Trigger Warning: I’m going to discuss sexual assault and politics in this piece.
I try not to post about politics too much, since there are other bloggers who are far better at it than I am. Also, I constantly find myself playing devil’s advocate to myself, and just confusing myself out of an opinion anytime I start doing the research to back up a viewpoint. Writing a piece that will stand up to other’s criticism is hard when it doesn’t stand up to your own.
This week something happened in New Zealand politics that I know that I can’t talk myself out of my own argument regarding. In the aftermath of the discovery that Australia is indefinitely detaining New Zealanders on Christmas Island, Prime Minister John Key decided to try and score political points by accusing the Opposition of “backing rapists and child molesters”.
“Some of the [detainees] are rapists, some of them are child molesters, and some of them are murderers,”
“These are the people that the Labour party are saying are more important to support than New Zealanders who deserve protecting when they come back here.” – John Key
Quite rightly, this crass misrepresentation has offended a number of people. A number of female Opposition MPs were ordered to leave Parliament, and others chose to walk out, after voicing their concerns with this comment. Some of these women had disclosed their own histories as victims of sexual offending, and asked Key to apologise for his remarks. He has since publicly refused to do so, and said that his comments weren’t offensive to victims of rape.
How much mansplaining does Key have to do here? These are victims of sexual offending who are telling him that he has offended them, while he retorts that he is standing on the side of victims. As reported by TVNZ; “He said he did not believe his comments were offensive to female MPs or abuse survivors”.
If Key really was on the side of victims he wouldn’t have allowed his government to cut funding to rape crisis centres (granted, funding was increased in 2014, an election year). His comments on the Roastbusters case (where a group of young men were alleged to be plying young women with alcohol to gang rape them, and post videos of it online) were that he found “the issue very disturbing and abhorrent really”, but rather than condemn the lack of police response to the allegations, he decided to state that “These young guys should just grow up”.
Hopefully he makes enough missteps in the next two years that the non-voting population of NZ decide to get out there and vote his party out (not that the Labour party has really been doing much better lately, but that’s another story.