Alan Duff, I find it hard to know where to start. As a mother of two beautiful Māori girls – you have offended my whānau deeply. Our immediate kura and kōhanga community and my girls hapū and iwi. In fact many Māori will be upset now, because your latest opinion piece infers that child abuse is a part of Māori life . This is simply not true, and so I will challenge you on the broad, ad-hock and completely disconnected statements you have made. Also, I will not stomach your sexist attitude, that reinforces the gender power imbalances which are the undercurrents for almost all domestic violence cases.
There is enough Māori bashing, enough racism and enough misogyny around without you adding to it. It defies belief that a Māori man could misrepresent his own people so hurtfully, be so blatantly sexist and willingly lead people astray on an issue that intersects several deeply embedded problems in our society: colonisation, systemic poverty and patriarchy. When what we need most is robust discussion and analysis.
I feel frustrated at the amount of airtime you get to spread your views, and don’t wish to give you or the Herald anymore, however – I cannot ignore you this time. The public need an alternative.
I hear and feel your outrage at the shocking levels of child abuse we withstand in our country. Most people do. Māori children are twice as likely to suffer any form of abuse. It’s not ok. You are right.
As a Pākehā woman, I won’t talk too much to the disparaging comments you have made about Māori, as that is a mantle for Māori to take up – I will not tread on toes. But I will go into depth regarding your sexism.
So here we go, I’m going to flip your script. Here are your comments, followed by what I hear.
Some Maori have no moral values because they’re not taught them. Violence is perfectly acceptable behaviour, indeed admired; whether it’s king-hitting a stranger in a pub, beating up the wife or partner, thrashing their children.
FTS – Yes, some Māori do not have a good moral compass, but you could say this for any ethnicity.
It must be instilled in everyone’s brains from a young age that certain behaviours are totally unacceptable. Love must be taught as the founding base for a successful family. Education as the way forward. Every act of violence except in self-defence must be socially outlawed, considered a shameful let-down of the entire community.
FTS – Yes, agreed. Again, this applies to all people. Moving right along.
Cultural leaders should review the entire kapa haka syllabus, I believe. I’m sick of the screaming, eye-popping haka. The standard of predictable, simplistic singing should be lifted.
FTS – What the hell?! Where does this bit come from? Do you understand kapahaka? Do you get that haka and waiata come in innumerable forms which have many uses! What you may be talking about is the cherry picked haka that mainstream media trot out to represent ‘good Māori’ and the ‘kiwi way of life’. These haka are great, don’t get me wrong. But they are a drop in the vast ocean. This comment is so offensive, to all Māori who waiata daily, whose tikanga practices incorporate haka, mōteatea and patere – and the list goes on. And to all composers of kapahaka – these are incredible people. Taonga. Have you ever been to Matatini? You are buying into the colonisers simplistic interpretation of haka. It is all much more than a supposed incitement of violence. The worst thing about this, is that your comment represents so many others.
When you say “The standard of predictable, simplistic singing should be lifted” What I hear is is “be more nice and lovely on the side, just a little flourish here and there, so as not to unsettle those who do not understand.”
For those of us who are involved in Te Ao Māori, this sentiment is so tiring, it so boring.
Now here is the doosy……
In everyday life, my opinion is girls should be brought up like the French are: to be feminine, take a pride in how they dress, walk with dignity and grace wherever they go out in public and always keep the standards.
FTS – WHAT HAS THIS GOT TO DO WITH THE PRICE OF IKAAAAAAA?!?!? OMG, wrong number Alan. I’m going to keep this one simple for you, like bullet point simple. Seems you need a feminism 101 lecture.
- Do not insult French girls and women by minimising their existences to their dress, the way the move one foot in front of the other and their choice in how they express themselves. On behalf of all French people, I am truly sorry.
- Girls are taught to be nice, accommodating, uncomplaining, quiet and meek – all the time. Men are taught the opposite. This is one of the biggest factors in our gender imbalances. This plays out in its most dangerous form in volatile relationships and domestic violence. This is a cause of domestic violence for goodness sake and YOU have just advocated for it. GIRLS MUST NOT BE NICE and SMILE in the face of bullshit. WOMEN’S dignity is in the respect they receive from others, for being whoever they want to be. You have no place defining what is graceful or not for women. Who’s standards? Yours? Men’s? Go get.
- What does feminine even mean? You need to understand Gender Essensialism:Gender essentialism often excuses gender-based oppressions and discriminations in societies, such as what roles parents play, what jobs people hold, expectations held of each other and skill bases. Gender essentialism simultaneously reinforces gender stereotypes, while being informed by them. Gender essentialism relies on the perpetuation of a binary, polarised world, free of ambiguity, where two neat tidy genders exist and know their place in the world. – So yeah, no thanks. DO NOT tell women that they need to be feminine. They can be if they want, how they want. We certainly do not need another man telling us how to be.
