Sunday, June 20, 2010

Women's movement protests? No, we just imagined it

Unlike TVNZ, Prime is doing its best to give us something approaching a watchable, meaningful history of the first 50 years of TV in NZ. Last night it “did” protest, from the first tiny anti-nuclear movement events to the religious right’s objection to legislation on civil unions.

All the great waves of protest were there, from Vietnam to homosexual rights. Except one. You wouldn’t know that there had ever been a single women’s liberation protest event in this country, let alone a major movement creating headlines for a couple of decades.

No mass pro-choice or anti-choice protests. No beauty contest protests or Reclaim the Night marches. No street theatre. The very first public women’s movement event here to appear on TV was the Anzac Day protest in Albert Park, Auckland, to highlight women as victims of war. But no – none of it happened, apparently. Nor was a single women’s liberation veteran interviewed – though there are cerainly plenty of them around.

Of course, that movement wasn’t about really significant things, like shooting wars, or bombs, or rugby, or race. Or even male sexuality. It was simply about the profoundly unequal conditions in which half the population lived, and the women who wanted to change that. The protesters included girlfriends, wives, daughters, sisters, even mothers, of the men (save for a few independent pioneers like Merata Mita) who made the news and the TV programmes.

The protesting women may have made headlines at the time, but even if all those protests did happen, they just didn’t count, eh. Didn’t matter. There was no need to take any notice of them or the movement they sprang from for something major like a survey of TV coverage of protest over the last 50 years. Not when there were all those other really important protest movements to deal with.


  1. It's such a shame as other than the glaring omission it was a good show, much much better than some truly awful tripe on TVNZ. Maybe they are going to come back and look at the influence of TV on the changing role of women in a future episode? That would be good.

  2. Unfreakinbelievable. I hope Julie is right and they're going to devote a whole episode to it.

  3. Well, that's a lovely optimistic thought, but - oh wait, I just saw a pink pig flying past...