I’m currently working in Christchurch. Cycling around the central city my first weekend here left me gobsmacked. Cafes, pubs and bookshops I used to know are gone. The landmarks I got used to when I first lived here at the turn of the century are gone. On the bike, I’d ride around a corner and get completely confused as to where I was. I didn’t recognise the place any more. It’s broken, but it can be fixed.

A couple of weeks ago, I met a former partner for coffee on a glorious autumn day. She’s a gorgeous, bright and loving person. Let me make it clear; it’s entirely my fault we split up. I was a dick. I wouldn’t talk about what was bugging me,  wouldn’t be upfront and honest with her. I was scared, but I wouldn’t say so. I left, but it was me that drove her from me. Now she’s in another relationship, has kids and a whole set of other issues to deal with. But she’s not happy. Something’s missing. She says she feels broken.  Broken. That haunts me and hurts me. Broken. That situation needs fixing. But on her terms.

It’s become blatantly obvious in the last twenty four hours that there is a significant problem with the Standard. This sometimes wonderful forum, which started nearly a decade ago as the self proclaimed voice of the Labour movement, is now entirely speaking with a male voice. The voice of the Standard no longer reflects the labour movement to a large extent. It certainly does little for the women who make up the majority of the labour movement.  It certainly does not regularly reflect the wider views of the half of NZ who are women.

Why is this? What can be done about it? Is the Standard broken? Can it be fixed?

We really, really need women writing for the Standard. We need more women commenting. And we men, we left men, here at TS, we need to make women feel safe, supported and welcome.

There’s too many pricks, not enough roses.

My suggestion is that we need to look again at the structures of the Standard, from the ‘owners’, through the moderators and onto the authors. The undemocratic, male dominated and authoritarian ownership structure of the Standard is fundamentally wrong for a left blog. There are moderators who do little or no blog writing, don’t contribute much in the comments, but hang on grimly to their tools of power and control. There are authors who are bigots, authors who hate the left, authors who hate women. One author is all of the above. Why are they here on a left wing blog?

The Standard is broken. But it can be fixed.

Fixing the Standard also starts with me. Regular readers will have noticed I’ve been far less inclined recently to use the moderator’s black ink. I’m trying to gently encourage good behaviour by adding a comment rather than wave my mighty sword of justice around. I’m capable of learning. I’m capable of changing. I was broken, I can be fixed.

So, what do we do about the Standard?

I’d like to hear suggestions for change, but I’m equally happy to hear opinions that are contrary to mine. Most of all, and fundamentally, I’d like to hear from the women who comment here. Actually, I’d really, really like to hear from the women who don’t comment here. This is one post where your voices are going to be encouraged and cherished.

But only if you want to talk. You’re in control, at least this one time. The Standard is broken. I’d like the women who care about this blog to say how it might be fixed.


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