it's all just intellectual. This Trumpian post-truth, lying has no consequences age has just completely sucked out my will to engage.

    We don't have quite such a groundswell of visceral outrage for homegrown transphobia, though. It must be galling to hear one form of bigotry eloquently and violently opposed by people who then turn around and display another towards you. People you thought were sympathetic, turn out to make an exception for you.

    I think these people - I haven't used the term "TERF" because TERFS search for it to find people to attack, but they're TERFs - are absolutely taking deliberate advantage of the fact that they're women, and largely lesbians, to deflect or silence criticism of their views. But lesbians, particularly white middle-clase lesbians, have huge privilege over transwomen, and I recognise the dynamic because they also have and exercise privilege over bi women.

    Also they almost never talk about trans men. My younger son socially transitioned about a year ago. He desperately wants top surgery, not so much because of dysphoria but to lessen his chances of being outed. For safety. I have zero time for anyone who, for whatever reasons, doesn't accept him as his affirmed gender.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4637 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Emma Hart,

    This Trumpian post-truth, lying has no consequences age has just completely sucked out my will to engage.

    I guess that's what I'm wondering about. Whether such change as I have noticed is actually just a fact about me and people I have engaged with who have also aged, progressed, move on, been ground down, fallen out with each other, etc, or whether there's something genuinely different about now, and things are getting worse. It's hard to be objective about this kind of question. Because even the means to discuss it have changed and moved on, the metrics are not constant, and the objectives also shift.

    Also, I feel like… I’ve been writing here for ten years. I’ve said everything. Either things have changed – the dominant voice of NZ feminism has hugely changed, for instance – or they’ve remained the same, and what more can I add?

    Yes, I have often felt I've nothing more to say that I haven't already said. Which is not to say I know everything, quite the opposite - that the more I argued the less certain I became about abstract matters and yet the more certain about many concrete things - who I love, who I will fight for, what kind of behaviour is OK, which people I want to hear from. Focusing on battles that can be won seems like a more constructive use of my dwindling time. World peace: can look after itself. Getting my kids to have good character: I can probably have a big influence over it. Protecting my children from social oppression: Definitely worth fighting for, even if the worst enemys in the battle are probably (to outsiders) very much like me.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10568 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    I guess that’s what I’m wondering about. Whether such change as I have noticed is actually just a fact about me and people I have engaged with who have also aged, progressed, move on, been ground down, fallen out with each other, etc, or whether there’s something genuinely different about now, and things are getting worse.

    Facebook, Twiter, Instagram and the tiny screens. Thats changed the focus.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4036 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Emma Hart,

    . This Trumpian post-truth, lying has no consequences age

    Its a shallow time alright, and old lies have been picked up by new faces and championed as a new truth/wisdom/ knowledge which makes it all the more galling 'cause you are left wondering... 'Havent we been over this many times before why is it being bought up and argued about AGAIN'
    A canadian comes to mind in this respect, who I wont name( its a he) and has a lot of people in thrall to his brand of conscripting science.to his agenda.
    It will come to an end, but its hell while it lasts.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1715 posts Report Reply

  • SHG,

    We on the Left may have better stories than the Right

    huh? what does that even mean?

    nup • Since Oct 2010 • 72 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to SHG,

    It's a polite way of contrasting the progressive voices with the regressive ones.

    There's a lot of people publicly trying to bring back the "good old days" ... when you could fire someone for being gay, maternity leave wasn't an issue because women were fired when they got married, no-one cared what you called your maori boy, and this whole transsexual/ transvestite/ transgender stuff hadn't been invented.

    For a lot of us it was the bad old days and we don't have happy memories of it. We don't want it back. We want to move forward.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1120 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to SHG,

    huh? what does that even mean?

    It's a reference to an older column.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4637 posts Report Reply

  • Roger M,

    Thank you Emma. On point as always.

    Hamilton • Since Jun 2018 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Also, I feel like… I’ve been writing here for ten years. I’ve said everything. Either things have changed – the dominant voice of NZ feminism has hugely changed, for instance – or they’ve remained the same, and what more can I add?

    And there is the exhaustion, there absolutely is. When you have skin in the game, it drains a lot more energy than if it’s all just intellectual. This Trumpian post-truth, lying has no consequences age has just completely sucked out my will to engage.

    Tautoko.

