And talking about the Dáil… July 17, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Feminism, Irish Politics, Workers Rights.
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Martha Kearns has a pretty good piece in the SBP on the dispiriting and dismal scenes involving Fine Gael TD Tom Barry last week. Until the point where it isn’t.
But let’s note the good stuff first.
I don’t think anyone would disagree with the fact that there was no malice intended. But what the actions – which quickly spread across the internet in the form of a 14-second-long video clip – showed were disrespect, misogyny, inappropriateness, childishness. – and, of course, a total lack of awareness of how to properly behave in a workplace, let alone in the country’s chamber of political power.
And she continues:
If any other woman was subjected to this level of mishandling while she was trying to carry out her work, sanctions would already have been taken against the man involved. And she would have a case filed with the Equality Tribunal before she left the office that day.
I’m a bit less sanguine than she that ‘any other woman’ would be able to get to the ET, perhaps most or many, but I would think, and this is drawn from my own experience, that some workplaces are deeply misogynistic and sexist to the point where people are too intimidated to complain. Still, not difficult to believe that she is correct in relation to the following, that because of the context it was smoothed over…
But this is politics. To be more specific, this is Irish politics. Sure, it’s all a bit of a laugh and why don’t ye wimmin just calm down and see the funny side of it.
Whatever the intentions behind Barry’s behaviour, it raises further questions about the establishment’s ongoing plan to attract women into the political arena. Out of the 166 Dáil seats, just 25 (or 15 per cent) are held by women. This is behind the world average of 19.5 per cent and the European Union average of 24 per cent. Ireland lies in 76th position in a world table of women’s political representation in parliament.
And also she continues that the structural aspects are such that they are deeply problematic for any woman with a young family lot thinking of having children. Of course this is true of a broader swathe of the working environment too, and it is indicative of just how working lives are, of necessity, fitted around commercial and work demands and to the detriment of personal and familial issues.
As it happens Gerry Adams was one of the few to bring that up in the actual debate, particularly when it came to the absurdity of the late night/early morning sitting. Because, of course, it wasn’t just the TDs but the workers in the Oireachtas, many of who found themselves forced to remain there because the representatives couldn’t organise their time more efficiently and more appropriately. Something to consider in light of all the rhetoric about that sitting.
Still, got to admit that for all that it is good to see the ‘m’ word in use, I found the following a bit irritating:
The latest antics in the Dáil are hardly going to have young, professional women banging down the doors at Leinster House.
Professional women? Surely any women?
Women and work June 10, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Feminism, Irish Politics.
Interesting collection of articles in the Irish Times on women and work this weekend.
It’s purpose was to examine the issue at the 40th anniversary of the abolition of the Civil Service (and large parts of the private sector) bar on women working there once they were married. It’s passing should be a cause for genuine celebration in relation to assisting in the opening up of opportunities in the subsequent decades, though some of the accompanying materials to the articles suggests there’s a long way to go yet.
However, those who were asked to contribute in interview appeared to be, unfortunately, a not entirely representative group given their experience of workplaces.
There was a teacher, an entrepreneur, the chief executive of Tallaght Hospital, an author and former children’s laureate, an IT project manager, a communications consultant and journalist and a retiree from a career in administration
Where were those working in retail, in call centres, in manufacturing, on minimum wage, and so on and so forth?
This is in no sense to diminish the individual experiences of those interviewed, but difficult not to feel that in terms of class this was skewed distinctly in one direction.
That said one interesting – and in a way heartening – aspect was, almost overwhelmingly, the general response to questions on feminism where it was clearly viewed as positive term and not something to shy away from using.
Incivility…and worse June 4, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Feminism, LGBT Rights.
Well here’s a display of incivility, misogyny and anti-lesbianism, as related by Julie Bindel. What’s amazing to me are two aspects of this, firstly that a Radio 5 ‘satirical’ panel debate thought that it was appropriate to discuss – even, perhaps particularly, in a ‘humorous’ way – the proposition “Give me 20 minutes with her and I’m pretty sure I could turn around Clare Balding”, and then some of the incidents Bindel recounted of male antagonism to her as a lesbian.
