First published as a letter to the editor in FishHead’s April 2015 issue.

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Dear FishHead Magazine,

I have just read your March “sex” themed issue, and expect to see the following response in full in your April letters section [this letter can be read in that issue].

I would like to know if FH is aware of the ongoing public discussion concerning rape culture in New Zealand spurred by the Roastbusters case in 2013. Or if it has noticed that so many women suffer from domestic violence in this country that we consider the need for Women’s Refuge and Rape Crisis centres in our cities as mundane and self-evidently necessary as public toilets. Or that there is a pathway leading to Victoria University nicknamed ‘rape alley’, or that last year Massey University advised female students to wear running shoes and carry whistles to avoid sexual assault. I wonder if FH has noticed that New Zealand’s domestic violence rates are so high we run public campaigns celebrating the upright character of men who do -not- abuse women. Still this violence goes underreported since wherever rape culture goes, victim blaming follows.

The sex industry that you discuss in your issue is a core part of upholding and promoting the already widespread, misogynistic notion, drummed into girls from childhood, that women are commodities for male gratification and capital gain. Wellington’s major players, the Chow brothers, own over 70% of the industry here and are notorious for their mistreatment of women and readiness to turn a blind eye to habitual harrassment and abuse.

I understand that FH had a critical article in the works on this topic for the issue, which it decided not to publish at the last minute. Not only was this piece not published, but the editorial does not betray any knowledge of its content, preferring instead to talk – predictably if disingenuously – about the rugby.

As long as Women’s Refuge and Rape Crisis centres and safe houses are required in this city, sex is not a topic to be treated casually in any publication considering itself to have any journalistic integrity or concern for Wellingtonians.

I’m reminded of Eleanor Catton’s reponse to CK Stead, who responded to 2013’s Roastbusters outcry by calling it hyperbolic. “Rape culture,” Catton said, “means shutting down conversations about rape.” Take heed, FH.

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