The one where women are put on trial

Violence against women, Knives Out, NZ Secret Santa and money tips.

Kia ora koutou,

Is it a Saturday? I switched newsletter providers again. You shouldn’t notice any major changes but there will be formatting differences and the sender address is now shades@substack.com.

I also dropped the issue numbers. This isn’t a series where you need to know all the backstory like a season of Game of Thrones. You really can jump in at any time. Also, Substack allows for subheadings so I will use it to give a brief rundown of what to expect in each issue. I often run the gamut of topics so it’s good to have some warning, especially with more sensitive topics (like today).

As for my website where I usually repost these newsletters, I’m now going to keep it all on Substack.

Violence Against Women

A global campaign is currently running; 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Against Women (November 15 to December 10) acknowledging violence against women is a human rights violation. The goal is to have 50 governments ratify ILO C190 by 2025. It’s not a great name but it’s an important piece of legislation that recognizes gender-based violence and harassment in work and lays out minimum standards to address it.

Although the murderer received a guilty verdict, we still witnessed extreme victim-blaming in the Grace Millane murder trial. A woman was murdered and yet it's somehow her own fault. Where have I heard that before? The media didn't help matters regurgitating the entire proceedings for clickbait headlines. Our sexual violence laws are changing for exactly this reason. Alison Mau sat through the trial and outlines the level of victim blaming on show. Nicola Gavey also wrote about the trial and sexual double standards.

But Grace isn't the only victim of gender-based violence. Women across New Zealand continue to be beaten and/or killed, most often by their partners.

Lynace Parakuka

Crystal Selwyn

Amber Rose-Rush

While the White Ribbon campaign is important to raising awareness I’m not a fan of their weak sauce slogan, “Family Violence. It’s Not Ok”. Just replace it with anything we do more than frown at and you can see the problem; “Murder. It’s Not Ok”.

As for us men, what can we do about this? For starters, we can stop normalising misogyny. We can not joke about rape. We can recognise we don’t share the same life experiences as women. We can listen to women. If we continue to let this toxicity take hold, not only are we turning a blind eye to violence against women but we are facilitating a space to allow men to feel emboldened and reinforce this behaviour.

Review

Knives Out

Having enjoyed much of Rian Johnson's work, from Brick to Last Jedi, I was hoping for something more unique but that doesn’t take away from this ride. An old rollercoaster is still a rollercoaster. You can just see the loops and drops coming up ahead.

Having dealt with “fanboy” backlash from The Last Jedi (arguably not anywhere as much as Kelly Marie Tran), Rian thankfully doesn’t shy away from race and class and addressing issues of our current moment.

Rian loves to play with genre and subvert expectations and while Knives Out throws a large curveball early on, it doesn't stray too far from the Agatha Christie murder mystery formula. You still get the conflicting stories, the red herrings and the smug detective. The one creative plot mechanic we have is a character who can’t lie without throwing up immediately after.

Knives Out is still a fun romp and the many performances are enormously enjoyable but their presence is fleeting as we chase down the yarn ball of this unravelling plot. There’s a wide cast of beloved actors playing despicable characters I would have loved to spend more time with.

Recommendations

  • Although Sacha Baron Cohen is most known for his low-brow comedy in films such as Ali G and Borat, here he makes the case that the big social networks have a moral responsibility to protect against hate.

  • I took part in Twitter Secret Santa, this year revitalised by the incredible @FoxyLustyGrover since NZ Post hung up the Santa hat. I’m extremely thankful to my Secret Santa who must’ve read through many of my ramblings to find these two books that suit my brain as it frequently swings between the two extremes of optimism and cynicism.

    The first, being Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future by Johan Norberg which takes a look back at how far we’ve come as a society when some days it feels like everything is going to the dogs.

    The second; Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup. I had previously mentioned The Dropout Podcast, which covers the same events with Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos around selling a medical technology that doesn’t actually work. This book will inevitably go into more detail.

  • I finished the recent Tales From a Financial Hot Mess by Frances Cook. I first stumbled across Frances’ podcast: Cooking the Books with Frances Cook from The New Zealand Herald. The name implies she has tips to turn you into a white-collar criminal but really it’s all about the basics of personal finance. This book is a great introduction to the key financial areas in New Zealand through Frances’ own personal journey. The key tips I picked up follow below but as a newbie myself you’d best be hearing from the experts Frances Cook interviews in her book/podcast:

    • Keep an updated budget. Create multiple bank accounts (bills, spending, savings etc.) and transfer your income on payday so you don’t have to think about said budget.

    • Pay off your loans. This goes for home mortgages too, as you’re avoiding compound interest and shaving years off your loan.

    • Put your KiwiSaver in a Growth Fund if you’re not planning on retiring/buying a house anytime soon and set your rate high enough that you get the government contribution. You can use Sorted’s KiwiSaver Fund Finder to pick the right provider for you. I’m also aware of where my money is invested which is why I switched to Simplicity, a non-profit provider (I am not being paid for this plug!). It has the lowest fees and screens out unethical investments such as fossil fuel extraction and tobacco, and as an added bonus they donate 15% of their management fees to charity. If you're looking at buying your first home they have started a first home loan ballot with a floating rate 20% lower than the big banks. But if you're close to buying a home go and get yourself a mortgage advisor. They are invaluable.

    • Invest in shares. It’s not as scary as it looks from the outset and if you have KiwiSaver you’re basically already doing it. I don’t want an investment property. Making a profit from the roof over somedoby’s head just doesn’t sit well with me. Mind you, investments can also prove another ethical dilemma. I use Sharesies as it means you can invest little by little, and as a shameless plug if you sign up using my link you can get $10 to spend (and I get $5). Make sure to stick it out for the long haul and not be put off by any dips in the market. If you make sure you have a diverse portfolio (try a fund made up of multiple companies) the market will go up over time and you can reinvest as the dividends roll in.

 If you enjoyed this newsletter, buy shares in its IPO.

*lights a candlestick in the billiard room*

Michael