Monday, February 28, 2011

The minister for police and upholding rape culture

From the Herald (via No Right Turn):

Police Minister Judith Collins said the actions of looters was akin to "people who rob the dead".*

She expected to see the judiciary throw the book at looters.

"I hope they go to jail for a long time - with a cellmate."

Judith Collins introduced widespread double-bunking; she championed it in the media. When people who had actually done research suggested that it would lead to more prison rape and violence, she shrugged those statements off.

And now she's telling us that, for her, abuse and violence between inmates is a feature of double-bunking, not a bug. She is not explicit, but we live in a culture where threats of rape in prison are common enough that she doesn't need to finish the thought by telling us that the cellmate is large and called Bubba. By signalling that she thinks looters should be subject to rape and violence from their cell mates, she has acknowledged that her policy of introducing cellmates is responsible for increased rape and violence.


One of the most fundamental ideas of rape culture is that sometimes consent doesn't matter. And if you suggest that, about anyone, ever, then you are legitimising it as an area of contention and debate,

So when the Police Minister implies that looters should be raped, the ideas she's promoting about prison are appalling, but they don't just affect prisoners. What she says is part of the same culture that tells us not to drink, to go out at night, to dress that way. It's the same culture that says if we're in a relationship with him, or drunk, or flirted, or were in a war zone, or were asleep, or had sex with other people then our consent doesn't matter. It's the same culture that has been reinforced in every rape case I've ever written about. When someone ignores our consent and violates, it's that same culture which will find a reason, any reason, that we caused it and deserved it.

We can't dismiss comments about prison rape as somehow being different from other comments about rape. Like prison, prison rape is part of society, not removed from it.

* Just as a note - I haven't written anything about the earthquake. I try not to write on my blog without a reason - either because I've got something to say, or because there's something that I think should be heard, otherwise I try to stay silent. My silence should not be read as indifference.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Good News

Yesterday the Court of Appeal upheld the SFWU & PSA case against IDEA Services - more usually known as the 'sleepover case'.

For those who haven't been following it - across the country there are residential houses, which offer around the clock care for people who need for disability or mental health reasons. These are funded (or rather underfunded) by the government. At the moment, the caregivers in these houses are paid what are called 'sleep-over rates' overnight. IDEA Services pays its works $34 for a 9 hour shift. This is obviously well below the minimum wage.

The unions involved took a case in 2007 to argue that workers should be paid the minimum wage. They won in the Employment court, and have now won in the court of appeal. Consistently the courts have found that since the workers have to be there then it is work (I could have told them that for free, but oh well) and should have been paid the minimum wage (for more information see the Service and Food Workers Union website - which is where I got the picture from).

I think this is one of the most important active feminist struggles in New Zealand at the moment. New Zealand feminists have been fighting for equal pay for equal work for a very long time. And we haven't won yet jobs that are preformed by women are consistently judged of less worth than jobs that are performed by men.

And this is a classical example: jobs that are dominated by men, Doctors, Firefighters, and ambulance officers, all get paid far more than minimum wage and are able to sleep on the job. Whereas disability service workers are mostly women, so they're not even working.

However, unfortunately victory in the courts may not deliver either backpay or a new. The IHC has made preparations to go bankrupt if they have to pay the money. Unless the government, which is the funder of services and so was, and has been, complicit in this whole thing. The government has also indicated that it would be prepared to change the law specifically to stop the payment of minimum wage over sleep overs (it's willing to make exceptions to the labour law for itself, as well as film studios).

So it's important not to just rely on the courts to make this change, but to actively support the workers in their struggle to get the very most basic wages and conditions.

Aesthetics, Lifestyle and survival strategies

Ten years ago I was attending a reunion of a Women's liberation group, as an observer. It was an incredible experience and an honour. And on the first day, in the first session, one of the women got up excitedly and said "I just want to say look at all the people wearing trousers, when we first met, every one of us would have been wearing a skirt, Isn't it fabulous."

She was an awesome, friendly, loving woman. She had the best of intentions.

And over the next two days I heard pretty much every woman who was wearing a skirt talk about what she'd said. She'd made them feel self-concious and judged. And other women who were wearing trousers that day felt the same way.

By celebrating one form of dress within a feminist space, a well-intentioned woman had alienated many of those there. And I don't think that she ever knew the effect her words had.


