Green Party co-leader and Family and Sexual Violence Prevention Minister Marama Davidson has walked back comments she made about violence being caused by white cisgender males.
Davidson says she made the comments soon after she was hit by a motorbike – and was still in a state of shock.
It comes as a former advisor to the Prime Minister has called for calm in the culture wars, warning we are heading down a polarisation path.
Posie Parker was protested, pelted, and pushed out of town.
Marama Davidson attended the counter-protest, and as she was leaving, she says she was confronted by conspiracy theory website Counterspin – and she let rip on male violence.
“I am a prevention violence minister [sic]. I know who causes violence in the world, it is white cis men. That is white cis men who cause violence in the world.”
Cis male means a male who identifies as the same gender they were assigned at birth.
Davidson was criticised from all quarters.
“I don’t think that was appropriate,” said Prime Minister Chris Hipkins.
“I think it’s a harmful generalisation on an entire group, her comments were harmful and offensive and she should apologise,” said National leader Christopher Luxon.
“She’s clearly not up to the job,” said ACT leader David Seymour.
“If she doesn’t lose her job, then no minister should lose their job because what’s happened here is inexcusable,” said New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.
In a statement, Davidson walked back her comments, saying just before Counterspin started “accosting her” she had been hit by a motorbike at the protest.
“Still in shock, I was not as clear in my comments as I should have been. I should have made clear that violence happens in every community.”
“She’s just been hit by a motorcycle,” Hipkins said.
Peters called it a “lousy excuse trying to explain her extreme views”.
Ministry of Justice data shows the ethnic breakdown of family violence convictions is 56 percent Māori and 35 percent European. When it comes to sexual violence it’s 46 percent European and 29 percent Maori.
But family violence advocate Jackie Clark says often Pakeha males don’t show up in the stats because they’re not reported. From her experience, 95 percent of the women she deals with have been harmed by Pakeha men.
“She said aloud what everybody I know in the family violence field has been saying for a long, long time,” Clark said.
Some of the protestors from Saturday were condemned by the Prime Minister for moving past free speech into physicality.
“I don’t think people should throw things at a protest whether what they’re throwing is a soup or a brick.”
The eruption over trans rights is not the only culture war concerning experts. Sir Peter Gluckman, a former Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, said we’re heading on a path to polarisation.
“We need to get better. We need to find ways to have constructive, non-emotive or less emotive conversations on matters where society needs to come together and have a consensus.”
He said politicians must be more careful when engaging in left-right tit-for-tat politics.
“We need to see our politics and our discourse return to the centre otherwise we’ll fragment and we’ll look like other countries we do not want to emulate.”
A thought for everyone to mull as election season looms.
Jenna Lynch Analysis
So are politicians expecting culture wars to seep into the election campaign?
The Prime Minister says he hopes not, but the political environment at the moment is potentially ripe for it.
The country’s top spies even warned MPs on Monday that anti-authority sentiment is not just an offshore problem, but it peaked during the Parliament protests here and while it’s dissipated, it’s not gone completely.
By the sounds of it, a lot of the intensity also died down when Jacinda Ardern stepped down as Prime Minister.
Given how many proper political problems there are – healthcare, cost of living, climate change – the major parties will want to focus their energy on those.
But that doesn’t stop minor parties from trying to exploit tears in social cohesion if they’ve got nothing constructive to add to the policy debate.