The Sunday Star Times is running a survey about the state of New Zealand blokedom. The on-line article is fairly innocuous, but the Star Times has gone to town in the print edition. The teaser headline on the front page starts with the claim that something’s wrong. The headline? “What’s eating men?” So right from the start the state of NZ men is framed as being wrong.
Then on the inside, the framing gets even better. Survey figurehead Simon Barnett opines that:
while feminism had been good for men and women, women still preferred men to be chivalrous. “There is confusion among men now as to whether we are to be income earners or caregivers, sensitive or manly, smooth or rugged, to protect our skin or not be such a nancy boy, pluck or weed whack, was or grow. Women are better at expressing themselves, they seem more comfortable with who they are and the talk! Communication over emotional issues is a tough ask for men.”
Wow. What a fabulous string of cliches and pre-suppositions, with a little bit of homophobia thrown in for good measure. Just how does he know what women still prefer men to be chivalrous, given that the survey hasn’t even been done yet?
Michael King is much more SNAG in his approach, but just to make sure we don’t get too sucked in, the dinosaurs are wheeled out for their comments. Coast to Coast organiser Robin Judkins thinks that women have too much power in politics, that feminism hasn’t been good for Kiwi men, and it was a woman’s job to be the primary caregiver to children.
But best, or worst, of all, Leighton Smith thinks that feminism hasn’t been good for New Zealand men, or for New Zealand women.
That’s right! Things were just so much better when women weren’t allowed to vote, got paid 2/3 of man’s wage despite doing exactly the same job, and weren’t allowed to do some jobs at all, even if they were perfectly capable of doing them. And of course, it was much better not to worry married women with ideas of consent – it was silly even to think there could be rape within marriage. As for a bit of biffo around the house, well, it was just a domestic. It’s just so obvious that feminism has been bad for women.
Then there’s more, an editorial piece, and a look at the questions.
It turns out that only men are allowed to answer the questions. I had assumed women could answer if they wanted to, but:
Please answer this questionnaire if you are a male aged 16 years of age or older. Only men aged 16 or over are eligible to win the draw.
The draw is for one of 50 subscriptions to fab magazines like Autocar, Boating NZ, Fishing News or Truck and Machinery Trader.
Now I’m happy to admit that I have no interest whatsoever in any of these magazines. Give me Cuisine any day. But I don’t like my voice being excluded, especially when it turns out that the purpose of the survey is about starting a national conversation. In the opinion puff piece, all the framing is put to one side. The purpose of this survey is not to lament the state of New Zealand men, not to lambast feminism, but “to spark a national conversation.” No matter the survey only wants male opinions. Evidently women aren’t really part of the national conversation.
On top of all that, it’s not even a survey. It’s an internet poll – lots of fun, but no way to get an accurate account of what New Zealand men really think.
Of course, it’s not really about having a national conversation at all. It’s really about selling newspapers, and it seems that framing a survey so that women can be blamed for men’s woes must guarantee sales.
Gentle reader, don’t fall for their silly little internet poll. Just ignore it, and don’t buy the newspaper.