I have been misquoted pretty consistently as arguing that The Wellington Young Feminist Collective 'should' take issues of aesthetics/lifestyle/survival strategies off the table. I didn't say that. What I said was this:

This is the reason I wrote my post: "I used to think I couldn't be a feminist because I like looking a certain way and I am interested in certain things."

I think this is a real danger - equally the inverse - that women can feel that they can't be a feminist because they don't look a certain way and aren't interested in certain things. And I think the easiest way to avoid that is to make aesthetic/lifestyle/survival choices off the table for feminist discussion.

Now I want to talk about why I think that, what I meant by it, and why I think it's important.


I'm going to take as a basic assumption of this post that it is not OK to criticise another woman's aesthetic/lifestyle/survival strategies in the name of feminism.* I know that this isn't a universally held belief. This post and the discussion at Boganette's makes that clear. But I think it also makes it clear why other women's survival strategies should not be open to criticism.

Why isn't it OK to use the language of feminism to judge other people's decisions?

Because it's alienating, none of your business, and the survival strategies other people choose has nothing to do with your liberation.**

I am happy to argue about this in the comments, but I am going to spend the rest of the post speaking to people who don't support criticising other people's aesthetic/lifestyle/survival strategies in the name of feminism, but don't understand why they should be off the table. I'll try and explain why I think celebratory, or supposedly neutral comments about aesthetic/lifestyle/survival strategies can be damaging in feminist spaces.


I opened with a story, here are some more.

My friend was at a feminist action. She had been given free razors as part of a promotion. She didn't shave her legs. She gives them to someone and says "here you shave your legs have these". Later, much later, the person she gave the razors too tells her how shit she felt in that moment, how judged. My friend doesn't even remember it happening. [Please respect this story. I'm not going to accept any second guessing of it in the comments]


It had been advertised as a feminist meeting, but it was actually a clothes swap. Indeed it wasn't really a clothes swap at all, but one woman giving her clothes away. People tried on clothes, and they mostly didn't fit . One woman, who was probably half my size, put her hand on her hips and thighs and said "They're huge, that's why this is never going to fit."


An older feminist is running a feminist workshop. She makes frequent references to where she does and doesn't shave. She was trying to put us at ease. In fact it just made me feel like this mattered.


I could give many more examples like this. Think of the effect of celebrating a particular aesthetic/lifestyle/survival strategy in the name of feminism has on those who for whom it is financially impossible, or for those for whom it is inaccessible because of the way society disables their bodies.

When you're celebrating a particular survival strategy it still has nothing to do with anyone else's liberation, it's still alienating, and it's still none of anyone else's business.

In particular, in my experience, discussions about aesthetic/lifestyle/survival strategies take on more meaning and become more fraught when they happen in feminist spaces - and even more so the larger the feminist space.

This is just an observation. It may not be true in all feminist spaces, but it has certainly been a consistent experience of mine. I'm just guessing, but I think this is a result of the impossibility of women to win with their choices - they're always too much something, and are juggling so many different expectations, as well as their own and other people's needs. Therefore any kind of expression within a feminist space about these issues becomes a whole nother axis of pressure.

You'll notice that I only feature as an observer and the one excluded in these stories. This is not because I have some magic non-alienating super power. It's because what these stories have in common (as does the Trousers one I mentioned) is that the people who have made others feel alienated and excluded by discussing survival strategies have no idea that they've done unless someone tells them.


I stand by my statement that the easiest way to solve the problem that I have now explored in quite some detail is to make discussions of aesthetics/survival strategies/lifestyles off limits in feminist spaces.

Let's consider a different way of dealing with discussions of clothes shops on the WYFC feed. Another way of doing it would be to post "Hey we all know clothing yourself can be super difficult. I just found this neat boutique called Emma's which works for me for [x reasons], but it might not work for you. What are your favourite clothing shops?" That's less universalising and I would have made no comment on a post like that.

Would people feel posting that they liked City Chic? The Warehouse? Hallensteins? Glassons? Supre? Each of these spaces provide different types of clothes at different prices for different people. Is this a space where people would be able to say, actually I can't afford to shop for clothes. Or I don't go to the clothes shops because of anxiety. If those things don't get posted how do you know why?

So what if someone comes a long and all the shops seem to them super-femme, or expensive, or don't cater to bodies anything like hers, and she's think "oh", and feels like feminism is a bit further away. My experience suggests that this is not just a hypothetical. This is a likely outcome.

