Motherhood issues

The Standard has a good post on how well we’re doing in providing for mothers in New Zealand. (note: The Standard is a partisan blog for the Labour movement, so the post is not politically neutral) Steve notes that New Zealand is ranked the 4th best place to be a mother by the report, (Sweden, Noway, and Iceland take out the top three spots in that order, and Niger is worst) and we’re rated as the second best place to be a woman in general. (Sweden beats us again) The report is fascinating reading, and shows that while New Zealand is doing incredibly compared to other countries in key indicators of female welfare, we have a lot of room for improvement, and we should be worried about backsliding in some areas such as female representation.

Worth noting is that in terms of children we fall down all the way to 20th. While New Zealand has a long history of being on the forefront of women’s rights, we haven’t yet afforded the same respect to children, and it shows in more than the recent s59 debate, which largely ignored the issue of children themselves and focused on parents. Continue reading

The confusion of politeness

So, one more post about the reaction to this whole Fritzl thing. This ought to be the last though, I think. Having reminded several people I’ve talked to about this news that yes, sex without explicit1 and free2 consent is rape, and weasling out of calling it such is just perpetuating this weird social attitude that while rape is not okay, we don’t necessarily have to condemn it explicitely. As you can imagine, the internal cognitive dissonance of this self-contradictory position makes it pretty funny to even write it down, let alone say it out loud.

One objection I’ve repeatedly heard (although fortunately not yet from people whose opinions I trust and value on this sort of matter) is that rape is not a term that is okay for public discussion. I pushed on this a bit harder and was told we should use the term “non-consensual sex” in the public arena. Why? While rape is a term that covers an emotive subject, it’s not inherently offensive, the word itself has no religious or cultural bias, and there are no strong taboos associated with it. Every bit of revoltion we feel when we hear the word rape is directly merited by the concept. What’s more, I feel that “sex” implies consentuality. The term “non-consensual sex” seems about as appropriate for rape as “non-violent violence” does for mental abuse. I pushed further for clarification about why rape is so objectionable a word to use. Apparently rape is “impolite.” And that one word explained everything I needed to know. Continue reading