NZ Herald: “What scumbag would do this?”
This was interesting. A woman, Shona Maiden, lost teeth and suffered a broken palate through an attack by a male unknown to her outside a bar that they had both just left. Ms Maiden said on nationwide media that after wishing her friends “ka kite ano”, the man asked her what a ‘palagi’ was doing speaking Maori, she then told him to f*** off and he punched her several times. The white-knight NZ Herald took up Ms Maiden’s cause in its edition of 05/01/15 with the main front-page headline stating ‘Mum punched in face for speaking Te Reo’, then in larger letters ‘What scumbag would do this?’, underneath which was displayed a photo of Ms Maiden with her young son.
When we read this story we felt compassion towards Ms Maiden for the horrible injuries to her mouth. But also, our response to the Herald’s headline question was “The kind of scumbag who didn’t take kindly to being told to f*** off.” We noted that the Herald appeared to be very confident about the woman’s account of events. Even so, we noted that the Herald misrepresented Ms Maiden’s account because it was that the assault against her was not necessarily ‘for speaking Te Reo’ but after telling a man outside a bar to “f*** off”. While in no way condoning the man’s violent response, we noted that Ms Maiden actually experienced a bit of true gender equality, being treated in a similar way to what a man could expect if he told a somewhat drunk stranger to “f*** off” outside a pub. We mused that if women want to play tough with men they would be wise to prepare themselves for a physically violent response, just as men would need to. We noted that we had often observed women behaving rudely, aggressively or even violently towards men apparently believing that the law or feminist ideology would protect them from a violent response, then seeming surprised and indignant if a violent response ensued.
We also noted the Herald’s white-knight duplicity. In the same edition it ran a story about a gang of three young women who violently assaulted an innocent woman unprovoked then stole her car. The Herald referred to the offenders as ‘Teenage girls’ rather than ‘women’, essentially detracting from their true thuggery and degree of culpability. The Herald clearly reserves dehumanizing terms such as ‘scumbag’ for men.
As it turned out, the next day the police announced that CCTV recordings had led them to charge both Ms Maiden and her alleged attacker with assault. CCTV showed Ms Maiden talking with the man, this apparently becoming an argument. She then assaulted him by slapping him ‘on the head’ to which he did not react, and they resumed talking. Soon thereafter, Ms Maiden punched him hard in the face causing him to stumble backwards, whereupon the man retaliated.
We noted that our analysis of the case was even more pertinent given the true facts.
We congratulate the police for charging this woman with assault, though we believe that if she were a male she would further be charged for making a false statement. We applaud the police for charging both parties, though we note that if the genders had been reversed we doubt the female would have been charged at all for retaliating. Such joint charges are hardly ever seen when a male is defined as the primary offender even though, for example, most domestic violence situations involve both parties being violent. We believe that all parties who offend should be charged and their relative seriousness of offending taken into consideration in the nature of the charge and/or the sentencing. Ms Maiden’s victim was charged because whenever police feel obliged to charge a female they also look to charge any associated male, but not the other way around. We can expect the usual pro-female disparity throughout the remaining events in Court, and sentencing if the parties are found guilty.
We note lessons the public can learn from this story. Contrary to the claims of Women’s Refuge and other femaleist groups, women do lie about claimed victimization. They can do so blatantly and convincingly, even on national television. From the numerous accounts by men here on MENZ Isssues and other blogs, it seems that such lies and misrepresentations are common from women. Our impression is that dishonest portrayal of events often arises as a way of avoiding guilt that women would otherwise have to experience concerning their own behaviour. As may have been the case for Ms Maiden, this psychological defence process is strong, to some extent unintentional and leads people to believe some or much of the lies they are telling. Similar psychological-distortion processes probably account for much of the incredible contradiction between accounts given by litigants in Family Court. Obviously, such dishonesty can be expected from both genders but we are not aware of any comparative research and we note that men’s organizations are not making claims like ‘men don’t lie about abuse’.
Regrettably, few people are likely to learn that lesson so elegantly taught us by Ms Maiden. Not many people read MENZ Issues and few people seem to think very deeply about gender issues. Another lesson that may have greater impact however is that video evidence can be useful and it’s probably worth supporting the recent proposal that police make video recordings of all domestic violence call-outs they attend, as long as they are required to film everything rather than being allowed to practise their usual male-blaming sexism by selective recording that might give undue credibility to women’s allegations or that might show only the emotionally aroused behaviour of the man.
Oh well, another day, another insight…