Be kind, because the glittery post said so

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve probably heard by now that British TV personality, Caroline Flack, ended her life over the weekend.

The discourse that followed was the same as usual, sorrow, anger and expressing shock and horror that someone took their life after relentless and constant harassment over a prolonged period of time. Now, here’s the good part, apparently the solution is to be kind, just be kind everyone. Oh and also, PSA! The media are entirely to blame and no one else, that part is the biggest thing to take from this, so if you’ve ever sent a death threat or harassed someone online, chill out, you’re not “the Media” so you’re the good guy, go you!

Being on social media over the last few days has just been upsetting and frustrating, being messaged about Flack’s suicide has been hard and from a journalism point of view, it’s not news that British tabloids have no integrity.  It’s also not news that celebrities are people too but apparently people outside of the media playing a role in her suicide is news? I have a question, did no one else get the memo about using social media responsibly after Amanda Todd and Phoebe Prince died by suicide? Does anyone remember them? Don’t lie to me, I see you.

Caroline Flack’s death was a shock regardless of who she was, that said, she is not to be absolved of what she did either. Why does someone have to die for it to occur to people that no one is culpable for their actions online and that that is extremely problematic? People never learn, your posts about kindness prove that because you weren’t spouting that crap when she was alive. Take a look at your own life and the people in it and look at your behaviour.

Now, here’s a perspective for you and you’re not going to like it, I just want you to reflect on this for a second and then you can go back to preaching kindness and puppies.

Flack, as I’ve said in a previous post, was a domestic abuser, she was due in court for assaulting her boyfriend with a lamp and he feared for his life which can be heard in a phone call to the police where he says “she’s trying to kill me, mate”. Domestic abuse is not a mistake, get that through your head nice and swiftly because it is a real and dangerous issue in society that often results in both suicide and homicide.

As someone who was emotionally, psychologically and sexually abused by an ex-boyfriend, I have hated every second of the reporting of this case because everyone is calling it “human error”, “a mistake” and not something to give shit for. Domestic abuse ruined my life, I am 22 years old and already, I have lost a huge part of myself that is going to take years to get back. The last two years have been hell, the last year in particular as I have had to accept that I did not leave that relationship unscathed.

On top of that, I have had to deal with vicious and disgusting rumors being spread about me by people who don’t even know me in a personal capacity. Imagine being 20 years old, being confident, fiery and not afraid to challenge yourself while also somewhat managing deep insecurities relatively well. I was ready for anything, I was in a much better head space than other people my age. I had started university, I was in the middle of a campaign that made history in Ireland and for Irish feminism and someone who I thought loved me, respected me and believed in the same things I did, used all of those insecurities against me.

Feeling like you don’t even have ownership over your own mind is torture, you fear every thought that enters it because of the consequences. You feel guilt because your abuser has made you believe it’s your own fault you feel so worthless. Not owning your own body because their need for dominance and gratification is more important than your need to feel safe and to just get some damn sleep.

On top of that, when I finally ended that relationship, I still had to deal with people accusing me of horrible things that go against every cell of my being. I had people stalking my profiles online looking for dirt, oh, good luck with that by the way because years of bullying before you taught me how to post impersonally. I was advised against speaking about this but I don’t care anymore, people are nasty and now’s the time to address that.

There are so many things I can no longer do that made me who I am, for example, activism, real activism, paralyses me with fear. Not hearing back from organisations after I’ve scrounged up the courage to contact them hits me more personally than ever because I don’t know what they’ve heard. What hurts more than anything is that no one told these bullies to stop, no one said it was wrong, no one has had to take responsibility for their actions. I know if I was dead it would be different, it would be talked about and realised and that is so messed up.

No one should have to die for you to realise when to just stop, it should not a take a celebrity death plastered all over the news to see that there’s an issue here. We should not be overlooking one serious issue to place another on a pedestal. We haven’t moved on from medieval methods of shame, we’ve simply moved them online and prolonged them. You can no longer escape a good public shaming, today, they last forever. The legal course of justice isn’t enough so others compromise it as they try to deliver their own justice, which is just self serving really.

What’s not being talked about is that we endorse and defend these bad people every single day, we do it because it’s easier than taking responsibility for our part in this. We don’t defend our friends when we hear vile things, we don’t acknowledge wrong doing until something like this happens that can’t be ignored. It will always take death to put things into perspective and that’s why we won’t ever get there, that’s why this kind of discourse is pointless. People don’t learn, they forget and then they remember and then they forget again.

“Performed” misandry goes too far when we fail to believe men

Gender-based violence is a prevalent topic in feminism and a lot has been done to shed light on the issue. When looking at an issue like domestic violence from a feminist perspective, it is quite a harrowing and a deeply engrained part of traditional heteronormative relationships. Nowadays, we know its forms, we know it’s common and most of us have (hopefully) reached the conclusion that it is not okay. Approximately three in five women will find themselves in an abusive relationship at some point in their lives, a scary statistic to know and be a part of.