I like Balding’s response in the following, even if it is descending into a ‘fight fire with fire’ dynamic:
Last year she reopened a feud with the Sunday Times television critic AA Gill, who described her as “a dyke on a bike” in his column in 2010. Balding described Gill as a “great twat” and claimed he hates clever women as she spoke in defence of Mary Beard, the on-screen historian who Gill suggested was too ugly for cameras.
Bindel argues that:
Lesbianism is a significant threat to men [just to be clear she modifies all other instances of the term ‘men’ to ‘a lot of’ or ‘men of the sexist variety’, so no she doesn’t mean all men - wbs]. After all, we are rejecting them sexually and, more importantly, making it clear we do not need to be desired by or betrothed to a man in order to have an identity. Clare Balding needs to be put in her place, according to the sexists, because she has no right to be a successful professional, a well-loved public figure and an out-and-proud lezzer.
This concept of threat is very important and deeply disturbing because of the potential for it to take very dangerous forms. I think she’s also exactly right when she argues that this is essentially a part and parcel with other forms of misogyny.
But you know, I think her conclusion is where it’s at.
What they need is a bloody good lesson in keeping their opinions to themselves.
Backroom in the SBP on abortion – again… May 9, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Feminism, Irish Politics.
Some interesting thoughts on that topic which for once offer a more rather than less positive approach. It argues that in the 1980s there was a
…real strategic vision for the movement and the organisational framework to push it forward.
They decided not only to play defence but to go on the offensive, particularly on the issue of abortion where they were determined to prevent a repeat of the American example.
And if I understand the argument made by Backroom correctly it is that PLAC/SPUC and other forces operated with the grain of public opinion and thereby were able to ‘set the terms of the debate’ successfully. Not that their victory was inevitable but that they were able to project themselves as ‘representative of [a large strand] in society’.
And it points to problems with the manner in which anti-abortion campaigns have been run, particularly since 1992…
The big change that happened in 1992 was that the pro-life movement became genuinely activist and, with that, less strategic and responsive. The creation of Youth Defence gave a strident and fundamentalist image to the entire movement which has proven hard to shake.
Their guerrilla campaigns on divorce in 1996, and on various European referendums, helped dramatically to dilute the movement’s focus and give the image of a socially conservative faction which would do almost anything to achieve its ends.
Rather than being representative of society, as it had worked hard to be in the earlier campaigns, the new image became that of the “bearers of truth”, holding up a standard to which others must conform.
There’s definitely something in that, to my mind. Let’s not regard the 1980s with a rosy tint. The conflict was very hard-edged indeed. But… the appearance of YD et al certainly added another element to the mix and in some respects pushed the image of ‘pro-life’ to a more extreme position, something that has been perhaps more problematic for them than has been admitted.
It’s certainly been very noticeable to me that Version 3.0 of the conservative social campaigners has been noticeably softer-edged. The Iona Institute, Rónán Mullen and others have sugared the pill and made quite some effort to put clear blue water between them and the successors of YD.
And this is tricky.
As Backroom continues:
Diarmuid Martin regularly points out, even among the now minority of Catholics who are regular Mass-goers, strict obedience to the social teachings of the Church is very much a minority pursuit in Ireland. Yet the pro-life movement is overwhelmingly dominated by people whose worldview is shaped by their religion.
Naturally, as Backroom points out, there’s nothing wrong with this. But, as with the last week – and noted in comments here – there’s the danger that too much weight will be afforded unrepresentative voices.
And here polling data is useful:
…but much of the rest of Irish society instinctively reacts against what it sees as the wider “agenda”. The most recent polling on abortion by Red C for The Sunday Business Post shows a population which is instinctively against the wide availability of abortion, but is wrestling with where to place the point of compromise so that tragic cases can be dealt with.
I have to smile when I read the following, though:
No comfort or engagement is coming from pro-life spokespeople. They are being very assertive on why the government’s plans are wrong – what they haven’t done is to put forward an alternative.
Leaving aside for a moment the points of principle, which should of course be the main concern, it is very hard to discern a strategy from the pro-life groups beyond “whatever you do, do nothing”.
