Fifty Shades – does it glamourise violence?


Fifty Shades of Grey

There’s a great deal being written and said about 50 Shades of Grey. Sir Salman Rushdie has admitted that it’s one of his least favourite books saying “I’ve never read anything so badly written that got published. It made Twilight look like War and Peace.” While many reviews of the movie are explicit in their negativity “highly unsatisfying” and “plodding, inane and wretchedly acted movie… lacks grey matter as well as heat.”

But despite the bad reviews this movie trailer has already racked up over 52 million views while the books sold over 100 million copies.

What concerns many people who advocate for non-violence is how Fifty Shades misrepresents BDSM (bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism) and casually associates hot sex with violence, but without any of the context.

And context is important. For a better understanding of this issue read Consent Isn’t Enough: The Troubling Sex of Fifty Shades by Emma Green.

This film glamourises sexual violence and leaves the impression that women want to be controlled and that’s concerning. In a country where one in three women experience partner violence at some point in their lives, Fifty Shades has the potential to further influence young men and warp their ideas of a healthy relationship. It could also distort what women understand as normal or acceptable behaviour.

Beth Penny a facebook user has hit the nail on the head with this so called romantic story.

“… I was 18 when I first read 50 shades of grey. Whilst reading it, I felt so uncomfortable and it had nothing to do with the sex or ‘kinky’ stuff that was happening. After re-reading I realised it was because what was really written on those pages was an abusive relationship being sold to me as a love story. Not only me, but millions of people were reading this book and worryingly, falling in love with the man that is Christian Grey wishing they had their very own version of him. But we need to ask the question- would you be happy with a partner who micro managed your life, dictated what you ate, required you to exercise a certain amount of days a week and cut you off from your friends and family? Add some good looks, a six pack and a billionaire status and you have Christian Grey.

If your friend told you that a man she’d never given her address to turns up at her house, someone she’d asked to stop when having sex and he carried on, bought the business they started working for so they can have that much extra power over them, you’d tell them to run. But people around the world think this relationship is one to be desired and I have no idea why.

I’ve been accused of being too young to understand this relationship, being too embarrassed by BDSM and not experiencing a ‘grown up’ relationship. After doubting myself I decided to research BDSM (unlike the author) and found myself in a world that is based on trust and respect. It is a role play. It is NOT how you live everyday life like the author has portrayed. One of the biggest things of sub/dom relationships is aftercare. After the acts, you have a period where you make sure your partner is okay. This doesn’t happen in the books, and it’s misrepresenting BDSM because the author was too lazy to do research.

This valentines weekend, the film is coming out. All I ask is please don’t give this franchise your money. If you’re willing to part with it, donate the money you’d spend on a cinema ticket, to a charity that helps people who have suffered from domestic abuse. Having this film come out on valentines weekend is farcical, and a massive 2 fingers up to every survivor of abuse.

So E.L James, on behalf of all the victims and survivors out there of domestic abuse and all of the people who suffered child abuse and grew up to be great people and didn’t use it as an excuse to abuse others, fuck you…”
Beth Penny

In New Zealand you can see the film/read the book and or, you could donate to these agencies:


Taking The Pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence towards women means a better life for you and those close to you. Part two of The Pledge.

When you tolerate or accept violence to women, it sends the message to others that violence is okay. By acting as if violence is acceptable, you help violence to continue by creating an environment that supports violence. When children see adults fail to act, they can think violence to women is acceptable.

Condoning violence against women happens in many ways:

  • Making or laughing at sexist jokes
  • Not challenging violence against women so people assume its normal
  • Excusing or minimising violent behaviour
  • Sharing degrading messages, photos, videos or links on sites like Facebook and Twitter
  • Sending emails and text messages showing violence against women
  • Telling others to ‘harden up’ or ‘be a man’ when they challenge violence to women
  • Smiling, laughing or giving the thumbs up when men talk about being violent to women.

Violence against women is never okay, not condoning violence looks like:

  • Sharing messages and videos online that challenges violence to women
  • Speaking out against comments that put women down or treat them like property
  • Treating women with respect
  • Take action; make sure it is safe for you and others
  • Let your kids know violence against women is not okay

Not condoning violence to women can make a change for many. Wear a White Ribbon to show you support men’s action to end violence to women


Taking The Pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence towards women means a better life for you and those close to you. Part three of The Pledge.