The abuse women suffer takes the form of emotional, psychological and sexual control and manipulation as well as physical violence. Not all are fully recognised on their own, emotional abuse was not recognised in Irish law until a year ago. However, progress in the form of women’s shelters, counselling services, charities and simply speaking up about personal experiences has really helped us move forward as a society. We now know more about how to help those we know and love through times like this but there is still so much more to be done both socially and constitutionally.

So, we’ve talked about women but the statistics for male victims of domestic abuse appear to be very much the same as those recorded for women. According to Parity, a men’s rights campaign group, over forty per cent of domestic violence victims are men. In my own experience of speaking to male friends, many know someone who has been abused or have been abused themselves. This is almost the same as my female friends, however, unlike them, men don’t know about any of the resources and support available to them. Men’s sheds and other support groups do exist but information on and promotion of these organisations is nowhere near where it should be.

The case that prompted this post is that of Caroline Flack, a television personality who is due in court for assaulting her partner with a lamp. Coverage of this incident and the response to it has in many ways been distasteful and insensitive, to say the least. Over the years we have all seen cases where men are victims, this isn’t new. A Jeremy Kyle episode that aired in 2015 featured a man called Geoff who was beaten and verbally abused by his girlfriend.

During the show, Geoff, a father of two, told the television host and a live studio audience about a time he was locked and ultimately trapped in a flat by his girlfriend. After he broke the handle of the door as he desperately tried to get out he was then forced to jump off of a three storey high balcony to escape. In response hearing this, the audience laughed at him, people found it funny until Jeremy Kyle pointed out that had it been a woman, that would not have been the case.

An article written in the Daily Mail at the time portrayed the show in a sympathetic way in favour of Geoff and yet five years later, another article is talking about how refreshed Caroline Flack seems after her holiday did her “the world of good”. The woman assaulted her boyfriend, he is quoted telling the police during his call “she’s trying to kill me mate”, how sick do you have to be to look the other way at this? I don’t care about the adidas tracksuit Flack has donned, the only outfit I care about her wearing is an orange jumpsuit.

It is not a disservice to the feminist movement if we shed light on ALL victims of domestic violence. These cases do not disregard the experiences of millions of women worldwide and these men deserve the same compassion and support. When you’ve been abused, it is much easier to have empathy, woman, other or child, our hearts should break the same way for them. Abuse is abuse and it is not something to laugh at when it’s directed at a man, that is not progress, it’s just sick.

Abusing men is not empowering, it is not taking back control, it is inflicting all of the pain and suffering you know too well onto someone who did not do that to you. When you have been abused, you do not abuse, you love, respect and protect the person you’re with. You ensure that those around you never feel how you did and never experience the pain and fear you did. You do not get to use your gender as a literal get out of jail free card when you consciously inflict any form of pain and suffering on your partner. When you decide you’re a feminist, you are not signing up for double standards. You are promising to be better and do better and to be aware of how patriarchy affects us all, without exceptions.,

 

One nineteen year old’s guide to a positive outlook as a negative crank

Reader, 

I wrote the following post when I was nineteen years old and struggling with what I didn’t realise was anxiety (yay for hindsight!). I never posted it because I hated it, I had and still have, little to no confidence in my capabilities as a writer. When I consider the fact that I wish to pursue a career in journalism, I am aware of the silliness.

I have not touched a syllable below, I want you to read it as I have written it. It is only by chance that I happened to open this untitled draft and the timing could not have been more perfect. I don’t have a lot of positive things to say about the person I was at this time, however,at twenty-two, I needed to read her words at this time in my life. She might get where you’re at, you might think she’s just a rambler, either way, happy reading.

I’d be lying if I said since leaving school that the plans I made at fourteen years old all came true and that I was living by the structure I had created in my mind in order to distract myself from the yelling and confusion in the classroom.  I’d be telling even bigger lies if I said that the last two years have gone smoothly, no sleepless nights, no crying myself to sleep and no letting everything build up to the point that I cannot function. Nonetheless, I’d be a liar if I told you I was unhappy.

I learned at a young age that life itself is hard work, it’s unpredictable and no matter how hard you work, how kind you are, how selfless your acts, things go horribly wrong and there are people who quite frankly could not give so much as a f*ck about your troubles. I see an awful lot of people on my social networking sites who mope and groan about how shitty their lives are and how broken and numb they are inside, my question to these people is, okay, life is shit a lot of the time but why the surprise? Who told you it was easy? Find whoever told you and give them a slap and then proceed to grow a pair of balls be it girl balls or boy balls, just grow a pair.

I think we underestimate how challenging life itself is and the shock blinds us from all that is good and important in our lives. I stress about college and relationships and do what I have always done which is bottle things up until that cap pops off and I become a big fat mess. The last time this happened was about seven months ago, I retreated to the bathroom and the sobbed in a cubicle for half an hour. Not my best moment in case I didn’t make that clear. A friend of mine came in and told me how pointless it was, to cry about something I couldn’t change, to build up this big scary scenario in my head that had not happened and then she reminded me what day it was, falling apart was not on the schedule, Rockin’ Joe’s however, was.

