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MediaMay 31, 2018

Wake up New Zealand and give a voice to those who already have booming voices


These are cruel days for white old men who feel silenced. We scour the country to find the last remaining safe spaces for these struggling titans. 

It’s hard out here for a pimp. But it’s even harder out here for those who don’t know what song or movie that’s referencing. In other words, it’s hard out here for old white men with columns on the largest news site in the country.

“Ageing white males are considered fair game because we’re seen as having enjoyed privilege for too long. Now the tables have turned and we’re expected to pay the penalty by keeping our supposedly rancid opinions to ourselves,” said Karl du Fresne in a rancid opinion column that will be read by thousands of New Zealanders.

Consider, too, the plight of Martin Van Beynen. “I should be boss. I should be on boards, committees, management groups and at the centre of power networks. Instead I’m a mug with a column,” said Van Beynen in his national column on NZ’s biggest media site, and for which he gets paid real money.

It’s a growing concern, this marginalisation of white men who’ve been gainfully employed for decades and given a wide platform from which to dispense their many, many opinions. It’s a growing concern and one that we as a nation must address. After all, who will speak up for those who are given the most prominent platforms in the country from which to speak?

Perhaps while we’ve been trying to bring up those groups that have been historically marginalised and silenced we forgot to notice that the group at the top of ladder hadn’t managed to advance further. And now, here we are, within shouting distance, and they’re ready to share their stories.

So if these columns have struck a chord in your old, white, male heart, and you’re worried your voice is being silenced because there are possibly some other voices around, move quickly. Get to one of the following safe spaces.

A boardroom

A boardroom, any boardroom, will offer you solace. With 85% of board members in New Zealand being male, you’ll at least not be a minority in that department. And if a quick google search of random boards around New Zealand is anything to go by, white people should be there in droves. For example, here’s the board for the Auckland Blues, a team of predominantly brown players. Don’t worry about Kate Daly, she won’t ruin the vibe.

A workplace

The senior management teams in New Zealand workplaces are still your happy place, with only 18% of positions filled by women. And across the board, men earn more than women, while Europeans earn more than any other ethnicity in New Zealand. Two really great stats for old white men.

A private school reunion

People who earn more can afford to pay more for their children’s schooling, which is why private schools are made up of a vast majority of white people. Head along to a reunion for, say, King’s College and you’ll find a home among the brick, glass, and privilege.

The church

The safest place for an old white man is in the Catholic Church. The Pope is old and white. All six bishops in New Zealand are old and white and male. Women can’t even be priests so there’s no way they can yell at you and your opinions in a monastery.

Bishop lads

Your own column

If these two self-proclaimed losers can get columns then what’s stopping you? Send an email to your local media outlet and say you’ve got some Thoughts™ that you’d like to share with the nation. The majority of columnists are already old white guys but if we could get a few more, it would be an even safer place to air any bad thoughts you might have.

So despite being wrong about most things in his columns, Martin Van Beynen was right about one. He should be on boards, committees and management groups. That’s where old white men will always find safety in numbers.

An earlier version of this post included an Amnesty International logo in the background of the image. This has been removed as Amnesty International has no current campaigns to give greater voice to the loud white male columnists of New Zealand. We apologise unreservedly.

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