The pretty dead girl is not public property

Art by Grace Millane

Social media is overflowing with heartfelt tributes, outpourings of grief and hot, blind fury over the tragic murder of Grace Millane. As I type, talkback radio listeners are calling in non-stop to vent their feelings. The hashtag #HerLightOurLove is trending on Twitter. Users are uploading images of the sky as a way to honour the pretty dead girl.

Hashtags and heart emojis. 💔

This is how we grieve.

It’s not just online. The Auckland Sky Tower is lit up white in Grace’s memory. The Prime Minister has tearfully apologised to her family, on behalf of all New Zealanders. It’s not typical for the PM to issue statements like that on individual homicides, but I think she read the mood of the nation and got it right. Our thoughts are all with Grace’s whānau, who will forever associate our land with their senseless and devastating loss. We are all sorry and ashamed that this happened to a tourist.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that Grace’s murder has been prioritised by the media, or that the nation has taken what my friend described as a ‘ghoulish delight’ in this young woman’s death.

Cynics will be quick to point out that Grace was attractive and Caucasian, and there is no doubt something to that.

Just the other week, an elderly man was decapitated in Petone. His head was stuffed into a plastic bag and thrown out of the second-storey window of the block of council flats where he lived. The details of this case genuinely shocked me, but I have not read or heard a single thing about it in the media since it was first reported.

Pretty, dead white girls make headlines. This is nothing new.

But there’s more to this than that. Grace Millane’s story appears to be having a profound, personal  emotional impact on the lives of countless New Zealanders who have never met her.

Art by Grace Millane

Some of them are energised in their sorrow. Candlelit vigils are being set up all around the country. In Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin, and many other cities, thousands have registered their interest in attending on the Facebook event pages.

Mobilised mourning. Grief gone viral.

I don’t recall seeing anything quite like this in Aotearoa before.

It’s easy to understand why someone like Grace would become something of an adopted daughter, sister, friend to so many. She was a recent graduate and a talented artist. Full of promise, travelling from overseas, exploring the world on what should have been the adventure of a lifetime. Murdered on the eve of her 22nd birthday, by a man.

It’s a tragedy with all the ingredients for primetime. A photogenic young woman. A distraught family desperately searching for her. A life extinguished, a body discarded. A necklace and a watch, still missing.

The candlelit vigils will provide plenty of heartwarming footage for the inevitable ’60 Minutes’, ’20/20′, ‘Sunday’ style shows. We all know this routine.

Another factor in the hyper-romanticisation of this homicide is the timing.

In a social environment where disparaging men simply for being male is not only tolerated, but actively encouraged, a hideous murder of a beautiful girl is just too perfect a #MeToo movement moment to pass up. Opportunists have already seized upon Grace Millane’s death to fuel their cause.

Art by Grace Millane

None of us knew Grace.

As strangers, all we have to piece her together are fragments. Images and words. Little clues scattered in cyberspace, a digital imprint of her short time on this earth. I trawled through Grace’s Twitter timeline while writing this article, and all I could see was a genuinely lovely girl. Nothing in her digital imprint suggests to me that Grace Millane was a spiteful or vindictive person. I don’t see hate in her eyes. I don’t see hate in her art.

Art by Grace Millane

Before she was the pretty dead girl, Grace Millane was a real person. She had hopes and ambitions and insecurities and a sense of humour and a shoe addiction. She was an animal lover. She adored her dogs, Benson and Maddie. She studied. She painted. She played hockey. She posted a lot of funny gifs. She loved her friends and her baby niece. Everything I can see of what she left behind online gives me the impression that Grace was exceedingly gentle and kind. Many people who die young  are given undeserved sainthood status simply by virtue of being young and dead. This pretty dead girl seemed like a thoroughly decent human being in every respect.

We don’t know what Grace would have wanted to be said or done in her memory in the aftermath of this horror. We can only speculate as to how she would deal with her post-mortem publicity if she had any say in the matter, whether she would approve or disapprove of a hateful message being propagated in her name.

Still, the “Men are trash” Twitter brigade are brazenly informing Kiwi blokes that they all have Grace’s blood on their collective male hands. They were all in that hotel room that night. Half the population just killed a young woman.

I don’t want to make this about feminism — I’ll leave that to the feminists. They’re doing a great job of making Grace Millane’s death all about them. But I will take a moment to observe, not for the first time, that demonising a demographic and attempting to hold them collectively responsible for crimes committed by individuals within that demographic is wrong. When the targeted demographic is an ethnic or religious group, everyone seems to be very, very clear about that. When it applies to race or religion, this is the general consensus. When it comes to blaming males for all of society’s ills, however, this logic does not apply. One man committed a heinous crime, therefore, men are trash. All of them.

In the downtime between breaking announcements related to this case, news sites are publishing lists of all the female backpackers and tourists murdered in New Zealand over the decades. Journalists are making Twitter threads, attempting to collate all the women and girls ever murdered by men in New Zealand, ever — getting names and key details wrong in their enthusiasm and haste.

I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen anyone use the hashtag #NotAllMen in seriousness, but I frequently see it used to mock and dismiss anyone who refuses to participate in this vicious scapegoating.

So while I don’t expect for a minute to get an answer, I do have a genuine question for Team Men Are Trash.