Of course we all have our down days and sometimes, there’s no way of rescheduling those but sometimes we have a choice, to power through or simply retreat and be counterproductive. We’re all guilty of it but I think we often forget that there is so much to do and so many reasons to not be upset. I like to think that I look at life as a realist though I do firmly believe that bad things can lead to better things and the only person stopping these better things from coming along is you. You have so much to offer, I know you’re probably thinking,

“Like what? A degree in something that is no longer a profession?”

“A more cynical outlook on the world than everyone else?”

“An Arts degree?”

“What does a secondary school dropout have to offer?”

“I’m too depressed to leave my fucking house, not much I can do from the confines of my room?”

Whatever you’re thinking, you’re overlooking the question and clinging to the insides of your box. Change and contributions that lead to change don’t always have to do with academics, something as simple as not being an asshole to someone or offering help to someone, anyone you see that needs it. For example, someone drops their keys on the street or seeing a stressed out cashier in a shop and telling a light-hearted joke and wishing them luck with the rest of their day. It doesn’t have to be big and it certainly doesn’t have to go viral.

There are changes that people can make and changes that we have to rely on governments to make, one workload is not lighter than the other but criticism and reminders here and there aren’t a bad thing. We all need to look at where we’re going and why we have chosen the paths that we have, do we want to? Do we have to? Any idea where this is all going? Does knowing matter?

It’s hard to take the time to just stop and look around and it’s pretty disorienting when you do, you see things and pick up on behaviours that are weird, like no one in an elevator wanting to strike up conversation for fear of seeming odd or overly interested, pretending to be on our phones to avoid socialising or having a chronically short attention span because screens are better than people because of the quantities of people that can be reached.

I always worried about not finding anything real or meaningful in such a filtered world where the only sounds are the keys on a keyboard changing pace depending on the subject and the occasional grunt with a thousand meanings. It’s so lonely offline these days and we can’t differentiate between the online world and the real world, we can’t process anything like we should be able to do and we don’t really talk to one another anymore.

 

What it truly means to be a bitch

I’ve said in previous posts that I haven’t written in some time, there are large gaps between posts and though life is hectic, it’s not too hectic to write. I have been writing or at least trying to, there are currently twenty nine drafts on my blog that I haven’t posted. I just can’t bring myself to do so.

So why haven’t I been writing? Well, to tell you the truth, I lost the part of myself that I needed to write, I lost my motivation, my spark and felt ashamed of my passion, my drive and who I am.

I have reached a point where it’s time I started to accept who I am, I cannot continue if I don’t. I have allowed this to eat me up and make me hate myself. I don’t allow myself to celebrate the good things I have achieved or about who I am because to do so is to have an ego and in my mind I have no right to have one. I cannot cope when someone tells me I’ve done something good, I can’t accept that anyone would admire me or anything I’ve done, it feels wrong, it feels undeserved.

Why am I like this?

I am a strong feminist, right? I fight for what I believe is right, don’t I? I am secure, strong willed and don’t take any bullshit, right?

No, yes, but no.

In a world where low self esteem is usually associated with being insecure about one’s looks or social status, we forget that it is possible to feel insecure about one’s own character. For me, it’s often been more than just insecurity, it’s been hatred, I have, throughout my later childhood years and all the way through adolescence, hated myself. I started being angry at myself for the bullying I endured from a very young age, if only I was normal, if only I just stayed quiet and in the background. I blamed myself for not being pretty enough to not be called ugly, I blamed myself for not having perfect eyesight and for being called ‘four eyes’ or ‘nerd’. I blamed myself for being so talkative that others had to tell me I was weird and boring and I blamed myself for not being liked by those people. I wanted so badly to be liked, to be included but I didn’t want to lose myself.

The first time someone ever told me I was bossy, I was six years old and had stood up for myself after being excluded from a game in the schoolyard. The first time someone called me a bitch, I was nine years old and it was another girl who said it. Interestingly, as I look back on experiences like that, it was mostly other girls who bullied me, this perpetual, internalised misogyny has had a far greater affect on me than anything any man has ever done to me.

I have tried so hard to run away from who I am, I have tried to make myself become someone else, I have been nastier to myself than anyone else ever could be because hey at least I knew I was a worthless fuck up before you did. I have tried to run away from being a bitch, but I’m exhausted and I’m putting my foot down, I’m not doing that anymore.

I watched a Ted Talk the other night by a woman called Tabatha Coffey, a hairdresser who had taken part in a tv show and subsequently found herself being called “that bitch from tv” by a stranger while shoe shopping. As I watched I felt like I was looking in a mirror, I cried and I wondered how many more of us felt like this, how many more of us felt like our tenacity and our natural leadership skills were things to be ashamed of? How many of us felt paralysed by it and how many of us were made feel like this by other women? The answer, all of us. In the feminist movement, why does it feel like there’s no room for bitches like us? What can’t we contribute?

I don’t think anybody really considers the long term affects this can have on a person, I can speak for myself though and I can tell you straight up, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. As I’ve mentioned previously, I have struggled with who I am, I have hated myself and I am still struggling. I have felt hated, I have felt like every single bad thing, big or small was deserved. I even stayed in an emotionally abusive relationship a lot longer than I should have because I felt I deserved it and that maybe I needed to be more submissive because freedom and consent were different in relationships and I had to stop being defensive and fighting it.

