Content note: this post mentions bi erasure and biphobia. September 23rd is Bi Visibility Day, also called International Celebrate Bisexuality Day. It’s a day to acknowledge and celebrate bisexuality, to centre bi issues and crucially to address bi erasure and biphobia. Why bi visibility? A couple of years ago, before I was out, a college housemate told me about her ‘lesbian’ friend who had recently become pregnant and was living with a man. “I don’t think being bisexual is a thing”, she sniffed. “You’re either straight or you’re gay”. These were the words of, to be fair, a young, naive student, but her views are depressingly common, even among older adults, and not necessarily just straight people. Over the years I’ve heard hurtful myths about bisexuality and bisexual people, from the notion that we’re “sitting on the fence”, too scared to commit to being properly lesbian or gay (ugh), to the idea that if, say, a bi woman is in a relationship with a man, that she is in a heterosexual relationship. According to one particularly ugly myth, that I’ve sadly seen some feminists propagate, bisexual women in particular self-identify as such because we want to be sexually available to men. These myths are damaging, and can make bisexual people feel excluded from the very LGBTQIA+ spaces that should embrace them, aswell as society at large. Bisexual erasure in society is bolstered by media and culture. How often have you heard a character in a show or movie say, “I was gay/lesbian, but now I’m straight,” “I was young, it was just a phase,” or, “I don’t like labels?” There seems to be a pathological aversion to saying the b word. How many times have you seen a bisexual introduced to a show, but whose characterization amounts to a few hackneyed tropes? In 2015, Ireland will vote in a marriage equality referendum. Much as I’m dreading the likes of the Iona Institute being given their legally mandated platform to spew bigoted swill, I’m not jumping for joy at the prospect of bi erasure by both sides of the debate. Bisexual folk are marginalised by Ireland’s laws too, and our erasure from the debate risks reinforcing the myth that we can reap the benefits of this mythical “straight privilege”. What You Can Do To Help Well, first and foremost, you can amplify the voices of bisexual folk, and not just on September 23rd. Don’t assume to speak for bi folk, and assume that bi issues, lesbian and gay issues are one and the same. Those of us in the bi community that are white, cis, of class privilege, etc., need to identify our own privileges and amplify the voices of more marginalised bi folk, and recognise that not all our struggles look the same. Don’t assume that everyone fits into the box of either “heterosexual” or “homosexual”. Don’t buy into the damaging myths. Don’t assume that we’re “confused”, that we will grow out of it eventually, or that we’re doing it for attention. Don’t erase our sexuality by implying that we can revert to being straight when it suits. Finally, for the love of God, straight men, please don’t assume that I’ll want to have a threesome with you and another girl.
Today I watched the All-Ireland Camogie Final between Cork and Kilkenny. It was a fantastic game, with great skill on display from both sides and all the high-octane drama you associate with the sport. A great occasion, all in all, and Cork proved worthy winners in the end. This was, however, no thanks to the media coverage, and RTE’s handling of the event in particular.
I tweeted earlier today, wondering why there’s no Up For The Match programme on the eve of the camogie final. I mean, we all *know* the reason, but does it have to be so? The inevitable retort would probably be something along the lines of, “well, the level of interest isn’t there”, or “the game isn’t high-profile enough”. Sorry, but that’s not good enough. The game isn’t high profile enough, you say-do you see how you could easily remedy that? Give the game the platform it deserves, primetime on RTE. If you say the game just isn’t popular enough, don’t let it become a self-fulfilling prophecy when you can do something to rectify that. RTE is the country’s national broadcaster, and unless I’m sorely mistaken, half of this nation is comprised of women.
However, to my mind the greater insult came just after the match, when RTE cut away to an ad break in the middle of Cork captain Anna Geary’s speech. It was an incredibly careless and dismissive gesture on RTE’s part, and as many people on Twitter mused, it simply would not happen to the captain of the winning hurling or men’s football team.
Women’s sport is going from strength to strength in this country, but the disrespect displayed by the media is incredibly damaging. From trite, sexualized, homophobic articles about women’s rugby to blatant disregard from RTE, women in sport are misrepresented and under-served. What does it say to young girls watching at home when the words of a woman who has reached the pinnacle of excellence in her field are deemed less important than advertising revenue? We need to show young girls that their sporting heroes are worthy of equal esteem and adulation to male sports stars. A small paragraph in the sports pages and one match a year on TV won’t cut it anymore. We need to stop taking asinine excuses for the dismal lack of representation. Women deserve better; young girls in particular deserve better.
Content Note: this post contains some very extreme anti-choice views from certain candidates that may be upsetting.
On October 10th, the voters of Roscommon-South Leitrim will be voting in a by-election to select a replacement for new MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan. I will be contacting all the candidates to ascertain their position on abortion, and more specifically, repealing the eighth amendment.
Why I Am Voting Pro-Choice For me, reproductive rights are non-negotiable. I’ve written before on why we need to repeal the eighth amendment, and many people have put it far more eloquently than me here, here, and here, and there’s a whole playlist of excellent speakers here all making the case for repeal aswell. Simply put, opposition to changing Ireland’s abortion laws is a dealbreaker. Any person who would oppose my right to bodily autonomy and my dignity is not someone I would want as my representative in Dáil Éireann. Luke Flanagan had a fine track record on reproductive rights and other issues, and I would like to elect someone who will continue in this vein. I will be sharing my responses from candidates here as I get them.
Fine Gael-Maura Hopkins–contacted
Fianna Fáil-Ivan Connaughton-contacted
Labour- John Kelly–contacted
Sinn Féin-Martin Kenny-contacted
I’ll be perfectly honest with you, and I’m not going to give you a rehearsed political answer. I don’t believe that as a man I can give you a simple answer on this issue. Naturally if I was a father to be, I would want have that child, under any circumstances. However, I also believe that it is not my place to tell a woman what to do with her body. I wish I could tell you more but this is a very complex issue and one that as a man I am terribly under qualified to answer with a simple for or against.
I’m personally concerned that there is a big attempt being made, now, to overthrow The Eight Amendment to the Constitution,which was passed in 1983, and which recognises the equal rights of the mother and of her unborn baby. Abortion is the deliberate killing of an unborn baby. I’m against the state condoning abortion and enshrining it in law. This applies, also, to babies in the womb who are regarded as being likely to be disabled, those counted as having fatal foetal abnormality etc. Mankind cannot act as God and decide to deliberately take away their lives. A baby conceived through rape is also entitled to be protected. Why should another crime, i.e. murder, be added to the crime of rape. Again, mankind cannot predict the outcome and should not attempt to act as God. Masters of our leading maternity hospitals have put it on public record that they do not see abortion as a solution to the suicidal feelings of an expectant mother – in fact, they argue that, in the end, it will be most destructive to the mother’s health. It is natural that a mother- to-be would wish to have and to hold her baby. Even if that baby is born and lives for a very short while, there is great consolation for the parents if she can hold it, even for a few minutes. On a wider scale, I’m very opposed to the creation of “a culture of death” in Ireland. If it is the unborn that are being deliberately killed today, then it could be the elderly or some ethnic group that will be next. That is not civilised living, but savagery worthy of Hitler.
UPDATE: OK, as you can see, radio silence from all but two candidates on the contact front. I’ve been looking for contact details for Gerry O’Boyle, but he doesn’t seem to have any online presence. However, I found this advertisement on the Life Institute website, and it also featured in some of the local papers:
So, Ivan Connaughton (FF), Des Guckian (Ind) and Gerry O’Boyle (Ind) are anti-choice.
P.S. this little mission is inspired by the efforts of the wonderful @sharrow_ie back in may, see how she got on here!