Is Grace Millane’s father, David, who flew across the world to search for his missing daughter, pleading through tears for information on our televisions, trash?

Grace’s older brothers, Declan and Michael, are they trash?

Detective Inspector Scott Beard, whose voice shook with emotion when he announced that this missing person case was now a homicide investigation. Is he trash too? The male police officers, forensic and medical examiners involved in this case. The men who helped track down and arrest Grace’s killer, the men who will undoubtedly be part of prosecuting him and bringing him to justice. Are any of these human beings exempt from this?

Or are they all just male trash?

I don’t believe Grace Millane would have wanted all New Zealand men to feel guilty and ashamed for something they had nothing to do with. But again — I did not know her. 

Nor did those grieving so publicly for her on social media, organising marches and candlelit vigils.

Anyone can exploit a stranger’s death to further their own narrative. People do it all the time. No one can stop them. I wouldn’t even attempt to try. But I would like to respectfully suggest that Grace Millane’s name, her face, her memory, do not belong to any of us. They belong to her whānau and friends.  The people she knew and loved, who knew and loved her.

That’s not to say there is any shame in mourning for a stranger. I thought the sky photos were a nice gesture. I have friends who plan to attend one of the vigils, and I respect their choice to do that, but I don’t think I’ll be going. Organised emotional outpourings aren’t my scene, and I suspect some of the attendance will be politically motivated. For obvious reasons, I don’t want to be a part of that.

I have said a quiet karakia for Grace and wept for her in private. No doubt I will weep for her again — her passion for animals and especially for her dogs is what keeps getting to me, and there we go, the tears are streaming now — but I’ll keep it to myself.

Grace cannot consent to being made a symbol for anything. Her memory should not be a blank canvas for us all to project our personal politics onto. I know I may be accused of having done just that by writing this post, so I’ll say it one more time: I didn’t know Grace. I have no way of knowing what her wishes would have been in all of this.

And neither do you.

Grace Emmie Rose Millane deserves to be remembered for who she was, not who certain activists need her to be to fit their agenda.

The fact that she was murdered in this country should not automatically make Grace public property.

She was — is —  so much more than the pretty dead girl.

Art by Grace Millane

96 thoughts on “The pretty dead girl is not public property”

    1. Rahera K says:

      thank you for reading.

      1. Tina says:

        Well didn’t you just make a name for yourself, no need to make it more sensational than it is, leave the poor girl and her family alone. RIP xx

        1. Simon says:

          I think you missed the point. The author is trying to encourage people to leave the poor girl and her family alone.

        2. Helen says:

          You missed the point some how

      2. Mack Spose says:

        Thank you for this piece, finally someone gets it !! media quiet on 3 children under the age of one beaten to death in the last 2 months—media pick their people carefully to further their cause. Incredible article.

      3. Helyn says:

        Making this about Not All Men really annoys me. We KNOW that most homicides of women are carried out by men. Taking that TRUTH as a personal judgement denies that fact for selfish reasons. Its not about you. It is about he real facts that misogynistic men are responsible for a disproportionate number of deaths BECAUSE of their misogyny. So nah, regretting that I read this.

    2. Simon says:

      Thank you sir. A radio reporter was looking for an expert on Rewi Alley. I couldn’t find one at Otago, so suggested you, as I recalled you had met him in China when he was under house arrest. Great interview.

  1. Juana Atkins says:

    I love how you shared her art with us. Beautiful.

    1. Caley Hall says:

      Illegally unfortunately, this fantastic blog is marred by the copyright issues attached to each image. It’s copyright appropriation and in bad taste too. I love the write up but you need to get permission to post those images of her artworks or it basically undoes all the good this blog is intended to do..

      1. Rahera K says:

        it’s not illegal. whether in poor taste or not is subjective. i’ve had many positive messages specifically regarding the use of the art, including some from people saying that seeing it brought it home for them that Grace was a real person. her art had a big impact on me personally and i made the call to feature it in this blog post to share that impact with others. it also illustrates my point (if you’ll excuse the pun) that when people die, they have no control over how their memory is used by others. Newshub published the skull painting under the headline ‘Grace Millane’s chilling final Instagram post’. again, taste is subjective, but they’re a major mainstream news outlet. this blog has less than twenty followers. it had zero when this post was published. i had no way of knowing the post would be widely shared. i’m not sorry it has been. thanks for your feedback.

        1. Miranda says:

          Kia ora Rahera, I am a full-time artist as is Caley. You can share a link to her Instagram page which she has made public. That way people can enjoy her artwork in the way Grace intended – on her Instagram where she published it. Anyone using her artwork without her permission or the permission of her estate is in breach of copyright unless it states that you may use it. On her Instagram page, Grace states that her artwork is for sale and to contact her. She doesn’t say you can use it for free. In the article I saw on Newshub , they had used the whole Instagram post, which Grace had made public which is how they have got around it. You can share peoples posts of their artwork on some social media platforms, but you can’t take their artwork from their post and use it in a different context on your blog or website, print it on a t-shirt, etc, etc.. Normally you would share their post on the same platform and not take it to another platform so not sure if what Newshub did is a grey area. By uploading images to a platform like Instagram you fall under their rules as well, But most respect general copyright laws. Unfortunately, using people’s artwork without permission or payment is so common people think it must be legal or it doesn’t matter because everybody does it. I am not quite sure why you think it is legal?