Remaining silent about violence against women is ignoring it and doing nothing to challenge it. This impacts on all women and contributes to a culture where people don’t feel able to speak up and violence to women continues.

There are many instances and situations where men may remain silent about violence against women. For example:

  • Knowing that violence is occurring and doing nothing
  • Not making a stand when violence is happening
  • Not challenging others when they make sexist jokes, comments or display sexist behaviour

When you challenge violence against women it is important to say what you don’t like, why, and what you think should happen. “Bro when you put down your partner she looks frightened, you need to stop or you will lose her”. When you challenge violence, it gives others permission to do the same.

There are a number of ways you can do this:

  • Take action when you see violence happening, make sure it’s safe, if you can, get others to help
  • Take part in collective action that prevents violence against women, such as taking The Pledge, wearing a White Ribbon and getting involved in community organisations and events
  • Encourage men who use violence to seek help to live violence-free lives
  • Challenge sexist jokes, comments or behaviours and let people know you think it’s not okay
  • One person speaking out can make a change for many. Wear a White Ribbon to show you support men’s action to end violence to women



Taking The Pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence towards women means a better life for you and those close to you. Part one of The Pledge.

Men CAN stop violence towards women. The first thing men can do to stop violence is to understand what it is and the harmful impact it has.

Violence is any action that controls through fear. It can be physical or non-physical. It can happen in front of others, but is often hidden and occurs in private.

Physical violence is:

  • Pushing, hitting or punching
  • Kicking, biting, choking and strangling
  • Using weapons
  • Forcing someone to have sex or do sexual things when they don’t want to

Non-physical violence is:

  • Standing over her, yelling or screaming
  • Destroying things precious to her
  • Threatening to hurt her, or someone close to her
  • Constantly criticising and putting her down
  • Using fear or guilt to control her actions
  • Controlling and monitoring her money
  • Using the children against her

Violence has a huge impact. It can make women feel fearful, sad, isolated, lacking in confidence, angry and suicidal. In some cases, violence against women results in severe injury, or even death. The feelings that violence causes can last for a long time, and it is often not just the woman who feels this way. Violence affects everyone, especially children, whānau, friends and communities as a whole. Violence also affects those who use it, often making them feel sad, isolated, ashamed, and frightened of losing relationships.

There are things you can do so that you don’t use violence and act safely. You can:

  • Know what behaviours are abusive and controlling and what alternative behaviours are OK
  • Know your warning signs and triggers, get in control of yourself early
  • Stop, think, what impacts and costs your actions will have? Choose a time for both of you when you can talk calmly and openly about your feelings
  • Chill out, walk away from a potentially violent situation

Violence hurts everyone. A life lived in fear is not a life fulfilled. It is important that all men do whatever they can to ensure that women are safe. Here are some ideas:

  • Understand what violence is and what is not ok. Check out for more information.
  • Speak up and ask for help. Talk to others, you don’t need to do this on your own.
  • If someone is in danger, call the Police even if you are not sure
  • Don’t join in conversations that put women down, or share images that degrade women and treat them as just a body, not a person.
  • As a family, teach men and boys respect for women. Be proud that your family respects and protects!
  • Listen to women; learn from their experiences of abuse and violence. Understand the impact that violence has had on them and what you can do to make a difference.
  • Support women to be independent and live without fear. Be proud that this is what happens in your family.
  • When you make mistakes, face up, take responsibility and put things right.
  • Be proud, wear a White Ribbon to show you are part of a men’s movement to promote respect and end men’s violence to women

These are just a few of the many ways that men can ensure that they do not commit violence against women and prevent their families from committing it as well. By taking the Pledge, you have promised to never commit violence against women. These strategies will help you uphold this promise. You CAN stop violence against women.

Brother fights domestic violence

10344933John McGrath, brother to Patricia McGrath who was killed early in 2013 by her partner, has been campaigning around the Northland region. In July, John became a White Ribbon Ambassador in order to “plant the seed in [boys’] heads now” so that they can stop the damage of family violence before it begins. Patricia’s death affirms that male violence against women can be fatal and has a detrimental impact on many lives. Patricia’s family reached out to White Ribbon to help support our anti-violence message, to share Patricia’s story with others and to create awareness about violence against women.

Patricia was a 34 year old mother of two and a case worker at Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ). Her family describe as someone who was very caring and loved to help people; a wonderful and beautiful person. The loss of Patricia has been a huge blow to her family and friends, as well as the community as a whole. Patricia’s death affirms that male violence against women can be fatal and has a detrimental impact on many lives. The following article offers more information about Patricia: Click here to read more.


