Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind


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Trans woman denied Gym membership

A new Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration bill to replace the 1995 act is currently making its way through Parliament. One of the new provisions will be to allow the self-declaration of gender identity. But I wonder, if the bill was already law, it would have helped Penelopy Mansel, a transgender woman, gain membership to a women’s gym.

As the law currently stands, a person can have their gender recorded on their birth certificate changed provided they can satisfy the Family Court that they identify as their nominated gender and have, or are undergoing appropriate medical treatment to make their appearance more in keeping with that gender. Surgery is not required. In fact in Aotearoa New Zealand, gender reassignment surgery is not an option. Funding for reassignment surgery is so minuscule, that one is likely to be on the waiting list for more than forty years before one can go under the knife. Few are likely to be able to afford to have it done privately in NZ, or overseas for that matter.

According to Penelopy’s birth certificate she is now female, but she has not had gender reassignment surgery. And this was enough for the gym to deny her membership. Our human rights legislation does not specifically ban discrimination against transgendered people or others who are not gender conforming. According the the Crown Law Office, and its advice to government, it’s unnecessary as the comprehensive coverage against sex discrimination effectively covers transgender rights as well. However, this has yet to be tested in court.

Court cases over discrimination are relatively rare in NZ as complaints regarding discrimination are referred to the Human Rights Commission. The Commission prefers education over prosecution, and so the testing of whether or not discrimination against transgendered or other gender nonconforming people is illegal may never reach the courts. The new Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration bill does nothing to clarify the matter.

In the video clip linked to below, Renee Gerlich argues that “The legislation undermines a lot of the work that suffragettes did, they fought for the women’s vote, they wanted to give women a way of making political demands that pertain to our sex when, we can’t do that once the definition of what a woman is has fundamentally changed”. It does appear that she is confusing sex and gender. The legislation will allow for self-identification of gender (a socially defined atribute) not sex (biologically defined).

The argument that the new legislation will distort statistics is, I believe, a red herring. As only 1.2% of the NZ population self identify as trans, and about the same number identify as gender nonconforming, their numbers are relatively small. Where it is important that statistics refer to sex and not gender, such as for funding of breast and cervical screening, then I’m sure appropriate adjustments can be made. In fact, it seems that our five yearly census will cover this well, as in future it will ask about both sex and gender.

Some speakers in the following clip refer to WINZ. This term is familiar to all Kiwis, but others may not know that it is an acronym for Work and Income New Zealand – the government department that oversees social welfare benefits and pensions, and supports the unemployed and those on a low income into work and to find housing.

Wellington transgender woman denied membership at female gym

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How to massacre the National Anthem

I’m not referring to the Star Spangled Banner. Americans can mangle that to their heart’s content. No, what I’m referring to is the rendition, if it can even be called that, sung in Denver, Colorado over the weekend, prior to the international Rugby League match between England and New Zealand.

The singer, Crystal Collins, started by singing a shaky version of God Save The Queen, but when she attempted Aotearoa / God Defend New Zealand, not only did she horribly mangle the words and timing of the first verse in Māori, she didn’t do any better with the verse in English, where she was completely out of sync with the backing music, and even at times seemed to be singing to the tune of Good King Wenceslas!

What a way to insult a nation! It would have been much more respectful to have simply played a pre-recorded orchestral version than allowing Crystal Collins to get behind the microphone.

Unfortunately, I’m not able to locate a video that I can embed in this post, so the best I can do is provide a link. If you’re American, be prepared to be suitably embarrassed: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-24/singer-delivers-interesting-rendition-of-nz/9903662. You could use that to demonstrate how not to win friends and influence people.

 

 

Once you’ve recovered from that, you might like to see how it should be rendered:


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It’s a girl!

Amid much less fanfare that I thought was likely, our Prime Minister gave birth to a baby daughter yesterday. Rather surprisingly, when Google’s landing page is opened from a New Zealand IP address, a rather small image acknowledges the arrival. This is what you see:Selection_070

Unless you know what the image really is, you could be forgiven for mistaking it as some stylised question marks. Why Google chose to make the image so small, I don’t know. It’s not like there’s much else on the Web-page. In fact the image consists of a small fish hook cradled between 2 big fish hooks representing two parents and child:Selection_071

If you know that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s partner, Clarke Gayford, is the host of a popular TV fishing show, then the use of fish hooks starts to mean something. The image is the work of artist Stephen Templer of Wellington who based the design on one Jacinda and Clarke posted to Instagram when they announced they were expecting. As an aside, Clarke will be a stay at home dad and full time carer of the baby when Jacinda returns to work in six weeks time.

Matau (fish hook) is a prominent feature of Māori art alongside the koru (unfurling fern frond) and features in Māori mythology – New Zealand’s North Island was pulled from the depths of the ocean by a fish hook fashioned from the jawbone of Maui’s grandmother.

