Act leader David Seymour is supporting political "rival" Paul Goldsmith amid a backlash for saying the Prime Minister should "stick to her knitting".
"I'm outraged by people accusing Goldie of sexism. People that accuse him of sexism for that comment ought to take a long, hard look at themselves and respect and recognise the rights of knitting men everywhere," Seymour said.
"It's not just women that knit."
Goldsmith, National's finance spokesman, made the comment today in reference to Jacinda Ardern saying she was "angry" at The Warehouse proposing to axe more than 1000 staff.
"I don't think it's helpful for the Prime Minister to be criticising struggling businesses, she should stick to her knitting," Goldsmith had said.
In his defence of Goldsmith, Seymour said he himself had once attempted to knit, when he was about 8 years old, "but it was above my pay grade."
He also backed Goldsmith's criticism of Ardern for making her comments about The Warehouse Group.
"I think the Prime Minister, for all her fine qualities, has little understanding of how business actually works and that's why this Government is so hazardous to prosperity."
Seymour holds the Epsom electorate seat after making a deal with National that Goldsmith, their candidate, wouldn't campaign.
Since telling Ardern to stick to her knitting, Goldsmith has faced a barrage of backlash on social media, with a number of people calling the comment sexist.
Lizzie Marvelly said it was "just an eye-roll comment" while another woman asked "between racism and sexism, is this party ever going to move with the times"?
But others say telling someone to "stick to their knitting" isn't sexist but an old adage.
Andrew Perry pointed out on Twitter that Goldsmith had also told Shane Jones to "stick to his knitting" a year ago.
And some have come to the defence of knitting. One woman said she resented Goldsmith's insinuation that knitting was sitting around twiddling your thumbs "when it's a very important, practical art".
Another woman shared a picture of some intricate knitting.
"Looks complicated to me - rather like running a country. Goldsmith should think again before he denigrates knitters or our PM."
Ardern please 'be kind' to businesses
Retail NZ has asked Ardern to take a sip of her own medicine by taking her own advice to "be kind" to businesses.
Chief Executive Greg Haford said they'd been advising the Government for months that larger retail chains were not immune from the impacts of Covid-19 and had been forecasting substantial numbers of job losses across the sector.
"The Prime Minister should not be angry that businesses are acting to reduce costs and create sustainable futures," Harford said.
"Retailers greatly appreciate the support that the Government has provided to the retail sector in recent months - but the margins in retail are wafer-thin.
"New Zealand businesses, both large and small are doing their best to manage the consequences of the lockdowns, and they are needing to make very tough decisions."