          1. Rahera K says:

            hi, Miranda. thanks for your comment.

            i’m also an artist, albeit freelance. if i share my work on social media for people to enjoy, i understand that it’s now out of my control and could effectively end up anywhere. as long as i’m fully credited and people don’t claim it as their own or shamelessly sell prints and merchandise (both happen frequently), i don’t stress about it. sometimes it’s annoying, but it’s a big wild internet out there. worse things happen at sea.

            i noticed someone printed out one of Grace’s pieces on a large canvas and carried it above their head at one of the vigils for her. it was on the news.

            if you earnestly believe a crime has been committed here, please feel free to contact the police.

            make sure you include everyone else who’s used Grace’s art without permission, though. otherwise you might look like a petty hypocrite doing it out of spite.

  2. Sue Esterman says:

    What a sensitive, reasoned and excellent piece. Thank you.

  3. Andy says:

    Thank you for this. Was exactly what i was thinking just couldnt put it in words (you did perfectly)

    1. Rahera K says:

      you’re welcome. thank you for the kind feedback.

  4. Frank Macskasy says:

    Beautifully written, insighful. Thank you, Rahera…

  5. El says:

    As if you’ve read my mind. Thank you for telling the truth as you see it. Very refreshing.

  6. Georgie says:

    This was really well put! Thank u!
    ‘Mourning sickness is a collective emotional condition of “recreational grieving” by individuals in the wake of celebrity deaths and other public traumas. Such traumas may be linked to hyper-attentive, intrusive, and voyeuristic media coverage, which has been dubbed grief porn.’

  7. Jonny says:

    Thank you. The best piece I’ve read on horrible event.

    1. Rahera K says:

      i appreciate that, thank you.

  8. Hm says:

    Great watercolours and great column. Thanks!

  9. Jon Forster says:

    Thank you, beyond , I’m not very good with words

  10. Ann says:

    Very insightful Rahera. I dont agree with your view regarding our PM but I do for the main part of your blog. Cheers

  11. JR says:

    You are an exceptional person Rahera. So beautifully written, and with such honesty. Thank you.

  12. Greg Moore says:

    Very sensitive and thought provoking, and thank you for sharing her art. One bad man is not going to ruin good men, and those who use this despicable crime to further their #metoo nonsense might find a bit of push back this time.
    Good men matter, and we care.

    1. C says:

      The #Metoo movement is anything but nonsense. You’re blurring the line between “good man” and “bad man” in that claim, dismissing the experiences of millions of women who have been harmed by “good men” in society.

      This is absolutely an issue with male violence, and “good men” will sit back and listen, and support women.

  13. Blair Anderson says:

    I so agree with your sentiments on grief porn and the me too collective. However, I must say that my first thought on hearing was missing was akin too, shit men suck sometimes. A what the he’ll are we doing to our woman folk when, guilt, embarrassment, or momentary fits of MADNESS acted out carries such burdens that maleness gets the blame. FFS, this was a ningnong, doing ningnong things. His gender may have played a part in the story, but that is it, what defines him is what he did, it doesn’t reflect on anyone but him.

  14. Waynne Williams says:

    Thank you

  15. David says:

    Seems to be trend in our modern social media world. Whether it’s a pretty white girl murder or a terrorist outrage there is an outpouring of cyber grief manifesting itself in vigils or adapted Facebook profiles.
    Rather that revelling in this stuff I wish people would do something tangible about righting the world’s ills.
    For example this could involve not supporting governments who create the environment where terrorism flourishes or addressing the causes of violence in society or in general why we have a society that banishes empathy and media that revels in ghoulishness.

  16. Anne says:

    Aaah the article I was waiting for thankyou I am a long time feminist with complex PTSD I personally ” know ” this shit. .and survived. Of recent years have really explored the demonised male issue.. no longer comfortable with tough end feminism..
    I have beautiful people in my life of all gender identities. I have sons and know the kindness compassion and goodness of many men. This article states a perspective of the # metoo outrage bomb perfectly. Thanks.

  17. John Walton says:

    Thank you, David.

  18. David Johnstone says:

    Terrific piece of writing, and thinking.

  19. Laura says:

    So well said, the actions of one does not define the All ,

    We are not owed any details or the intricacies of what went down either, the beautiful young girl died in a completely unnecessary and awful way on the eve or on her birthday, that’s as much information as we have to know. People dissecting or making awful statements on the nature of what occurred, I’ve been so impressed at the discretion the nz police have continued through the process and only given a minimum of information , I couldn’t even fathom her mother being over the other side of the world unable to be here, and hearing gruesome details about her daughters final moments , so the discretion is so kind to her family.

    We aren’t owed anything more, we just need to know that he comes to the highest level of justice. So that her family is given the peace to know he cannot donit again.

  20. CJ says:

    Great article. It was time that someone wrote that down. I don’t quite understand the over-the-top outpouring of grief for a person most people don’t know, but I do get the collective empathy for, and solidarity with, the victim and her family. Except for people without a grain of emotion in their being, it’s easy to feel sympathy for people who just lost a loved one, if only because we all deep down have some fear of losing our own loved ones one day.