All this time I hadn’t been begging for freedom, I had been begging for permission. You do not beg for permission to do anything in a relationship, you do not beg for choice, you do not beg to have your boundaries respected. You do not deserve that and you do not stay, you walk out that door with your head held high and it takes a bitch to do exactly that.

When I think of all the women before me and all of the women after me who have and will experience this, with friends, family and relationships, it breaks my heart. We stay because we think we deserve it, we think we need to be taken down a peg or two. I have been knocking myself down for so long, I can’t do it anymore and I won’t.

What kind of generation of feminists are we raising while we simultaneously sling mud at each other? How will feminism survive if we destroy our strongest entities and quench the fires that have kept us going for so long? How can a generation of women who feel worthless, destructive and insufferable possibly find it in themselves to keep going as passive aggression and the slacktivist movement prevail?

Have we forgotten the bitches who fought for our right to vote? What about the bitches who demanded contraception for all? The bitches who believe you and the bitches who go out and fight for your right to bodily autonomy and right to equal opportunity?

To many people, I may be intense, I may be abrasive, I may be bossy and I may very well be aggressive and loud. Out of curiosity, what do we call men with these qualities? We call them leaders, we call them go getters, we call them CEOs, we call them worthy. Are those the male equivalents to bitch? What is the male equivalent?

There is no male equivalent to bossy, there is no male equivalent to slut, there is no male equivalent to shrill and there is no male equivalent to bitch.

That awkward moment when inanimate objects are heard more than women

Let’s be honest, if you’re one of those people who finds themselves telling those around them that victim blaming isn’t a thing, you’re full of shit. After the Belfast trial, the derogatory language used against the victim,  Brock Turner’s pitiful sentence and Brett Kavanaugh, not to mention our general attitudes to people we know who have done the unspeakable. Why are we so focused on the victim and why is it, that for women who are victims of rape, a certain amount of responsibility falls on them, making it okay to traumatise them further in court? Does this happen in any other crime where bodily harm has occurred? No, it doesn’t, so why in this instance?

A story broke recently about a thong being used as evidence in a rape trial, a thong I might add, whose owner is a seventeen year old girl. Now, the rant about women’s clothing and the function of certain pieces of women’s clothing could potentially find its way in here but it is perfectly relevant. Thongs can’t speak and even if they could, I’m pretty sure raping their wearer isn’t something they’d request. What I find myself asking these days is, why are we so fixated on what women and teenage girls are wearing but children and men are not interrogated about their attire at all, why is that?

In the case of children, it is just horrifying that someone would even consider doing such a thing, but rape, regardless of its victim is a heinous act and we should be equally as horrified when it happens to adults. Men can be attractive when wearing certain things too, they can be sexually attractive on the basis of their attire yet in the event that they are raped they are never asked about what they were wearing. That said, I understand that the majority of rapes committed against men also go unreported but when they are reported, at what point does what they were wearing when they were attacked come into question?

A thong is not a reason to violate someone and how did the rapist know she was wearing one? As he began to violate her? So the thong is irrelevant. Thongs are worn, I might add, for a number of reasons, not all to do with sex but also the following;

  • Skinny jeans, thongs don’t result in your underwear lining being shown.
  • Pencil skirts, fitted and unforgiving so thongs are best because the outline won’t show.
  • Yes, they can be sexy and in a world where women are under relentless pressure to look “perfect”, sometimes it’s nice to wear sexy underwear for yourself to feel better on days when you’re not feeling so confident and it’s not just thongs. Women know that feeling when your underwear matches and for a moment it feels like you’ve got your shit together, don’t you dare even begin to deny it.
  • Consensual bedroom activities where one wants to look nice for their partner, who they have chosen to have sex with, consciously and willingly.

As a now and then thong wearer, I can honestly say that I have never worn them in the hopes that someone would take advantage of me, violate me and use the type of underwear I happened to be wearing as a defence in court. If she had been wearing underwear that covered her more, would he have stopped there? Somehow, I doubt that, granny panties would not have prevented him from raping her, after all this isn’t based on attraction and sex, this about asserting dominance over another person. Fixating on the mistakes the victim supposedly made makes the rapist more confident and the fact that even when convicted, how many rapists have actually served a full sentence? None, unless you count the ones that were convicted of murder.

You might be thinking “ah sure,they’re calling for reform now though..” yeah the chief executive of a rape crisis centre is going to do that because you know, they help victims, victims that we as a society are failing, every single day. The chief executive of an organisation that is trying to pick up the pieces of a person’s life that you fail to acknowledge and try to reform a messed up justice system. When are we going to value a person’s life and right to bodily autonomy over a monster’s athletic ability? Anyone have anything they’d like to ask the rapist? You know, the one on trial?

As a college student I have seen many sides and attitudes to this issue, people whose blood boils at the thought of such a thing, people who question out of control alcohol consumption, people who question provocative clothing and people who vandalise posters about consent and troll anyone who dares to demand that things change be it online or on campus. There is a lot of apathy on campuses, many feel targeted by consent classes and the focus any other aspect of a rape case that isn’t a woman’s underwear.