Brother fights domestic violence


The brother of a Northland woman who was killed by her partner is stepping up as the region’s first White Ribbon ambassador.

John McGrath has campaigned ferociously on behalf of domestic violence victims and their families, since the death of Patricia McGrath in January last year.

The mother-of-two died of a brain injury after she was punched in the face by partner Phillip Mahanga.

Mahanga is serving a three-year sentence for manslaughter.

McGrath’s first act as an ambassador was to urge students at Whangarei Boys’ High School to consider the seriousness of the country’s domestic violence problem.

“We never thought this was going to happen to us, but our family has had this disaster, and now we’re on a journey to change things and make them better,” he says.

“These boys will be men soon and some will even be parents soon. We need to plant the seed in their heads now. We’ll speak at every school in this country if we can – we need to bring these [domestic violence] stats down, especially in Northland.”

McGrath, who spoke alongside wife Kate McGrath, told the boys of how his “role model” sister changed once she entered a relationship with Mahanga.

He said she became increasingly isolated and withdrawn from family life, and started getting angry with her children “which was not who she was at all,” McGrath said.

“Usually we’d go around and we’d walk straight in and help ourselves to tea, but it started changing and she’d be waiting at the door – you’d know we weren’t welcome because he was there. He dominated her and isolated her, then he took control and at the end just killed her.”

McGrath told The Leader his sister’s death has changed the way he views the relationship between men and women.

“It’s definitely changed the way I look at men, especially Maori men – we once were warriors. When you think about a warrior, he is respectful, he has mana, he is noble. Our young men still have that pack mentality but none of that mana.”

He says this certainly doesn’t apply to all Maori men, and is the result of long-term oppression.

“Introduced religion has made [Maori] lose identity. We’ve got to come back to earth and realise man is not better than woman,” he says. “I don’t care if people run me down on that, because my heart is already broken and it can’t break any more. We’re not the ones who should have the life sentence.”

As a White Ribbon ambassador, McGrath joins a national and international network of men speaking out against violence towards women.

White Ribbon Day 2013 – Dr Jackie Blue

Jackie Blue

Jackie Blue is the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, former MP and mother of two girls

From the outside I had everything going for me. I was a young GP. I had great friends and a loving family. My boyfriend had just moved in with me.

But the reality was far from fairy tale. I will never forget the day that finally spurred me to call the Police. We’d been at a friend’s barbecue. It was something as small as people asking me about my job. That set him off. As we drove into our carport, he started hitting me as hard as he could. That was the last time.

For two years I was in a violent relationship. It wasn’t every week or every day. It was random and unpredictable. He’d belittle me and put me down. I felt too ashamed to ask for help. That was the great irony of my life. As a doctor, I was there to help people with their problems, but I couldn’t even help myself.

That’s the sad and brutal reality for too many women. Just over a week ago I joined with thousands of others to march against sexual violence in the wake of the Roast Busters scandal. Unfortunately, that case is not an isolated incident. As I was write this media are reporting that a woman was stabbed in Lower Hutt and a Northland man was convicted of 39 sex and violence charges spanning two decades.

One in three women will experience partner violence at some point in their lives. Only 20 per cent ever report it. This should not be tolerated. We have all the evidence and research. We know what works. We need action.

We have some excellent initiatives like the violence intervention programmes running in hospitals across the country. It is helping to reduce violence by aiming to screen all women aged 16 years and over for family violence and making sure those who disclose get the support they need.

Dr Kim McGregor and Rape Prevention Education are doing excellent work in our schools to educate our young people. It would be great to see more resources made available to roll out their programmes to a wide group of young people.

But what is urgently needed is a strategy to ensure that there is a coordinated approach. The National Sexual Violence Prevention Plan that was scuppered in 2009 needs to be urgently re-instated.

But this isn’t something we can simply leave to Parliament and the Police and hope they solve the problem for us. It comes down to what we do as individuals, families and communities. That is where the change needs to take place. Fundamentally, it’s about each of us taking responsibility for the problem.

When someone is in a violent relationship, or they’re the victim of sexual violence there will always be a bystander. Someone who sees the warning signs. Someone who knows what’s going on. We need them to speak up. We need them to tell someone.

