This week we found out the true nature of our New Zealand Prime Minister. It came to light that he had been going to his local cafe and regularly pulled the ponytail of one of the waitresses. He continued the practice even after his own wife advised him against it.
Supposedly John Key thought that it was all in good fun, that it was part of the light hearted banter and joshing that were the culture of this cafe. He hadn't picked up on the cues from the woman in question that this was not okay, this was not fun and she was becoming increasingly distressed each time he came to visit, to the point of advising his security detail that she felt like punching him.
There was also footage of him on the campaign trail last year fondling and pulling the ponytail of a young girl being interviewed by John Campbell so this is not an isolated incident. It shows a pattern of behavior; a blatant disregard for personal space. It shows an arrogance and a feeling of power over others that is unsettling to say the least.
New Zealand has a huge problem with domestic violence and child abuse and to see our own Prime Minister taking liberties with other people's bodies is disturbing but what is even more disturbing is certain sectors of the media that have come out and blamed the victim along the lines of "can't she take a joke. it was all in fun. no harm done"
But lets just look at this a little deeper. Someone felt it was okay to put their hands on someone else's body without their permission and did so repeatedly and in a way that made the person feel uncomfortable, powerless and vulnerable. That is not far away from rape. Some might think this is a bit of a stretch but when you take liberties with someone else's body and make them feel powerless you are dominating them and bullying them and if you do not realise that you are infringing on that person's rights then you are no more than a bully.
In the same week a group of young men came to the aid of a women who was screaming for help as a man in her car was attempting to strangle her. They stated that they realised something was wrong and felt compelled to help out. One of them called the police and followed the man who had run off so that he was apprehended in a short space of time. The men put it down to strong female role models that they had had in their lives that made them feel that they had to do something to intervene. This took place in low socio economic are of Auckland , an area in which domestic violence and child abuse are often in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
The difference between these young men from a rough part of town showed more personal awareness and maturity than our own Prime Minister with all his privilege and position. Maybe he needs to take a leaf out of their book and think more about the women in his life and show them a bit more respect.
The leader of our country needs to take a good long look at the beliefs he has about women and their bodies and his rights to access to them. His character is now out there for all to see.... and it ain't pretty.