Why can’t we acknowledge that this is an issue? Why are people so hateful towards those trying to tackle it? Is it the lack of culpability online or the desensitised group mentality that’s to blame? Are we completely disconnected from this? It sure seems that way. The idea of the dodgy guy in the alley only further distances us from an issue that in reality is so much closer to home than we realise. People are sexually harassed and assaulted in high numbers every day, women walking alone have developed strategies to protect themselves and hide themselves in plain sight. Why are we not talking about this? Why do we keep postponing the conversation? Because it’s hard? Who told you anything in life was gotten easily?

We can’t shy away from challenging topics like this, not something so awful and life altering. We also can’t deny that feminism is needed, if a little girl’s night gown isn’t asking for it then neither is that of an adult woman.

Consent does not begin at the first glimpse of her underwear, it starts before the first button on her jeans becomes undone, it starts before a hand finds its way there, before the first kiss, before even leaning in. Consent starts with both parties actively acknowledging where this is going and of course, both are conscious and fully aware. Especially that last one, in case you didn’t know that..

Ireland’s 8th deadly sin

I haven’t posted in awhile, to those of you who read my posts and enjoy them, I want to say thank you, I started my blog a little over a year ago now and the response has been very surprising in the best way possible. I have received some genuinely lovely messages from people about my posts and it has really helped me feel a lot less self conscious and encouraged me to be more open, so thank you! I hope you stick around for more!

I have written and rewritten this post so many times in an effort to make it perfect, it didn’t help that my end goal was to completely change a person’s way of thinking. I know not everyone is going to agree with me and that’s fine, you don’t have to agree but I hope this makes you think.

The Eighth Amendment is currently one of the most controversial human rights topics to date and no one seems to be budging when it comes to their personal opinions about it. This is my opinion, I cannot speak for every single woman in this country or outline every single scenario that women in Ireland are facing with unplanned/crisis pregnancies but I want to shed some light on the other areas of the Eighth amendment that seem to be ‘No Man’s Land’ in this debacle.

Let’s start with bodily autonomy, for those of you who do not know what this actually means it refers to having self governance over one’s own body which, to put simply, means that your body is your own to do with as you see fit and your body cannot be used to support or save a life. You should have full control over your own body, it is a fundamental human right but governments around the world seem to hold very different views which for many, is infuriating and honestly, quite scary.

The subject of bodily autonomy is frequently brought up in discussions about the Eighth but it is starting to bore people. It’s a sad reality that this kind of rhetoric becomes ‘overused’ I know that it’s important to mention and it is the foundation of this very issue but let’s touch on some other subjects too that relate to bodily autonomy. The Eighth Amendment is very vague in its entirety, many would argue that it’s crystal clear but if it were then those infamous court cases regarding Ms Y and the X case may not have happened. I will leave links below this post that explain both cases and how they came to be. Then, we have Savita Halappanavar who died due to complications in the later stages of her pregnancy. Another story that has also become tired rhetoric but is an important example as it should have sparked major change in Ireland, it should have lead to changes that would prevent even more women from dying but unfortunately it was swept under the rug.

Anomaly scans are not often talked about which I find surprising as they are one of the most vital scans a pregnant woman can have. The scan is an essential one for detecting fatal abnormalities the fetus may have, this scan is only available to private patients which is absurd as I believe every pregnant woman should be able to access this scan. As well as this, we have the Irish maternity boards, why them you ask? Well, there are priests on maternity boards in this country, as far as I know, science and religion don’t exactly get along so why are members of the Catholic Church (who have harmed women and children in the past in some of the most heinous and barbaric ways possible) allowed to sit on these boards?

As a woman, I have to admit that this scares me, not having reproductive rights scares me. I could riddle this post with all kinds of facts but all of the information is already out there and I have a few articles I want to share with you that are at the bottom of this post. I want to tell you about how the Eighth has affected me, it affects all of us and not in a positive way whether you’re aware of it or not.

When I was eighteen years old I had a pregnancy scare, my period was a month late which had never happened before and despite being on the pill at the time I was still paranoid. I was very sick which meant that I couldn’t leave the house to get a pregnancy test, I was too ill to walk around for too long so leaving my house just wasn’t physically possible. I was afraid to tell my mom, stupid really because she’s very open minded and pro choice and would have helped me in whatever she could. I was afraid because I felt stupid and at fault, like I should never have done it which is ridiculous because I am a very responsible person and contraception is not 100% effective, it takes two to tango they say, so why is it all on me?

In my panicked state I started researching abortion, I started looking at clinics in the UK and what procedure I may possibly have to undergo, the abortion pill was the way I would have to go as I thought if I was pregnant that I was around six weeks which meant that in two weeks time I would have had to undergo a more invasive procedure. The starting price was around two or three hundred euros which if you include flights and accommodation is very expensive and I had no clue how to be able to afford it. I went with plan B which was to miscarry, I started looking up what pregnant women should avoid in order not to miscarry, drinking alcohol, eating certain types of fish and vegetables and high levels of stress were all doable as it was around Christmas time and no one would have noticed.

