This week, our Prime Minister suffered a brain meltdown in a live press conference. If he had been so stunned, stumped, and unable to answer a question about pretty much any other topic it would have led our nightly news. It was an astounding moment of pure panic. You can watch the clip here.
The fear was visible on Chris Hipkins’ face. He looked as if he was surounded by landmines and the slightest misstep in any direction would blow him up. In a way he was and in a way his failing has blown up. On the internet.
Hipkins isn’t the first politician to fall prey to what seems to be (astoundingly) the most difficult question to answer in western politics: what is a woman? He need only pick up the phone to UK Labour’s Keir Starmer or Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to find solidarity from others who are also staggering through the minefield. Perhaps they should all reach out to former Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and take heed from her mistakes.
The absurdity of it all – apart from the fact that anyone would actually claim that women have penises – is that the overwhelming majority of voting Kiwis would not blink an eye if Chris Hipkins had answered that a woman is an adult human female. They would think it uncontroversial and rather self-evident.
So why did the question drive our Prime Minister’s blood pressure higher than Joe Biden’s advisors’ before a press conference?
Why did Chris Hipkins look like he wanted to vomit at the prospect of having to answer it? Why was there stunned silence?
Who is he afraid of, if not the voting public?
The answer is much closer to home than some on the internet summise. He hasn’t received a phone call from Klaus Schwab and the United Nations hasn’t sent out secret edicts (they are pretty brazen with their nonsense to be honest). The real reason he is so afraid to state the simple truth is that he fears the middle men and women.
The middle men and women sit between politicians and the public. They are gatekeepers of information and have control of the political and social narratives. They aren’t all powerful and spectacularly wealthy. They are armed with a post-modern university education, swipe cards, and influence. They have achieved critical mass in our media and public service.
Almost straight out of university, they advise our ministers and MPs and, with strength in numbers, convince them that their niche and privileged political world view is shared by the wider population. It would worry New Zealanders if they realised how many fresh grads run around the halls of parliament advising those in power.
With Barry Soper retiring, our press gallery is now an homogenous blob with little political diversity or perspective. The journalists routinely move from publication to publication with ease because there is no editorial difference between them. They operate in a pack because there are no outliers among them pushing them to seek different angles or look beyond their own nose. They agree on pretty much everything and publications simply rely on a columnist here and there to pretend balance.
The middle men and women in the media, and public service blob, control what the story of the day is and what it isn’t. For example, when Chris Hipkins’ social media person posted the video of the press conference they cut out the section in which he stuttered and panicked over the definition of a woman. Just sliced it out like it didn’t happen.
The media also refused to report on it. All of them. Every mainstream media outlet decided that the Prime Minister having a meltdown over a simple question live in a press conference was not newsworthy. The same media who have milked story after story from politicians not knowing the articles of the Treaty of Waitangi.
New Zealand has become a laughing stock (again) overseas with the video going viral (more people have watched it than live in New Zealand). And yet, our media remains silent*. It is as if it never happened because that is what they intend.
They see themselves as morally superior and as being ‘above’ culture wars issues. This is because they think they have won the culture wars. Their way of thinking, their politics, in their eyes, is the true and right way to see the world and it is their job, not to report on the facts, but to sculpt the narrative to bring the uncouth masses along to their point of view.
They sneer at those who think that so-called culture wars issues are important and paint dissidents as Nazis. They have decided what is right and what is wrong and will not allow a public conversation to occur on any matter that they consider problematic or counter to their own politics. They are not journalists, they are activists for an elitist perspective and they do not trust the public with information that runs counter to their cause. Instead they disappear it. Give it no oxygen. Nevermind if it is in the public interest. They have decided it is distasteful or gauche or passe.
The treatment of Kellie-Jay Keen Minshull (Posie Parker) by the New Zealand media in the week prior to her arrival in our country and ever since is the perfect example of the middle men and women controlling the narrative and creating a monster for the public to hate.
Any journalist who ventured beyond a dodgily-edited Wikipedia page, and a gate-crashed event in Melbourne, would discover that Kellie-Jay is not a Nazi and has no connection to Nazis. She has stated on the record that she abhors them and the Nazis in Melbourne have also stated that they gatecrashed her event because they didn’t want a feminist “who encourages lesbianism” to have centre stage.