The reason I say that I think the easiest solution is to take these matters off the table, is because I think having a good conversation about survival strategies/aesthetics/lifestyle is really fucking difficult. (for ones that go badly see any number of discussions on Feministe) If you want to initiate these sorts of conversations you have to know what you're doing and take the responsibility really seriously.

Can it be done? I was very interested in some of the conversations they had a FWD. They put a lot of effort into making sure that different experiences were heard. But who knows if people felt alienated by the way they did it.


I know how useful discussion with people, those who share your experiences, about your aesthetic/survival strategy/lifestyle can be. They're useful for understanding why you do things the way you do, what meaning you've given to them, they can help making you stronger. I know what a difference it's meant so much to me having not just a name for the set of things that I found hard (dyspraxia) but someone who finds some of the same things hard.

I think spaces which tell individual women's stories and describe their aesthetic/lifestyle/survival strategies are really awesome and important. I follow a lot of blogs about women's lives, with their experiences and their analysis all rolled around. And then it's really clear 'this is me'. Locally, I love, and learn a lot from Letters from Wetville and Tales of a Redheaded Devil Child

The discussions which are useful for one person - will be unbearable for another. A description that one person finds really speaks to them is super alienating for another. There is value in creating spaces for all of us where we can feel comfortable, relax and socialise.


And I know, many people have said, that it can seem ridiculous that when I've caused so much division to be so concerned about alienating people. But to me divisions based on ideology - 'what is feminism' are necessary and important. And if I write a follow up post - a response to all the people who asked me "Who the fuck are you to say what feminism is?" I'll try and explain why.

Alienating people who are wearing trousers, or who shave their legs, or who can't use the products you promote, when you don't even mean to, that's completely unnecessary and avoidable.

* Just to be clear I differentiate betweens survival strategies and the use of power. So, for example, if you take a job that gives you management responsibilities then you can and should be criticised for the way that you use that power. However, almost all survival strategies don't involve the wielding of power over someone else.

** The other exception I would lay out to when other people's survival strategies become other people's business is if you cross a picket line, but I don't think that applies here.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bad news

So according to the Right to Life (I'm not recommending you follow this link - just providing for information sake) website the Family Planning Assocation have withdrawn their application to provide medical abortions from their Hamilton clinic.*

If this application was successful Family Planning would have been able to apply to provide medical abortions in all their clinics.

Family Planning have clinics in Greymouth, Invercargill, Timaru, Tauranga, Ashburton, Whanganui, Ashburton and Rangiora - at the moment women in those places have to travel to another town or city to access abortion. They also have multiple clinics in Auckland and Wellington - so women from Porirua wouldn't have to take two buses and a train to get to Newtown Hospital, and women from South Auckland and the North Shore wouldn't have to make their way to Epsom. It would have completely transformed abortion access in New Zealand.

It would have not solved all the problems that our horrific abortion legsilation creates for women seeking abortion. It would mean that women in larger cities would have a choice between surgical and medical abortions, but those in other areas could only easily access medical abortion. And women who go to Family Planning would still have to jump through the hoops to prove to doctors that they deserve an abortion.

But it would have made a real difference to abortion access in New Zealand. And now it won't happen.

Right to Life have had marches and law suits against the Family Planning Association. That's how worried they were about it.

I think this is another sign of the importance of building an active pro-choice movement in this country. Come along to the 2011 Pro-Choice Gathering.

* And just to make fun of Right to Life they include in their press release the statement that medical abortions have killed 12 people - worldwide. Where pregnancy and childbirth is normally totes safe, and has never lead to any maternal deaths, ever, anywhere.

Have some fun

It's election year, and Family First are responding by running a poll about how the government should leave families alone, except poor families and women, and also the government should define families more.

Go have your say it's all democratic like.

Possibly we should also take a poll on favourite illustration. I'm quite taken by the poor soft toys being exposed to a bra.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Is this what feminists look like?

There's this awesome new project The Wellington Young Feminists' Collective. I'm super excited about it, but don't quite know how to orient myself towards it.

