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LJ is back yay! (your watch is not wrong, sorry I'm late) - Tactical Ninja

May. 17th, 2013

01:51 pm - LJ is back yay! (your watch is not wrong, sorry I'm late)

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I don't know if you've been following the Merida thing, but in short, the character of Merida from the Pixar movie Brave got made a Disney princess. Big woop, right? But as part of that process, she got, um, princessised. In other words, they sexed her up, gave her bigger boobs, a narrower waist, bigger eyes, poutier lips and a low cut dress, and took away her bow and arrow.


Where hilarity includes a pretty big outcry from Merida fans and general criticism of the way Disney portrays women in movies, including the sexification of every Disney princess ever from Snow White to Mulan. Vis:



So anyway, part of the outcry was a petition that did the rounds, basically asking Disney to not do this to Merida. And it worked. Disney has pulled the images of Sexy!Merida and replaced them with Actual!Merida. Good on them.

So I'm thinking, like the folks who wrote that article, that sometimes signing those petitions does work. I know that Avaaz petitions seem to have a reasonably good hit rate as well - at least, several petitions I've signed through them have been successful in follow-up.

And yet, when nearly 10% of New Zealanders sign a petition to try to stop the government selling off state assets, it can be more or less ignored because it's a few signatures short. And protest in this country is a joke. Even really large scale protests with thousands of people are summarily ignored by the government. Can anyone remember when a march or a protest or a petition had any effect at all on our goverment?

NB I have not looked at the budget but from the various mutterings I've heard from the vociferous left wing of Twitter, it's cringeworthy and kind of blatant in terms of ideological adherence and self-interest, and we are likely to suffer for a while after this government gets kicked out because of it. I suspect this is a somewhat biased view, but also probably one I'm likely to agree with.

So I'm wondering why we can get the shape of a Disney princess's figure desexualised by clicking an online button, but not get some real, tangible traction on real, tangible issues* that affect people more directly. Where are our priorities? Yeah, yeah, I know, money. Disney actually gives a crap about pissing people off because they stand to lose money over it, and changing Merida back to what folks want costs them little. Changing the plan to bleed our country dry balance the books by judicious sale of assets has a different cost/benefit equation, and really, who gives a crap what 10% of the population wants when we all know you can get away with ignoring them anyway?

This morning I was reading about civil liberties in our Little Book of Big Ideas. One of the liberties mentioned is the right of citizens to withdraw their consent to be governed. I've talked about withdrawal of consent before. The problem being, that this liberty we have to do this is only in effect if enough of us group together - enough to overcome the monopoly on force which resides with the state. I'm not talking about barricades and revolution here (although those were the examples given in the book - the French and American ones), I'm talking about how if I decide to withdraw my consent to be governed as an individual, they can come and arrest me and put me in jail, and everyone will go "Well that was silly of you." But if several hundred thousand people withdraw their consent, squashing them like bugs will have a cost to the state, and probably make it consider alternative actions.

It's only when people group together that a movement happens, and it seems that ignoring movements is something the NZ government has developed into a fine art over the last 30 years. How many of us does it take before the cost/benefit equation comes out on the side of taking care of the wellbeing of the people? Seems NZ hasn't found that number yet.

This is another one of those questions that I find being influenced by the neoliberal indoctrination we all received in the 1990s. Whenever I think about it, I end up feeling as if the only chance I have to make any difference at all is once every three years when I vote. Objectively I know this is not true - I do quite a lot of things to change my immediate environment to one that suits me, and I'm pretty subversive which is in itself a political action. I do work to make changes to the wider world as well - I've reduced my carbon emissions to about half what the average kiwi uses (apparently) for example, and do things to offset what I do use. etc etc etc.

But when it comes to government and what it does, I feel powerless - as though the only chance I have to change the way things are is by taking individual action and not trying to go through official channels. Even my submission on the Psychoactive Substances Bill was somehow lost. It is not included in the list of submissions on the parliamentary website. I know it went through because I got the confirmation page. But, nothing. *sigh*

There's no real point to this post, just me once again gnawing on that bone of contention that exists between my formal liberties and my actual power to exercise those liberties.

* I know. Believe me, I am perfectly aware of the effects of the depiction of women in Disney films on wider society. I kind of, you know, live them. But my power bill's skyrocketed in the last year and is likely to go up more once they sell my power company (next on the block). That's a bit more tangible, even to me.


