abortion, feminism, feminist, gender, Ireland, misogyny, pro-choice, pro-life, Uncategorized, women

Let’s be Real, No-one Celebrates Abortion

On May 25th 2018, Ireland made history.

Less than two weeks ago, a majority voted to repeal the 8th Amendment from the Irish constitution, legalisng abortion in Ireland up to 12 weeks and beyond in exceptional circumstances.

Capture

Fig. 1: Irish Times exit poll prediction

I won’t lie, I rejoiced, I celebrated privately and via my social media accounts. I applauded Ireland’s decision to respect women’s autonomy and agency and wept with joy.

The Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, Alphonsus Cullinan would have been disgusted with me. Fr Cullinan apparently didn’t pick up on the public distaste with the clergy’s involvement in the campaign; certainly, I spoke to countless Yes voters who specifically flinched at Church involvement and campaigning for the No Vote, many of whom cited Tuam and the Magdalene Laundries as enough cause for silence in these matters. I even spoke with several undecided and No voters who blanched at Church involvement.

But that isn’t the issue here; the issue, once again, is the habitual act of construing the act of celebration in the wake of the Yes vote:

“I was horrified to see the jumping and roaring and cheering in Dublin Castle last Saturday. How can you cheer about abortion?”

Cullinan, as so many before him, purposefully redefined the events in Dublin Castle as a celebration of abortion.

Let’s be real here though, no-one celebrates abortion. No-one toasts a cheers to that difficult decision or memorializes the occasion with photographs. Abortion is not an easy made resolution; I am sure (though I thankful have never been in the position) that is is anxiously agonized over. I know this because no-one I have spoken to would ever wish to be in that situation.

Rather, the women and men who stood in Dublin Castle celebrated women’s rights; like me, they rejoiced in the safety and care which Repeal demanded for all women in Ireland. They reveled with the proof that women’s agency and autonomy mattered to a two-thirds majority; that the 8th Amendment which rendered women’s bodies as vessels, as containers, as nothing more than baby makers, was no longer a representation of Ireland or its people.

What Cullinan deemed a celebration of abortion demeaned every woman who has ever had to make that decision, and take those difficult steps – often outside of Ireland, perhaps to back street, clandestine clinics, or in the privacy of their own homes with a pill and no supervision or even witness to their act. What Cullinan did, once again, was to attempt to shame the brave and the fearful women who have made that difficult choice.

Advertisements
feminism, feminist, GBV, gender, Ireland, misogyny, personal, politics, pro-choice, race, racism, rape, sexism, strenght, violence, Violence Against Women, women

Post-March Hope

There will be less political antagonism in this post than a sense of positivity and hope (I hope…).

The post-Women’s March euphoria is upon us, and I haven’t truly come down from that high. In the face of overwhelming intolerance and hate, and the knowledge of four (possibly though hopefully not more than four) years of threats and risky policy cuts, the Women’s March proved that when they go low, we go high.

Despite the sense of anger and fear which wrought it’s insemination following the Trump victory, the women and allies in Ireland took to the streets with a sense of courage, determination and hope in what they could achieve via resistance and solidarity.

For this gathering the political overtures of what could and is occurring across the pond largely mirrored the concerns facing the Irish constituency: a Trump government threatens to ban and limit abortion access to the same circumstances which Irish women suffer and which ignites the Repeal the Eight movement; Trump and co’s misogynistic and racist practices mimic much of the vitriol which grows in this post-Brexit atmosphere; Trump has been accused by no less than a dozen women of sexual assault and harassment, in 2015 approximately 16,375 incidents of domestic violence were disclosed (Women’s Aid, Ireland) how many more victims still suffer in silence is a testament to the fear which men like Donald Trump instill.

In the face of these facts and fears, the women and allies of Ireland gathered peacefully and hopefully, chanting slogans and bearing placards both hilarious and quieting. We cheered the sponsors and speakers of the event with gusto, we welcomed the challenge gravely and bravely, we sang as one that those sisters and allies in the USA and worldwide who needed our support could certainly rely and lean on us in the future.

Nasty women, bad hombres and the next generation of children who deserve better stood united in protesting the intolerance and hate which a Trump administration stands for. The accumulation of nearly 3 million protesters worldwide attested to the fact that so many liberal snowflakes would, indeed, make a significant avalanche.