Because in about one in every twenty things they post makes me want to have a massive city wide discussion about what feminism means. Here's the latest:

Hey ladies, here is a shop I discovered in Berhampore today which is FANTASTIC. Lovely handmade, locally designed ladies clothes and jewelry. And they fit ladies with big boobs, which is rarer than it should be. Yay for awesome local businesses! x

That was posted on Saturday, and about every four hours since I've gone backwards and forwards about responding to it, and how I should respond to it. Which maybe has a little bit to do with the fact that I've been travelling alone and the alternative was walking in the rain to Pak 'n' Save to discvoer they don't stock Whittakers Dark Almond Chocolate. But it's also because feminism is really important to me and things which I would normally just be 'eh' about really agitate me when they're done in the name of feminism. On the other hand I know it's very easy for me (particularly in full rant mode) to come on very strong. In this case I want to start a discussion, rather than just rant about why am I right and everyone else is wrong (which to be honest which is what I want a lot of the time), but I don't know that I've got that setting. So far I've stayed silent (and started an argument about Seasame St on facebook to make myself feel better).

But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that there was an important feminist principle at stake that I wanted to try and articulate. I think (and maybe the admins of the Young Feminist Collective will disagree) that posting anything to a feed of a feminist group is to promote that post as a feminist act. I have three main objections to that in this particular case:

1. Cutting for some body shapes (like a large bust) will make clothes fit some body types better, but other body types worse. Clothes shops sell a hole that your body should fit into. And promoting any particular sized or shaped hole is problematic from a feminist perspective.

2. Promoting clothes shops that only sell straight sizes in a feminist space is exclusionary. But actually what I find even more offensive, is that nowhere on Emma's website does it mention what sizes she stocks. So people have to go out to Berhampore to learn they're not welcome to buy her clothes. By looking at another website that sold her stuff, I was able to discover that she has a very few 16s, a few more Ls which is 14-16, and some styles which have 14 as their largest size (and a lot of her clothes don't come in an 8 either). Fine different shops stock different ranges of sizes. But to not specify what body types you sell for, to act as if they really limited range which you do stock covers everyone is perpetuating particularly damaging ideas about women's bodies.

3. And then there's the capitalism issue. Because actually no I don't support locally owned businesses, even the supposedly awesome ones. The idea that local businesses are any better than larger ones is not an evidence based assertion. While I know nothing about Emma, I do know a reasonable amount about the New Zealand clothing industry - and the way clothes are produced in New Zealand is absolutely the opposite of everything I think feminism stands for.

I'm not dissing clothes shopping - I understand that clothes shopping can be awesome for some women at some times(my question of the moment is how many LucieLu dresses with zips up the front do I need - and the answer is ALL OF THEM). What I object to as promoting clothes shopping (particularly at a specific shop) as something that is going to appeal to a group of women who have nothing in common other than they're young feminists.

Feminism isn't a particular aesthetic or lifestyle or survival strategies. We're not all the same, we don't all like cupcakes, knitting, cute dresses, cool accessories, moon-cups, op-shops, roller-derby, Joss Whedon, gardening, and bicycles.

There's a reason I didn't post all my Dollhouse reviews to the Hand Mirror, and partly that's because of spoilers, but it's also because the Hand Mirror isn't just my playground the way my blog is. The Hand Mirror is a group feminist blog, and the only one (that I know of) in the country. What I do in The Hand Mirror, more than what I do anywhere else, is done in the name of feminism and that comes with it a certain responsibility.

To me a core part of that responsibility is to never suggest that liking the things I happen to like is part of being feminist. Feminism is an ideology not an aesthetic. Feminism should be about massively different people coming together with ideas in common.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The week isn't ending

Last week was a week of feminist rage - this week was supposed to be something new. I wasn't quite expecting a week of feminist revolt and joy, but I was hoping to rage about something else for a week.*

But no - The Rock were determined that my week of feminist rage should never end. To be fair he mention of "the Rock" in the news in itself is like a lighthouse warning that rocks of misogyny are ahead. They did after all used to have billboards which said "We gave you something to listen to while your girlfriend was talking" (printed on the t-shit of a woman while not showing her head - naturally).

But now they have started a competition to 'win a wife':

The winner of MediaWorks' The Rock promotion will fly to the Ukraine for 12 nights, be given $2000 spending money, and be able to choose a bride from an agency.
There are really no words besides 'gah' and 'argh' and obviously their obnoxiousness is in part seeking an outraged reaction.

But what got me were the questions you have to answer to enter the competition. A large number of them ask about the various things contestants have done to 'score'. And then:
All women are nuts, but what can you tell us about your craziest Ex that sets her apart from the other nut-jobs?
The internal contradictions of a masculinity which hates women but requires hetrosexuality are so stark that whenever I try and think about it my brain short circuits.

