zeborah: Zebra looking at its rainbow reflection (rainbow)
One of our straight white male MPs is going to go on the talkshow Ellen. He did give a great speech, but, um, what about the LGBT MPs and ex-MPs who also gave great speeches? And who did most of the work on the bill? Like, say, the Māori lesbian MP who submitted the bill in the first place?

So here are some speeches from the night by MPs who aren't straight white guys.

Firstly, the kōrero in which Te Ururoa Flavell (straight Māori guy) talks about about Tutanekei's hoa takatāpui Tiki, and gives more context to the history of Pākehā redefining marriage to exclude Māori customary marriage.

(Procedural notes: a lot of MPs on the evening chose to share their speaking time with someone else, and Te Ururoa was the recipient of one such five minute slot from John Banks which is why he's acknowledging "Hone Banks". He gets cut short at the end for going over his time limit which is a tremendous shame given how informative his kōrero was, but the rule seemed fairly equally enforced against Pākehā MPs doing the same. And applause is normally I gather not allowed but that rule went out the window completely for the whole evening.)



More awesome kōrero on the evening included:

Louisa Wall (Māori lesbian; submitted the bill; first name pronounced lou-issa)


Kevin Hague (gay white guy)


Tau Henare (straight Māori guy; responding to straight Māori guy Winston Peters' vile speech which I won't link to because Winston is *that* MP, you know the one, who just always.)


Mojo Mathers ((Deaf) straight white woman; bringing tears to my eyes every time I watch it)
zeborah: Zebra looking at its rainbow reflection (rainbow)
New Zealand just passed the third and final reading of our marriage equality bill 77-44.

(I was listening by radio after, having failing to get reception for Parliament TV and failing to get sufficient bandwidth for the internet livestream, I put out a plaintive tweet asking about livestreaming audio and someone pointed me to 882AM. Oh yeah, that dusty old machine.)

After the Speaker's announcement of the result and before the tumultuous applause, a waiata was sung and harmonised upon.

This is itself probably needs explaining. Waiata are traditionally sung (among other occasions) in support of a speech. As a non-Māori New Zealander I've most often witnessed/participated when this has happened during a traditional welcoming ceremony or opening ceremony; but also after some keynotes at New Zealand library conferences; or in support of family/friends at graduation. So for this to happen was very appropriate.

But the particular waiata chosen is what really needs translation. It was Pokarekare Ana which is a song extremely widely known in New Zealand, you may well even have heard it overseas, so it might just seem a bit twee if you don't know anything about it. And it's about a famous heterosexual love story, so if you know a little bit about it you might think that in this context, um, what?

But the reason this song was perfect for the occasion was because earlier in the evening, speaking in support of the bill, Te Ururoa Flavell referred to another part of this story of Hinemoa and Tutanekai - to the part where after Tutanekai married Hinemoa, his hoa takatāpui Tiki grieved for losing him. Te Ururoa pointed out that people complaining about this bill seeking to "redefine marriage" need to be aware that, in New Zealand, marriage was redefined way back in the 19th century by colonialism.

A lot of people, throughout the evening, pointed out that there's still a lot of work to do for justice and equality. But this was a great step, in so many ways.

[For reference, words I had to redact from this post given I'm attempting to translate here: Pākehā; kōrero; pōwhiri; marae; tautoko; Aotearoa; ahakoa he iti he pounamu.]
zeborah: Zebra looking at its rainbow reflection (rainbow)
So Swan Tower has linked and analysed the key bits of "Say Yes to Gay YA", which is worth reading if you haven't already.

This basically matches my own analysis, which also includes: when people of privilege play the "They're playing the Oppressed Card!" card, it's always the people of privilege who win. So it'd be really foolish for someone to falsely play the Oppressed Card in an attempt to win; the only sensible reason for someone to 'play' it is if they actually, y'know, value the truth and the cause over their own personal success. Even if I ever had reason to think Rachel and/or Sherwood were dishonest, I definitely wouldn't have reason to think they're so foolishly naive.

But more importantly, Joanna from the agency eventually gets around to admitting:
There are not enough mainstream books that depict characters of diverse race, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, and physical and/or mental disabilities.

Changing this starts with the readers. Scott Tracy has a great post about this on his blog. If more people buy books with these elements, then publishers will want to publish more of them. Sounds simple... yet, it’s not so simple.

How do we reach the readers who are looking for these types of books? And more importantly, how do we reach the readers who aren't specifically looking for them?