    I also hate the collective blaming of one group for the actions of an individual. But that also brings me to my next point, because one thing bugs me in the article. It bugs me very much. Aren’t you, Rahera, generalising yourself when you are saying that ℎ feminists are “making Grace Millane’s death all about them”? You seem to be a considerate and intelligent author, yet you accuse feminism of saying “Kiwi blokes that they all have Grace’s blood on their collective male hands” and equate feminism with the ““Men are trash” Twitter brigade” and the “Me too” movement (which itself started as something good, but got hijacked by more extremist social media activists, who made it into what it is now). Do you even know what real feminism is? I consider myself a real feminist and have several friends who are feminists. None of them would make statements that you accuse feminism of; none of them are man-haters; not one of them is “demonising a demographic [i.e. men] and attempting to hold them collectively responsible for crimes committed by individuals within that demographic”.

    Just as some extreme proponents of the “Me too” movement are accusing all men of being abusive trash, there are lots of people who are collectively accusing feminism of hating men and call feminists feminazi for that reason. Surely, you don’t belief that’s right? Surely, you are not one of them?

    1. CJ says:

      Sorry for the typo, that should say:

      … when you are saying that ℎ feminists are … [‘the’ in italics]

    2. Earl says:

      If the shoe fits, wear it. Feminism and it’s amorphous ideological adherents are putting their brand on some awful things so it’s very difficult to tell the moderates and the more measured from the man-hating zealots. If you identify as a feminist then the shit will stick because you lot fail to reform or really make it clear what your mission statement and objectives are….or reign in your extreme outliers. There’s no continuity. There’s bugger all effort to ensure equality for men in areas where they are struggling despite the rhetoric. There’s hypocrisy and double standards everywhere. You can’t expect people to be able to tell the difference if it’s done in the name of ‘feminism’ when feminists can’t even agree amongst themselves. The No True Scotsman fallacy applies here in spades, and parallels with radical Islam…no wonder feminists are so unwilling to critiscise the worst aspects of that ideology.

      1. Thomas Vander Stichele says:

        Asking feminists to reign in extreme outliers is just as weird a request as asking men to reign in their extreme outliers who kill other people.

        1. Rahera K says:

          being male isn’t a lifestyle choice or political view. it’s an innate biological characteristic half of the population were randomly assigned at conception and have no control over.

          as an analogy, it could be considered reasonable to ask moderate Muslims to address the issue of violent radical extremists within their community, because they have a common faith. conversely, asking the same of any random individual of Middle Eastern descent doesn’t make sense, because they may not be Muslim, or even religious at all. skin colour and chromosomes are not indicative of a person’s values. they have no bearing on the content of a person’s character.

          feminism is a political ideology. identifying as a feminist is a conscious choice. being male is not.

          1. C says:

            Being male isn’t the issue – toxic masculinity is, and that definitely is not biological. It’s an extreme societal issue that harms men and women. However, so many men sadly can’t handle masculinity being criticised without interpreting that as their biology being criticised.

    3. Rahera K says:

      i could have been clearer in specifying that i was referring to modern, Western, third-wave feminism. it sounds like you and your friends might be second-wave feminists, which is practically unrecognisable from what’s called feminism today. it’s unfortunate that the word has been hijacked the way it has, especially when there are many countries in the world that are in desperate need of a woman’s rights movement.

      of course not everyone who self-identifies as a feminist is a rabid man-hating ideologue. unfortunately, from my experience observing the behaviour and rhetoric of self-described feminists, both here in NZ and overseas, i have come to believe modern feminism is something akin to a religious cult. the hatred for males is very real and certainly a disturbing element of it, but it’s far from the only concerning aspect. modern feminism rejects evidence. it shuts down rational discourse. it absurdly claims to be about female empowerment, while telling us we’re all helpless, oppressed victims and aggressively shaming and shunning any woman who dares question or challenge this..

      you may call these generalisations, but i base them on an immeasurable amount of demonstrable evidence from years of close observation and personal experience.

      1. C says:

        This is the most absurd thing I have read. I don’t know any feminist who hates men or rejects evidence, especially not in NZ.

        1. Rahera K says:

          if you’re interested in having that view challenged, i’d recommend you check out Cassie Jaye’s documentary, ‘The Red Pill’: http://theredpillmovie.com/

          it focuses on the US and Canada, but the same anti-male mentality is very prevalent here in NZ. just watch the film with an open mind and see if it gives you anything to think about. also check out the work of Christina Hoff Sommers, ‘The Factual Feminist’. her book ‘Who Stole Feminism?’ is over twenty years old now, but couldn’t be more relevant.

  21. Johnny P says:

    Finally – an oasis of sense, decency and reality amid the deluge of media fuelled idiocy!

  22. Nigel says:

    An incredibly well thought out and well written piece that is sadly absolutely ‘on the money’ – well worth sharing, although the people who need to read it never read more than 2 lines and never click through 🙁

  23. Gay Summers says:

    Thank you Rahera for such a rational, thought provoking and loving dialogue…..you have helped me see beyond the emotion of a nation, and have given me an insight into the beautiful person inwardly that Grace was. Thank you for sharing her art and thank you for challenging me in a way that is respectful, honest and vital in this age of social media where it is s easy to get swept away in the tidal wave of Internet opinions and emotions.

  24. Gay says:

    Thank you Rahera for such a rational, thought provoking and loving dialogue…..you have helped me see beyond the emotion of a nation, and have given me an insight into the beautiful person inwardly that Grace was. Thank you for sharing her art and thank you for challenging me in a way that is respectful, honest and vital in this age of social media where it is s easy to get swept away in the tidal wave of Internet opinions and emotions.