- Rape culture, you also need to know about this. Because what I heard you say is that somehow, women need to take responsibility for the ‘reasons’ they are attacked by men. That what they wear, how they move, what ‘standards’ they uphold – lead to the actions that men take. – Rape culture as a term is designed to show the ways in which society blames victims of sexual assault and normalises male sexual violence. It is a culture that encourages boys and men to be macho and aggressive, and girls and women to be submissive and compliant. A society that allows a quarter of women and girls to be raped or sexually assaulted, and 1/6 of men and boys. Where 3 per cent of rapists are jailed after just 6 per cent of rapes and assaults are ever reported. A social culture in which rape jokes and cat calls are heard and normalised, where the male gaze pervades pop music and the visual arts. Where children are sexualised by clothing and toy companies. Rape culture has implications for all and is everyone’s issue regardless of gender.
Boys should be taught to respect females.
FTS – Why, yes they should. How about reversing everything you said about what women need to do above, and apply it to boys and men too, that would be a good start. A few other things would help too:
- Educating, and then ignoring the ‘Boys will be boys’ brigade. We don’t need to hear it anymore. The buck stops. Accountability is made. No more excuses.
- Again, you have positioned women as passive actors. As if it is only boys and men who have the control and power to make change. Untrue. Girls can be taught differently too. They must be empowered. Boys must be empowered. Girls can lead the technology group and boys can cry if they fall over, simple as.
- Finally, go and research heteronormativity: Heteronormativity are the actions of a gender essentialist’s ideal world, one in which men and women fall into distinct categories with clear roles and expectations, where heterosexuality is the norm reinforced in power structures such as legislation and the media. I say this because many LGBTQ people are attacked every day for not being man or woman enough. I guess, for some women, your logic says it is their fault for not being feminine and holding up the right standards. Still, I don’t know what these standards are. One can only guess. Actually, I don’t want to know about your yucky standards.
There would be no shame in taking a leaf out of the Chinese book where parents, family members, all work hard to push a few more up into the educated or business-owning bracket. Reading has to be an essential part of that home environment.
FTS – Again, where does this come from? Do you mean that Māori don’t try hard enough? That they don’t have hopes and dreams for their whānau?! Privilege check Alan, Poverty: it excludes a lot of Māori from tertiary education. Regardless of how supportive any family is, not everyone wins in monopoly. Not every whānau wants to operate in this pushy Chinese style you speak of. Not all Chinese do. Don’t be racist.
Yes, I love reading too. So do my Māori children. So does their kura.
Pre-European Maori culture was simple and no blame is attached. But I think it is when this too basic societal model is applied in the 21st century.
FTS – Ok, now you are just sounding outright crazy. It’s not like my partner and daughters have just stepped out of a cave wielding kotiate or anything….because this is what I hear. Guess what, all cultures evolve – and the picture you paint of pre-colonial Aotearoa is untrue. Anne Salmond illustrates this beautifully. Guess what, the European colonisers of Aotearoa have really out done everyone else throughout history (an continue to do so) in the violent, black and white, good vs bad, uncivilised vs civilised approach to solving issues. War war, everywhere.
Everyone had a Jake as a father, older brother, any number of uncles. Some were women.
FTS- Yes, it is ok for a woman to be called Jake, or to be a non-feminine woman, sure (I don’t think this is what you meant though, but I like to think it is). Everyone had Jake as a Dad? Again, you’ve overstepped the mark. This is just not true. Maybe you did, and we are sorry for that. That was not ok. It sucks.
And someone has to point out that cultural activities do not get them a job or a mortgage.
FTS – Again, lies. Heaps of people make a living in the arts. Heaps of Māori do. They are awesome at it. Isn’t this what you meant in your remarks about haka earlier? Now I am confused. Also, YOU WRITE BOOKS AND MAKE FILMS FOR A LIVING…….these are cultural activities and THESE ARE YOUR JOBS. Or am I missing something?
And who wants a mortgage anyway (ha ha ha, rolling around in maniacal laughter, because – who buys a house these days?!?…..cue housing crisis conversation). Please refer back to how not everyone can win monopoly – capitalism and neo-liberalism is actually killing the planet. I’ll have more singing, dancing and visual arts in my life any day. Not everyone is in it for a 9-5 office job and not all Māori are deeply involved in whatever it is you are reducing to and relegating as ‘cultural activities’. Or if they do work 9-5, sweet as. Good for them, not your place to judge.
And actually, these cultural activities that I think you are referring to are intrinsic to being Māori . The problem is, that people like you come along – and say that violence against women and children is somehow intrinsic to being Māori – and that crucial elements like the ‘arts’ (ie things that are part and parcel of operating in Te Ao Māori) are a waste of time for Māori. How wrong you are.
To me, herein lies the solution.