And this - specifically "Changing this starts with the readers" - is bullpucky and hogwash and is exactly what the problem is. Agents passing the buck to editors passing the buck to bookstores passing the buck to readers. "They won't buy it so I can't." I say again, bull.

Yes, readers should read what we can, but not everyone likes every book, and it's unfair to demand readers read a book they don't otherwise like just because it's got gay content. If readers are to read more, we need more books to choose from. How are readers supposed to buy it if the bookstore doesn't stock it, if the publisher doesn't publish it, if the editor doesn't accept it, if the agent doesn't represent it, if the writer doesn't write it?

Rachel and Sherwood wrote it; plenty of other authors have been writing it. The next step for an agent who wants things to change is to represent it. If you want to "reach the readers" then take that step. Because you're not going to get anywhere by standing still.
zeborah: I believe in safe, sane, and consensual Christianity. (credo)
If religion vs atheism cage-matches are bad for your blood pressure, look away now.

--I hope this won't be a cage-match, actually, it's just one particular argh I need to get out of my system briefly and then I'll probably be good for another year or so. I used to read Greta Christina's blog, because she's clever and says smart things in defence of atheism, but I slowly realised she didn't just want to defend atheism, she really wanted to do away with religion. She honestly feels that religion is not just bad for her, but bad for everyone. Which is a fair belief to hold, and I can understand people holding it... Just, I believe it's really really false (since, for a start, I know that religion is good for me) so it's really disconcerting to see an otherwise intelligent person so inflexible on the subject.

Also I accidentally got into an argument with her (I was trying to constructively critique a particular argument she put forth, and things got sidetracked) and it just wasn't the same after that.

Anyway, so today I followed a reference to "how do you know that your cherries are the ones Jesus would approve of?" thinking it was something about homosexual virginity or... something, I don't know, but it sounded amusing until the bit.ly link resolved and I realised where I was and that I'd totally misconstrued it.

--Okay, two particular arghs. The first one is that one of the reasons religion is good for me is that it makes me happy. This and other things mean that if I were in a religious contingent in a gay pride parade and saw an atheism contingent next to us, I'd be smiling and going "Yay, more people for gay pride!" because that's kind of the point of the parade. Greta Christina's reaction to such smiles and happiness is... to want to argue with the religious people about their religion.

She doesn't do this, to be completely fair. And maybe it's unfair to hold her confession that this is her reaction against her, since it's on her own blog -- she's not actually going out and evangelising anyone. But still, knowing that this is her reaction makes me recoil even more from her brand of atheism. Which is why I ultimately stopped reading her blog, because I'd started reading it with the (unverbalised) aim of understanding/respecting atheism more, and instead she just put me off it more.

Anyway, so the second/real argh is that the "cherry" quote turned out to be:
How do you know that you're getting it right? What reason do you have to think that you, personally, know what Jesus really meant, and that all these other jackasses are getting it wrong? They cherry-pick scripture to support their position; you cherry-pick scripture to support yours -- how do you know that your cherries are the ones Jesus would approve of?[1]
And the thing is -- Well, of course I don't know that I'm totally right. It seems unlikely that I am, in fact. I never was when I was younger, after all, and I've never met anyone else who's totally right. But I believe I'm more right than I used to be because as I learn more about a) the world and b) the Bible, I can interpret the latter in ways that are more internally self-consistent and more consistent with the way the world works than my understanding of "those other jackasses"' interpretation. For example, we both believe that Jesus said stuff about loving everyone-I-mean-everyone-that-means-them-too; but "those other jackasses" think that means loving the sinner while stoning the sin which is inseparable from the sinner, and I think it means loving people enough to realise that their difference in taste is not necessarily a sin. And my interpretation is more self-consistent and more consistent with the things Jesus said and did than theirs.

And yes, this relies on my judgement. But so does all this religion and atheism stuff rely on people's judgement. You can't judge without judgement, that's what judgement is. Greta Christina judges that atheism is more self-consistent and consistent with empirical reality than religion is. She may well even be correct, I just don't think empirical reality is all it's cracked up to be. (See also: footnote [1])

Ultimately, it's each of us who chooses which beliefs and morality we subscribe to. I'm the one who approves my cherries (picked from the world and my religion, including the Bible). Greta Christina's the one who approves hers (picked from the world, excluding religion and the Bible). And then we go around judging other people's cherries, partly because humans are judgey, but partly it makes good sense as a reality check. And when you see someone whose cherries match your cherries (this metaphor is getting increasingly unwieldy) it's natural to be happy.