Yesterday afternoon, I had a scintillating scotoma. These are most familiar to people as the precursor to a migraine. I've been getting them since 2008, about every 4 months or so. Each time, they are followed by slight increse in the migraine symptoms that follow. This time, I got a mild headache of the vice-clamp variety, and felt vaguely nauseous.

When I was an adolescent, I used to get debilitating migraines (vomiting, lying in a dark room groaning for hours type debilitating) about three times a year from 13-17, then they suddenly stopped. I put it down to changing hormones. Now, it seems I am at the other end of that, and I'm kind of scared. First, the idea of having that level of migraine on a regular basis for the next few years leaves me completely cold. And second, it means my body is changing. I know it's inevitable, but I like my body the way it is now and I've no desire to go through a whole bunch of unpredictable changes that I don't know who I'll be at the end of them.

Yes, I know, get over it. I'll have to, won't I?

Comments:

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From:richaarde
Date:May 17th, 2013 02:32 am (UTC)
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So I'm wondering why we can get the shape of a Disney princess's figure desexualised by clicking an online button, but not get some real, tangible traction on real, tangible issues* that affect people more directly

I'm guessing it's because it is impossible to put forth an argument in favor of more-sexualized Disney characters without coming off as a creeper. Selling off State assets to plug a budget hole without raising taxes is a little bit more palatable.
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[User Picture]
From:bekitty
Date:May 17th, 2013 02:48 am (UTC)
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The picture (I'm assuming it's a picture) isn't showing up in my feed. :-/

In my opinion, the last protest that actually made some difference was the pro-civil union picnic on the day of the vote back in 2004. It caused one MP (Deborah Coddington, I think) to change her vote to one in favour, and thus gave us civil unions. This paved the way for full marriage equality this year. I reckon that if Ms Coddington hadn't seen the happiness and celebration of the people at the picnic, then we most likely wouldn't have marriage equality.

In the 90s, probably the cause that made the most difference was the campaign for MMP.

Before that, I think the anti-nuke protest marches of the mid-80s had a huge impact on NZ's political stance that still reverberates today. Without those marches, David Lange wouldn't have pushed for legislation to keep us nuclear-free.

And of course, there were all the marches, rallies and petitions about homosexual law reform in 85-86.

And going further back, there were all the protests about the Springbok tour in 81. Those were the very first protests I ever attended.

So it looks like the NZ government has had a better track record on social issues, and most of the really big changes (and effective protests) happened while we had a Labour government. National has a track record of not giving a shit what NZers think, and instead pushing their own neo-con agenda, no matter how badly it hurts the country.
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From:tatjna
Date:May 17th, 2013 02:53 am (UTC)
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Yes, I was specifically talking about the last 30 years, basically since the advent of neoliberal governments in this country. They have, IMO, killed off effective collective action. Also IMO, it started with voluntary unionism. Since then, the effective protests in NZ, as you've pointed out, have taken a nose dive.
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From:detafo
Date:May 17th, 2013 04:31 am (UTC)
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The sexy merida thing... I hate that all Disney Princesses look like fricken Barbie Dolls that all seem to find the Prince Charming of their dreams. I kind of liked Merida being so punky and shit and not wanting to get married blah blah blah... New!Rapunzel looks kind of retarded, too...

On another note... it worries me that in that picture of all the Princesses, only Jas and Snow have feet.

And migraines... all I can offer is a cold compress, a warm hug and a big bucket... plus snuggles from my snuggly kitten <3

Edited at 2013-05-17 04:32 am (UTC)
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From:tatjna
Date:May 18th, 2013 05:23 am (UTC)
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Kitten snuggles make everything better! ;-)
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From:tatjna
Date:May 18th, 2013 05:25 am (UTC)
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Urgh, that sounds horrible. I hope it's under control now. O.o
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From:downwardlashes
Date:May 18th, 2013 02:07 am (UTC)
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When my kids and I saw a Merida doll at the store, all of us were like, WTF, why is she wearing the dress that she hated so much in the movie? Disney fail.
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From:meathiel
Date:May 22nd, 2013 02:24 pm (UTC)
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Oh ... thanks for the info ... didn't know Disney gave up the idea ... so ... yeah! ;-)
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From:tatjna
Date:May 22nd, 2013 08:09 pm (UTC)
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Yay indeed! She'll be the first Disney princess who hasn't been messed up by the process.
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