My mind was racing and the more logical side of me argued that I was on different anti biotics and my body was fairly weak so because of the state I was in I would miscarry anyway or I wasn’t pregnant to begin with as period loss happens if you’re very sick. Nonetheless, I did everything I could to miscarry. I put my health at risk because I was scared, I have never wanted kids, I know that may change but right now I do not want to be a parent. The idea of not going to University or having a career as a journalist crushed me and I should not have felt as alone and as helpless as I did, the fact that many women and girls feel this way is a horrible reality in Ireland.

I was lucky enough to have not actually been pregnant and I cried with joy when I got my period, I didn’t tell anyone about it for about four months and when I told my mom about it (two years later, a month ago actually) she was shocked that I hadn’t told her before. The Irish people need to start talking about sex and reproduction properly, young people are going to have sex whether they are educated about it or not so it is important that we’re all more honest with each other because sex being a taboo subject is the biggest load of bullshit. Everyone has sex, since the beginning of the human race we’ve been at it, it’s the most natural thing we do and though this may be hard to believe, contraception and abortion have also been around for centuries.

When Pro Life (I don’t think they should be allowed to call themselves that, it’s very misleading) start to actually campaign for better maternity care and come up with an actual alternative to abortion, I will listen. However, that won’t happen, saving lives is not their concern, if it were, the Eighth would have been replaced long ago. Abortion occurs whether we’re aware of it or not. There comes a point where one must ask themselves, do you want abortion to be illegal in Ireland and have women performing their own abortions at home, possibly harming or killing themselves in the process or would you rather have legal, safe abortion services that women can access safely without putting their lives at risk? Those are the only two options we have right now, no matter what anyone says, those are the only options we have.

We need to be honest and we need to change our attitudes about this, when a corpse has more rights than a live pregnant woman something is seriously wrong and it has to change. Whatever your stance is on the Eighth Amendment, it cannot stay as it is, it just can’t, it’s dangerous and ignorant to think that anyone is protected under that amendment. Its existence and the damage it has done makes me ashamed to be Irish, we fought for our freedom for centuries and Irish women have to fight for their lives in a first world country. I will not die for the beliefs of a person I don’t know or agree with, I will not be punished for being a human being. Parenthood is not a life sentence that I wish to serve so do not force me to do so.

Mentioned cases and extra information:

http://www.irishexaminer.com/viewpoints/analysis/x-case-and-the-letter-of-the-law-184761.html

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/solicitor-claims-religious-influence-in-ms-y-baby-case-35666670.html

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/savita-halappanavar-medical-negligence-case-to-proceed-1.2412074

https://www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/youre-pregnant-now-what/stages-pregnancy

womenonweb.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wear red lipstick, eat your veggies and don’t let other women give you sh*t for it

Before someone tells me I’m conforming, that I need to check my privilege or that I’m doing the patriarchy a great service, hear me out.

Feminism, the dirty ‘f’ word, taught me to have confidence in myself as a woman. I actually needed to be taught how to be confident in being a woman despite not choosing to be born with this gender, don’t get me wrong I’m not unhappy with my gender, I love it! I’m not however, too fond of the bitchiness and shade thrown at women who like to look and dress feminine. Remember, no matter how much makeup I wear or if I’ve put effort into styling my hair, I am still tough, I am still capable and I’m just as outspoken and intelligent.

I think that the women of my generation, millennials in general, though revolutionary in thought and action, miss the point a lot of the time. Introducing new concepts and encouraging diversity doesn’t necessarily mean that we need to tear down stereotypical femininity, it doesn’t mean that women who focus on their appearance and have a beauty regime are conforming.

A lot of things that women are nowadays associated with were initially for men, high heels were worn by butchers, pole dancing was a male industry and makeup served a practical purpose in ancient Egypt. Knowing this, I think it’s so cool that women over the years have taken these things and made them their own, our ancestors made these things feminine and it’s amazing.

I think when it comes to these fairly unimportant insignificant little things, the whole point is choice, you don’t have to wear dresses or heels or wear makeup but the option is there for everyone and there’s no harm in it, so stop whining.

Another thing that bothers me are women, who I have encountered my fair share of in my short life, who think they are better than other women for being tomboys, you may literally be wearing the pants but so what? I’m still as smart as you and I am still my own person, I don’t need to explain myself to you, I don’t judge you for having short hair or going makeup free, I don’t give a shit, you’re doing you, that’s cool but don’t diss me or belittle me because I like my skirts and blouses.

There was a time when I despised skirts and dresses, throughout my teens I just wasn’t all that comfortable, I got more into them as I got older and now I love them and feel super comfortable in them. They’re a fashion piece,they won’t tell you what how high my IQ is or how capable I may or may not be of kicking your ass.

The point is not that women should try too hard or even need to try to make an effort, everyone has to make an effort, man or woman so whatever that means to you, I can guarantee it means something completely different to someone else.

 

More than a body?

It seems we’ve reached a point where looks trump everything else, especially when it comes to women. Body image is probably the most talked about subject matter and it affects young people today negatively. Body “positivity” is doing very little to make things easier in this area for everyone.

