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Don’t Assault a Politician if You’re Male

Filed under: General — Ministry of Men's Affairs @ 7:10 am Wed 24th February 2016

Josie Butler threw a dildo at the face of Steven Joyce. That assault subjected Joyce to risk of injury. If it had landed differently it could have caused an eye, mouth or tooth injury, unlikely to have been serious but not impossible. Ms Butler’s cause was confused, not based on personal trauma, and she justified it to herself with some inane comparison to rape. Media made great mirth from her violent offence and there was barely any recognition that it was violence that deserved the same disapproval as any other violence. She wasn’t charged for her crime.

John Howland tipped an ice-cream container of muddy flour-based mixture over Gerry Brownlee. The chances of significant injury from this act were lower. Mr Howland’s crime involved significant personal trauma and provocation, having suffered like so many Christchurch residents from uncaring, bullying bureaucracies typified by Mr Brownlee’s unbridled powers and dictatorial style. Mr Howland committed his protest offence a few days before what would have been the birthday of his son who died in the Christchurch earthquake. He was prosecuted for assault and now awaits sentencing.

Media did not generally comment on the double standard here and, as usual, failed to recognize or mention the sexist basis of that double standard. Considerable attempt was made to portray the Christchurch earthquake memorial event as somehow more inappropriate for any protest than the Waitangi Day event was. However, Mr Brownlee was seen by many as hypocritical for attending the memorial having caused so many of Christchurch’s survivors unnecessary suffering since the earthquake, and expression of protest could be argued to be very relevant and appropriate.

The sexism shown in these two cases is exactly the same sexism that underlies current consideration of a legal defence or partial defence for murdering a partner or family member when committed by someone who claims to have been abused by that family member. Sexism is apparent in the basic idea that immediate provocation, long recognized as capable of overwhelming the judgment and self-control of any average person, should be erased from legal consideration because it might result in compassion toward male offenders while non-immediate, ‘slow-burn’ provocation as is believed to be suffered mainly by women in abusive relationships should be legally recognized to reduce or remove consequences when those women murder the alleged abuser, despite the fact that those women have a wide variety of support services available to protect them and to help them escape their situation. As shown in the unequal treatment of the two recent protesting offenders, any ‘slow-burn provocation’ law will be applied in a sexist way such that women are given special treatment, as indeed is its intention.


  1. Fair comment.

    Comment by Andrew McCarthy — Wed 24th February 2016 @ 8:27 am


    Former National Party leader Don Brash says a Christchurch nurse who threw a dildo at Government minister Steven Joyce may have avoided a criminal charge because she was Maori and a woman.

    Josie Butler, a nurse at Hillmorton Hospital in Christchurch, was not charged after she threw the dildo at Mr Joyce on Waitangi Day, in protest against the Government signing the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

    Dr Brash tonight said her actions were “totally inappropriate” and he didn’t know why she wasn’t charged.

    “The guy who threw mud at Gerry Brownlee has been charged but the woman who threw the dildo at Steve Joyce hasn’t.”

    He said both acts were hugely inappropriate.

    “Was she not charged because she was a woman or because she’s Maori? I don’t know, but she thought it was a huge joke and was delighted when she wasn’t charged.”

    He said the only consolation was Kiwis who were opposed to the TPP may now be supporters due to her actions.

    “Most people thought ‘Well, if that’s what the people who opposed the TPP acted like, I’m in favour of the TPP after all’.”

    He said Ms Butler’s action was not a good look for the country.

    “Waitangi Day is a serious day for New Zealand. I understand she was there for the TPP but she seems to know nothing about it at all,” he said.

    Dr Brash has stirred up controversy with his comments on Maori in the past.

    His now-famous Orewa speech in January 2004 attacked “race-based” policies and urged an end to what he saw as privileges for Maori.

    The following month, Dr Brash was showered with mud thrown by a young protester inside a marae ground while attending a Waitangi event.

    Police did not immediately comment on Dr Brash’s latest comments.

    – NZ Herald

    Comment by kumar — Thu 25th February 2016 @ 8:16 am

  3. It’s a shame he had to go and add the Maori reference in there, since this probably increased the chance she would have been charged, and she may well have been notified sooner that charges would not be laid.

    Its hard for me not to believe that the reactions of the politicians played a part, Joyce known more for being able to have a laugh than Brownlee.

    If he had of stuck to sexism then it could have opened a door to show the justice dept stats and wide common knowledge of the treatment of males and females. Hopefully this would have led to commentry that benifits and empathises with males in their plight.

    Trust a right winger to mess this up, empathise with the politicians and end up looking like a kook.

    Comment by JnF — Thu 25th February 2016 @ 9:28 am

  4. JnF (#3): Yes, I agree. And it’s a shame that Brash’s piece online had no provision for readers’ comments. The point could have been made that there is no good evidential basis to think that Ms Butler’s special treatment was due to her race. All the statistics about police and Courts handling of cases show that racism operates and it’s overwhelmingly against Maori. As a Pakeha you are less likely to be prosecuted, more likely to have your culpability reduced on the basis of mental health or other issues, less likely to be convicted at trial and you can expect less punishment for the same crime.

    However, the racial bias that undoubtedly operates in our law-enforcement and justice systems is much less reliable and extreme than is the sexist bias. The pussy pass is almost constant at every level.

    Therefore, there was little basis for Don Brash’s suggestion that Ms Butler’s race led to her special treatment, and the only credible explanation was that she didn’t have a penis (except for the one she threw).

    Comment by Man X Norton — Thu 25th February 2016 @ 9:51 am

  5. I’m wondering if the men who threw mud at Dr Brash in 2004 were charged?

    Comment by Downunder — Sun 28th February 2016 @ 1:42 pm

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