Graham Adams, in a very good opinion in Noted, suggests that while there is a public interest in knowing the identity of the married National MP who had an affair with her colleague, Jami-Lee Ross, the media have been silent because of the relationship it enjoys with parliamentarians. He contrasts this with The New Zealand Herald’s publication of the identity of my friend Bevan Chuang as the woman who had an affair with then-Auckland mayor Len Brown, and concludes that councils have no such relationship.
Adams makes a compelling case. His suggestion is that if the MP is making a stand for family values, then the hypocrisy should be pointed out. However, personally I have little interest in details of who is sleeping with whom, and I suggest the double standards are not to do with the reason he identifies, but to do with race. I Tweeted:
Not sure if the married MP Ross mentioned is being protected because of her status, but because of her race. @MsBevanChuang (mentioned in the story) never got to enjoy her privacy. We’re used to seeing #doublestandards in the immigrant community. https://t.co/3g7JFjMlmy
— Jack Yan 甄爵恩 (@jackyan) November 9, 2018
On Twitter tonight, Bevan agrees with me:
It wasn’t just because I was a nobody, but it was because I was Chinese. Portraying a Chinese woman as a whore not only is exotic but also fits the stereotype that all Asian women wants white men. Much more “eliciting” than a Pakeha woman sleeping with another Pakeha man. https://t.co/ZomxKK7GwL
— Bevan Chuang (@MsBevanChuang) November 9, 2018
She never wanted the limelight on what was a private matter, but we have certain stereotypes at play.
We even see certain people incensed that we would even stand up for ourselves.
The sands are slowly shifting, and from what I see on social media, the majority of New Zealanders have no issue with giving everyone the same treatment regardless of their colour or creed.
Establishments and institutions have proved more difficult to shift. Our media are slowly changing, but many newsrooms have yet to reflect the diversity in our nation. Cast your minds back only to 2013 and newsrooms were even less diverse then.
Then there is the whole Dirty Politics angle, and as the decade advanced, the National Party seems keen to evolve into a caricature of its past self, borrowing elements from the US in what appears to be a desire to become a conservative parody—except many aren’t in on the joke. It’s a pity because this is the party of certain politicians I admired such as the late George Gair, and it was within my lifetime when its policies had substance.
I’m not here to bag National (at least not in this post) and maybe the anonymous MP enjoys some protection because of the party she’s in, whereas Bevan found herself embroiled in an anti-Labour attack.
Of course, the reality could be a combination of all three.
The one we can do something about really quickly is the race and sexism one. All it takes is the shifting of attitudes, and to call the double standards out when we see them.