In which I support Christine Rankin
Posted on 19:56, May 18th, 2009 by Anita
Before I start, over here I criticise her appointment as a Families Commissioner. I still believe that she is the wrong person at a time when a consensus needs to be built around the fundamentals of family in New Zealand.
Over the last few days I have become more and more revolted by the media’s intrusion into Christine Rankin’s person life, and the analysis and commentary that has accompanied it. I’ve tried to write this post a couple of times, and I’ve finally unpacked the three issues that I find so offensive.
Stereotyping and dismissing women
75% of the commentary has focussed on Rankin’s sexuality – her skirt length, her earrings, the response of men, her relationships (frame as a seductress) – as if a woman’s only power is her sexuality. She was a senior public servant, she has run a successful lobby organisation; she is clearly an effective political and administrative operator who uses her intellect and eloquence to gain power.
Why oh why is it acceptable to reduce a woman’s power to her sexuality? As if women were no more than breasts and a vulva and all our power comes from our ability to seduce and trap men.
The growing culture of personal attacks
Over the last few years there have been more and more personal attacks masquerading as commentary. Between the reasonable accusations of divisiveness and standing in opposition to government policy, there have been loads of unjustifiable personal attacks on Rankin.
When did it become acceptable for politicians and their allies to use personal attacks? When did the media start running them with glee rather than challenging the ethics and motives of the attacks? When did the Left start to stoop that low?
Unjustifiable intrusion into personal lives disguised as political analysis
Rankin’s marriages and relationships have absolutely no relevance to her role as a Families Commissioner. It is not the marriage-for-life commission, it’s not the the perfectly-respectable commission, it’s the families commission which is intended to look after New Zealand families in all their shapes and sizes. Rankin’s family is not the same shape as mine, but that is not newsworthy or politically significant.
What justifies the increasingly prurient intrusion into the lives of the famous (and not so famous)? Are we really a country of judgemental curtain twitchers whose only engagement with our communities is condemnatory gossip, rumour and innuendo?