A bit of a letter I felt necessary after the recent developments in this week’s 2016 Rose of Tralee competition. Apologies for the length.
Here we are again, continuing the conversation about a line in our constitution which forces half the population into a second class citizen role. One that requires permission, only given by begging, pleading, desperate measures, from the bigger authorities, because heaven help us if they were trusted with making their own decisions. Yes, boys and girls, we’re talking about the 8th amendment again. I’m actually tired of talking about it, but it’s not something we can stop the conversation about because it’s still there, glaring at us up from Bunreacht na hEireann, highlighting the role of women as vessels. De Valera’s Ireland is still alive and kicking according to that piece of paper.
That quote about the best laid plans of mice and men? Someone definitely had spent time with a toddler that week. I’ve got the Monday blues, looking back at all of the things I had wanted to do last week, to do this week, feeling utterly muddled.
The word feminist is bandied around a lot, and there seems to be a lot of puzzlement about the actual meaning of the word “feminist” in a lot of cases. There are mental images of underwire on fire, talk of hairy women wanting men out of every powerful position. The words “feminize”, or worse “feminist bitches”, are bandied about and it seems that any replies to “banter” that call that behaviour out are taken in a remarkably negative way. This is the world we live in, and the world I am raising my son in.
If you missed it on Wednesday night, a rather incendiary debate kicked off on Brendan O Connor’s new current affairs show “Cutting Edge”. In response to a rather thought provoking piece from writer Louise O Neill, which spoke about how being a woman did not necessarily mean you wanted kids, Niamh Horan added her two cents. The piece from O Neill had put forward the idea that women who choose not to exercise their womb are thought of as selfish. In response to this, Horan, who is of the same age bracket, commented that in her opinion it is the parents who have their children but leave them in childcare, creches, while they head out to work, who are the selfish ones. It is, she said, the children who are suffering for their mother’s need to “have it all”.
We recently elected a new government, not that you could tell it in looking at our currently defunct parliament. In the 36 days since our votes were counted and those who were chosen by the people were officially elected, we have sat around watching them squabble like children, unable to pick their teams in a way that made anyone happy. They’ve racked up a whopping 1.75 million (and growing) wages bill – and that’s just the TDs – for their playground politics. Keep that figure in mind when you see the next one I give you – a proposed cut of 12 million from the 35 million budget ring fenced for mental health services. In our already fractured mental health system, the government is prioritising other things and taking funds away from helping some of the most vulnerable people in our society. I’m angry.
By now, you’ll have heard that Donald Trump is running for President of the United States of America. Unless you’ve been living under a rock (in which case, lucky you), you’ll have observed that his campaign has been brash, offensive, and discriminatory in just about every way possible – racism, sexism, and a whole pack of incitement to hatred thrown in for good measure. Recently, he made a statement which caught my eye more than the others – and given the dramatics he’s come out with, that is really saying something. Upon being interviewed in Wisconsin lately, he statedÂ that women who seek abortion should be subject to â€œsome form of punishment.â€ Media uproar ensued. Women’s rights activists lamented and shouted. Here in Ireland, we looked on at the potential new leader of a world superpower condemning his country to our current state: where women’s choice in their reproductive rights is limited and intrinsically linked with the opinions of people whose lives it will never affect.
This month, on the 24th of April, every household in Ireland will be filling out the census form. They’ll document every little detail about every person in the house that night – details of education, employment, religion, earnings, practically everything except for what they have for breakfast. This happens once every five years and gives the government information which they can then use to develop policies and allocate funds for development of things like schools, community amenities and various other schemes to improve society. It gives the state an honest picture of what it’s citizens look like. That is why I am finding it important to ensure my census form has the “No Religion” box ticked.
It isn’t something I write about often, my pain. Mostly because I don’t want to make this blog about my parenting journey into an eternal journal of whinging, but also in a slight denial aspect that if I don’t say it exists then it might go away any day now. That’s not been a successful venture yet, so I’m led to wonder what can be the harm of being honest in this, my little spot of the Internet. For the past two years, I have been parenting with chronic pain.
Are you familiar with Paw Patrol? Chances are, if you’ve got a child under the age of five who has been introduced to a television or Netflix account, you’ll at least be familiar with the theme tune. By familiar, I mean it’s stuck on a loop in a part of your brain that nothing else can quite reach to get it out of there (I’ve contemplated bleaching it out. Surely that will work?). For those of you who haven’t become familiar with the show that has taken over our lives as we know them, Paw Patrol is a Canadian animation broadcast in 126 countries, based on the premise of a pack of dogs who, under orders of the questionably aged boy with lots of technology at his disposal, go about saving the rather questionable townspeople from themselves. In our house, the combination of dogs plus fire engines (that would be the aptly named Marshall) was fated to be a winner.