It's like women are bogs of eternal stench with islands in the middle. And sex is catching a butterfly on one of those islands taking it home and pinning it on your wall for your mates (who are very judgemental about bog smells) to see.

It seems so ridiculous, so contrived, so obviously not connected to anything real or true that I find it hard to understand how this house of cards stands.

And it doesn't quite stand. The Rock, and beer ads, enforce masculinity in ways that dance so close to parody - and a sturdy house wouldn't need this sort of scaffolding. Our radical notion that women are people is a powerful counter-weapon.

* I have had lots of rage about the treatment of minimum wage workers both by the government and their employers. Tomorrow maybe.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Topping my week of feminist rage

The existence of the New Zealand police taps pretty much into the core of my rage at the best of times. And their recruitment campaigns are always appalling. There was one that was all about how boring and stupid teaching was. And then there was this one:

Girl germs are super catching - and they don't impress his manly bbq-ing friends - obviously the only solution is his own baton.* That whole series of ads was basically "work that is coded feminine is gross and not suitable for men."

But their latest set of ads are about communicating a slightly different message:

Yes, Clint Rickards, Brad Shipton, Bob Schollum, and many other men who have never been publicly named did like them young. Police rapists don't rape indiscriminately; they focus on powerless women.

The message of the latest campaign is clear: "We're over even pretending to care about police officers who rape. Instead we can go back to what we do best. We've even got a guy at the training college to make sure everyone understands the 'bros before hos' message"

Ideologically Impure (who gets credit for the picture) and Luddite Journo are much more coherent than me on these posters. I don't think I've got anymore words for my anger at the New Zealand police force, at least not at the moment. So consider this a scream at the end of my week of feminist rage.

* This definately makes me think of the Simpsons: "Dude you kissed a girl that's so gay".

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Enough liberation to go round

Queen of Thorns wrote a post Why the Left Needs Feminism and cross posted over on the standard. I think her post is really interesting and important (and it's great to see it at the Standard, which usually only comments on feminist issues when there's a really obvious way to insult John Key in the process). Here I do focus on what I disagree with her about and so I suggest you read the whole post, because there's lots of cool ideas in there.

And I agree with her conclusion - obviously I agree with her conclusion. But I disagree with some of the points she makes along the way. Mostly, I think, because we have a different analysis of the role of the Labour Party within the left.

QoT appears to begin her post by setting up a Labour party: "focused on class struggle or strictly economic leftist ideas." This labour party does not exist. Chris Trotter has indeed tried to portray worshipping at the altar of testosterone as a service to the working class, but that doesn't make it true. Likewise there are those who suggest the reason that the fifth labour government alienated so many working-class people was because of it's crazy feminism, but the actual feminist legislative achievements at that time were minimal particularly with what doesn't done (I'm looking at you pay equity and abortion law reform). At times QoT appears to accept Chris Trotter's zero-sum game and just argue that 'identity politics' things are important - rather than going further and saying that there's enough liberation to go around.

In places of her post she is treading over reasonably familiar ground. One of the biggest intellectual challenges for the left is to understand the why and the how of the fourth labour government? Certainly this has come up on left blogs before and there is an argument which places the responsibility at the feet of 'identity politics' (Chris Trotter, John Minto and Bryce Edwards have all made it). I disagree - and I've written my thoughts on this before, so I'm not going to go over them again.

But at times QoT seemed to be arguing the inverse of Trotter's argument:

Trotter is speaking about the 1980s, that golden age of namby-pamby identity politics when the left got distracted by piffling little side issues like whether men should be held accountable for raping their wives and whether gay men should be allowed to be gay.

A time when the Left wasn’t, to quote Phil Goff’s own advisor John Pagani on that thread, “connecting with things that matter to people”. You can probably draw your own conclusions as to the kind of people he means.

I've said it before, and I'll probably say it again, but this idea that the 1980s was a golden age of identity politics (whether you see that as a bad thing) gets repeated far more often than it gets proved. No-one has been able to tell me what the wonderful legislative feminist gains of the fourth labour government were.

But more importantly here Pagani is clearly conflating the 'left' and 'the parliamentary labour party'. He's also wrong on both counts. Because in the 1980s the parliamentary labour party was 'connecting with things that matter to people' - if you call a kick connecting. It was privatising assets, introducing GST, introducing student fees and selling post-offices. And the extra-parliamentary left were also connecting with those very same things, remember just because we didn't win, doesn't mean we didn't fight.