  25. Marian Burns says:

    Yes yes yes! Not YES YES YES! Just a quiet reflective Yes yes yes!
    I love what you had to say. It was like reading what I’ve been thinking, but put far more eloquently than I ever could.
    Thank you

  26. Genevieve McClean says:

    I think it may be a little bit the case that you’re partaking in the same appropriation as you criticize it. I agree that it’s important to look at ourselves and our public response.
    Grace’s family instigated the publicity by inciting interest before the media caught on as she was at that stage still only missing. As any parent may do, especially if they’re overseas.
    I’m not certain that using her artwork on your blog isn’t illegal if not an exact form of the appropriation that you’re speaking of.
    I dont know who exactly is calling who trash… but it seems a bit localized for a retaliatory blog that criticizes the greater public request that is happening to consider …the ‘not just Grace’ killings of this current time and in this nation and exacerbated by the freedoms and proximity shift of social media.
    In short I feel compelled to say you seem to be both arguing for and against a certain directive of energy to the end of continuing a public vigil about this one girl in defence of all men. (Or ‘all men’ or #allmen ). Surely if there is a group that has the self conciousness to get up in arms about being the recipient of the public anger around our violence against women problem, it would be those would be killers, those promoters of violence, the happygolucky misogynists who protect them, and what about the droves of subdued young women who ‘like being raped’ where are they? What about the sex addicts who cant get satisfaction anymore… all these various groupings of people are just ways of communicating… so the protective defiance that arises should really be of those who cannot speak for themselves, not those who unable to consider the wellbeing of anyone but themselves.

  27. Shelley Ward says:

    Thank you Rahera for expressing the thoughts of many so succinctly. Where is the outpouring for the poor young Mum murdered in Flat Bush yesterday? My heart bleeds for Grace & her family, I think many parents think “There but for the grace of God go I” as we have farewelled our beloved children on their OE. & been so grateful to have them home again safely, but please don’t vilify all men. I have been appalled at the recent cases of women pimping out underage girls, even their own daughters, where is the outcry?

  28. Helen Doran says:

    ‘would be kilkers’ up in arms and speaking up to defend themselves

  29. Fellis M says:

    I’ve been battling some of my social media friends over this. The majority of people murdered in the world are murdered by men, true. Who do they murder?!? Mostly men. Same with abuse and nearly every category of trauma that we can think of noting. The thing I find really disturbing, which isn’t acknowledged, the generalising and demonising of men means that, as someone who’s been attacked, abused and assaulted by men and as someone who has fought for women’s rights, I and men like me, who are a majority, are being lumped in the same category as men who #wetoo have had to fight.
    I remember watching a show on gang violence in Chicago’s south side, and a gentleman saying,” I hate gangbangers just like everyone else, but unlike you I live with them. Is it fair that I get painted with that brush especially when I’m trying to do good?!?”

  30. alison says:

    Thank you, so very very much for articulating what I suspect many of us have been thinking.

    Tears all over my keyboard.

  31. NZ familys says:

    Well written 100 % agree and spot on, thank you .

  32. Unique says:

    Not all men are killers yet nearly all killers are men. The person in Petone who was beheaded was dealing synthetic drugs. It’s well documented that synthetic drugs can cause psychosis and even death. Comparing him to an innocent young girl being brutally killed is extremely distasteful.

    1. Duane says:

      It’s also well documented that using dating apps can increase your chances of awful encounters.
      Does that validate in any way the beheading of those who created Tinder?

      Don’t be silly.

  33. Catherine says:

    Thank you – you have summed up so much of the unease I been feeling about this over this last week.

  34. John Phillips says:

    Dating apps like Tinder are risky for sure. Caveat Emptor

  35. Sandra Coney says:

    Rahera, You are obviously young or you would remember other cases like this: Kersa Jensen, Tracey Patient, Mona Blades, Jane Furlong, Carmen Thomas. Cases where young women disappear and there is a mystery and then they are found dead, Of course these were all before the upsurge in social media so then we didn’t get the overlay of momentum and mobilisation that is possible now, but believe me then the country was hanging on every new detail.

    I dont think what you are saying is useful or the right time, but I guess its part of the usual NZ game of flip-flop. The urge to pull down what others get up and do.

    Personally I am glad there is recognition that New Zealand is not safe for women and that we have such a high rate of male violence against women. I also think in the case of Grace Millane there is a high degree of shame that a visitor would be murdered. That’s what the PM expressed.

    I think a few more things have been demonstrated – that we have some outstanding police (and yes Ive been arrested for my politics and been to prison), that we have a community in which large numbers of people are standing up against violence to women, that we have had enough of male violence against women and we need to do something about how we bring up young men.

    I actually think the reaction has been on the whole respectful and intelligent. If it acts as a catalyst to address men’s violence to women and spare other parents what Grace Millane’s have gone through, well and good.

    Is there a racial element? You’d have to think of similar cases that involved young black women disappearing and being found murdered to make that claim. It doesn’t seem to come into it when it is a case of child abuse and murder, where those children have become emblematic of the vulnerability of children in general.