    My take on exhaustion is slightly different. I look back at this place when it was much, much busier and I can’t believe I had the bandwidth for it all. I don’t have the energy any more for shoulder-tapping new contributors or minding contentious discussions, and I’m genuinely happy for it to be quieter. (Although I’m always pleased and interested when you post.) It’s been 16 years of Public Address – and 11 years of Hard News as a radio/internet rant before that.

    I tend to stick to the stuff I know most about, which is why I mostly post about media, music and drugs. The site still fills a role and I’d actually love to get it tidied up to reflect its quieter life, but I presently don’t have the money to do that. Press Patron certainly helps, but I’m obliged to treat that as a low-word-rate return on the stuff I do write.

    It is interesting to look back a decade and marvel at how respectful the discussion usually was. I think Twitter changed things in a couple of ways – first by drawing off the real-time discussion and secondly by bringing a harsher edge to it. It got really difficult when people started falling out with each other, and hard not to feel I was responsible. Like I said, I just don’t have the mega bandwidth any more.

    (Hmmm. This sounds a bit mopey, but it's actually not meant to.)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    (Hmmm. This sounds a bit mopey, but it’s actually not meant to.)

    Yes, I'm sorry for the threadjack, been meaning to ask Emma at the earliest opportunity, and the segue was pretty thin. It's not any kind of criticism, certainly not of Emma who is amazing me by being able to write at all given what she's been through. I'm just interested in whether she had any insight beyond the explanation that steven crawford gives above, which is surely true, to some extent. That afflicts us all, but perhaps there was an even stronger dynamic for women at work.

    But again, there's the other explanation that we're all getting older too, so it's probably not really possible to be objective.

    I had also forgotten that there was a long and somewhat rough thread on all of this already, 2 years ago. Thanks reader who emailed me on it. I must have switched off some way before the final shutdown, but it goes a long way to answering why, when I made a personal rule that I would not comment on thread where the ratio of women to men fell below a certain point (barring the Speaker threads I wrote myself*), that I then wasn't able to make many comments for about a year, until I abandoned the rule.

    *Which ironically, I had closed as they had become a way for random taxi drivers to anonymously fuck with me and I got tired of having to watch them for potential abuse. They could have had a go on the FB page I set up solely for that purpose, which had well over a thousand drivers on it by the end, and my own moderation crew, but of course on FB you have to go to the trouble of setting up a fake account to anonymous screw with people, and blocking them is a single click away. I never had any abuse directed at me there, ever, and only had to block 2 people - one for outright overt racism, and the other for sustained gay-baiting. But that's closed FB pages for you. I think it's a huge testament to the exceptionalism given to white male educated older men that on something so divisive I never had even one single abuse pointed at me. The gay white middle aged educated guy, on the other hand...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10568 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to BenWilson,

    No, I forgot (it was so inconsequential). Some called me a butter chicken, said some rude stuff in Hindi, then flounced. That was it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10568 posts Report Reply

  • Neil,

    I look back at this place when it was much, much busier and I can’t believe I had the bandwidth for it all.

    You could have gone for the Super Woke Bloke formula for upping trafic – make endless attacks on The Media and The Elites, wage vendettas against moderates and dance around defending the free speech rights of extremists all covered in lashings of self pity and self righteousness.

    It’s working for a disturbingly large number of people.

    Since Nov 2016 • 260 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Neil,

    And thus the madness in our midst is exposed dressed in the noisy chattering of ten millions voices in our consciousness.
    When all we need to do is be quiet and clean up our mess.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1715 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Emma Hart,

    for no reason I can fathom without drowning in bile and cynicism, both Stuff and The Herald chose to lend their platforms to a small group of very vocal transphobes.

    And again. I can’t speak for the Herald but in the case of the Dom Post, reporter Matt Stewart has made no secret of his inclination to foster debate around trans lives.

    Tellingly, in constructing his original piece, Stewart was informed of Renee Gerlich’s conspiracy theorist blogging; comparing modern trans surgery to Nazi experimentation on trans people – a detail repeatedly omitted in his commentaries.

    Upon publication of that piece, Patrick Crewdson was approached, leading to Dom Post Editor Eric Janssen offering to discuss it over coffee. Unable to meet, instead connecting him to the trans woman (two words) whose testimony wrt Gerlich’s NAZI fixation Stewart had previously disregarded, Janssen’s response appeared lacklustre – and AFAIK no further attempt was made at contact.

