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*gnng* - Tactical Ninja

Nov. 25th, 2011

01:22 pm - *gnng*

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OK so this has been doing the rounds on Twitter: "Mum, I need your help". It's a site dedicated to convincing your Mum to vote for a particular set of values.

As a Mum, I find it insulting as hell.

"All I dream about is what your generation had -" thus follows a list of things 'my generation' did not actually have.

Then follows a bunch of information about various issues. I know they only have a small space, I know it's oversimplified, and it's obviously designed to tug some heartstrings and play to compassion. I have no problem with that. But..

"I know you think of me already, and I don’t want to be pushy, but this election we’re at a crossroads, we’re deciding on the long-term path from here."

"Oh gosh, nope, I had no idea that this election was so important, thank you child for enlightening my ignorance with your wisdom and telling me how things are. After all, I'm a Mum, how could I possibly know these things without being told by you?"

*snarl*

And of course my main question is, "Why Mums? What about Dads?" Well apparently, "Because, when we're searching for answers, it tends to be the wisdom and nurturing hearts of our mums that guides us."

Because I apparently have fucking nurturing heart, through virtue of having pushed something the size of a watermelon out my vagina. And while my wisdom guides 'us', I am not wise enough to decide who to vote for without my kid's photo being attached to some patronising website and sent to me.

I know the guy's heart's in the right place, but I just feel patronised, insulted and stereotyped. Am I overreacting or do others see this too?

By the way, I voted Green - based on my research and understanding of politics and policy in combination with my values. And I didn't need to be told to do it by anyone else, mmk?

Comments:

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From:vernacularity
Date:November 25th, 2011 12:29 am (UTC)
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I hated that site as soon as i opened it. patronising. also, appalling site design.
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From:vernacularity
Date:November 25th, 2011 12:30 am (UTC)
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part of it is the whole whiney-brat thing. Muuuuuuuu-uuuuuuum.....
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From:tatjna
Date:November 25th, 2011 12:32 am (UTC)
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I mostly disliked the assumption that:

a) Mums weren't already considering the future when choosing who to vote for.
b) We somehow need to be told to do this, and spoon fed selected information to convince us.

In other words, who exactly do the website creators think Mums are? And what does it say about what the creators think of their own Mum?
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From:vernacularity
Date:November 25th, 2011 12:34 am (UTC)
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oh that's all right dear you just trust that nice mister key while I pop another lamington in the oven?

if such a person exists.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 25th, 2011 12:35 am (UTC)
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Somebody voted the fucker in this time round - but I bet it wasn't the National Consortium of Ignorant Lamington Making Mums all by themselves.
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From:vernacularity
Date:November 25th, 2011 12:44 am (UTC)
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exactly.

I mean Jeez, they'd do better to be targetting Dads, since as we all know he tells everyone in the family what to vote anyway.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 25th, 2011 12:47 am (UTC)
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My parents would never tell us who they voted for. I suspect it might have been a bone of contention between them because they had different values in a lot of key areas.

And yet managed to stay married for 38 years!
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From:vernacularity
Date:November 25th, 2011 12:50 am (UTC)
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Trust means not having to defend your right to secrets.
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From:decanker
Date:November 25th, 2011 01:16 am (UTC)
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Hey it's Ian who created that site. Completely understand what you said. (Well, maybe not the whiney brat bit so much).

Just a bit of background, I made the site for my mum, and then figured it might be useful to let others share it. So my mum was the target audience.

I'm guessing my mum is older than yourself, from a later generation perhaps. My parents are in a provincial town where the daily news source of choice is the stream of bullshit coming out of Leighton Smith, followed by poll after poll on the tv news at night and the ramming of that message of less debt in the short term at any cost. In many ways the site was a reaction to that, the spin from National and its supporters is working, which might explain me combating it with emotion on my site.

In any case, I didn't mean to offend or belittle any mums. It was just an attempt to get another side of the story across to those that don't tend to access news the way I do, in particular, my mum.