The biggest issue I have with this topic is the fact that those who push it also argue that what our bodies look like does not matter. If it doesn’t matter then why are you obsessing over it?

For anyone who wants to pinpoint the exact flaws within the “Feminist” movement, you just have to look at the section on body positivity. This embodies the same tactics in relation to one party being shamed to build up another. It would seem that the only other thing “feminists” hate as much as men are thin women. Misandry and misogyny are the two key issues that this movement has unintentionally highlighted within itself.

The movements surrounding “body positivity” do nothing to improve standards of mental and physical health in men and women. In fact, they shame thin women and instill and encourage the need for validation, the very thing that should be stamped out. “Plus size” women need to be validated in order to push the view that ‘fat is beautiful’.

As a teenager, it wasn’t the magazines or billboards that prompted my insecurities. It was everyone around me constantly talking about it.

Having such negative views of myself really affected me and my relationships with those around me. I couldn’t stand in for photos, I wore baggy clothes and sports bras because I thought my boobs were too big. I even ended a relationship when I was sixteen because I saw it going down a path that would end in sex. I couldn’t even look at my own body without feeling sick so the thought of anyone else seeing it made me scared and upset.

I could have had a peaceful time during my teens if body image wasn’t up for discussion. I was aware of the changes that were occurring but I didn’t realise that we had to talk about them as though they were the only things that mattered and defined us as people.  My body does not define me, it does not speak for my achievements and I would rather be judged based on who I am and what I can do than my shape and size. I don’t want to talk about it, there is no point in doing so.

The idea is this, women are not objects. We are living, breathing individuals with minds of our own. We have visions and goals we want to come true just like our male counterparts. Gender does not have any major impact on your ability to do your job and achieve great things, your drive does. I am not my body, my body belongs to me and I am the soul that inhabits it, I am what is driving it. I am not an object, I am a young woman with a voice, with ideas. I am passionate, I am capable and I am intelligent. I am as good as any man on this planet and I do not thrive on validation I receive for how my body looks.

I gave up on trying to be ‘beautiful’ a while ago, I want to be something else, I want something that I can carry until my last breath. So, if you can’t be so much as pretty, be something else. If you are pretty, be something as well as that.

Third wave feminism is a sinking ship

Since my mid teens I have been a feminist, a seemingly rare type of feminist who believes that men and women are equals and my gender cannot stop me from reaching  my goals and pursuing my dreams. I don’t believe I should follow any particular stereotype just because such stereotypes exist and because of feminism, I don’t have to, I can go about living my life as I see fit just like my male counterparts.

However, feminism has unfortunately been destroyed by fools who believe that their right to resemble the gorilla playing the drums on the Cadbury’s ad should be represented by a political movement. My fellow ladies, grow it out and by all means walk around with your arms in the air but don’t you dare do it in the name of feminism.

I came across this status on Facebook posted by Rob Dyke over a year ago and saved it even though at the time I was still hopeful, this movement could possibly be saved, but now, I realise how right he is;

“Feminism in itself is a good thing. It’s much needed movement internationally. However, as it applies in America, feminism is a small ship within a sea of radical ideologies. A small ship full of holes. Real feminists (the good ones) are shovelling out the water, when in reality, that’s not going to do anything. They need to separate from the sea and find a more sturdy ship–one without holes and idiotic passengers who have no idea how to handle sharp objects.”

Trying to save feminism is like trying to resuscitate someone who has had their head blown off..

He goes on to say.

“America has partnered good old fashioned feminism with man-hating lesbianism, and it has poisoned the well. Now, legit feminists struggle to remain valid within a country full of radical buffoons who prioritize free bleeding and armpit hair. The symbol of feminism has quite literally become a hairy armpit. While in places like the Middle East, feminism is about making your own decisions–not being forced into marriage–not having to cover up or consult a man on everything. The right to live.”

The thing is, the western world has more or less completely separated itself from this way of living. When you apply the type of feminism the Middle East need to the Western world, it doesn’t work, because we already have much more freedom and respect than they do. The Western world must focus on tidying up loose ends, in comparison to the Middle East that is all we need to do. Third wave feminism has also started to become anti-femininity in trying to show women that they do not have to be a certain way things like wearing makeup, working out to stay slim and healthy and being interested in fashion are frowned upon, shaving/waxing your body hair is seen as conforming to unrealistic standards of beauty when in actual fact all of these things come down to personal preference, if you don’t like it, don’t slam the woman beside you for doing so.

Rob Dyke finishes by adding;

“America has become so pompous and so entitled that we have people claiming that even if a SOBER woman requests sex from a man, who she has sex with, and cuddles with afterwards, it could STILL be rape because men have programmed women’s brains.

So, yes, American feminism is a sinking ship and should be abandoned. Egalitarianism should be embraced above all other things. But the word “feminism” has been written off and blacklisted because too many actual feminists have allowed the seed of radicalism on their ship.”