    All of this despite Gerlich’s status as a NAZI conspiracy theorist being a matter of public record for some months, verifiable via rudimentary Google search.

    contains an article written nine months ago by Gerlich, comparing modern trans surgery to Nazi experimentation on trans people, entitled “Fundamentalism, Pseudoscience, Romanticism, and Scapegoats: some parallels of gender identity doctrine with Nazi eugenics”.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2240 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to mark taslov,

    Thanks, Mark. I had heard quite a lot about Stewart, but only in a private group, so I didn't really want to mention it. He has another piece up on Stuff today, making the same non-sensical division between "feminists" and "trans activists". The same quote from one of the admins of our group, Sharyn Forsyth, is used as he was given last time: they didn't come to us for comment. The article talks about harassment of TERFs, but not the tactics they have used - stealing the names and photos of women of colour to set up sock-puppet accounts, setting up a Change.org petition under the name of Feminist Mothers Aotearoa because that group (which I belong to, and of which one of the founders is a trans woman) have opposed them, and have been ripping down those horrible stickers around Wellington...

    Thing is, Renee Gerlich is rather like Lauren Southern: she thrives on the publicity public opposition brings, so what do we do?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4637 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Emma Hart,

    idk, it’s difficult to ignore the central role SOEs are playing in validating this stuff. Perhaps someone could ask the Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media about reintroducing the broadcast charter:

    "to set and maintain the highest standards of programme quality and editorial integrity."

    whether promoting and normalising transmisia, racism, xenophobia etc by validating outlying falsifiable sources is really in keeping with the spirit of:

    • Providing for minority interests and increased choice

    • Enforcement of standards of content which conform with and support perceived community values.

    • Promotion of national culture and identity.

    • Promotion of participatory democracy, including encouragement of a diversity of sources of information.

    likelihood of a cultural switch within the sector back towards fact-based narratives?:

    Anti-Transgender Protesters Target Auckland Pride Parade

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2240 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    There’s a group that call themselves the “Rainbow Greens”. I’m a feminist dad. And I’m serious about that.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4036 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    TERFs come across as the flip side of a coin where the other side is “MRA”. I also wonder if there’s an undercurrent of homo-nationalism & femo-nationalism about these types.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5397 posts Report Reply

  • tussock, in reply to Emma Hart,

    And there is the exhaustion, there absolutely is. When you have skin in the game, it drains a lot more energy than if it's all just intellectual. This Trumpian post-truth, lying has no consequences age has just completely sucked out my will to engage.

    I have the privilege to feel more engaged than ever. There's a lot of ring wing stuff internationally has taken to calling the left Nazis, as a way of covering for their own decent into madness.

    The recent gaslighting with the white power hand signs while appointing a 5th crazy justice to the US supreme court who seems dead keen on overturning Griswold of all things ..., so much modern international good came from that one court case. Like, that is everything post-70's started there, and everything in the US still leans on it. If they lose that, how do we keep it? All of it.

    Trump and the guys around him are just so obviously dangerous to everyone, kidnapping thousands of children for fucks sake, with no understanding that people might object. I find the parallels with the 20's and 30's to be existentially threatening in the age of rapid climate change and nuclear weapons. Not just his openly stated desire to crush the free press and imprison his political opponents, but the open support of terrorist militias to attack people he doesn't like, that's 1870's stuff in the US, and the police in so many places are totally on board with it.

    The move to blockade Yemen under Trump, there's over a hundred thousand kids of died of starvation and cholera so they can rent their power to the Saudis and cut taxes for the super-rich just a little more at home. The UN is trying to bring war crime charges but it's the US so nothing even happens. The guys they're supporting in that war are basically a branch of ISIS, just like they kept doing in Syria until the Russians turned up, and all we get in our news is "but Iran", because Iran are opposed to ISIS, and the Saudis are not.

    Also recently, Saudi Arabia beheading women for being public feminists. And that's, like, the crown prince did that to troll the Canadian PM. Because he can, because they pay the US enough and Trump is a monster. That all engages me.

    But yeah, it's not the left in Nazis. Antifa are the good guys. Everyone having rights is awesome good.

    Since Nov 2006 • 600 posts Report Reply

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