    Very easy to play the race card but for me it doesnt stack up. Once upon a time NZers were really down on Poms, and would have spotted that abt the Millanes, fortunately weve got over that too.

    I prefer to take it as it is, and hope some good comes out of it, because that would be the best memorial to Grace and all the other women who have died by violence.

  36. Andrew says:

    Well said. It needed saying and you put it most eloquently.

  37. Julietta says:

    Rahera, thank you for your well written opinion. Clouds of emotionalism have dimmed the issue, not taking anything away from the grief of family and friends, but this collective shame is OTT.

  38. Truth says:

    Spot on well written, #endalldv If only we could all come together United to include all victims, men , women and children under one banner to force change and accountability, unfortunately for feminists (and they know it) it will be devastating for their gendered business model of splitting men and women up., exactly like the nz family court system sham #endalldv

  39. Kazz says:

    Why would you bring up race? She was a Westerner. The vast majority of Westerners are white. Hence the headlines. If pretty young Asian murdered in Asia made headlines in Asia, would you say the same thing about Asians?

  40. Ritchie says:

    Excellently written article. Nail, meet head.

  41. Deidre Donaldson says:

    So well written. Thank you

  42. Shell says:

    This is how I saw it and others as well, I do feel for Grace’s family and friends, we as a country though have so many other violence issues, with women (D. V) Children, home invasion etc and we don’t hear about that everyday, or have vigils for these people. Woman die through domestic violence every year in New Zealand what about these women as.
    I like the rest of New Zealand feel for Grace family and of people want to do vigials, express there emotion, post it all over social media, that is there choice. I just think these people should think about woman/kids/men in our country it happens to every day and we don’t even know about it. With saying that.
    My deepest sympathys go out to Grace family, as a parent, I could not imagine what they are going through. It is a thoughtless act done by one person.

  43. R Pearce says:

    How can you think it’s ok to call a woman who has recently died “the pretty dead girl”? You’re reducing her to an empty title, it’s disrespectful and dehumanising. Do you have permission to use her art here? It’s beautiful art but if you don’t have permission to use it, then you’re just like those you’re criticising.
    The #notallmen is an argument derailment technique just like #alllivesmatter. Grace died at the hands of a man. Yes men get killed too and have violence done to them, I am not personally disputing that. However this story shook many women and we have the right to wish for a better society and better life. Mostly it is not a hatred for men, but a genuine fear of men in our daily lives. I grew up with good men around me, yet as a grown up I do not feel safe. Nz society has a lot of work to do.

    1. Rahera K says:

      re: calling her “the pretty dead girl”.

      yes, it is disrespectful to reduce a recently deceased human being to a stock character. that’s the point. it’s deliberately evocative. the concluding sentence of the post lays this out with zero subtlety.

      re: featuring her art.

      no, i didn’t have permission to feature Grace’s art here. that’s the point. she’s dead; no one has permission to use it. the media already made sensationalist headlines out of the fact that the last piece she posted on instagram was a skull. “Murdered backpacker’s chilling final post” or some ridiculous clickbait. rightly or wrongly, the dead do become become public property. pretty dead girls, more so than others.

      that’s the point.

      i’m sorry you feel unsafe, and i 100% agree that NZ has a hell of a lot to work on. i personally don’t believe romanticising one homicide victim and collectively blaming men is an effective way to do the mahi.

      1. R Pearce says:

        I made it to the last sentence. Most readers won’t. I don’t think you made it obvious enough what you’re trying to say here in regards to the title.

        Artists copyright is automatic and lasts 70 years after death in UK law. The press / online world like to ignore this.

        I’m sorry that any of us feel unsafe. We all have to do the mahi. I have a nephew also. It’s a beautiful thing to hope that society can change for all of us.

        I don’t know any person who uses this ‘all men are trash’ rhetoric in real life. I think we can collectively help to change the echo chamber of the media/ twitter etc.

        Right now it feels like this “leave men alone” just gets rolled out every time. Hey a woman just got murdered by a man, but oh no stop – we can’t be upset – what about the ‘good men’s’ feelings?! It’s a stuck record.

        All of us can look at putting our hurt and anger into a more productive sphere that actually aims for change.

        1. Rahera K says:

          to the contrary, the response to this post has been overwhelmingly positive. i have received dozens, possibly hundreds, of supportive messages. you can see some of them in the comments section here. no copyright laws have been broken. i am not making a profit from this blog and the art is clearly credited. many people spout anti-male hate in ‘real life’, it isn’t contained to the internet, which it’s worth pointing out is hardly an alternate universe. these are real people typing their real thoughts, just as you and i are doing now.

          thanks for your feedback. i agree whole-heartedly with your last sentence.

          1. R. Pearce says:

            This blog could end up furthering your own name as you have not made it anonymous. In that case it could make you money. I guess you are using fair use copyright law.

            I never called the internet an alternate universe. However, the internet often contains a lot of comments that people would never say in real life. Often they use fake names etc. Kudos for your diplomatic comment replies.