Hei matau are highly stylised fish hook ornaments, traditionally carved from pounamu or whalebone. Today it’s not unusual to see them made from other materials, but those with the most mana are made in the traditional manner.

Hei_matau


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Now for something different

Unlike my father, who was an avid sports enthusiast, and who in his younger days was selected as an All Black trialist in the late 1930s, and later in life participated in golf and lawn bowls, I showed little talent or interest in sport. My father was also very fond of horse racing, and on most Saturdays, he had his ear glued to the radio listening to the live race commentaries from the various race meetings around the country. When major race meetings began to be televised, my father could often be seen watching races on TV with the sound turned down and the radio turned up as he much preferred the racy fast paced style of radio commentary over the more laid back style of television commentators.

If he wasn’t listening to horse racing, he’d be listening to rugby in winter and cricket in summer. As a game of cricket can last up to five days, that was almost all we heard on the radio during summer. At least once a month he’d be off to watch a sporting event or to attend a race meeting. His “excuse” for purchasing our first colour TV was so that we could watch the Christchurch Commonwealth Games of 1974 in “all its glory”.

Of course my father was not very different to most men of his era when it came to sports. They were all sports mad, and it is still true that as a nation we have an obsession for sport. Often times, you’ll hear the comment that sport is the national religion of Aotearoa New Zealand. As an example, with a population of about 4.7 million, one broadcasting network has 2 television channels and 32 radio stations dedicated entirely to thoroughbred and harness horse racing, and greyhound racing. And that’s just one network.

My interest in sport tends to be the occasional watching of sporting highlights during the evening news bulletin, although I’m glued to the TV during America’s Cup events and to a lesser extent I enjoy watching Olympic and Commonwealth Games.

But occasionally a sporting moment piques my interest, and one of those happened last weekend. A rider fell off his horse at the first jump in a steeplechase, yet was able to remount and win the race! As the event happened only a few kilometres from where I live, and has been shown numerous times on TV, I couldn’t not be interested.

Here’s the fall:

If you’d like to watch the race from beginning to end, here is all seven and a half minutes of it in “all its glory”

As the title says, this post has been somewhat different from my usual fare. Normal transmission will resume eventually (when this series of daily migraines eventually runs its course).


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Stubbies

A comment over on Behind the Glass regarding short shorts, reminded me of the era when such attire was part of the modern man’s wardrobe in Aotearoa New Zealand. It was even appropriate where in other parts of the world a business suit would be more appropriate. Such fashion is now a distant memory for those of us who lived through the seventies, but perhaps Trump’s determination to accelerate climate change, will see them return before too long.

This is what sprung to mind on reading short shorts:


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Mother-in-Law’s funeral

I guess as one gets older, the more inevitable it is that the frequency of attending funerals increases. Except in my case, it seems to be the frequency of not attending funerals of those important to me.

Last year I was able to be present at my mother’s funeral, but I was unable to attend my father’s funeral a few years earlier. Two years ago My father-in-law passed away, and due to failure of communications, we didn’t learn of his death until several weeks after the funeral. Last year a very dear aunt died, and I was fortunate to be able to attend.

A little over a month ago, another favourite aunt died, but due to another migraine, and distance, I was unable to attend the funeral. Fortunately, I was able to watch the service via a live link over the Internet – a very common practice here these days due to tendency of Kiwis to scatter widely.

Then in the late hours of Sunday (or possibly early hours of Monday NZ time), my mother-in-law passed away. We learnt the news mid Monday morning. The funeral was held at 1:00 pm Japan time or 4:00 pm NZ time on Tueday – less than 10 hours ago as I write this. Neither my wife nor I could attend.

When you live at the end of the world that is Aotearoa New Zealand, it’s is an unfortunate fact of life that the rest of the world is a long, long way away. While there’s plenty of flights in and out of the country, direct flights to any specific city in the world are few and far between, and even using a series of connecting flights can extend a journey out to several days.

Take for for example a trip from our home town to the city where my mother-in-law’s funeral was held. My wife could have started her journey on Monday afternoon by flying to Auckland, but she would have been stranded there until Thursday, as that is when the next flight to Japan leaves. By the time she cleared customs, it would be too late to catch a flight or bullet train that evening, so it wouldn’t be until mid morning on Friday that she arrived at her family’s home town – three days after the funeral!

A frantic search for less direct routes proved fruitless as no option could get my wife home any earlier than Thursday regardless of the seating class. So another funeral missed.

We’re not doing too well in the Funeral attendance stakes. Let’s hope there’s no one keeping tabs. I would hope that there’ll be more than my own children present at mine.

I nearly made a terrible faux pas today. Had I not caught myself mid-sentence, I think I would have been “persona non grata” for a very long time. Sometimes humour does not transfer well from one culture to another.

