Man Up or Put Up


New Zealand Labour Party leader, David Cunliffe has apologised for being a man.

In an address to a Woman’s Refuge symposium into family violence, the mandarin of the opposition benches mangled the message. He’s good at this, manifestly so, even when the message is good. Sometimes he manages to miss out whole parts of his party’s main message and has to apologise. And sometimes his delivery is so mannered that he becomes an unwitting apologist for a ham actor, but this is a first, even for him.

“I don’t often say it,” he started.  Man-o-pause. “But I’m sorry.” Man-o-pause. “I’m sorry for being a man.” Jesus wept! See for yourself. Go to:

You're a man, you am, youam

You’re a man, yes you am

David, if I may be familiar for just a minute, get over it. You are a man, yes you am, yes you am, yes you am. You had something important to say and you said it. Manfully.

With all the gravitas and veritas of a preacher in touch with his feminine side, he told men, the main perpetrators of New Zealand’s shameful record of violence against women and children, “to wake up, stand up, man up and stop the bullshit”.

Here Cunliffe was, sorry as he was for being a man, pledging to invest an extra $60 million on frontline prevention, education and justice reforms to help combat family and sexual violence. New Zealand has one of the highest rates of family violence in the developed world, with almost 60 percent of reported violence family-related and police responding to a callout on average every seven minutes.

His pronouncement was met with a ripple of applause and to be fair, positive acclaim from his captive audience. And okay ribald delight from the wider public, interest piqued by his sorry performance and maybe even the subject matter, although we are almost inured to the increasingly familiar cases of violent atrocities meted out without discrimination for gender, age, wellbeing or consequence.

“Insulting” and “silly” was how Prime Minister John Key reacted to the “I’m sorry for being a man” apology, leaving his colleagues, the lustrous-lipped, man-o-war trussed and jacketed Judith “Crusher” Collins and “I’ve been there so I know and we’re doing it anyway”, Paula Bennett to dispense with the substance of Cunliffe’s proposal and any meaningful discussion.

“The problem isn’t being a man, the problem is if you’re an abusive man,” John Key said. “Is he really sincere about that statement? Tomorrow afternoon is he going to go down to the local rugby club and say ‘I’m sorry for being a man’? I don’t think so.”

Now while John Key is no doubt relaxed about this he does have a point. Why stop at apologising for being a man? Would Cunliffe have apologised for being Maori? It’s Maori who have the ignominious distinction of being over represented both as the abusers and as the victims of the abuse. Of course he wouldn’t. He’s not Maori. He’s what we used to call a trendy leftie, a chardonnay socialist, and he leans quite right of left really. His party is sorry that he sometimes is less than clear about right and left and what’s wrong with the right and right about the left. Anyway he is very, very, very, very sincere – even more very than US-NZ relations.

Cunliffe is his own worst enemy. His wife says so and she’ll be right and even when he’s right, he’s wrong.

If it’s not the message, it’s the medium. If it’s not the medium it’s his manner. He’s like a manikin pis aiming to please. Show some mana.  Don’t apologise for being a man.  Follow your own advice: “wake up, stand up, man up and stop the bullshit”.

And because you’re a nice guy, not as nice as John Key who can do know wrong, I don’t want to send you away on a wing and a prayer, but with a special song, just for you.


By Randy Newman

Well I’m guilty, yeah I’m guilty,

I’ll be guilty for the rest of my life

How come I never do,
what I’m supposed to do
How come nothing that I try to do ever turns out right

Well you know how it is with me baby,

You know I just can’t stand myself

It takes a whole lot of medicine,
for me to pretend to be somebody else


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