Why Pro-Choice Should Always Matter

6a00d8345357ef69e20168e88ef177970c-500wiI’m not usually the type of person to beat down other people’s views, although I may come across that way, because I am very strict with my opinions. But the Pro-Life campaign in Ireland is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever come across. Not only is it a movement to keep abortion illegal, it is a movement against women’s rights, a movement of conservatism and oppression.

The main contributors to this cause are the Youth Defence, who are borderline Westboro Baptist Church crazy. Their webpage contains laughable accusations that abortion is “murder” and evidently tries to distract the reader through colloqualism, as there is an extreme lack of factual information. Their merchandise is bright and colourful and attempts to create a vision of idyllic, elated community which support this cause. In reality, the Youth Defence are a group of ignorant, bigoted human beings who clearly do not understand the meaning of the word “choice”.

The amount of incorrect data which the Youth Defence use to gain support is enormous. False claims that the government was willing to abort babies up to 9 months fuel their campaign. In reality, 90% of abortions take place before 13 weeks. Their posters claim that “Abortion will not treat suicide”. Yeah, everyone knows that. As suicide is often a result of depression, brought on by the pressures of life; the trigger could be an unplanned pregnancy. The most ludicrous statement that the Youth Defence has made was that women “need to learn to avoid rape”. This was a statement which was made after they pulled this stunt; something which offended me so much that I was left shouting and screaming for hours.

I have engaged in several discussions on their Facebook page which did get quite heated. I was called a fascist for stating that women should have the right to choose and the right over their own bodies. A few of my friends were called abusive for voicing their opinions, with the males being called “creeps”. They called the pro-choice movement “conservative” and claimed it supported the murder of babies. The majority of the Youth Defence supporters are misinformed and are still grasping on to Eamon DeValera’s vision of “dancing at the crossroads”, where women hold a traditional role and have little rights.

What surprises me most is that the majority of the pro-life movement is women. It is shocking, disturbing and depressing that females are willing to let men have more rights than them. Look at Wendy Davis: she spoke for over 10 hours to kill the anti-abortion bill in Texas. Miss Davis is a hero in the face of feminism. She understands that each woman is different. She understands that having a baby is a terrifying and life-changing experience, which many women aren’t ready for. Having a child could make or break you. Only you can decide what is best for you; not the state. Not one female TD would do such a thing for Irish women.

And disallowing a woman to make her own choices is treating every Irish female woman like a second-class citizen. Branding abortion as a criminal offence defines women who have gone through the process as felons. In the eyes of the state, if a woman has an abortion, she is seen as a murderer. Murderers in Ireland must serve life imprisonment. Now if this woman was raped, her rapist wouldn’t even get close to serving that time. Many rapists actually avoid imprisonment. So women are seen as lesser than men once more in our quaint, traditional Irish State.

It is 2013. The Dáil is male-dominated with 141 males to 25 females. And this gender imbalance has been a tradition since the foundation of the Dáil in 1919. Majority rules which leaves the women in the dark. And besides, why should the state have a say in what’s best for you? Those who run our country have only done the best for themselves over the past few decades.

As well as this, we are a state still in the clutches of the Catholic Church. Although their power has been lessened significantly, our constitution, education system and political parties are highly influenced by their teachings. It is another organisation driven by men.  An organisation which has no concept of what is best for women. Bishops have been claiming that the Abortion Bill proposes “the deliberate and intentional killing of an unborn child”. I’m not even going to type what I think about this. You can all imagine me screaming and throwing things around my room. And because of this influence of the church, children are being indoctrinated to keep the taboo of abortion in Irish society alive.

The fact that women are willing to put up with misogyny like this is incredulous. Pro-choice is about giving liberty to women. The legalisation of abortion will not result in mass-termination of pregnancies, and it is certainly not murder. It’s my vagina and I can decide what I want to do with it. The government doesn’t own me and you shouldn’t let it own you either. Everyone is entitled to do what they want with their bodies. Men have full control over theirs, so why shouldn’t we?

Power to the pussy. Don’t let them kill the bill.

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Why The Little Things Still Matter

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If you know me personally, you will know how bleak and pessimistic and miserable I am all the time. I’ve had a very tough few years for various reasons: deaths, family arguments, breakups, falling out with people, being bullied. I could go on forever. And there has been many times where I literally felt like it was the end. There have been so many times that I have given up. There have been so many moments where I’ve wanted to run away and never come back. But I’m still here and it’s because of the little things.