And thanks for getting wound up enough to comment!
Ian
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From:tatjna
Date:November 25th, 2011 01:28 am (UTC)
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Hey,

Thanks for fronting up and owning your work, respect for that. ;-)

I come from a provincial town too, and yeah I'm familiar with the media-driven ideology bashing folks there get around election time. And I do appreciate your effort to take a new tack towards discussing the issues with your parents (or others who are not experiencing the problems with neoliberalism firsthand). I suspect that it will work for at least some people, and that's a good thing.

If I could give a suggestion, this tack would work just as well on Dads and other extended family members IMO - it's the singling out of Mums as the ones that need telling that is a problem for me - there's a tacit assumption there that Dads (read: men) don't need help to decide who to vote for and that's.. yeah.
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From:decanker
Date:November 25th, 2011 01:42 am (UTC)
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Yeah I thought about the mum/dad thing, but I hadn't actually thought about it from your point of view. I was just thinking my Dad's essentially a National man, that's ok, that's the way it, but I know my Mum can swing left/right, so that should be the focus.
I did consider then making it something for everyone, brothers, sister, mates, but I figured I wanted an angle on it, otherwise I'd be better off sending them links to Green/Labour/Mana websites.
I honestly hadn't thought about the mums need help but dads don't side of things, thanks for that.
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:November 25th, 2011 05:18 am (UTC)
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You know, you could also read it as a tacit assumption that Mums retain their open mindedness and are more open to actually listen to reason instead of dogmatically supporting a party. Thus it's actually worth trying to engage with them. Personally I think that's an admirable thing ;-)
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From:tatjna
Date:November 25th, 2011 05:26 am (UTC)
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That is true, but even though that's a more complimentary assumption, it's still fallacious stereotyping and doesn't explain why you'd leave Dads out.
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From:decanker
Date:November 25th, 2011 01:46 am (UTC)

Re: And I didn't need to be told to do it by anyone else, mmk?

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Hey, so do I, which is why I didn't just say, Mum, vote Green, as much as I might have implied (any non-NACT party was fine by me).

I don't reckon it works to explicitly tell someone who to vote for. We all naturally get defensive.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 25th, 2011 01:49 am (UTC)

Re: And I didn't need to be told to do it by anyone else, mmk?

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The other day I suggested a colleague watch that thing on child poverty, and in the resulting discussion she explored a bunch of core values she had that she'd never equated with voting before. I have no idea who she'll vote for but I doubt very much it'll be National given her shock at some of the media-bollocks she's now aware of.

I call that a win. ;-)
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From:decanker
Date:November 25th, 2011 01:59 am (UTC)

Re: And I didn't need to be told to do it by anyone else, mmk?

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Total win! I thought that doco was edging towards a Labour ad at time, but so be it if they're the issues.
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From:vernacularity
Date:November 25th, 2011 02:07 am (UTC)

Re: And I didn't need to be told to do it by anyone else, mmk?

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Don't you refuse to allow ME to whap a firehose across your quivering buttocks!
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From:tatjna
Date:November 25th, 2011 02:08 am (UTC)

Re: And I didn't need to be told to do it by anyone else, mmk?

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And neither of you gets to refuse to allow me to watch.

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From:vernacularity
Date:November 25th, 2011 02:03 am (UTC)

Re: And I didn't need to be told to do it by anyone else, mmk?

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This, and sentences starting with "you have to see/read this" get me ranty.

100% !! This is something that is really irritating me about a number of the Occupy emailings/posts on the Coactivate site. If people are too damn lazy to tell me WHY I "have" to watch it, ie a short sentence saying "this is a movie that shows a person doing/telling such-and-such" or even "a short vid about X", then buggered if I am going to spend my time on it. I'd rather make meaningless jokes on faceborg.

The "you have to see this" comes across to me as "once you see this you will be utterly convinced exactly as I was, to think what I do", and the refusal to say what it is about is a variety of ambush.