When have mums and lesbians ever been the demographic of domestic terrorism in New Zealand? We are at the bottom of the crime statistics for goodness sake.
When have Nazis ever given a single shit about women’s rights?
They certainly wouldn’t have liked Mana Wahine Korero, the Māori women’s group behind bringing Kellie-Jay to New Zealand.
None of this mattered to the New Zealand media though because they believe personally that Kellie-Jay’s perspectives are wrong. They aren’t concerned about women’s rights or about children transitioning. They are firmly in the camp of everything-trans-must-be-protected. However, they are just self-aware enough to know that if they simply reported on what Kellie-Jay, and those of us supporting, her were saying, they would not be able to paint us as evil. In fact, the public would likely think we were right or at the very least worth listening to. They have to discredit us. They cannot allow our messages to get to the impressionable and naive ears of the population. So they call us the one thing that everyone loathes: Nazis.
Violence against Nazis is practically justified in many people’s eyes. ‘Punch a Nazi’ is a common meme online. No one feels sad at the thought of a Nazi being ‘put in their place’. When thinking about people who dehumanised a race of people and systematically sought to eradicate them, wiping out 6 million human lives, it is easy to see why people feel like this. But when middle-aged mums who want to talk about women’s rights are the new face of so-called Nazism, you have to ask questions.
Knowing this, and knowing that Kellie-Jay isn’t really a Nazi, the New Zealand media spent a week repeating the message that she is one. They blurred out Kellie-Jay’s hand as she did up the zipper on her top because they deemed the shape of her hand to be making a ‘Nazi gesture’.
The mob was already frothing. The rainbow NGOs were chomping at the bit and the lanyard-wearing blob were out for blood. The media stoked this growing fire of hatred and are in no small part responsible for it getting out of control on the Saturday in Albert Park.
I will never forget being squished up the front as rabid activists clawed at me to get to Kellie-Jay a metre or so behind me. I looked at her and saw the fear in her eyes and then I saw her spot the Newshub camera being thrust through the crowd. She pointed down the lens and screamed, “you did this!” over and over.
“You told them I was a Nazi!” she screamed.
We will never see that footage, but Newshub has it. They have the close up of the fear in her eyes and the righteous anger that they endangered her life and the lives of others with their lies.
At the moment, it feels like I will never forgive our media for what they did to Kellie-Jay and what they have done to us women for years. When they haven’t starved our issue of oxygen, leaving the public unaware of changing legislation, they have portrayed us as hateful and dangerous. I hold them partly responsible for the threats and stalking I have experienced.
When councils were refusing to let us book rooms to talk about a bill that was before Parliament, we had to go to court to force them to respect our rights. We won against Palmerston North and settled with Auckland. Wellington attended the proceedings and backed off cancelling us. We also have ongoing matters with other councils. The judge in our case against Palmerston North and Auckland specifically stated in his judgement that we could not be considered a hate group (as was the accusation), but this did not change the way the media reported on us.
Just this morning I saw an article pretending to address the trans issue and the disingenuous (or stupid) journalists talk about how 88% of New Zealanders want trans people to live their best lives. No shit! Of course we do. I would answer yes to that question. What a gigantic strawman! We don’t want trans people to be miserable or to take away their rights or to “eradicate” them. We want to talk about how their demands, that go above and beyond human rights, impact women and children. We want to work out how we can live cohesively without encroaching on women’s rights, spaces, and opportunities. That is not hate. It is not a zero sum game.
I don’t know how we get through this. I don’t know how we can have a fair election when our media is so politicised and powerful. They will decide that certain minor parties are beneath them and they will not give them fair air time. They will set the agenda as to what is ‘acceptable’ and expect the political parties to fall in line. We will get partial information, curated to serve what they see as the ‘right’ outcome.
Chris Hipkins and Christopher Luxon aren’t afraid of voters. They know their basic needs. They are afraid of the middle men and women. They are afraid of what the media will tell the voters – or refuse to tell them. Their perspective is skewed by young, uni grads who fill their offices and tell them that “everyone thinks that” when ‘everyone’ is their Vic Uni alumni peers who all work in the public service.
We must find away to circumnavigate the middle blob. We cannot rely on their narratives. We need to ensure we hear direct from our politicians and, more importantly, that they hear from us.