Of course there’s no alternative. For them it’s entirely black and white. To argue an alternative would be to weaken that central principle.
And in a way this is one positive of the legislation – albeit as Backroom notes ‘Labour TDs will – when it is voted through – have just voted to re-legislate for a ban on abortions’.
Effectively so, and yet, abortion will now be legal in certain circumstances.
But the pro-life movement should not fool itself: this bill will become law and will be passed with a comfortable majority in both the Dáil and the Seanad.
When this happens, what will be the remaining influence of the movement if it has declared the end of the world and it hasn’t happened?
And there may be something in the following:
A short-sighted and strident approach to this legislation may well speed up the demise of the pro-life campaign as a major force in Irish public life.
But… but… if ever there was a case of wait and see I think this might be it.
Toy stories… May 9, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Feminism.
The row over gender-specific toys has taken a new turn after Tesco admitted its description of a children’s chemistry set as for boys was incorrect, and launched a wider review of the way toys are labelled on its website.
The descriptions were not on the boxes of the toys but – and this is in some ways worse again – on the Tesco website.
As anyone who has to shop for gifts for children will know toys are already massively gendered from the word go. And it doesn’t take a Republican to see there are problems with some of the materials directed particularly at girls – it’s all princesses, and perfect marriages and so on. I was in Chapters the other day and discovered this particular example of the genre which – whatever way you cut it – makes literally no sense at all in the context it is positioned within.
Though kudos to the author for not missing a trick in terms of increasing sales (I know, I know, the London one presumably came first).
What’s perhaps particularly depressing about the Tesco story is that:
Tesco had initially defended its decision to label the item, manufactured by John Adams, as a boys’ toy on its website following a storm of criticism from shoppers and gender equality groups.
WTF? Is it now so normative that toys, even toys which are per definition (and generally accepted as) ungendered, have to be categorised according to female or male, that Tesco couldn’t admit to its mistake from the off?
I think that is a deeply concerning issue. Campaigners from Let Toys Be Toys are responsible for the change of heart on the part of Tesco and I think they’re doing good work… http://www.lettoysbetoys.org.uk/
By the way, what was the Tesco ‘excuse’?
Tesco had justified the move by saying on Twitter: “Toy signage is currently based on research and how our customers tell us they like to shop in our stores”, adding that further research would be commissioned later in the year to provide “an up-to-date reflection of customers’ thinking”.
Which frankly sounds like a crock. And Let Toys Be Toys responded in the only way possible:
But a Let Toys Be Toys spokesman challenged Tesco’s position, tweeting: “Can you imagine if we took yr approach in schools: that science was just for boys & we shouldn’t bother teaching it to girls?”
It’s quite insane when you think about it. Take the following:
Boots recently admitted it was wrong to use separate in-store signs labelling girls’ and boys’ toys – putting Science Museum-brand toys in the latter category – after shoppers took to Twitter and Facebook to accuse the retailer of sexism. In a statement posted on Facebook it said it was taking steps to remove the signs and was dismayed by customers’ reaction.
Or take Lego, with their ‘Friends’ series which is directly marketed to girls – and which I’ve first hand experience of – to my chagrin – though it is possible to build spaceships from it as is noted in the following critique by Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency the concept is built from the ground up in gendered terms and some pretty dodgy concepts there to be honest (Sarkeesian notes that effectively the ‘Friends’ are ‘entirely different species’ in relation to other Lego figures and points to the entirely constructed historically gendered aspects of pink and purple being remarkably recent constructs too).
Anyone who wants to broaden horizons will be angered by these manifestations of deeply engrained sexism, for that is what it is. This quite deliberately pushes girls and women away from science and towards certain gender roles, and that this is actually more a product of capitalism attempting to delineate markets, in no way makes it easier to accept.
This from the New York Times from last year is particularly depressing:
But by 1995, the gendered advertising of toys had crept back to midcentury levels, and it’s even more extreme today. In fact, finding a toy that is not marketed either explicitly or subtly (through use of color, for example) by gender has become incredibly difficult.
