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Greens to confront Williamson's 'misogyny'

Wednesday 30 May 2012 1:01 p.m.

An impending point-of-order war is on the cards in Parliament today as the Greens and Wellington’s Feminist Collective take on National’s Maurice Williamson and what they call his “patronising misogyny”.

Mr Williamson interrupted Parliament yesterday with an unruly point-of-order welcoming 10 Miss NZ contestants to Parliament.

His actions caused an uproar of laughter from MPs and despite his point-of-order being against the rules, Speaker Lockwood Smith allowed it, saying the girls’ presence was “very pleasant”.

Watch the video for footage of Mr Williamson introducing the contestants

Green Party MP Jan Logie says she found the whole affair sexist and offensive to women, and it was “patronising misogyny”.

“There are some clear messages around it in terms of him being the man and he can get into this space with all of these women.

“It is about objectifying women and he’s essentially saying how men become men is by hanging around gorgeous women,” she says.

Ms Logie will challenge the affair by calling a point-of-order today and asking the House to acknowledge finalists of a fictional ‘Feminist of the Year’ competition.

“It’s just a chance to acknowledge all those women who don’t feel like they have to behave nicely around creepy, old, senile politicians.”

She says she has nothing against the contestants but the way they were treated yesterday was like a flashback to the 1950s.

“There are quite a few women, myself included, who were fairly uncomfortable,” she says. 

Founder of Wellington’s Feminist Collective, Nicole Skews, says today’s acknowledgement will be about reclaiming Parliament as a space for women.

She says Mr Williamson’s comments were sleazy, greasy and turned the debating chamber into a free-for-all.

“What does that say to women watching question time? If you happen to be good looking and you happen to be acknowledged in the House then you will get leered at. It’s just really gross,” she says.

“There is something inherently patronising about welcoming people to the gallery and have the entire chamber ring out in laughter. It sets up a nasty environment for women in Parliament.”

Ms Logie says she will have to be quick this afternoon otherwise her point-of-order will be shut down by the Speaker.

If Dr Smith does shut down the point-of-order, it will be disappointing and a double standard, Ms Skews says.

She says although the ‘Feminist of the Year’ idea is a fictional competition, it is a “collective prize” for all women.

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