 

feminism, feminist, gender, homosexual, Ireland, misogyny, politics, race, sexism, Uncategorized, violence, Violence Against Women, women, writer

The Woes of Feminism and the Movies

Many of us have been unfortunate enough to witness the vitriol and small-mindedness which accompanied the build-up and release of the gender-reversed reboot of Ghostbusters earlier this year. With it, of course, came the chorus of mostly male laments against feminism: “How dare four women take the place of four men, who do they think they are? When we say reboots, all we want is updates CGI, not feminist propaganda!”

Unsurprisingly, the malevolence didn’t end there, but included the use of intimidation and threats against the spook-filled films selection of female stars, most notably and again unsurprisingly Leslie Jones, the specter-ass-kicking squads resident black sass queen. While Jones’ stand against the intimidation tactics unfortunately involved a loss for the Twittersphere (she recently announced a much needed break from the site following the abuse) the equation which continues to divide feminism and movie media has become once more evident via Twitter trend #FeministAMovie

The hashtag reached trending proportions in early August, catching my own attention on 11 August… of the hilarious possibilities which were available. How excited I was to scroll through potential hilarious gender-reversals, queer puns, and non-heteronormative re-titles.

What I got instead proved the false consciousness which continues to surround the feminist movement. Several of which used Ghostbusters as the bone of contention:

It was only following my disappointment that I discovered the hashtag was, in fact, a response to the all-female cast announced for Oceans 8; the new installment combining the star skills of Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling, and Awkwafina. The outraged reaction against the positioning of women in public spaces resulted in a reiteration of misogynistic themes,  homophobic and transphobic commentary, and the general array of stereotypical sexist insults which amount to the manosphere’s armory.

Certainly, the stereotype of the “Feminazi,” the “manhater”, the angry, hairy, cajoling cartoon feminist consistently drawn into bad cartoons was redrawn again and again:

2016-08-20 (41)2016-08-20 (30)2016-08-20 (25)2016-08-20 (21)2016-08-20 (28)2016-08-20 (11)

 

These texts reanimate negative stereotypes commonly linked with the feminist figure in popular culture, many concentrating on the negative ways feminist discourse (supposedly) affects women’s most crucial aspect: appearance. A failure to adhere to traditional and overtly-normalised femininity and the beauty standards related to this unnatural state of being is consistently related one’s success or failure in being a woman.

Related to these highly idealised beauty standards and ideals of proper womanhood is the contemporary horror related to female menstruation. Horror movies, blockbuster comedies and the following tweets alike depict this natural and widely experienced event as the abject moment:

2016-08-20 (22)

Many others simply and in-eloquently depicted feminism and feminists as something to be despised and abused, where feminists are literally unknowable (and unloveable) and as at once undeserving of men and unable to keep them.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thankfully, and once again in keeping with the Ghostbuster’s narratives, feminists rallied against their would-be oppressors with a selection of their own #FeministAMovie tweets which created new sexual spaces, challenged heteronormativity, repossessed female and coloured space from male and white privileges and generally educated individuals that the humourless, hairy-feminazi figure could at least, occassionally, be funny for the sake of politics:

 

In short, movie media continues to challenge feminist gains, but there is an undeniable movement occurring wherein women are being permitted space to narrate new experiences on screen. Comedies such as Bridesmaids, Ghostbusters and the up-coming Moms are repositioning women’s traditional position on screen, while action genres are redrawing squad goals in Oceans 8, and sci-fi/comics genre is FINALLY due to welcome Wonderwoman to the big screen in the first female-lead movie, and while these narratives are being challenged by the greater masses, we’ll continue to met the challenge.

 

 

S.

 

advice, feminism, feminist, gender, Ireland, misogyny, personal, sexism, strenght, Uncategorized, women

Happy Equal Pay Day, I Suppose?

A little over a month ago, we were all celebrating “Happy International Women’s Day” or some variation of that sentiment. Today, though, I doubt you’ll hear anyone exclaiming “Happy Equal Pay Day.”

Pretty obvious why, yeah?

download

Just to make the point abundantly clear: equal pay still does not exist between the sexes.

Despite three decades (or thereabouts) since the Second Wave filtered down and despite two decades of the statement “Feminism is Dead” and no longer relevant, women – I reiterate – are still not receiving equal pay to men.