Most men are not violent, but most violence against women is perpetrated by men. That’s why we need to support our men, because they’re the role models for our children. We need them to be part of the solution.

Today is White Ribbon Day. It’s a fantastic campaign raising awareness of violence against women. This year we’re asking men to take a pledge never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence towards women. Whether you are a husband, father, son, brother, uncle or granddad you all have women in your life that you wouldn’t want to see subjected to violence. Make a stand and take the pledge.

Women in violent relationships are waiting to be asked. No one asked me. So I kept it to myself. Make sure the women you know no longer have to stay silent.

Jackie Blue is the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, former MP and mother of two girls.

White Ribbon Ambassadors take The Pledge


Women’s Refuge spokesperson Sue Lytollis commends the White Ribbon Ambassadors for their commitment to ending men’s violence towards women.

Violence is endemic within New Zealand with one in three women experiencing violence from a partner in their lifetime, while on average, fourteen women are killed each year by a member of their own family.

Help White Ribbon to create change by taking The Pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence towards women.

Men want to be proud fathers, uncles, grandfathers and great husbands/partners. We want our partners and kids to live in safe homes without violence. Taking The Pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence towards women means a better life for you and those close to you.

One News 11th November

Watch the launch of the 2013 White Ribbon Camapaign

White Ribbon is an international movement that condemns men’s violence towards women. Each November, White Ribbon runs a month-long campaign that culminates on 25 November, White Ribbon Day. Last year saw a focus on non-physical violence and generating conversations about men as positive role models.This year we are asking men to take ‘The Pledge’. Judge Peter Boshier, Chair of the White Ribbon Campaign and one of our White Ribbon Ambassadors, rightly identifies that “while most men are not violent, most violence against women is perpetrated by men”. This is why The Pledge is so important. It is a call to action for New Zealand men to take ownership of men’s violence towards women, and to actively be part of the solution. It can be taken both online or in person at many of the community events that occur throughout New Zealand during November.

A number of White Ribbon Ambassadors took The Pledge while participating at two ambassador meetings in November. You can take The Pledge at To watch an ambassador take the Pledge click on their name. Judge Peter Boshier, Darren Pritchard, Chris Sola, Andy Moscrop Giblin, Evans Chibanguza, Billy TK, Brian Gardener, David White, Jeremy Logan, Julian Paton, Robert Lachlan Mackay, Shane Whitfield, Steffan Browning MP, Tim Marshall, Jonathan Young MP, Trevor Simpson, Dr Russell Wills, Ric Odom, George Ngati, Mark Longley, Te Ururoa Flavell MP and David Warren. We will add more soon.

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Women’s Suffrage Day in New Zealand


A picture of the petition presented to Parliament for women’s voting rights in New Zealand

It’s hard to imagine a time in New Zealand where things were not as equal as they are now, but this has historically been the case. Prior to 1893, voting in New Zealand elections was a solely male activity. However, on the 19th of September that year, after much petitioning and campaigning by New Zealand women, the Parliament of the day extended the right to vote to Kiwi women, both Maori and Pakeha. This made New Zealand the first country in the world to allow women to vote in Parliamentary elections.

After the successful campaign for equal voting rights, women’s interest in political activism remained heightened. Support for equal status within marriage was strong from women’s groups in New Zealand, as well as support for equal divorce laws and an end to violence against women. Historically, married women were the property of their husbands. Married women had no right to their own property, were unable to divorce their husbands unless a number of circumstances existed, were unable to testify against their husbands and were not able to be guardians of their children after a divorce. Essentially, women’s identities were subsumed into their husbands, making the marriage one entity – his. Laws were needed to change all of these things and to ensure that women were afforded equality within their marriages. In this sense, equality within marriage has come a long way, with 21st century marriages now including same-sex couples.

In 1982, a significant piece of legislation, the Domestic Protection Act, was passed to protect victims of domestic violence. This Act was designed to facilitate efforts to reduce domestic violence in New Zealand and made changes to the Crimes Act. 1995 saw the passing of the Domestic Violence Act, which rectified some of the flaws of the 1982 Act. It included a new definition of violence, Protection Orders and compulsory programme attendance for violent persons.

chch memorial

A picture of the Christchurch memorial with women central to the fight for suffrage

Most recently, Police Safety Orders were introduced in 2010 which Police say gives them more opportunity to make a difference to families suffering violence. Police Safety Orders require any person who represents a threat to others to leave the premises for up to five days. These orders are unique in that they allow the Police to take action in situations where they may only suspect someone is a threat or they are unable to charge someone with an offence. These orders give families time to gather their thoughts and to get in touch with support agencies to help improve their situation.