Likewise while homosexual law reform and rape law reform, both had their home in the extra-parliamentary left, neither sat quite as comfortably in the parliamentary left. Homosexual law reform was a private members bill, and several Labour MPs at the time voted against it. Whereas the act that criminalised rape in marriage had been drafted under Muldoon's government, but not passed before the snap election. I disagree with QoT idea that 'the left' focused on Homosexual and rape law reform during the 1980s and this was good, as much as I disagree with Trotter et al's reverse formulation.

I am concerned about the stories that get told about the 1980s, partly because I care about history, but also because I am worried people will draw the wrong lessons today. I think QoT reinforced Trotter's formulation of class and 'identity' politics standing in opposition to each other with the way she talked about the past even though I think her argument was the opposite of that.

This is not a zero sum game - there isn't a limited amount of liberation available that we have to fight among ourselves for. It's the opposite - your struggle is my struggle, and I cannot be free while you are in chains.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Apparently it is OK

Over the last few days Stuff have inflicted those stupid enough to read it with an endless string excruciating stories about who John Key and Phil Goff find attractive.*

Key and Goff obviously playing a role, and communicating their support of a very particular model of sexual desire. For those who were slow on the culture narrative John Donegan spelt it out for us: "Those women who might be upset at his comments are obviously just disappointed they never made John Key's list and never will." The only reason women object to their role as the objects rather than the subjects of sexual desire is because they're not very good objects.

But I find it hard to care about that angle of the whole thing, because the Tony-fucking-Veitch-ness of this story enrages me.

Tony Veitch broke his girlfriend's back in four places. He was abusive and controlling during their relationship.

And the Prime Minister is prepared to go on his radio show every week, and make it clear that they share a worldview when it comes to women.

* And maybe it's just me, but there's something so weirdly generic about it all. Like they both went to google and entered "safely sexy celebrities". I guess it makes it clear how much discussion of celebrity crushes are often not actually about people's sexual desire, but statements of how they wish to appear to others. That's as true with Jezebel and Ryan Gosling as it is with this entirely painful conversation.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Isabelle Brown is a person

Her name is Isabelle Brown, she's 35. In her picture she is wearing a red t-shirt, with a black longer sleeved top underneath; her hair is cut around her face; she's not looking at the camera. I don't know anything about her. I don't know her as a person.

Neither did her lawyer Tony Bouchier when he decided she wasn't a person, but an incubator.

He was supposed to be defending her against a charge of "possessing instruments for methamphetamine use" - the police were not seeking to remand her in custody - they were happy for her to be out on bail.

He decided this was wrong - not because of her desires - but because she was pregnant. Because she was pregnant, Tony Bouchier thought that rather than act as her lawyer, he'd act as the fetus's social worker. He sought a treatment order, and in the meantime she remains in jail, while the court tries to figure out it if has the facilities to lock up a woman for being pregnant.

None of which is consistent with the following legal obligations he had to her:

  • protect and promote your clients interests and act for them free from compromising influences or loyalties
  • discuss with your client their objectives and how they should best be achieved
  • protect your client's privacy and ensure appropriate confidentiality
  • treat your client fairly, respectfully and without discrimination

He justifies himself like this: "I think looking out for Isabelle is looking out for the baby. Isabelle is not concerned with the baby. Isabelle is concerned about Isabelle." He doesn't think she feels like a pregnant woman should, and therefore the best way to 'look out' for her is to lock her up on the assumption that that's good for her fetus.

Over and over again those talking about her in the news describe her as abusing her 'baby'. Their anger is not directed a world where a woman can have so few resources that she is sleeping in a shed. I've no idea what her story is, but I'm far angry that she has had to get by with so little, not that her fetus is exposed to the conditions that she lives in. Because she is a person, not just an incubator.

Tony Bouchier was betting that no-one would see her as a person. She is poor, brown, and addicted to drugs. She is described as having unspecified mental health problems. The newspaper describe the dirt of where she was living in great detail, but don't even try to capture her voice. So far it has paid off, he has been called a hero, and praised by almost all who comment on the case.

Tony Bouchier is not a hero. Tony Bouchier is using his power over Isabelle Brown to incarcerate her, because he does not respect her as a person and the courts are letting him.