Indeed, many third world countries, women and children are utilized as cheap labour accumulating pitiful wages alongside their male counterparts. Those so-called first world countries, many Western capitalist states, employ this slave/sweat shop labour abroad while denying women within their borders equal opportunity or wage. The National Organisation for Women estimates that even today women continue to earn only 79C to ever man’s dollar: and maybe us feminists are knitpicking over 21C difference when so many women suffer unbearable hours, horrendous conditions and loose change as a paycheck – but maybe it’s time to consider women everywhere as equally valuable as their male counterparts – as deserving of the same respect, wage, and opportunities.

This conversation, at this late stage in feminism’s history, in this so-called enlightened era for humanity, feels like flogging a corpse. There is nothing new that I can add to this conversation, there is no shocking revelation behind the facts that we know, that we’ve known for years now: and yet we still await that ultimate change in our society. The fact that a day has been laid aside for this sentiment – for it is, only a sentiment, and not an actuality – is nothing short of a smack in the face for women everywhere: for women of colour balancing two jobs and two children at minimum wage, for the college waitress living off of tips, for the sweatshop labourer slouched over in her cage. For women everywhere.

Happy Equal Pay Day, indeed.

 

charity, Ireland, personal, Uncategorized

“Will Swim/Cycle/Run for Money” – Fund Raising for Charity

 

So this coming June my very dedicated and generous Brother-in-law Michael Garry will be taking part in Challenge Galway, his first ever full Triathlon – that’s a full 226KM distance split between swim, cycle and run! – and to celebrate the momentous event he is raising donations for charity!

The donations raised will be split between two deserving and amazing foundations here in Ireland – Temple Street Chidlren’s Hospital and St Brigid’s Hospice for Kildare and West Wicklow. In his own words, Mick is dedicating this to the memory of his late father, Michael Garry Senior and his young cousin Eamonn who tragically died in 2008 due to complications relating to Cerebral Palsy. Mick has a special relationship with both institutions, which cared for his father and cousin respectively and wants to ensure they can both continue their wonderful works.

If anyone is interested in donating, please do so through the following link, and, of course, I’ll be happy to provide an update come June when the event is over:

http://www.mycharity.ie/events/mick_garry/

Many thanks!

imageID_45139__imageTypeID_2.image

advice, feminism, feminist, Ireland, misogyny, rape, sexism, SlutWalk, Uncategorized, violence, Violence Against Women, women

My University’s Experience With Revenge Porn

I’m more than a little proud of my educational resume – I know, it’s privileged of me to say so, I acknowledge that I have been lucky enough in my race/ethnicity/class that I have been able to achieve as I have, though I have worked hard as a motivated student and aspiring lecturer/researcher. So I’m proud of my college history: undergrad in NUI Maynooth – Ireland’s oldest college with its beautiful heritage and village location – and University College Dublin – boasting in its alumni one of my favourite authors, James Joyce and one of Ireland’s most extensive and innovative gender/sexualities/feminist research clusters – for my MA and PhD.

That pride has been severely bruised this week.

The student’s UCD’s School of Agricultural Science have been linked with a “revenge porn” group-chat page on Facebook. For those who are confused: revenge porn is a relatively recent term describing the process of posting and sharing intimate partner photographs on the web for others to rate and “enjoy.” It’s known as “revenge” porn owing to the wide selection of individuals who post such images following a break up, in an act of punishment and self-vindication (you know, the whole, “she was a whore anyways – sure look what she sent me!!”). That’s the basics of revenge porn, anyways, once you take out the emotional trauma, misogynistic mistreatment and sterilizing objectification involved for the victim. Oh, and let’s not forget: the rape and lad cultures which normalize and trivialize these acts of non-physical violence.

Getting back to my own bruised ego: I was, initially, unsure. Certainly, a university with such a vibrant gender and sexualities rhetoric and collection of researchers couldn’t host such small minded, egotistical (let’s be honest) “lads.” The two schools are, afterall, only divided by a footpath, more or less. Moreover, the Student’s Union has only this year reinvigorated their sexual harassment and affirmative consent efforts, hosting their first SlutWalk last November and holding bake-sales advocating “consent is sexy.” Surely, this establishment of educated individuals wouldn’t contribute to such dehumanizing actions; surely, they know better.