And the thought comes to mind that there’s an oddity about all this too when one considers perhaps the most famous political former chemist in the UK was this individual here.
Got to admit… May 7, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Bioethics, Culture, Feminism, Irish Politics.
Jacky Jones in the Irish Times,former HSE regional manager of health promotion, is a voice of reason on a range of issues from private schools through to reproductive rights.
Unfortunately the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013 will not protect or vindicate women’s reproductive rights. The name change – removing the word “maternal” from the title – means there is still ambiguity about whether the woman’s life or that of the foetus is prioritised. It is only a matter of time before another Irish woman asks the European Court of Human Rights to protect and vindicate her right to terminate a pregnancy because her health, as distinct from her life, is not protected by the proposed legislation. In the meantime, Irish women will have to rely on the kindness of strangers in the UK.
What has feminism ever done? May 2, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Feminism.
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what did feminism ever do for us?
and the answer is……
Like what exactly? Assuming you are a woman, what has Feminism done that has benefited you directly?
@boxoledo – I went to university, got a job, live alone, have my own bankaccount, am allowed to drive a car, make roughly the same amount of money my male collegues do and can decide how to live my life without a man interfering.
If i compare my life to that of, say, my grandmother, then I can say feminism has changed the choices I have immensely and very directly. We take all those things for granted these days. They are not.
I am assuming you are a man, or you would not have had to ask that question.
The State’s position on the rights in the kind of situation before Savita Halappanava’s death November 17, 2012Posted by Tomboktu in Bunreacht na hÉireann, Ethics, Feminism, Health, Human Rights, Ireland, Medical Issues.
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Here is what the government says is the official procedure to be followed in the kind of situation that preceeded Savita Halappanava’s death, as explained by the Government to the European Court of Human Rights in 2009, and summarised by that Court in September 2010. [I have added the emphasis. Here they are dicussing the case of "C".]
189. As regards the third applicant specifically, the Government made the following submissions.
In the first place, they maintained in response to a question from the Court, that the procedure for obtaining a lawful abortion in Ireland was clear. The decision was made, like any other major medical matter, by a patient in consultation with her doctor. On the rare occasion there was a possibility of a risk to the life of a woman, there was “a very clear and bright line rule provided by Irish law which is neither difficult to understand or to apply because it is the same law that has been applied under Section 58 of the 1861 Act, under Article 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution and under the legislative provisions of every country which permits a pregnancy to be terminated on that ground”. As to the precise procedures to be followed by a pregnant woman and her doctor where an issue arose as to such a possible risk, it was the responsibility of the doctor and a termination could occur when the risk was real and substantial. If the patient did not agree with that advice, she was free to seek another medical opinion and, in the last resort, she could make an emergency application to the High Court (as outlined above). The grounds for lawful abortion in Ireland were well known and applied. Referring to the Medical Council Guidelines, the CPA Guidelines and the evidence of practitioners to the Committee on the Constitution, the Government considered it clear that, while there were issues regarding the characterisation of medical treatment essential to protect the life of the mother, medical intervention occurred when a mother’s life was threatened, the refusal of treatment on grounds of moral disapproval was prohibited and a patient was entitled to a second opinion. While the Irish Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists had no published guidelines concerning a pregnant woman presenting with life threatening conditions, that Institute would be in agreement with the Guidelines of the United Kingdom Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists concerning the management of ectopic pregnancies and it was probable that Irish gynaecologists would “by and large” follow the latter Guidelines with or without minor amendments or additions. This clear process of how a decision to terminate a pregnancy was taken in Ireland by the patient in consultation with the doctor was regularly followed in the case of ectopic pregnancies./blockquote>
[You may wish to know that Ireland was found by the European Court of Human Rights to have breached the human rights of "C".]
The 90-page PDF is available here.
An Important Question About Sexual Harassment on Slugger August 3, 2012Posted by Garibaldy in Feminism.
Just spotted this on Slugger. Awful video of harassment of a woman out walking in Brussels, and then the question is asked do this happen in Belfast. I suppose we can expand that here to other cities across Ireland. What do people think?