The passage of laws such as the Domestic Violence Act and the criminalisation of marital rape are relatively recent, however these laws are an important part of New Zealand’s legal framework and go some way to preventing violence against women. However, violence against women remains a huge issue, with one in three women experiencing violence during her lifetime. So while these laws are important, there is still a long way to go to envision the dream of a violence-free Aotearoa.


White Ribbon’s First International Conference

White Ribbon Conference

The international contingent on-board HMAS Choules at Garden Island, Potts Point, Sydney. (left to right, Rosemary Calder, Rob McCann, Omar Aftab, Rear Admiral Timothy Barrett AM CSC, Michael Kaufman, Libby Davies, Alan O’Neill, John Rosewarne).

The Australian Conference’s key message was how we may all be agents for change to prevent men’s violence against women. Speakers from around the world, including the cofounder of the White Ribbon movement Dr Michael Kaufman, spoke on national and international research and programmes that work to change men’s attitudes and behaviours that continue violence.


Dr Michael Kaufman

In tackling insidious violence, the international movement challenges us all to make a difference, even as by-standers, in our work as agents of change. We all have roles to play, whether that is in the workplace, the sporting field, or other spheres of influence.

Dr Jackson Katz

Dr Jackson Katz

A further highlight was Preventing men’s violence as a political priority Dr Jackson Katz from the USA. This presentation helped to demonstrate how men get taken out of the violence equation and what we can do to make this a men’s issue. To watch Dr Katz in action watch this TED recording.

If you want to read more about the event or are interested in reading summaries of keynote speaker’s presentations, click here.

Photos courtesy of White Ribbon Australia

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The Conference was organised and hosted by White Ribbon Australia

Appointing White Ribbon Ambassadors

Peter Boshier - Chief Family Court Judge copy

Judge Peter Boshier
White Ribbon Committee Chair

In light of the allegations against Sir Owen Glenn and his potential role as a White Ribbon Ambassador in the White Ribbon Campaign, it is in the best interests of the community to know what steps are taken when appointing ambassadors.

Ambassadors embody the principles of the campaign. They are chosen by the White Ribbon Committee for their willingness to challenge the behaviour of abusive men, and to convey key messages directly to their own communities.

To ensure the integrity of the campaign, a strict nomination process takes place which includes interviews, a New Zealand Police Check and a wider community check. Nomination forms can be downloaded here.

sir owen glenn

Sir Owen Glenn

Nominees must also sign a statement that they are living violence-free lives, and will uphold the White Ribbon pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence towards women. All men are asked to disclose any previous convictions for violent or abusive behaviour.

Sir Owen’s representatives have informed me in my role as chair of the White Ribbon Committee, that Sir Owen did not include this new information in his nomination as a White Ribbon Ambassador because Sir Owen stands by his declarations that he was and is violence free.

The White Ribbon Committee will consider this information, as we would all other ambassadors.

White Ribbon is an international campaign to end men’s violence towards women. We will continue to support the White Ribbon Ambassador project utilising men to speak and influence other men.

We will continue to embrace men who have always been violence free, and those men who have rejected the use of violence knowing that they have a vital role to play in effecting change.

Judge Peter Boshier

White Ribbon Committee Chair

click here for the Sunday Star Times Article

Statement from Sir Owen Glenn

The Glenn Inquiry

click here for the Glenn Inquiry

“It saddens me that yet again it appears the New Zealand media is delving into my personal life to fill their pages while New Zealand is ranked the third highest country in the world for rape and this issue goes virtually unreported. Within the past 12 months I have signed two declarations, which I stand by, that state that I am living violence-free and that I have no history of violence towards women or children. These declarations are accurate in all respects. There was no truth to the allegation from almost 11 years ago. My regret now is that I didn’t take the matter to court, however after two years of dispute in the American court system and at the strong advice of my American lawyer I resolved the case in Hawaii to avoid further horrendous court costs and to bring the matter to an end on an agreed basis which resulted in an order of dismissal in October 2004. My motivation behind the Glenn Inquiry is our appalling statistics particularly that we have the fifth worst child abuse rates in the OECD. What a shame media don’t put this time and energy into encouraging the public to adopt zero tolerance towards this behaviour in our country.”