Alas, I was wrong. The college confirmed via email today that they are investigating the allegations and encourage victims and anyone with information to come forward, urging:

While we can deal with the breaches that we uncover or are brought to our attention, I appeal to our community not to show any tolerance for abusive behaviour on social media.  I ask that each one of you recognise your responsibility in this regard.

 

The university’s pledge to investigate the page and potential members is a valiant one – no one should get away with mistreating women in such a manner – but already, the college has failed in one vital aspect.

The subject line of said email, reads:

Inappropriate use of social media

What should be the subject of this email? The use of social media? Or the people behind it and the people who suffer as a result?

The focus of this email should not have been misuse of Facebook but the inappropriate and cruel treatment of fellow students and peers.

Unfortunately, UCD has fallen into the techno-pessimistic trap: blaming the vehicle instead of the driver. We’ve all heard of the potential dangers of social media – for young people, cyberbullying and online predators are posed as a serious threat. But the threat is never depicted as a person at a keyboard, as what it really is. It is depicted as a digital profile page with no corporeal form behind the words and images on screen.

This logic is now applied to the dissemination of “revenge porn” also. It is the websites and domains which support posting and discussing images which are dangerous: this is easier than holding a person or group accountable.

This manner of blaming social media and/or the internet for harassment or bullying explicitly crops the person behind the post or page from the image and therein validates their actions. They are not accountable anymore: social media is.

So I say to the presidents, deans, lecturers, revenge-porn posters, chat groups, victims, students and peers at UCD and anyone else reading this: place the blame on the person responsible. Hold them fully accountable for their actions, these are college educated men who should be punished for such zealous mistreatment and cruelty. Recognize that the women they have victimized deserve some form of justice.

After all, if my ego is bruised, how must they feel?

 

 

 

 

 

Ireland, race, racism, Uncategorized, violence

Racism Rife in Ireland

A recent report from the ENAR (Eire Network Against Racism) has revealed the extent of racial prejudice in Irish culture.

Released this very morning, the disconcerting report is already receiving mass attention from various media outlets. The report, headed by Dr Lucy Michael, explores the issue of “Afrophobia” in Ireland through the use of data from racist incident reporting system iReport.ie. The launch page for the report explains the term “Afrophobia” as denoting forms of global racism aimed specifically at people of African decent and further claims:

 In Ireland, as this report demonstrates, racism against people of African descent is not a new phenomenon at all, but one which has failed to be recognised by the State and wider society, even as it has evolved from colonial times. Afrophobia has contributed to the racialisation of Irish identities, both in Ireland and overseas, resonated with anti-Traveller racism at home, and found fertile ground in specific phenomena and events, for example in what Junior Minister for New Communities Aodhán Ó Ríordáinhas called “our love affair with incarcerating people” (from the Industrial Schools and Magdalene Laundries to Direct Provision), or in the political expediency manifest in the 2004 Citizenship Referendum. (ENAR Ireland)

A summary of the findings indicate that an approximate 30 percent of complaints submitted to iReport were incidences of racial harassment and threat against people of African descent; the harassment was commonly reported as taking place in public, specifically in/on public transport systems. Similarly, many of the complaints raised the concern of being knowingly under constant surveillance in public spaces.

But the threat is not only public; over half of the reports received and studied described instances of online abuse and racial threat, mainly on social networking sites where many people where individually targeted and harassed.

Many of those who reported incidents of racist abuse and harassment further recorded a disillusionment with Gardai services:

There are low levels of trust in An Garda Siochana to address and understand the impact of racist incidents, and to apply the definition of racist incidents adopted in 2001.

People of African descent experience worse outcomes from Garda involvement even where the racist incident is perpetrated against them and, should they confront the perpetrator, are more likely to be considered suspected of instigating the incident. (Report Summary)

Currently, the ENAR is urging An Gardai Siochana and other public bodies to implement a more stringent anti-racist discourse among staff, in order to encourage the official reporting and handling of both verbal and physical forms of racial violence and that an eventual change in legislature is required to protect these groups. For my part, I argue that better educational practices need to be established throughout primary schools, with the conversation being brought into the home as well. The Irish people need to be educated on issues of racism, their psychological and undermining effect in our society. The ENAR further encourages the need for a renewed national action plan to combat racism, and the time for that is now.

Links:

http://enarireland.org/afrophobia-in-ireland-racism-against-people-of-african-descent/

http://enarireland.org/enar-irelands-submission-on-integration-multiculturalism-and-combating-racism/