  44. fred says:

    I’ve lived in NZ for a little over 4 years. Kiwi’s are more like sheep than any other nation in the world (not particularly bright either)…

    1. Hugo says:

      Every person ive met called Fred, seems to be complete idiot. Other names with four letters often bode a greater person. (Usually fairly ugly aswell)

  45. Alina says:

    Public displays of stranger grief are awkward. Yes, most people didn’t know the victim. But they identified with her. Her death made them feel unsafe and provoked a visceral reaction. The shock of her death was magnified by so many other similar stories, so it’s understandable why this became a highly visible moment. People (women who are at risk of being killed in everyday situations like normal dates) want to be seen and heard. It’s okay to draw attention to the bigger issue here; and every death/gender violence incident should be publicized in order to make society at large understand that this is a plague, not isolated, extraordinary situations. It’s not just NZ. It’s everywhere. And women of all races are exposed – just because they happened to be born female. You say men are victimized by feminists. It appears to me they victimize themselves by condoning mysoginism and tolerating (not denouncing) gender-based violence. The ones who kill (women and men) are mostly men. There’s no disputing this. This is the issue that needs to be addressed. Being called trash is a minor grievance compared to losing one’s life. Or should we not express our frustration at this situation for fear of the rebuke?

  46. Helen says:

    Well written, thank you. I feel similarly. PS love your HST quote on your page also. hx

  47. Miranda says:

    You just wrote a public blog about her complete with info from her twitter account and her artwork you didn’t have permission to use in a blog which is your narrative and blank canvas about peoples responses to Grace’s death. So I guess you are working through ideas about her not being public property? I have only lost one family member. It was a tragic death of 2 young lovers killed by a tourist on the wrong side of the road many years ago. I found comfort in the news reports, the police having to direct traffic because so many attended the funeral etc. Yes, it was romantised but it actually helped that so many people identified with the loss of ones so young with everything ahead of them. I think it would be harder to deal with the loss of a loved one when no one seems to know or care and you have a big hole in your heart and have to carry on somehow without all the support and everyone knowing what you are going through. It is easy to disconnect from certain events and perspectives if you want to, in fact, the logarithms used by social media help you to do that. If you don’t engage with posts that run men down, they will disappear from your news feeds. We all live in a bubble of our own creation.

    1. Rahera K says:

      kia ora Miranda.

      some valid points there, i appreciate your input.

      i’m very sorry you lost a family member in such a terrible way. i’m glad you were able to find some comfort in the community response at the time, and i know the Millane family have expressed their gratitude for the overwhelming support they’ve received.

      as i wrote in the article, i don’t think there was anything inherently wrong with the way New Zealanders responded to this tragedy. i found it all quite touching. as i said, i don’t recall ever seeing a national reaction to a murder on this scale before, and i’m simply curious about why. it wasn’t my intention to pass judgement. i have friends who attended the vigils for Grace and i fully supported them in that choice.

      i do judge people who make statements like “men are trash”, though. i tried for a long time to ignore and not engage with posts that ‘run men down’. that meant sitting back with my mouth shut and watching the anti-male rhetoric get worse and worse, to the point of blind rage, prejudice and hatred. i’m not talking specifically about the reaction to Grace’s death, i’m talking about rampant misandry and sexism against males in everyday daily life. it’s very real, and i see so few people — so few women, specifically — taking a stand against it.

      i won’t sit back and watch. i have four nephews.

      thanks for your feedback, it was valuable to get your perspective. not many people can offer the personal insight you’ve offered, so i really appreciate you taking the time to share. sorry again for your loss.

      nga mihi.

  48. Anon says:

    An extremely well written post Rahera, thank you. As a father who has suffered the grief and pain of having lost a wonderful, loving teenage child I found it very poignant.

    When burying my son I felt a grief that I truly wish nobody ever had to feel again, but they will. I still feel it to this day, and I forever will. I also felt great shame, and I still feel that to this day also, and again I suspect I forever will. Shame that as a father my main purpose in life was to protect my children, and for this child I had failed. No parent has favourites, but this was my youngest, my closest, and he was gone. The anniversary of his passing is tomorrow so once more this is close, and difficult to bear.

    What is my point in posting this? My point is that this loss was extremely personal. It broke my heart, it broke my marriage, it broke my life. This time was not something to be shared with the nation, nor something to be hijacked by anyone; this was very very personal and very very private. Those memories of Grace and her love for her dogs, her nephews and her art belong solely to her family and friends. Memories that will help them in their attempt to navigate the rest of their lives without her presence. They are not things to be used ‘on mass’ by a public who never knew her for any reason whatsoever. Her family may at this time be overwhelmed by the outpouring of emotion from New Zealanders but if my experience is anything to go by they will eventually resent the ‘dilution’ of her memory being shared by people who never even knew she existed before she was taken. Those memories are very personal, and they are all that remains so it’s natural to want to keep them close to your heart and not hand them out to anyone with a passing and temporary interest.

    Yes most killers are men. Yes we in NZ [and the rest of the world] have a long way to go to make the world a better place in so very many ways and I truly wish we could work together to that end because it is what the vast majority of the world’s men, women and children want. The world needs good men, and good women; and the world has them. Lets not put up more barriers; instead, let us take them down and move forward as one.

  49. Becs says:

    Extremely well written Rahera x

  50. Ian Baxter says:

    You hit the nail on the head.
    A well written piece which illustrates the real point of this unfortunate occurrence.
    To tar and feather all men for the actions of a tiny minority of them is like blaming all Muslims for the actions of a suicide bomber; in both cases, only the simpletons in life will attempt to convince us that all are bad because of the actions of one lonely screw-up.