I have to thank my friends for making everything so special for me. Liz has been there for me for fifteen years. We’ve been through hell together but we always have each other’s backs. I always have the most wonderful time with Ashleigh. Even though we act like fools for much of the time, she is always there to be the voice of reason when I completely screw up. And the three of us have such a strong connection that I could never imagine breaking. And it’s these two girls that have kept me so level-headed for so long. You must always appreciate those close to you, who will stick up for you no matter what.

Because love is when you’re beyond willing to put up with someone’s bullshit and feeling that is extraordinary. And people often take feeling loved for granted. I know that I do a lot of the time. But life is too short and we shouldn’t waste our lives without love. No matter how terrible you are, someone is always going to care about you. If they are 3000 miles away or right next door, there is always going to be one person who will be there.

Loved ones are the source of the little things. Whether it’s a text that says “You’re so cool” or   surprising me with a visit; these things make my day. People often ignore these small gestures and regard them as nothing. But remembering a time when someone reached out to you in a subtle way could be the light to bring you back from darkness.

I’ve been in very disturbing places over the course of the past year. It’s been distressing and turbulent. And it was hard to have one of my closest friends so far away at the times when I needed her the most. But I pulled through it all because of the gestures of the many friends that I have made. I am not a people person but those who I am friends with have changed my life for the better. Their strength, their talent, their willpower and their wisdom inspire me every day. So thank you for keeping me here.

Over the past two months, I have found myself benefiting more and more from these little things. I’ve finished a screenplay and my friends were so enthusiastic about taking part that it will actually be filmed. And although filming SISU is not their main priority, they have made a dream come true for me. And I will never forget that.

The support that I have received from everyone as a result of this blog has been phenomenal. I never could have pictured in my wildest dreams that people would commend me for my writing outside of academia. And it may just be someone saying “well done” or liking a post, but to someone like me, that means the whole world.

I’ve been trying really hard to stop faking smiles and enjoy life a little bit more. The little things have made it possible for me to get here. After much reflection on my emotional state over the past three years, I’ve realised that I am becoming stronger. Despite my usual ice queen facade, I’m actually a really emotional person and people don’t usually see the other side of me.

But with the constant support of people over time, I’ve learned to be able to open up more. I’ve learned to trust. I’ve learned to accept all my faults. If you said to me two years ago that I would be able to look in the mirror and not cry, I would have laughed in your face. Two years ago, I didn’t want to be here. But I’m still here now. I’m the weakest person I know but I’ve still found a reason to smile.

Take some time to appreciate the little things. Do something you love. Share it with the world. Don’t give a fuck about what other people think. I’ve wasted too much of my time being upset and wallowing in my own self pity. Time is fleeting so fast that you never know who or what could pass you by. Get inspired. Carpe diem.

Why Positive Body Image Still Matters

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“We all self-conscious, I’m just the first to admit it.”

– Kanye West

I have never really been comfortable with my body. I’ve tried starving myself, crazy diets and puking it all up just to feel good about myself. And it never did make me feel better. Even though Dove has been canvassing that we love the skin we’re in for decades now, I never really stopped and thought: “Hey, I have a good butt.”

I was bullied a lot as a kid which forced me to stay indoors as I was too terrified to venture outside. I gained a lot of weight as I grew up as I preferred to stay inside rather than play sports. I was always terrified that no one would think I was attractive or call me pretty. But amongst those who would comment on my weight, there was always one or two who could turn my day around.

And it’s only been a few months down the line since I’ve felt that I’m actually okay with my body. Even though I am overweight, I’m cool with it. I’ll eat noodles on the floor at 3am. I’ll dance around my empty house in my underwear not caring about my lumpy physique. I have to thank the fabulous divas that came before me to make this possible. Most notably; Divine & Lena Dunham. This lady-boy and lady have bared all on the big screen and they are still fierce as fuck.

I used to be the most self-conscious person alive. I would constantly scrutinize every last inch of my skin and cry because I hated myself so much. Nowadays, I am okay with being fat & fabulous. And hey; I have a great butt.

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I don’t have a flat stomach or a tiny waist or perfect breasts but it works for me. I don’t care who is disgusted. This is who I am and I’m happy with it.

Although I’m not alone, being a teenager in Ireland is so difficult. Males and females are examined by their peers so carefully. Only the prettiest girls are plastered on the infamous “Wettest Yuss” pages on Facebook. “If you’re bigger than a size 8, you’re fat,” I overheard one day in secondary school. “Thinspo” has ruined the world. So much so that the tag on Tumblr comes with a warning:

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Beauty, like everything, is a social construct. The idea of beauty constantly changes as society moves forward. But it only seems to be moving backwards as the only things that are considered beautiful are long-haired, skinny girls with a thigh gap and gaunt faces. What is considered handsome is athletic, sallow skinned boys who resemble Hollister models.

