Monday, August 15, 2011

The cost of being a woman in public

Felicity Perry has talked to both Stuff and Nine to Noon about her experience on the Independent Youth Benefit. This is one of the benefits that National is planning to target with its latest scheme to pathologise young people.

David Farrer wrote a post about her (I'm not linking to it). In the comments thread someone posted her cellphone number. In that thread she has been repeatedly denigrated. She has also been harassed by phone.

She told a small part of her life story. Of her experiences on the Independent Youth Benefit, and what these policies would have meant for her. Her experience was not the experience of MPs, businessmen and international financial traders. It was not enough for those who disagreed her to denigrate her and attack her legitimacy to speak; they also had to harass her personally and extract a toll from her for what she'd said.


On Friday's New Zealand Next Top Model the contestants were given a "Pacific Blue Courtesy Challenge". They had actors making life hard for the contestants, and this included an actor playing a papparazzi. The fake papparazzi took a picture of one of the contestants, Aroha, in her underwear when she was getting out of the taxi, and when she tried to get away from them she was the most assertive.

Aroha was deemed to fail the "courtesy challenge" and kicked off the show.

She was blamed both for being harassed, blamed for her harassers success, and blamed for fighting back.


Drawing attention to misogyny on either kiwiblog or New Zealand's Next Top Model, is kind of like talking about the wetness of the sea. Women's bodies and lives are treated as public property, and these are just two of an ocean of examples. But as well as being examples they normalise it. NZTM is fun Friday night entertainment, and the huge number of tampon adds on TV3 OnDemand makes it very clear whose its ideas of what it means to be a woman are for. While Kiwiblog is happy to exact a cost for stating opposing views - a cost that'll be higher for those who are more marginalised.

So my opposing narrative is to offer solidarity to Aroha and Felicity. To applaud their strength and resistance. To offer the same to other women who are experiencing variations of the same horrible harassment, whose lives and bodies are treated as public property, and who are penalised for any difference with what the viewer expects.

1 comment:

  1. Don Franks10:14 am

    Farrer is a hypocritical wanker.

    Just a few posts along from his sneering at Felicity Perry, under the headline "Labour makes it personal" he pens this prissy unctuousness:

    "When I was a campaign manager, I never advocated nastiness towards my candidate’s opponent (Marian Hobbs). To the contrary I made a point of only saying positive things her in a personal, not political, sense"