It is a shame to see such an important movement ripped to shreds by the very people who need it most and are responsible for helping this movement to grow and make a positive difference. The majority who have used feminism to disguise their contempt for men have made a mockery of the minority who have worked long and hard to establish gender equality. There are incredible people in this world who for awhile made it seem as though feminism was flourishing and benefiting everyone, these are the people who should be in the majority and should be heard. Anna Serner, head of the Swedish Film Institute and Dr Rosemary Day are personal favourites of mine who I have had the privilege of meeting and listening to during a seminar on tackling gender inequality in the film industry in March earlier this year.

A few months ago, I wrote an article for the Limerick Post about gender inequality in the film industry. I conducted an interview with the head of the Media and Communications Studies Department at Mary Immaculate College as part of my research for the article. During the interview, Dr Rosemary Day said something that has stayed with me since then that summed up feminism perfectly. She said, “Men seem to crowd the space so what we’re looking for are ways for women to get in to share that space.” Though she may have been saying this in relation to the film industry, I believe it is relevant to feminism in every way.

 

 

Harambe and the internet mob of justice

I know you were probably hoping to have a gorilla free day on social media and I apologise for making that impossible for you, but I’d like to get my two cents in whether or not anyone is actually listening (or in this case, interested in reading).

“The internet mob determines the severity of a crime based on subjective factors, such as how unlikeable they find the alleged criminal to be, how likeable they find the victim, and the degree to which the alleged crime fits into their preconceived beliefs,” writes Max Fisher of the New York Times.”You’ll notice that most of these trace back not to the crime’s impact on society, but rather the degree to which punishing the crime will feel good for the punishers.”

We’ve all seen the footage captured at the Cincinnati zoo where a four year old boy found his way (whether he slipped and fell or intentionally landed himself in there is unclear) into an enclosure where seventeen year old Harambe, a Silverback gorilla was on display. Fearing for the child’s safety as Harambe began dragging the child to another part of the enclosure, zoo officials shot Harambe, killing him.

Considering that silverback gorillas are endangered, obviously there was uproar and there seems to be conflicting information given by “experts” being interviewed in the States. Some claiming he was protecting the child while others were claiming that Harambe was going to kill the boy. I don’t know about you, but I find it pretty sketchy how people who are supposedly experienced in dealing with gorillas could have such conflicting views on the matter, surely they would all be saying the same thing.

The explanation which cleared this whole thing up for me was given by former zoo keeper Amanda O’Donoughue who gave some very helpful insight into why killing Harambe was necessary for the safety of the child. O’Donoghue outlined in a status that has since gone viral that despite gorillas being considered “gentle giants” they are Class 1 mammals and due to their strength, they are considered to be very dangerous. Even if Harambe did not intend to kill the child his weight (450lbs) and strength (ten times stronger than humans) would have meant that the risk of him accidentally injuring or killing the child was quite high and tranquilisers would have caused him great distress increasing the chances of the boy losing his life. As difficult as this story was for animal lovers like myself to watch unfold, I have to admit that when it came down to it there was very little else that could’ve been done without putting the child in an even more dangerous position.

Conflicting stories of the events that occurred on that day in Cincinnati zoo have left everyone on social media divided on who should be held accountable and whether or not anything else could have been done by zoo officials to rescue the boy without killing Harambe. This division has been made worse by inconsistencies in accounts given by news reporters and gorilla experts and the mother of the child has come under fire on social media for negligence. Michelle Gregg posted a status on her Facebook page thanking God that her child was safe and that because she had other children with her, her son managed to slink off without her knowledge. In this case, we are talking about either one teeny tiny four year old who has no problems fitting through small gaps in barriers or just poorly constructed barriers around the enclosure, no one knows for sure how the child got into the enclosure but the point is that he did.

Gregg has been harshly criticised for her Facebook post because she did not appear apologetic for what happened nor did she mention the death of Harambe. A few journalists and bloggers who are also parents have since jumped to her defence saying that these things happen and you only have to look away for a split second and things can go horribly wrong.

I think what this angry internet mob seems to have forgotten is that children are curious beings who seldom make clever decisions. One of my nephews once pulled a hot cup of tea on himself because he was toddling around the kitchen checking out what was on the work tops. It was an incredibly scary ordeal as he was seriously hurt but it didn’t happen because my sister is a bad parent, it was a freak accident that no one could have prevented because it was so sudden and none of us realised just how tall this kid actually was at the time, he’s fine now with a small scar on his chest left from the incident, a similar thing happened to my dad, not because of negligence but because children are unpredictable and do things suddenly. I used to babysit a little boy who decided to prove that his nerf gun wasn’t loaded by aiming the gun at his crotch. It was loaded, a float and Daddy Daycare later he was grand, did this happen because I was a terrible babysitter? No, it happened before I could react, it took a split second for him to pull the trigger.

We all have memories of scary things that happened when we were children, most of these events happened because we were curious or bored, not everything a child does can be blamed on the parents, these things just happen and there is no straightforward reason why. I feel sorry for the mother given that those taking the moral high ground have ironically decided that she is in need of a brutal telling off followed by death threats. This is not the first time something like this has happened and it won’t be the last. Is this really how we are choosing to handle these situations? All parties have a certain amount of responsibility to take for what happened, pinning the blame on someone simply because it is easy to make them look like the bad guy is in no way productive and makes the situation worse for everyone involved.