Beauty is too subjective for one to try and say that the mainstream perception of beauty is the only way to perceive it. And men and women fail to recognize this and thrive for perfection. Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, made a statement saying that only those who fit the mainstream impression of beauty should where his clothing. He fails to recognize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.Some girls are bigger than others. Everyone’s body is different and it’s something we can’t really change.

You are only beautiful if you believe it yourself. Hearing it from someone else makes it all the more better.

But young people nowadays rarely believe in themselves. They just yearn to be the thinnest, the most good-looking, the most athletic. And I know it’s easier said than done to tell yourself that you are great. It took me 18 years to feel comfortable with myself. One person could call me fat anonymously online and I’d starve myself for days.

It is so important to have a positive body image in this day and age as eating disorders are still so prevalent despite the constant media attention they get. Being thin and being overweight are both beautiful; just as long as there is no health risks. Don’t let the media get the better of you.

We all have the capability to be better than these labels. No one can tell you that you are not beautiful. Beauty cannot be objective. Embrace who you are instead of celebrating the Victoria’s Secret models. We can all be ideal if we let ourselves be.

Why Grrrl Power Still Matters

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 I’m just a girl, all pretty and petite; so don’t let me have any rights.

Since it’s release, “Just A Girl” has inspired teenage girls to embrace their femininity. It was a powerful statement as she fronted an otherwise all male band. Her childish whimpers polymerized with loud wails highlighted that women are just as powerful as men. Her image was evidently moulded by female icons before her: Cyndi Lauper, Madonna and Courtney Love. The world has been filled with powerful goddesses from the suffragettes to the early days of Riot Grrrl with the likes of Poly Styrene and Kathleen Hanna making strong feminist comments through their music and beyond.

And although in the past we’ve had these glorious women stand up against misogyny and deconstruct patriarchal discourse, who do we have to show future generations that girl power still matters? All I see is sexualized girl groups who sing about longing for boys to love them. This commonly sang about theme seems to have slithered it’s way into girls brains and infected them.

Not to sound misandristic, but males do have a huge part to play in this problem. Recently online, I saw several comments made by males on what females should wear. The males claimed that unless women were prepared to wear skimpy, revealing clothing, they had no chance at getting a boy to like them. It was genuinely enraging. If a girl put up a status saying: “Unless you have a big penis, no girl is going to want to have sex with you.”, she would be immediately branded as a slut.

But girls constantly post pictures of themselves online wearing barely nothing as the prepare for a night out, in the hopes of attracting male attention. It isn’t even an embrace of the female shape. It’s because of the general patriarchal view that females should be scantily clad before any romantic activity begins. And the majority of girls from my generation in Ireland abide by this silent code. It’s utterly depressing. Girls give in to this male idea of perfection: slim frame, large breasts, clear, sallow skin. They literally go through hell to be perceived as perfection.

I look at girls around me and see how submissive they are towards males. How one boy could literally dominate their whole mind and their actions. A lot of relationships I see show no equality whatsoever: just a girl being reduced to an object of male sexual fulfillment. There is an extreme lack of a strong female presence in Irish society nowadays. Georgia Salpa isn’t going to teach you how to be better, no matter how much you wish that a man would stare at you as he does to magazine photos of her.

I know I have focused on body image more than any other issue but it is one that is most important to me. I have been attacked in the past by males about my appearance. I was called fat and ugly. I was also slut-shamed by several different males. And it doesn’t make you feel attractive. It doesn’t make you feel like a woman. It makes you feel like dirt. It makes you feel worthless. 95% of the time, I’ve received no apology. It made me feel as inferior as the males thought I was.

But I’m not “just a girl” and either are the women who have been subjected to the same treatment as I have in the past. Women are human beings and deserve to be treated accordingly. There is a severe lack of respect towards women in Irish society, a place where women do not even have control over their own bodies. Abortion is illegal. Rape and sexual abuse is extremely high in Ireland. In 2011, 2,036 women came to the Rape Crisis Network for help. Many more voices were not heard. The normalization of rape culture is becoming more and more frequent and I have noticed this especially online.

I urge the girls who read this to think twice about who they are. Embrace the person that you are. Don’t let a man determine what you wear, think or act. Love your body and don’t let anyone destroy it. Don’t let anyone make you feel like an object. Take a leaf out of this tortoise’s book.

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Why Sticking Up For What You Believe In Still Matters

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Those who know me in real life know that more often than not, I have trouble getting along with people. Not because I’m spiteful or a bitch (but that might be your opinion of me), but because I have very strongly held opinions and morals (or lack there of). Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely liberal. But some people’s ideas of what is right and what is wrong irks me to no end. This post is about why you should never back down. You should never give in to someone else’s demands. Sticking up for what you believe in still matters.