So when a Christian and an atheist meet at a gay pride parade, it seems reasonable for the Christian to assume that they both believe that homosexuality is cool and that the fundamentalist Christians who disagree are wrong to disagree. That doesn't mean that the Christian thinks the atheist should agree with the Christian about whichever liberal version of Christianity they subscribe to. It doesn't mean that they're asking for "the Atheist Seal of Approval". It just means that they recognise that, while disagreeing on some things which aren't that important right now, they can still agree on other things which are important right now, and this is awesome. Christians, other religions, and atheists (as well as piles of people who don't care about religion one way or another all that much) all united for LGBT rights. How is this not awesome cherry sauce?

I... find it very frustrating that Greta Christina so desperately wants everyone to be an atheist that she couldn't see the awesome in that part of the parade. And again, if believing as she does meant that I became unable to see the awesome, I really don't want any of it.

--
[1] Also
Oh, and while we're on the subject: What evidence do you have to believe that Jesus is the divine son of God in the first place? Are you aware of how laughably unreliable the New Testament is as a historical document? Are you familiar with the arguments that the historical Jesus probably didn't even exist, and that the case for him being the divine son of God is a total joke?
to which my answer is -- and was, when we got into that argument -- that yes, I do know that, and am quite happy to believe that Jesus son of Joseph was invented as a story to explain this awesome new philosophy some dudes were coming up with, but even if that's so, it's still a cool story and cool philosophy and I believe in both of them. Yes, even if I believe the story isn't true I can still believe in it. The argument kind of went off the rails at this point.
zeborah: Zebra against a barcode background, walking on the word READ (read)
Song For Night by Chris Abani
About a boy soldier (trained to defuse mines) separated from his platoon after an explosion. A short and easy read (in style if not in content matter. Trigger warnings re the content: skip) the book includes graphic descriptions of violence and of the protagonist being forced to rape a woman.) told in a beautiful prose style. It explores the sign language his platoon uses, his memories of the war, boot camp, the outbreak of violence between Igbo and Fulani, and his childhood.

Huia Short Stories 6
Huia Publishers put out an anthology each year of contemporary Māori fiction. I'm... ultimately not a fan of contemporary fiction, I think. Melanie Drewery's "Weight of the World" stood out for me among the rest, being more humorous in tone. In the author bios at the end, Eru J. Hart, said he "asks that other Māori writers think beyond stories of 'Nanny in the kūmara patch'" -- his own was really interesting stylistically/structurally but in content it wasn't so very distant from what I'm tempted to call 'Sister in the big city' which many stories in this volume shared (and which I recall studying in high school in the form of Witi Ihimaera's "Big Brother Little Sister" (1974)). This isn't a criticism really; it's just that it's not my kind of story so while reading one is fine, reading a dozen in a row is a bit much for me. :-) But if it's the kind of thing you like, then you'll like it.

(The other cool thing about this collection is it includes four stories written in Te Reo, one of which is written in the Kai Tahu dialect. Far beyond my current ability to read, alas, especially as I think I'd have liked to read "Ko Māui me ngā Kūmara a Wiwīwawā".)

Ruahine: mythic women by Ngahuia Te Awekotuku
This anthology, on the other hand, I really enjoyed. For each story, the author gives a brief summary of the original folktale/history, then tells her own interpretation of it. All the stories are about strong women; several include female/female relationships and one a male/male relationship. And of course the reason [livejournal.com profile] kitsuchi recommended it to me in the first place was because one of the stories was science fiction and full of awesomeness.
zeborah: Zebra looking at its rainbow reflection (rainbow)
From the end of The Life of Saint Clare:
There was a maid of the castle Convary which sat on a time in a field, and another woman had laid her head in her lap. And in the mean while there came a wolf which was accustomed to run on the people, and came to this maid and swallowed the visage and all the mouth and so ran with her toward the wood. And the good woman that rested in her lap when she saw it, was much abashed and began to call on Saint Clare and said: Help! help! Saint Clare, and succour us, I recommend to thee at this time this maid. And she whom the wolf bare, said unto the wolf: Art not thou afeard to bear me any farther that am recommended to so great and worthy lady? And with that word that the maid said, the wolf, all confused and shamed, set softly the maid down, and fled away like a thief, and so she was delivered. Then let us pray unto this glorious virgin Saint Clare to be our advocate in all our needs; and by the merits of her we may so amend our life in this world that we may come unto everlasting life and bliss in heaven. Amen.
(I'm not quite clear how the maid managed to talk when the wolf had swallowed her face and mouth, but that's obviously far from the most important part of this story.)

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