Lynnsay Rongokea Francis: Let’s not stifle freedom of expression

Tuesday February 11, 2020 Published in Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor

 

I attended a play last Friday evening at the Rehab written by Teherenui Koteka. A clever blend of social and political satire to address current social issues in which she dared to write about the unthinkable subject of sex, sexuality and the gendered roles of men and women and sexual identity. Everyone performed exceptionally well and they were all very entertaining and funny.

During the evening I was told some of our political leaders had met during the week in an attempt to stop the performance because they considered it might be offensive and disrespectful. 

I commend Teherenui Koteka and her team of young performers aged between 16 and 22 for having the courage of their convictions to perform the play in the face of opposition. 

With the support of her parents, sponsors, Rehab and group of supporters she was able to put on this performance.

Teherenui’s play touches on subjects we don’t openly speak about. She uses wit, humour and ridicule to take sexual behavior out of its normal context to critique the dominant ideology that sexual domination are natural to men, the phallic model of masculinity, the myths and stereotypes of male and female relations, the objectification of women and women’s perception of themselves.

Satire enables us to see the ridiculousness, absurdity and irony of a situation. The play uses physical humour and statements to point out the absurdity of the call on women to not have sex with all men so that the political leaders would be forced to be respectful of women’s brains instead of their bodies to include them in the decision-making process of the Seabed Mining Bill. 

Teherenui intended the play to be thought provoking, to open up the conversation and to get people out of their comfort zone and to reflect on our own attitudes, prejudices and responses to moral issues.

To attempt to stop an artistic performance because of its social, political and moral content is censorship.

We live in a democracy and a healthy democracy enables its citizen’s freedom of expression and participation in bringing issues in society to the fore.

Let’s not stifle that freedom.

 

Lynnsay Rongokea Francis

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