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I’m sure many of you saw the recent Vice article that said that New Zealand is the most ignorant country in the world. Our own perceptions are dramatically different to the actual reality of life in New Zealand. We believe we have achieved justice, that we have ascended to a rank of superiority over other ‘less developed’ countries.
This misguided belief tells us that as an entity, we are at that level; that our citizens are all great, and free, and healthy. Sure, if you are a middle/upper-class cis able-bodied white person in New Zealand chances are that you have it pretty good. The system benefits you, and in most respects, you have experienced justice. But this misguided belief creates passive citizens.
It is a very ‘white feminist’ thing to perpetuate this kind of celebration of justice. I definitely think discussions around things like gender pay gaps in Western countries are good to talk about. These are the kinds of things ur #fave white feminists Taylor Swift and Lena Dunham etc. are pushing. But I worry that in making these issues a point of dominance, we are ignoring other issues. For women of colour, trans women, disabled women, and many others, there are problems that are so much more pressing. We’ve all heard of the ‘He for She’ campaign, but how many of us have heard of the work of activist group ‘No Pride in Prisons’?
As a brown girl, it’s frustrating to have white women tell me how ‘great’ Māori have it—how it’s so good that my culture has achieved justice in New Zealand. If you are not affected by a particular kind of oppression, chances are that you are completely ignorant of how it affects and disadvantages others. When you are talking with someone about a kind of oppression that affects them and not you, it’s so important that you take the time to listen, and try to understand their own experience. If we want Vice to stop writing articles ridiculing us, this seems like a great first step.