Feminism and Paul Henry


We are beginning our column writing task next week and I am going to start off by looking at the writing of Caitlin Moran who wrote ‘How to be a woman’. Follow this link to her views on being a feminist. One of the things we will discuss next week is using topical examples and issues for inspiration. Paul Henry has provided us with one today.

Henry caused controversy on his tv/radio show by expressing his view that Hillary Clinton shouldn’t be campaigning on ‘the first woman president’ card. The NZ Herald reported that Henry said: “Why, if feminism has come so far, does she feel the need to highlight the fact that she’s a woman? Shouldn’t she be selling herself on the fact that she’s the best person, the right person, for the job, no matter what her sex?” Henry went on to say that other high profile females had “fallen into the same trap” – including Helen Clark’s bid to become the Secretary General of the United Nations. Henry continued with, “Don’t these women realise feminism has come further than they have?”

The Human Rights Commission countered Paul Henry’s view by declaring his attitude towards feminism as “wrong”. The Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Jackie Blue took aim at Henry’s comments and wrote this letter:

Dear Paul,

You are wrong. Feminism hasn’t come further than Hillary Clinton and Helen Clark, feminism will only ever go as far as they and other women go.

On your show today you argued that feminism has come further than Clinton and Clark, two women who are campaigning respectively for roles as the United States President and Secretary General of the United Nations. Clinton has voiced her ambition to become the first woman US President and you saw this as an outdated thing to say. It isn’t.

Feminism is a belief that gender should not limit anyone’s chances at life and quite frankly people are deluded if they believe women currently get the same opportunities as men to make it in business, politics and the like.

If we have come as far as you say we have why has female representation in our Parliament been stuck at around 30% since the first MMP election in 1996? Why did it even go backwards at the 2014 election? Why is the percentage of female directors on the NZX listed companies a paltry 14%? Why is it that there is a persistent mean pay gender gap in the labour market of around 14 %?

Only yesterday lawyer and international public servant Vicky Robertson was announced as the Ministry for the Environment’s new chief executive, however the headline just described her as a “Former Hockey Player”. I can’t help but wonder if this headline would have been the same if she were a man.

There is a lot of work to be done.

Yours faithfully,

Dr Jackie Blue

EEO Commissioner

Column Task

Screenshot 2015-04-11 18.14.33

I have added the column task and supporting material to Google Classroom as requested. It has been heartening to see how many of you are working on your English studies in the break. Message me if you need further information or help.

Check out this post to find out more on writing a column and go here and here for a couple of columns to read.

‘I think you should know that the Queen is a lizard’

In this column Caitlin Moran writes about her discovery that columnists exist for mad people to write letters to once they’ve finished writing to newsreaders. Read the whole column on Times Online.

When I was 18, I grandly believed that, in exchange for the cost of a newspaper, a columnist should provide some useful or diverting opinion that the reader could, if they so wished, drunkenly pass off as their own in the pub that night. It’s certainly what I used to do with Katie Boyle’s agony column in the TV Times.

However, as, over the years, I’ve resolutely failed to achieve this, even once, I’ve now retrospectively become far more unambitious about the whole affair, and boiled the raison d’être of the columnist down to this: they exist for mad people to write letters to, once they’ve finished writing mad letters to local newsreaders.

Obviously not all the letters I get are mad: some of them are absolutely delightful. Kind, courteous people who just liked, or were puzzled by, something I said, and simply wanted to send a note marking the fact. That these people almost invariably have lovely handwriting and beautiful notepaper only drives home that, in many instances, a column in a newspaper can work by way of bringing like-minded and civilised people together. Sometimes, a column is like a party to which everyone is invited.

But then there are, of course, unavoidably, the mentalists. The Curly Wurly thinkers. Apostles from the Church of Woo Woo. I collect the really outstanding ones in what I respectfully refer to as “The Nutter Box”, and as I leaf through it I can see the whole span of the human condition, every permutation of communication, and a lot of fonts from mid-90s daisywheel printers that you just don’t see any more.

Using ‘ROFL’ for lulz? Hey, man! It’s just the way I roll

In this column Caitlin Moran muses on which new words entered her life during 2009, and which new cliches she has come to depend on. Read the full column here.

New year is when the Oxford English Dictionary releases the list of words that made it into its next edition — an event that, for word-nerds, is the equivalent of finding out who has made it into the England team.

For 2010, the line-up is looking frisky. Simples, staycation, hatinator: a useful jumble of fashion innovations (“hatinator” is a tiny hat worn at a ludicrous angle), teen slang (“simples” is a way of making the word “simple” a bit more complicated — the kind of ultimately pointless endeavour that adolescents so enjoy) and social developments (“staycation” being mankind’s heroic attempt to make “resentful, sweaty Augusts at home” look like the thrusting lifestyle decision of a true social maverick and not the sad consequence of having spaffed all your pay cheques on a heady combination of gas, bread, plumbers and VAT).

It’s not just words, of course. Last week the Financial Times conducted a census on state-of-the-art clichés, concluding that the power-banality of 2009 was “the elephant in the room”. The irony with the phrase “elephant in the room” is, of course, that when someone uses the phrase “elephant in the room”, the elephant in the room instantly becomes how much everyone else in the room is thinking, “I hate the person who just said ‘elephant in the room’. Everything he says is like someone pushing bad porridge in my ears. I wish there was an elephant in the room. It might kill him. And I could sell the footage to You’ve Been Framed. That would make today good.”

Personally, these lexical reckonings gave me pause to consider which new words have entered my life during 2009 — and which clichés I have come lazily to depend on, like an old pair of slippers, or a faithful dog or, erm, some heroin.



Today’s column is about pants. Yep, it is all about great big Nana knickers and it is written by Caitlin Moran. Here is an extract:

On December 3, an attempt by a 23-year-old man, John Marsey, to fry a slice of bread went alarmingly wrong. Within minutes, his kitchen was ablaze. Thankfully, however, Marsey and his cousin, Darren, were able to conjure up a makeshift fireblanket. They grabbed a pair of John’s mother’s size 18 to 20 M&S “big pants” from the washing basket and threw them on the raging pan .

“If they’d been my daughter Sarah’s skimpy knickers, they wouldn’t have done any good,” Mrs Marsey said, posing with her huge pants for a local news story. And, in that instant, she encapsulated the implacable moral, spiritual, political and, most importantly, practical superiority of big pants.

People, I’m going to lay this one right on the line, right here, right now: I’m pro big pants. Indeed, pace Mrs Marsey, I’m currently wearing a pair that could have put out the Great Fire of London at any point during the first 48 hours or so.

Read the rest at Timesonline.