On RTE’s Disrespect and the Camogie Final

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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.

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An International Women’s Day Wishlist #IWD14

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I haven’t blogged in a while, mostly because I’ve been busy with my postgrad. In fact, that’s what I should  be working on now. Anyway, let’s make this (non-exhaustive) thing short and snappy.

  • Repeal the fucking Eighth Amendment already.
  • Scrap section 37.
  • I never, EVER want to see another male abuser of women or girls escape a jail sentence because he could produce a wad of notes to wave in the judge’s face.
  • In an addition to the above, I never wish to hear the words “He was from an upstanding family”, “pillar of the community” or any other qualifiers like that coming from the mouth of a judge in relation to a rapist or an abuser.
  • I want to see rape culture dismantled. I want zero tolerance on rape jokes. I never want to hear about a rape victims clothing, sex life or previous boyfriends. IT IS NOT RELEVANT.
  • I want contraception to be freely accessible.
  • I want to see kyriarchy dismantled. I’m not here for Lean-In, corporate, book-deal feminism that only lets white, cis, wealthy, well-connected women swap places with men at the top of the pile.
  • I want to see an end to white supremacist feminism.
  • I want transphobia and whorephobia to have absolutely no place in feminism and society in general.
  • I want to see an end to ableism.
  • I want the Magdalene survivors to get justice in their lifetime.
  • I want so-called feminist organisations to stop oppressing my sisters who do sex work. Using state violence to deprive women of a living is not my feminism.
  • I want reproductive justice.

Those are just a few thoughts that immediately spring to mind, this list is far from exhaustive, as I said. I hope all my sisters have a wonderful, peaceful and happy international women’s day.

The Year in Misogyny (Irish Edition)

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Content note: rape, violence against women, anti-choice rhetoric, misogyny

It’s that time of year when we’re all casting our minds back over the last 12 months and reflecting on the highs and lows, and what we’ve learned as we’ve gone along. I’ve been looking back at my bookmarks, blog posts and tumblr scribblings and have been struck by how depressingly far Irish society still has to go in terms of achieving equality. Here are (in no particular order) some examples of the misogyny that made women fume this year.

The Slane Girl Controversy: The last few days of summer were dominated by discussion of this infamous Slane photo. I wrote at the time about the horrible slut-shaming double standard at play here, as did others. On a more positive note, the #slanegirlsolidarity tag was flooded with messages of support, and ‘I’m Spartacus’ type statements from other women who could empathise with the girl’s plight. 

The Irish Justice System: It seemed that hardly a week went by in 2013 without reading about a case of violence against women or girls that saw the attacker walk free, or face minimal sanctions. One horrifying case that was heard in Ennis court back in November involved a man attacking a woman in her own home with a metal  bar, who would walk away a free man, despite admitting his guilt. One judge, Martin Nolan has attained quite a reputation for his handling of similar cases, as a quick browse of the depressing ”judge of the day” tag on broadsheet.ie will attest. An Cailin Rua wrote a masterful piece on this very topic that I urge you all to read.

Rape Culture: This entry and the previous one are interchangeable in many respects. Rape culture is a term used to describe how society creates a hostile environment for rape victims, and often engages in apologism for perpetrators. There were several examples that I could pluck from the Irish media in 2013, but none exemplifies rape culture more so than the case of John Murray, the former Lord Mayor of Cork, and the priest who hijacked a funeral to urge the congregation to offer prayers that he would be cleared of sexual assault charges. We see this scenario time and time again; a powerful or wealthy man commits a sexually violent crime, and everyone from the clergy to the judiciary to the general public leaps to their defence, emphasising their family status and reputation,  with little regard for the feelings of the victim.

Anti-choice Nastiness: The last year has seen the anti-choice movement sinking to lower and lower odious depths. Youth Defence, as ever, have been central to proceedings, with antics ranging from the utterly hideous (the truck in question was parked close to a rape crisis centre) to the surreal (via OireachtasRetort’s tumblr). As legislation became increasingly likely and abortion once again became the subject of increased public debate, a succession of campaigners and politicians appeared on current affairs shows and proceeded to show their asses. It was the year of “abortion mills” and other choice epithets, as exemplified by Peter Mathew’s now infamous appearance on Vincent Browne. Thankfully, some light relief came in the form of this beautifully observed anti-choice bingo card and the Tara Flynn sketch ‘Judge, Jury and Obstetrician’.  

Our Abortion Laws (still): Legislating for the X case finally became a reality this summer (only 21 years on) with the passing of  the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill. However, for many advocates of reproductive rights, it was a somewhat bittersweet occasion, the horrific section 22,  which recommends a jail sentence of FOURTEEN YEARS for those who have terminations outside of the law and the fact that the bill simply does not go far enough. Irish people will still be travelling to the UK and elsewhere in their droves, and until the reprehensible Eighth Amendment is removed, nothing will change in a meaningful way.

We’ve come a long way, but it’s clear we have a long, long way to go. Ireland, do better in 2014.

Why Won’t They Leave Us Alone?

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Today, the discussion on my timeline has centred on two things; this excellent piece by the Irish Examiner’s Colette Browne, and this utterly repellent Kickstarter project, that dispenses advice on sexually abusing and harassing women in public masked as dating advice. 

In her article, Browne recounted situations that are sadly all too familiar to many of the women reading it, myself included. 

The time a man in a pub grabbed my hand and placed it on his crotch because he wanted me to feel his erection and “see what I had done to him”. The time I was on a deserted train carriage when a man, sitting opposite from me, began to masturbate. I stood up and got out at the next stop. There was the time I went to a friend’s house party and, having gone to sleep in a spare box room, woke up in the middle of the night to find a man in bed with me with his hand up my top.

 

As the post was shared, most of the men I follow reacted with horror, but for the women, the sentiment was slightly different; revulsion, yes, but also weariness and exasperation. 

Browne tweeted that this was the typical reaction. Many women said that they had had similar experiences, and regretted not doing anything about it at the time.

A particular incident that stands out for me occurred Arthur’s Day 2011, as I was shopping in Penneys in Galway. It was about 4.30 or 5, and I was queuing at the till. Two young guys, clearly already pretty obviously drunk, sidled up behind me, and one of them proceeded to grope my breast. From this remove, I’m frustrated with myself. I’m annoyed that I didn’t drop my purchases and dispense a swift kick to the balls to the little prick, or roar for security or DO ANYTHING, apart from standing rigid in the queue, silently paying and slinking off home. I’m incredibly introverted by nature; I’ll cross the road if I’m out for a walk and see a group of more than two coming in the opposite direction, so I’m averse to confrontation.

While that was an outstanding incidence, micro-aggressions occur on a regular basis while out in clubs or bars. I’ve had my arse groped countless times while in queues or ordering at bars. I’ve had my glasses pulled off and hair pieces, etc. grabbed at. I once had a man follow me and pull my hair when I refused to engage with him. A more minor irritation, but a particular bugbear of mine is being told to ‘smile’. Urgh. What do these men want, do they think that I’ve been put on this earth to greet their very presence with delight? That we should be permanently wearing rictus grins for their amusement? 

This events, these micro-aggressions take place time and time again, and virtually any women you talk to will recognise these scenarios. It seems that simply being out and about is an act of extreme audacity, and that this sleazy harassment is the tax we pay for it.

I’m tired of it.

These are our streets aswell.