Also, don't fucking tell ME what to do. Especially if you're a rights activist activising against being told how to live.
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From:pombagira
Date:November 25th, 2011 01:27 am (UTC)
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hmm.. i wanted there to be more infomation more clicky buttons but there wasn't which is dissapointing. having said that.. it would be less offensive? if it was not just directed at mums, and given from the comment the make of the website made, that it was meant for his mother, who i am guessing is in the same age bracket as mine.. the content is ok, (although i still want more indepth info) but also the content would should also be of interest to T, mums partner.. aka my step dad, casue he votes to.. *nods*...

*ponders*..

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From:decanker
Date:November 25th, 2011 02:01 am (UTC)
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I wanted more info too, I wanted to back up my lofty talk! But I simply ran out of time to get my links together :)
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From:pombagira
Date:November 25th, 2011 04:28 am (UTC)
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ohh.. its pants when you run out of time for execute a good idea ack... but still, could be a good website to workon so as to inform more of that generation of what is happaneing politcally, perhaps even with infomation about various laws that are comming up for review, or being proposed, what they mean for the people of new zealand, and how to make submission on them?

this i think is infomation at that is very important, as many kiwis beleive that it is only 'important people' who are allowed to make such sumbissions, when actually we are all eligible to make submissions to the select committee when laws are passed or amended.. and actually their say is important, in some cases just as important as voting.. hmm.

that way your website will stay valid, as such for the foreseeable future and could well be a good resource for getting people to know what is going on and what it means. it could be a site i could direct my mum to, as we sometimes talk politics, and she is of the belief that there is nothing that she can do to change it, but if there was a website that was in plain english, pointing out that there was a way they could have their say regarding laws and making submissions, and that they to could make a difference, would be very cool.

*ponders this*..
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From:decanker
Date:November 25th, 2011 05:19 am (UTC)
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Thanks for the input... I agree, we know very little about the political process, by design?? They should be teaching civics in school, they might not have such a hard time willing young people to vote then. But again, unfortunately this might explain why largely they don't teach it.

(I have other, fairly different plans for the website long-term, focused on NZ's environment, helping small businesses and individuals collectively express their concerns about NZ's image that they're trading off - yet another social media thing.)
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From:phaetonschariot
Date:November 26th, 2011 11:50 pm (UTC)
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Yes, I strongly expect we'll see very little from National on the low voter turnout. It favours them. They may pay lip-service, but they won't do anything to make politics more accessible.

Meanwhile I'm just really fucking sick of the "non-voters don't care!" meme already. IMO it's more a failure of politicians to make voters care, rather than sabotaging them. I'm not pleased with Labour's performance this year. They picked up in the last week or two but it was too little too late.

Incidentally I'm also a proponent of compulsory Civics classes in schools and as well as the governmental system and a general "how social systems work" curriculum I think they should teach sociology and explore prejudices that often get used as weapons to Otherise minority groups as divide and rule tactics.
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From:_fustian
Date:November 25th, 2011 01:29 am (UTC)
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It seems to me that the site's designed to be personalised with a photo and sent to an individual. The targeting is therefore to be done by children who judge that their mothers are likely to respond positively to the message (ie. for whom it's perhaps more appropriate). If you haven't received it, it's not aimed at you. You're certainly free to take issue with the entire concept, but I'm not sure it's reasonable to criticise it on the assumption that you are its target.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 25th, 2011 02:10 am (UTC)
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Yes, as you will see from the comments here the creator of the site intended it for his Mum.

However, it remains that it's aimed at Mums and there is no equivalent for other people who may not vote according to your best interests.

Saying "if you haven't received it, it's not aimed at you" is kind of like saying that the sexist advertising tropes I see everywhere aren't aimed at me as a woman, because I don't buy lipstick/shoes/whatever.
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From:_fustian
Date:November 25th, 2011 09:18 am (UTC)
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there is no equivalent for other people who may not vote according to your best interests

True, but then it's surely not the responsibility of the creator of this site to ensure that every possibility is covered.

Saying "if you haven't received it, it's not aimed at you" is kind of like saying that the sexist advertising tropes I see everywhere aren't aimed at me as a woman, because I don't buy lipstick/shoes/whatever.

