Kyle MacDonald: Why John Key's not fit to speak for White Ribbon

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Kyle MacDonald is campaigning to have White Ribbon remove Prime Minister John Key as an ambassador. He explains why he thinks Key is not fit to speak on issues of domestic and sexual violence following his involvement in a radio stunt that made him the fall guy in a prison rape joke.

Contrary to what some have suggested in the last few days, I do have a sense of humour. I just don't think sexual violence is funny.

The sexual assault rate in New Zealand is far higher than the world average. New Zealand rates as third-highest alongside Australia, and about one in five women and one in six men will experience sexual violence in their lifetime.

We also have one of the highest rates (the highest in some reports) of domestic violence, with one in three women experiencing intimate partner violence in their lifetime.

And call me old fashioned, but I believe that our Prime Minister should be a leader, a statesman even. Getting into a cage and being the fall guy for what transpired to be a prison rape joke, including references to one of the most (in)famous male rape scenes in cinema, is neither leading nor fitting for the office.

But when you're in charge of a country with one of the worst rates of domestic violence and sexual violence in the developed world, you should be using the opportunity to not only not participate in rape jokes but to take a stand against any and all forms of sexual and intimate partner violence.

READ MORE: White Ribbon asks PM for explanation

Funnily enough, this is exactly what the White Ribbon Campaign requires of those it appoints as ambassadors, specifically - according to the White Ribbon Campaign, their ambassadors "embody the principles of the campaign" and are chosen for "their willingness to challenge the behaviour of abusive men, and to convey key messages directly to their own communities."

I've been a long and ardent supporter of the White Ribbon Campaign, because I personally believe in their values and their mission. I have proudly worn the ribbon, and taken the pledge. But I now find it very hard to reconcile John Key being an ambassador with their ongoing mission.

It's not just the rape joke: there's the "they just need to grow up" remark he made in reference to the "Roastbusters" case; the "joke" suggesting the Chilean president not invite Phillip Smith over for lunch; refusing to apologise to Tania Billingsley, his pulling of waitress Amanda Bailey's ponytail, and of course "you support the rapists."

John Key has denied he was in on the stunt and White Ribbon Campaign has accepted his position that he didn't know it was a rape joke, and didn't understand it at the time.

I feel sorry for White Ribbon but the fact that more than 10,000 people are now calling on them to dump Key as an ambassador puts them in a very difficult position.

So if, like me, you expect more of White Ribbon, and more of our Prime Minister, then add your support to my petition with Action Station to dump John Key as an ambassador.

Until then, and sadly, I'm taking a different pledge. I can't wear a white ribbon again until White Ribbon Campaign start acting in line with their stated mission and values.

A spokeswoman for Prime Minister John Key said he was unavailable for comment today because he was on holiday.

The spokeswoman referred to a statement made on behalf of Mr Key last week.

The statement said: "The Prime Minister does these interviews in the spirit of Christmas and the content is decided by the hosts.

"The interviews are meant to be light-hearted, and the Prime Minister hopes the media and the public takes them that way."

Kyle MacDonald is a psychotherapist and creator of the Off the Couch blog site.

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