A Day in the Life.

On a recent day in New Zealand we were treated to the following news.

A group of rapists who openly bragged about having pack sex with drugged or drunk underage girls on social media were outed by a news outlet, which led to revelations that the police, who have an institutional history of rape of their own, refused to prosecute the rapists even though their identities were well-known (one is the son of a police officer) and four girls complained about the assaults long before the media broke the story. The police apparently questioned the first complainant about her manner of dress and was told that what she wore invited the attack. The cops now argue that there was insufficient evidence to bring charges.

The police initially said that no complaints were laid and that the social media sites were only recently opened by the rapists, then closed. Both of those claims have now been proven to be untrue, so either the police spokesmen were lying (and that includes a senior detective and a district commander), or they were misled by their subordinates for reasons yet to be determined. The police also say that the fact that one of the rapists was the son of a sworn officer was immaterial to the (as of yet nonexistent) case.

That may or may not be true. What is undeniable is that a number of underage females were sexually assaulted by men over the age of consent who made public their exploits (including why they stupefied the girls and why they only engaged in pack assaults on them) and identified the victims as a form of public shaming. The cops listened to four complaints about these assaults, decided that there was no merit to them (or no evidence to substantiate them even though four different girls essentially described enduring the same thing done by the same men), then stood by, watched the social media coverage provided by the perpetrators and did nothing.

At the same time this story unfolded a convicted spouse abuser who claimed in defense that he was provoked by his victim was promoted to the most listened radio sports program in the country, having worked his way back into that format less than a year after his conviction and having had the Prime Minister subsequently grace his studio to exchange banter about laddish things (including Elizabeth Hurley’s “assets”).

Not to be outdone on the victim-bashing front, a few other prominent male radio talkback hosts (two of them Maori) ridiculed and insulted rape victims when discussing the case of the underage girls, essentially telling callers that drinking and wearing provocative clothing was primarily to blame for what happened.

Coincidentally, a misogynist bigot was brought back from foreign television exile after a series of gaffes and embarrassments to host a prime time news show at one of the highest salaries offered to a television host in New Zealand. His forte is adolescent potty jokes, particularly those directed at women.

Rightwing smear merchants and other retrogrades blame the rape club’s actions on liberal society and the pernicious effect of modern popular culture (when not Len Brown, for his adulterous behavior, as if that were comparable to rape). There may be some truth in such views (save the Len Brown example), but  there is the small problem that all the other instances cited above involve men of older generations working in venerable public institutions.

Let’s be clear on this: all of the instances cited other than the social media rape club members are not delinquents but well-established members of New Zealand’s institutional elite, and there are plenty of others who share their predilections and positions of esteem (I have chosen only a handful of notorious examples to illustrate the point).

Some of these apologists/pundits keep on calling the rapists “boys” even though the age of consent in New Zealand is 16 (the rapists were and are 17 to 19). That is worth noting because they also argue that at least some of the pack sex with 13 and 14 year old girls may have been consensual, which indicates they have no clue what “age of consent” means in theory or in practice.

Let me put it more crudely: How is it that a 17 year old is a “boy,” and hence acting impulsively and irrationally when sexually engaging a deliberately stupefied 13 year old female, yet that same female is supposedly capable of consenting rationally, as a woman, to pack sex under the heavy influence of soporific?

Are females who are underage, impressionable, alone, unconscious and/or delirious equally responsible for the acts of male adults behaving soberly, collectively, calculatingly and deliberately when using intoxicants for the purpose of sexual conquest as motive for and product of their behaviour towards said females?

There is a more general point to this reflection. What does this series of coincidental snapshots tell us about New Zealand today? Are these aberrations of the Kiwi male character that somehow have gone unpunished and in fact rewarded in violation of accepted norms, or is Aotearoa not a safe place to be female?


27 thoughts on “A Day in the Life.

  1. Thanks Jenny, and please forward my thanks to your son’s friend for an excellent piece. I will try to fix the link so it is more readable.

  2. “Not to be outdone on the victim-bashing front, a few other prominent male radio talkback hosts (two of them Maori)”

    I would love to know why you felt it relevant to emphasize the fact that they were Maaori. You have not done this for anyone else. Inciting racial discrimination perhaps?

  3. Sorry Aoha, but I was just spreading the blame around when it comes to rapist apologia. Given who the rightwing victim-bashers are in terms of demographics, it should be clear that Maori rightwing talkback apologists for rape are few and far between.

  4. You might want to add that whilst all this was going on a police PR flack thought it was wise to threaten a Blog site for publishing a none-too-subtle dig at the Police priorities

    This image's creator was threatened with police action. If you do one good deed today, please make it retweeting this pic.twitter.com/agTqEgBo8Y— Ben Uffindell (@BenUffindell) November 7, 2013

  5. Pablo, this, your final question:

    “or is Aotearoa not a safe place to be female?”