You seem to have assumed that because the site referred to Mums that it meant all Mums, when in fact it was intended to refer only to Mums to whom it had been specifically sent. From that perspective, the analogy to open advertising is inapposite; those sexist ads are intended to be viewed by all women—a kind of "sink 'em all and let God sort them out" approach.

You might well criticise the site's design for leading you to mistake its intent. However, once you know what it meant to do, it doesn't seem to make sense to continue to criticise it for what you originally misunderstood to be its intent.

Of course, in the end, that is a fairly subtle distinction; and who am I to argue that you shouldn't be offended by whatever you find offensive?
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From:tatjna
Date:November 25th, 2011 09:36 am (UTC)
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When the site has a section that says "I am a Mum, how can I help?" for Mums to read, I think it's fair enough to assume that it's aimed at Mums, eh? I have not 'mistaken its intent' - something I thought I made clear in my post when I said that the guy's heart is obviously in the right place. Understanding its intent doesn't make it any less patronising.

It is very easy to claim that because it isn't aimed at me personally, then it makes no sense for me to criticise it, but by that logic I probably shouldn't criticise anyone who calls another woman a cunt either (or, you know, any of the other more benevolent stereotypes that harm women). And because it came to me by way of people retweeting it because they thought it was cool rather than someone emailing it to me I'm mistaken in thinking it's patronising? Come on - people don't send me offensive rape jokes either but I sure find them offensive when they're retweeted.

Whether it meant to patronise Mums in general or not, it does. And you're right, you don't get to police what offends me. The designer of the site has taken my criticisms on board and understands why I've made them. He gets respect for that.
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From:_fustian
Date:November 25th, 2011 03:43 pm (UTC)
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OK, well, we've each made our case; and we clearly agree that taking offence at something isn't really open to debate, so I probably should just have kept quiet. (The "cunt" remark, though, is a little unfair.)

I admire the fact that so many things inspire you to lengthy intellectual discourse; as you can see from the extreme contrast in the frequency with which we post, I tend to lack your vehemence—which leads me to cut people more slack for their good intentions. But then, maybe I just let them get away with shit.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 25th, 2011 05:06 pm (UTC)
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That's why I used that example. You not being a Mum, I wanted to find something that you could relate to.

And thanks, I think. I'm not sure if that was supposed to be a compliment or an admonishment. I've actually written before about how often I'm faced with a choice to speak up about something or let it slide. I've found speaking up when the intentions are good but the execution is offensive to be more effective than speaking up when someone is being intentionally offensive, in terms of actually making a difference to someone's future approach. *shrug*

I'd also like to point out that I post every day - it's an 8 year habit. Lots of my posts are about random stuff or life stuff. They are not all rants - the ones you comment on are though, and it's nearly always to disagree with me. That's probably also quite telling, eh?

Edited at 2011-11-25 05:13 pm (UTC)
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From:_fustian
Date:November 26th, 2011 02:50 am (UTC)
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I'm not sure if that was supposed to be a compliment or an admonishment.

The former. I haven't posted to LJ for about 18 months, largely because I can't find the time or the energy for the kind of thoroughgoing analysis I think it deserves, and twitter satisfies my occasional need to omgwtfbbq. It's also an inconclusive observation: perhaps I'm spinning my unwillingness or inability to apply myself to lengthy argument as tolerance. Perhaps it leads to tolerance.

The ones you comment on are though, and it's nearly always to disagree with me.

I guess that's because, although I read almost everything you write, I agree with your political views most of the time. If you don't hear from me, you can probably assume "+1".
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From:tatjna
Date:November 26th, 2011 03:59 am (UTC)
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Well in that case, thank you. I sometimes wonder, because as I've learned more about the bigger picture of the world, I feel this blog has become more ranty and I'm not sure it's necessarily a good thing (at least, not always - it gives me a fair bit of satisfaction even if a lot of it is just impotent fist waving).
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From:t_c_da
Date:November 25th, 2011 01:35 am (UTC)
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A bit hard to refer my Mum to that site - she's been dead 17 years, and she lived in Australia all her life anyway...
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