Today I have been so enraged by the NZ Prime Minister's behaviour and feeling so ragey about the rape culture that prevails in our country. The fact that he repeatedly, over a number of occasions, pulled a woman's hair as a "joke" is simply a reflection society's accepted standard of behavior towards women. And it IS a gendered issue - there is no way John Key would have done this same thing to a man. The response of the Police to the Roastbusters case is completely understandable when our PM behaves like this. So as I drove home this evening I drafted up various versions of angry blog posts I was going to write tonight...
But then I sat down at my laptop and felt overwhelmed by all the awfulness and for some escapism I decided to read about Anne of Green Gables. (For those of you that didn't know me as a child, I was obsessed with Anne of Green Gables, and for those of you not-so-obsessed, you may not have heard that the man that played Anne's love-interest in the TV series died last week. I was interested that his death got so much media attention, and when I posted the news on my Facebook profile it was lovely seeing how many of my friends shared a similar affection for dear Gilbert.)
So in my escapism quest, I searched "Anne of Green Gables Gilbert" on YouTube and this is the first one that popped up:
And I am sitting here in my office, pondering the fact that my 'escapism' idea turned full circle, and here I am back, watching a male pull a female's hair, and I am back to the issues of consent and body autonomy. These are both concepts my children have been taught since they were newborns. I can't overestimate the frustration, anger and sadness when I hear about incidents where our leaders and role models don't have the decency to respect other people's bodies.
No means no. Always. And it is more than that: no one should ever have to be put in the position that they need even have to say "no" to a stranger touching them - particularly when there are such big power dynamics at play. I completely understand why the woman John Key harassed did not smash him over the head the first time he touched her. Women have been conditioned to be polite and not make a fuss - add to that the massive power imbalance of PM/waitress, the security team AND the customer service mantra of "the customer is always right". But damn, I would do anything to turn back time and be sitting in that cafe with a slate at the ready.