    …and here I am in Beijing with my wife’s visa application in planning to move my family back to Aotearoa because that’s where we want to raise our daughter.

  6. Chris:

    I share your sentiment in that my wife and I moved back to NZ from Singapore in large part to raise a family here (we have just had a son, who is now 10 weeks old). But I remember thinking during my first year in NZ that it was a great place to be a bloke but not so good to be female. My view has changed thanks to meeting plenty of decent men and women who work hard to raise their kids to be productive and fair-minded citizens.

    However, I remain concerned about the persistence of rape cultures in certain core NZ institutions, be it the police, rugby, surf life-saving, the entertainment industry, corporate boardrooms and yes, political parties. These precede the latest porn-desensitized, rapper/gangsta cultures that are deeply misogynistic and violent, so there appears to be a nasty fusion of the old and the new at play here.

    The fact that people like Tony Veitch, Paul Henry, Clint Rickards, John Tamihere and Willie Jackson (although these last two are now paying a price for their intemperate remarks on air) can prosper and ascend the institutional ladder after their sociopathic attitudes and behaviour has been exposed suggests that not all is well at an institutional as well as a cultural level.

    But since institutions are made up of people I have faith that change can be effected in them if there is a public debate about attitudes towards rape, bullying and other abuses that have so far been ignored or downplayed. The exposure of this particular rape club in the face of police inaction may be a catalyst for that.

  7. ‘The police initially said that no complaints were laid’

    It’s worse than that: they insulted and further abused the *incredibly brave* complainants by saying no one had been brave enough to complain. Sickening.

  8. And the Sensible Sentencing Trust is conspicuous by its silence on the whole issue. Assent through silence? No actual sentences yet? Or do the Roast Busters not fit the Sensibles’ favourite stereotypes?

  9. deepred:

    Good point. It has been interesting to see how some of the Right have responded. But I must say that some on the (male) Left have also been equivocal. That Hooten rather than McCarten confronted Jackson and JT on their show (however grandstanding it may have been) is indicative of this ambivalence towards certain types of rape apologists (and no, I do not believe for a minute that Jackson is truly of the Left, much less JT).

    It is tough to stomach when other loyalties interfere with the assessment of rape and rape cultures. But that is the way things work.

    Chris: Thanks. Irrespective of my concerns, I would urge you to come back and raise your daughter here.

  10. I would never have a child in NZ.

    The reasons are too many to count but here are just a few.

    Misogyny as we have seen here.

    Environmental degradation.

    Corruption and cronyism preventing the career opportunities.

    Horrible education, especially substandard tertiary education (Pablo can attest to me here)

    Neoliberal excesses

    Failure of the governmntt to truly protect from numerous threats, ciz corporate espionage.

    Coarse and vulgar popular culture esp ‘thug culture’.

    And of course to top it all off the indifference of the NZ people (or as I call them to me, the SHEEP] to these things. Perhaps a select few as comment on this blog are different but tpo the avge kiwi it’s all rugby and reality TV.

    To Pablo and maybe Chris I wishing you every all the success with your sons and daughters.

    But I am honest to say the odds are agaisnt you

  11. Thanks Christian, for that frank assessment. I cannot say that I disagree too much with you, but I try to put things in a comparative perspective.

    Where else would I like to live? Should I go back to the US? Move to OZ? Return to Argentina? As for other places I have lived, maybe take a punt and go back to Portugal or Brazil? Greece is out of the question in spite of the islands because the vibe is downright feral. In comparison, are these places better or worse than NZ? Should I go to someplace I have never lived before, like Canada or South Africa?

    There is the issue of careers of course. I no longer have an academic career but my wife does. We need to balance that against the uncertainties involved in a move. One thing I will do as a hedge is ensuring that my son has dual citizenship in case things really go sour here. We had already planned to try and have him head to the US for his university education (given, as you say, the deterioration of NZ higher education under the market-driven managerialism), but we have to see if and how that is feasible when he comes of age.

    In any event I am sorry that you feel that way but can understand where you are coming from.

  12. Anywhere

    Is there any other country in the world where people would be fired simply for speaking their mind? OK maybe North Korea.

    Is there any other country in the world where an EMBEZZLER would be Prime Minister? Alright perhaps Zimbabwe.

    Is there any other country in the world where corporate espionage and middle eastern states and chinese cyber terrorists would be allowed to run wild while the intelligence service focus on enacting the mandate of US media companies abetted by our EMBEZZLER above? Maybe Somalia!

    Is there any other country int he world where the universities teach simple service to cultural relativism and the almighty dollar with no spirit of intellectual inquiry or academic freedom? Yes, its totalitarian Iran.

    Is there any other country in the world where the populace would stand aside and let this happen with no protest or thought for resistance, instead preferring to stuff themselves on corproate produced food and follow misogynist sports culture? No, you’ve got me there.