    To use her death as a vehicle for their political agenda is not just distasteful it is totally insensitive and despicable.

    Thank you for your sensitivity and your unerring perception – ignore the naysayers; they have their blinkers on and their vision is myopic.

    Ian.

    May her family find peace as time heals the wound

  51. Juana Atkins says:

    My reply is to the artist who expressed their opinion on the legality of publishing the art on a blog.
    When an artist or a photographer makes their work publicly available by sharing it on a public social media platform then it is my understanding that publishing it as part of a blog post is legal as long as full credit is given to the creator. Ideally a link can also be included in the post to the original site of the work. I write for a blog that has existed for almost 14 years now. The MSM use photos taken from social media all the time and do not ask permission because the image has been made publicly available by the person. If it is already a public image then it is not an issue.

    1. Miranda says:

      Hi Juana, Yes it is a commonly held belief. I will cut and paste below an explanation about how Instagram does not take ownership of the image. Ownership remains with the artist and the artist is agreeing to Instagram being able to use the image. It does not mean everyone else can use it. There are complex ways companies can get around copyright laws but I am pretty sure that is not the case in this instance. So no, just because an artist publishes their image on the internet, it does not mean everyone else can rebublish it and that’s ok, because you give the artist credit. You can’t actually decorate or add meaning to your blog using images you haven’t purchased or don’t have permission to use. Selling images for use on the internet is actually quite big buisness and Grace stated her art was for sale. It does not matter whether she was referring to the originals and or the images themselves, they aren’t public property. I have no idea how she would feel about them being used on Rehera’s blog, but being an advertising graduate and artist one can assume she knew a bit about copyright.
      It’s really hard not to draw a parallel between issues of consent to do with sex and issues of consent to do with art at this point. I can only hope that the message in both counts will become more widely understood as it’s not that hard. Some people want to keep doing it even after they know it’s illegal and well it happens all the time and besides it has to be proven in court and who in their right mind is going to drag themselves through that -right? I will leave it up to your own integrity. Here is the explanation in everyday language:

      Instagram does not claim ownership of any Content that you post on or through the Service. Instead, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service, subject to the Service’s Privacy Policy, available here http://instagram.com/legal/privacy/, including but not limited to sections 3 (“Sharing of Your Information”), 4 (“How We Store Your Information”), and 5 (“Your Choices About Your Information”). You can choose who can view your Content and activities, including your photos, as described in the Privacy Policy.

      One nice thing about the Instagram TOS, as well as one from its parent company Facebook, is that it does not use legal language. It’s written so users can understand it without consulting a lawyer. In the clause above, Instagram goes out of its way to not alarm the users stating up front that they are not taking ownership of the user’s content. Still, agreeing to the Instagram TOS gives Instagram significant rights as to how and where they may use uploaded images. If Instagram used your uploaded photos as part of their corporate advertising campaign, or to create a gallery show that promotes the company, they can do that and without compensating the creator. What Instagram cannot do is sell or transfer the full ownership of your image, since Instagram is merely a licensee, not the owner. However, Instagram also has the right to transfer its license to another person or company.

    1. Rahera K says:

      in that case, please feel free to go ahead and lay a formal complaint with whichever civil authority you deem appropriate. for consistency’s sake, you should probably do the same about the people who had Grace’s art work printed out on paper and canvas and displayed in public at the vigils.

      1. Miranda says:

        I just thought you genuinely didn’t know you needed her consent. My mistake. I can see you are one of those people who doesn’t mind doing it safe in the knowledge nothing is likely to happen about it. Obviously, Grace won’t be tracking down the use of her images as she is dead. I will let your readers draw their own parrallels on that one.

        1. Rahera K says:

          thanks. i think it illustrates the point i was making rather well.

  52. Miranda says:

    I just thought you genuinely didn’t know you needed her consent. My mistake. I can see you are one of those people who doesn’t mind doing it safe in the knowledge nothing is likely to happen about it. Obviously, Grace won’t be tracking down the use of her images as she is dead. I will let your readers draw their own parrallels on that one.

  53. Juana Atkins says:

    Section 107 of the Copyright Act defines fair use as follows:

    [T]he fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include —

    the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
    the nature of the copyrighted work;
    the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole;
    and the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

  54. miranda says:

    mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm and some people are above all that, as they occupy privileged positions and consent may apply to others, but not to them. Or so they assume.

  55. Miranda says:

    ……………………..Referring to the cut and paste of the copyright act (USA I believe) : What is the nature of the copyrighted work in this instance Jauna? How do you think that effects whether it would be considered fair use? I am not a copyright lawyer but I have got legal advice about copyright from time to time. The standard arrangements are laid out in the link. To go beyond that and consider you don’t need consent most of the time because someone posted their image on social media is incorrect. Thanks for sharing your understanding. The majority of people seem to think that. There is nothing new about assuming all artists and photographers are happy just to get ‘exposure’. In my social media bubble, full of artists we post memes about it – to educate the public in simple ways that artists and photographers are just like everyone else and prefer to get paid. Grace has definitely inferred that on her Instagram page and I imagine her degree in advertising didn’t come cheap. In short, Helping yourself is not OK. Thanks for the opportunity to discuss it. I hope I have been clearer now and made it easy to understand that it’s a ‘No’ when it comes to images posted on social media, automatically being public property and free for the taking.

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