Monday, April 2, 2012

I See Red

1. I have never liked the North Shore. It never seemed like Auckland to me; it's mono-cultural (and proudly so), conservative, right-wing, and has always struck me as a pretty jumping off place, like Orewa. So you can imagine my feelings when I read this article about Devonport residents protesting the Treaty Settlement granting Ngati Whatua 3.2 hectares of land; these smug, selfish, uninformed Coronation Street-watching old biddies threatening to occupy a fucking naval base because they believe it to be theirs. I can't really even write about this because it makes me so mad; I want to divorce my beloved Auckland from Devonport, but also to move there and host family parties with pigs on the spit and people-movers parked all over my un-mown grass verge, and I want to force every person at that meeting to read about Auckland's history and then, if they still want to occupy the base, to go and kick their garden gnomes and put holes in their garden hoses and maybe even pee on their outdoor cane furniture.

2. Under new anti-pornography laws, women in Indonesia will no longer be able to wear mini-skirts. What. The. Fuck. According to the country's parliamentary speaker, a piece of shit called Marzuki Ali, "there have been a lot of rape cases and other immoral acts recently and this is because women aren't wearing appropriate clothing". I want to tear out my hair, and while it makes me feel very lucky to live in NZ, and this is the logical conclusion of what opponents of Slutwalk were saying; that women are responsible for the "immoral" (um, try despicable, abhorrent, and illegal) act of rape. I grew up attending a Christian cult, and I distinctly remember a night at youth club when all of the girls were asked to come into a separate room for a little chat. The little chat, given by a fuckhead who had absolutely no business being in charge of impressionable young adults (and I am happy to say has since departed this world that he found so wicked), was about the way we girls were dressing, and our responsibility as women to dress in a way that would not "trip up" the boys, who were biologically programmed to look and want (science occasionally had a place at Church of Christ). Aside from the fact that this was Fucking Ludicrous, the cult was so strict that the "inappropriate dress" was tshirts that showed a bit of stomach when the wearer reached up (probably during volleyball, which we were forced to play all the fucking time) and singlets that weren't baggy; it was a given that girls would wear tshirts and boardshorts when swimming at events with boys present (even the annual church picnic, where the timetable for the pool separated men and women anyway. I am not kidding). What caused me most pain, however, was the rule that women must cover their heads in church. I remember reading (in the bible) that hats were a sign of submission to men; that was why men were to remove their hats, and why women were to wear them, and while I didn't understand the anti-feminism of being told to dress in clothes that wouldn't "tempt the boys" (his words, again), even my fourteen-year-old feminism understood that perfectly. I didn't wear a hat, which may not seem like much now, but that church was the biggest part of my life outside of school and, in spite of fools like the youth leader, I wanted to be a Christian, and boy did I fucking try. Not wearing a hat exposed me to criticism (from people who didn't even know me), and marked me as a questioner, for whom faith wasn't enough. For my last few months there, I conceded and wore a headscarf, but if anyone had actually known me, it would have been clear that this was worse than when I wouldn't wear one; I didn't care about being sincere anymore. Jeez, now I'm way off what I was talking about, but anyway, you can find the verses in 1 Corinthians, chapter 11.

3. But what makes me see crimson (or scarlet, whatever's redder) is the white nationalist march that took place in Christchurch last week. And worse, it scares me, and I hate being scared because it makes me feel powerless. When I was young, all I knew about Christchurch was that there were skinheads there. When I finally went there, I loved it; it was beautiful, some of the people (and the person) I love best in the world were from there, and I could see the things about the city that had made them. But I never forgot the things I had heard about the skinheads, and the people who weren't used to non-white cultures, and I was never completely easy. My now-Dunedin mother and I would talk about the culture of violence among young men there who felt disenfranchised and alone, and she explained how the size of the city, as well as the ethnic make-up contributed to this, and I thought about the skinheads, but mostly thought of them as teenagers who would grow out of it, or isolated men who would play video games and watch violent porn. Marches like this mean these people aren't isolated, and when white supremacist groups have any media attention, membership rises. Some of the views expressed in this short article are pretty much the same as ACT and a million other groups; emotive (and nonsensical) statements like "It's alright to be white" and "We want our heritage back". Vincent has been patiently telling me that this is a very small proportion of Christchurch's population (my ire at Sophie Pascoe declaring her surprise at how nice Aucklander's were - after an Auckland club paid for her to come and train here after QE11 was closed! - included a few choice epithets about Cantabrians going somewhere hot and fictional) and I know it, but I can't help being mad at the the city for fostering these attitudes (yes I know that is crazy and that Devonport is part of Auckland and blah blah blah).

Why can't we all just be nice to each other; or, at least, leave each other alone? Why does difference always have to mean a better and a worse? I know I called a dead guy a fuckhead two paragraphs ago, but I truly wish we would all just get along, and get on with it. I feel like Holden Caulfield. Don't you? Except today, when I want to roar, and rampage, and get bloody satisfaction, and have babies who will roar and rampage with me.

No comments:

Post a Comment