    Pablo some of us have no other citizenship and are forced to stay in this miserable country.

    Of course it is your choice and maybe you kno something I dont but if I had US or Argentine or Brazil or any other citizenshiup I would be gone from this South Pacific failed state rendered failed by application of wht Naomi Wolf so rightly and succinctly called SHOCK DOCTRINE.

    B ut no until I can find a woman of other citizenship to marry me, I must remain here.

    But that doesn’t mean I can’t say to others, get out.

    I can see why people call it Godzone. Because really only a God could help us at this point.

    Dark as our times are, even darker times are coming. I would weep for this country but I see the SHEEP and think amybe that is just whats natural.

  13. Christian:
    Not withstanding having had my home robbed and been subjected to the despicable and unethical treatment by Auckland Uni managers, I have met enough decent people in NZ to justify my continuation and pursuit of citizenship. Again, I am sorry that your perspective is so grim, but having lived for a time under state terror experiments in Argentina and Chile, I can assure you that things can and are much worse elsewhere.

    The fact that there is outrage about the rapists and their apologists is proof that not all is lost amid the morass that passes for governance and popular culture.

  14. Yeah, everything you list sucks. But.

    The outrage over this story is what gives me hope; a range of people, many of them men, publicly talking about rape culture and challenging rape myths. And seeming to get it. What progress!

    Now let’s see if Paul Henry is disciplined and professional in his new role like Mark Jennings has suggested he is ready to be…

    What also gives me hope is knowing many fabulous young people. I went to a mid-decile multicultural West Auckland secondary school senior prize giving this last week and was moved to tears by the achievements of the students and the obvious pride of the parents, many of them immigrants. These kids give me hope for the future. They were truly impressive.

  15. Christian, you want to know about environmental degradation? Twice this weekend I crossed a bridge over what is supposed to be Beijing’s second largest reservoir. Upstream of the bridge is a dam holding the Guishui River back so the county town can maintain the illusion of having a viable watercourse passing through it. People fish in it, but believe me, when you get close to the water you can no longer understand why. For one thing, I’ve seen more dead than live fish in that muck. Downstream there is still enough water to sustain wetlands home, in season, to some pretty amazing birdlife – I know, because I spent a very hot summer day wandering around that wetland wishing I’d taken water with me – no way in hell was I going to take any water out of the wetland. Below the bridge the reservoir bed is covered in dried up grass (winter comes earlier up there than down here on the plain) and some surprisingly mature trees. There are a couple of tiny streams leading from the dam down to what’s left of the reservoir. Yesterday when I crossed that bridge I could not see the mountains just a few kilometres in front of me. I can regularly taste the air and feel it rasping my throat as I ride my bike to pick up my daughter from kindergarten. Once out in Taiyuan with a friend we were discussing whether the lake had frozen or not – it was so clogged with God alone knows what that we honestly could not tell. We wound up throwing a stone on it – the stone bounced, so we concluded it was frozen. In January we had a snow fall that was a kind of salt and pepper colour, and even when the snow looks like it’s supposed to, it turns jet black when I sweep it off my car. All but the most torrential rains leave my car dirty. One day I tried to clean my glasses, but the ‘dirt’ didn’t budge. I looked closer and realised that the lenses were corroding. I could go on.

    As for being fired for speaking one’s mind…. gimme a break. I live in a country where people go to jail or worse for speaking their mind. You seem to know Pablo, I’m sure he could explain to you what it’s like to live in such a situation.

    Misogyny? Ever lived in a country where sex-selective abortion and female infanticide still happen even today? Ever heard your mother in law talk about how great your daughter’s friend’s new toy is, then say, “Oh, but we won’t buy one, the wee one is growing so fast she’ll play with it for a month or so then she’ll be too big. But I’ll definitely buy one for my grandson!”

    I could rant on, but really, although this Roast Busters episode gave me reason to stop and reconsider, what Pablo said: When you put NZ’s issues in a global perspective, it comes out as one of the less bad.

  16. One of the important aspects of the Radio Live interview is that all of the ‘insulted’ all have had to listen several times to it to establish that they were upset. I heard it live and it didnt strike me as anything particularly unusual. The girl rang in and certainly wasnt a reluctant interviewee.

    Ill lays bets that nothing will ever come of the whole roastbuster thing. Why- well the rules for underaged OF BOTH GENDERS (OR PERHAPS OF ALL GENDERS) are much less severe than for adults. In fact a few of years ago the whole area of under age sex was going to be decrimnalised if both parties were underaged. And you will find that all involved in this mess were underaged at the time of the alleged actions.
    This of course is if the police ever get enough evidence to go to court – which I doubt they will ever do. It seems obvious from the radio live interview that there was implied consent as the girls knew exactly what they were getting into.