After my mother’s cremation, we returned to the home my mother and sister shared, and as we tend to do in the warm months, we removed our ties etc and sat out on the terrace under the shade cloth and each opened a bottle of beer. My three siblings and I had just sat down at a table, and I was in the process of taking the first sip gulp (funerals are thirsty work) when one of my brothers quipped “You know… we’re orphans now!”

The next moment I was snorting beer out my nose as I and the other two siblings collapsed in laughter. Today I found myself saying the same thing, but I managed to stop myself just before “orphan”, and redirect it to a suggestion of what we might have for tea (Kiwi-speak for dinner or evening meal). Whew! Saved by the skin of my teeth. That’s humour that would be close to unforgivable as far as my wife is concerned, whether it was said yesterday or in 5 years time, bless her wonderful heart 🙂

Whose funeral will I miss next? While I’d be happy to miss my own, age, migraines and distance, means I’m probably going to miss many more.


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AN OLD INDIAN FABLE RE-IMAGINED — Bill Peddie’s website

It really doesn’t matter what tradition(s) you adhere to, wisdom can be gained from many other traditions. Here’s an old Indian fable retold by a fellow Kiwi to illustrate the point:

I want to tell you a story that might at first seem rather strange. I am rather hoping it will start to mean something when you think about it. Once there was a young fellow who was a bit confused about how his life was working out. It really started to worry him – so […]

via AN OLD INDIAN FABLE RE-IMAGINED — Bill Peddie’s website


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Who’s being racist?

Last year, there was a petition circulating calling for a boycott of a joint New Zealand Australian production of The New Legends Of Monkey because the petitioners claim the show is guilty of “whitewashing“. I refused to sign the petition at the time as I was unaware of the background behind it. However, if I had known the details, I still would not have signed.

The petitioner’s argument was that “media producers who replace Asian characters with white actors reinforce the idea that ‘whiteness’ is the standard and European features are the epitome of beauty, thereby convincing non-white children to loathe their own appearances and develop self-hate”. The four lead roles are played by Kiwis and Aussies.

The show is the latest in a line of fantasy TV series produced in Aotearoa New Zealand, some for NZ viewers and some for international audiences, including Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena: Warrior Princess, Legend of the Seeker, Dark Knight, and The Almighty Johnsons, among others.

With the exception of The Almighty Johnsons, which was set in present day New Zealand, the shows depict mythological worlds loosely based on legends that themselves are set in a specific place and time. However, the shows are simply themed on the legend and make no attempt to accurately portray a specific place and time in history.

The same can be said of The New Legends of Monkey. The story is loosely based on a Chinese legend, and while the legend was set in China (after all, the story tellers and audiences were Chinese and possibly knew little of other cultures), that setting isn’t essential for the retelling of the story. The theme of the show is not an attempt to recreate a historically accurate depiction of a particular time in Chinese history. In the words of its creators the story is set in a “magical fantasy world“.

If the the actors were made up to appear as though they belonged to a different ethnicity by changing facial features (often in exaggerated form), then I believe that would be inappropriate, especially if race (I dislike that word), culture or ethnicity was part of the plot. If the series was filmed in China, then I expect it would be natural for all the cast would be Chinese, including all the minor roles and walk on parts.

However, it was shot in New Zealand, and the the ethnic mix of the actors, both lead and minor are not that different from a typical cross section of Kiwi society. Two of the lead actors speak in a fake accent, but it’s not in a hammed-up Chinese accent, which would indeed be a case of whitewashing. It’s a North American accent to make the show more attractive to a wider Netflix audience. The rest use accents commonly found in New Zealand.

I also question whether “whitewashing” could be applied under any circumstance in relation to the show.  Josh Thomson (Pigsy) and Luciane Buchanan (Tripitaka) are Tongan Kiwis, and Chai Hansen (Monkey) is Thai-Australian, leaving Emilie Cocquerel (Sandy) as the only “white” actor. So the term is clearly inappropriate in the case of The New Legends of Monkey.

While I’m not claiming whitewashing doesn’t happen, as it certainly has in the past and still does to some extent, I really think those promoting the boycott were way off the mark with this particular show. In fact I feel like they are a “tiny bit racist“.

In Aotearoa New Zealand The New Legends of Monkey can be viewed on TVNZ On Demand and Netflix. I confess I’m a fan of this genre. Below are trailers for the six TV shows mentioned in this article.


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Where’s our flag?

As the 2018 Commonwealth Games draws to a close on the Gold Coast, one thing has struck me. When the TV cameras pan over the spectators we see:

The English supporters waving this:
England

The Kenyan supporters waving this:
Kenya

The Canadian supporters waving this:
Canada

And of course, the Australian supporters waving this:
Australia

So it might be reasonable to assume the Kiwi supporters would be waving this:
New_Zealand

 

Wrong!

 

Instead you’ll see them waving this:
silver-fern-flag

We had a flag referendum couple of years ago and decided to retain the current flag. So why do we seem to have a reluctance to fly it?