At school, I never “fit in”. I was always the weird kid. An easy target for bullies. I had an obsession with being loved and being popular when I was in primary school. I would dream of being adored. I was overly nice to everyone in my class: I would invite them to my house, do everything they asked and would go out of my way to help them in the hopes that I would too be admired as they were. I even tried to like the same music and tv shows as them.

I was walked all over in school and bullied endlessly in my neighbourhood. I was called a “wannabe”, a “freak”, fat, “teacher’s pet”. The list was endless. By age 12, I grew tired of trying to please the popular people. Trying to please everyone in fact. And so began my six-year long journey through secondary school.

Those six years were definitely the worst of my life. As I got older, I began to delve into controversial interests. I didn’t go to teenage social events. I didn’t express any interest in popular music or films. I didn’t get obsessed with brands like the other girls in my year. And so, I was deemed an outcast. I learned to accept the way I was through the hardships. I lost my best friend because I “had changed”. I was called out on numerous occasions for what I posted on my Tumblr account. Some girls I went to school with didn’t even believe I was going out with this guy because I was so weird. It was extremely adverse and I thought I wouldn’t last.

And even though I spent a lot of time arguing with the counseller in the school and she told me to apologise to people who I had never done anything to; I never backed down. I wasn’t going to give into some institution who were forcing me to admit to actions I did not commit like some Stalinist Show Trial.

And I know I’m not alone when I say I’ve felt like an outsider my whole life. A lot of girls and boys fall into the mainstream trend just for fear of being left out. I’m not trying to be “hipster”. There’s nothing wrong with being part of mainstream culture if you genuinely enjoy it. But just  liking a certain style because it’s popular is ridiculous. Agreeing on a certain opinion just because the majority says it’s right is stupidity. Taking everything you hear as the gospel truth is a sin.

I urge you all to stick up for what you believe in. If you’re not happy with something, don’t follow the crowd in fear you’ll be left behind. Don’t be afraid of the truth. Let yourself become the truth. I regret trying so hard to fit in with the popular kids. It’s a ridiculous social construct that took me years to realise.

To this day, my mother believes that I will actually go out to popular nightclubs and wear clothes that are in fashion. In fact, she even said that I should “make it my business” to do these things.

I stick up for what I believe in. Even if it means arguing with my peers, acquaintances and family, I would never pretend to be something I’m not. You must learn to love what you believe in, and never give in to anyone else.

Why Woody Allen Still Matters

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Woody Allen is one of the most hilarious and most intellectual comics to grace the modern day world. Since the early fifties, Allen has made every generation laugh, cry and fall in love with his on-screen persona. I immediately fell in love with Allen’s work after watching the highly acclaimed Annie Hall. The opening sequence of the film captured my heart instantly as Allen discusses the pessimism in his life. I find melancholia wonderful, but Allen makes it funny and more attractive. It is unfortunate that there is a severe lack of interest in Allen’s work throughout my generation.

Some of you may read this and say “But of course Woody Allen still matters!” With over 40 works created in his career at present, Allen still is making films today. One of his most recent works, “Midnight In Paris“, was highly acclaimed. It won 18 awards, including an Oscar. But I feel that Allen is not celebrated enough. His adorable cynicism and wry humour are bound to leave anyone infatuated.

My favourite Woody Allen film is Manhattan; although it is very difficult to select a favourite. It is a beautiful romantic comedy about a divorcee (Allen) who is lost in life. He is dating a minor who is 25 years his junior. His ex-wife has come out as a lesbian and is writing a detailed book about their failed marriage. He quit his job and is unemployed. As you can see, things aren’t going exactly well for Isaac. Until he meets his best friend’s lover, Mary (Diane Keaton).

As well as being captivating and witty, the film comments on human nature. Isaac and Yale are both fickle and abandon the people who care most about them. It may seem very sorrowful, but Allen has the talent of turning this sadness into something light-hearted, while still preserving it’s intended meaning.

Allen is a true genius and comedy would not be the same without him. He is undoubtedly one of the most influential writer/directors to ever exist and is an extremely talented actor as well. Here is my top ten Woody Allen films:

  1. Manhattan
  2. Annie Hall
  3. Midnight In Paris
  4. Play It Again, Sam
  5. Hannah And Her Sisters
  6. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
  7. Love and Death
  8. Stardust Memories
  9. The Purple Rose of Cairo
  10. Husbands and Wives

Each film is as witty and beautiful as the last. If you’re not a Woody Allen fan already, you should definitely sample his work. His unique style is pleasant and enjoyable for all.

If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.

—- Woody Allen