    We have a society where we are all supposed to be equal; where the genders stand the same. The females involved – if they really do think they have been sexually assaulted – need to follow the rules that need to be followed in assault cases – evidence. Otherwise we have a cases of guilt by public opinion. Wouldnt be a bad idea in the cases of the finance companies – but when the wider picture is looked at the concept is even more undesirable than what this group of idiots got up to (and are probably still up to….)

  17. Barry:

    How do you know that all involved were underage? If any of the males was 16 at the time of the assaults and any of the females was younger than 16, then rapes occurred. And even if all were under the age of consent, physical assaults did occur, with aggravated circumstances in that the females were deliberately stupefied in order for the males to commit the assaults.

    There is nothing consensual, implied or otherwise, when one party has been deliberately incapacitated by the other, not matter what the ages involved. Capice?

  18. Pablo – as far as I can ascertain the males were 15 at the time and at least some of the girls were 13 – thus they were under age. I am only using reports in the news media. Now the current law is that if both parties are under age then the law is actually quite leniant. It assumes really that they were too young to understand what they were doing – especially if they are under 14.
    Very few people are charged for underage sex, andif they are, BOTH parties are charged – and as there is usually one party claiming innocence – then police have hardly ever lain charges. They have to consider family conferences in the first case, and charges are the absolute last option.
    In 2004 Labour did try to introduce changes that would actually do away with criminal charges where both were under age.

    Now – as for the other question – was there rape.? Well very few rape complaints are ever taken thru the full process. There is a reason for that – its lack of evidence. There seems to be an attitude in the public that if a female screams ‘Rape” then someone MUST BE guilty. Fortunatley juries dont agree with this proposition. I suspect very strongly that the reason there has been no charge made in this instance is that there is no evidence that a jury would convict someone on. I am sure that if you went to a jury with the following story that they would ignore you: “yes – I knew that these guys feed alcohol and drugs to the invited people but i didnt think they would do it to me”. You would need a hellve a lot of other evidence to get a conviction. Knowing that you are going to be incapacitated sort of weakens your story.

    Anyway it will be interesting to see what transpires. The police today have announced that they have appointed a female to the case “who has a lot of experience in these type of situations”. Ill be interested to see what she comes up with that the female police officer who interviewed the original complainant didnt.
    Ill bet that nothing much will ever come of it – and Im pretty sure that there will be no rape charges laid. If police thought they could have – it would be done by now – theres nothing quite as career promoting in the police as getting male versus female charges to stick – and even if there was half a chance they would have pushed them very hard. However they have to get a jury to agree – and thats the real test.
    Its not going to be judged by public opinion.

  19. Notice like other Sociaists, Pablo thinks he has the right to label rape. Straight up in his first sentence. Its actually a criminal legal description
    Where did the judge and jury go.
    Oh thats right Pablo knows everything.

    Societal hysteria,

    An assessment


  20. Its true Pablo.
    There were no good considerations made, and the left went crazy. If I bragged on my site that I had robbed an old lady of her bank account, it is not necessarily true. The very idea of bragging would make one wary.
    As far as I can see the law of consent is undefined exactly. It is not a positive written thing.
    It is implied, by action.
    The booze ingredient is in there in many cases, you can’t prosecute because alcohol is involved.

    It had to be a police decision, not that of a pack of howling wolves like Bradbury, Selwyn and The Standard.

  21. Actually Paul, consent is defined pretty clearly in the law. It implies wiling, conscious, voluntary participation. Impairment removes the ability to consent. Although the age of consent is the subject of much debate, here in NZ it is 16, so conscious or stupefied, willing or not, a 13 year old cannot consent to sex with someone of legal age. Whether or not the rapists were also below the age of consent is a matter if dispute by some like Barry, and if that is the case then other factors such as the deliberate stupefying with the intent to incapacitate the victims, making them unable to physically resist the assaults, may well come to the fore in any prosecution (should it happen).

    I guess we will have to wait and see what happens.

  22. OK yes it looks like I was wrong.
    Seems as though if the girls were ‘out of it’ even if they doped themselves, no consent is possible.
    And if there are video records to go with it there might well be a case.
    What about slightly older blokes who offer a woman a joint and then wait to see how they get on.
    I haven’t actually done that, but it would never have crossed my mind that consent was not possible.
    How do you do the measurements. Do men take breathalysers with them.
    Kids do go through that rebel stage where they will experiment with alcohol and drugs and so there is quite a big onus on the fathers to make sure their boys know what is dangerous.

    I don’t see how Society can bring cases to the Courts on a moral culture basis, but if so well we need to give the law the money and resources and backing.
    I still don’t approve of ‘the Standard’ and Martyn Bradbury and Tim Selwyn using this for their cop hate campaigns.
    Tim Selwyn spending all day on the phone hassling the Law is no help.

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