New Zealand’s new minister for women has explained why she described herself as a feminist ‘most days’, prompting fresh criticism. But one thing is sure: she is an upgrade on the last effort.
She also, as Newshub had it, “hit back at feminist critics“, who had been unimpressed by her remarks, shortly after being appointed minister for women last year, on the question of whether she is a feminist. She said then:
“Most days. There’s some days when I don’t really think about it and I’m getting on and being busy but I still get a bit worked up about some of the unfairness that I see.”
She elaborated yesterday:
“The truth is I am every day. But there’s just some days when you’re getting on with life. And there’s some days when there’s [feminists] who are so anti and man hating and awful, that you think if I’m compared to them, that’s not who I want to be.”
It is tempting to wonder just how many days the minister for women is happy to be described as a politician, when you consider the way many of them behave all week, but let us count the blessings of a minister for women who is at least OK with being a feminist most of the time.
Because here it Bennett’s immediate predecessor as minister for women, Louise Upston:
“I’ve never called myself a feminist. I’m not interested in being a flag-waver.”
And Louise Upston, then minister for women, on “old fashioned chivalry”:
“I’m quite comfortable with it, and I think that’s probably why a real feminist wouldn’t call me a feminist.”
And Louise Upston, then minister for women, on the fiasco around the NZ Rugby inquiry into the Chiefs rugby players and their behaviour towards strippers, which was condemned by Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Jackie Blue and the Council of Women and many more:
No comment. “Entirely a matter” for the Rugby Union.
(Paula Bennett, by contrast, condemned the Chiefs’ behaviour.)
And Louise Upston, the minister for women, on John Key repeatedly pulling a waitress’s ponytail, which was rebuked by Jackie Blue, the Council of Women and many more:
“As the prime minister has said his actions were intended to be light-hearted. It was never his intention to make her feel uncomfortable. He said that in hindsight it wasn’t appropriate, and that is why he apologised.”
to our journalism!Find Out More
At least, on the feminism thing, our ministers for women aren’t alone. The prime minister, Bill English, recently said he’s not a feminist. And so did former Australian minister for women, Julie Bishop: “I don’t find the need to self-describe in that way,” she explained in 2014. Their current minister for women, Michaelia Cash, doesn’t want to be called a feminist either.
This content is brought to you by LifeDirect by Trade Me, where you’ll find all the top NZ insurers so you can compare deals and buy insurance then and there. You’ll also get 20% cashback when you take a life insurance policy out, so you can spend more time enjoying life and less time worrying about the things that can get in the way.
This election year, support The Spinoff Politics by using LifeDirect for your insurance. See lifedirect.co.nz/life-insurance
The Spinoff politics section is made possible by Flick, the electricity retailer giving New Zealanders power over their power. With both spot price and fixed price plans available, you can be sure you’re getting true cost and real choice when you join Flick. Support us by making the switch today.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.