Ain’t You A Woman?: Stand Up For All Your Sisters

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Maybe we have not all been that woman. But we have all had a scent of it; maybe even just a glimmer. We have all; each and every one of us women, no matter where we hail from or what we believe, have felt fear under a patriarchal force. We have felt violated, used, torn, exploited, wasted, bruised, beaten, forgotten about, lost at least once in our lives because of the society we live in. And each and everyone one of us has picked ourselves up (often with the help of others) on more than one occasion and said we would not let it happen again. And maybe it will not happen to us again, or our friends and our sisters again; but it will happen to many other girls, women and transwomen around the world. We cannot leave anyone behind any longer.

Earlier this week, it was reported that a young woman who immigrated to Ireland was denied an abortion, despite being traumatised, scared and suicidal. Not only that, but she was led to believe that should would receive an abortion on the grounds of The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act (2013); which states that abortion is justifiable when the pregnancy in question endangers a woman’s life, including the risk of suicide.This law came into effect on the 1st of January this year, and still the State is acting as if it does not exist.

Irish Times correspondent Kitty Holland interviewed the young girl, who had been raped in her home country before arriving to Ireland. She was unaware that she was pregnant. She was lost in a new place. She was turned away and betrayed by the IFPA, who delayed her in seeking an abortion. She attempted to take her own life. The young woman told Ms. Holland what she told the nurse:

“I could die because of this pregnancy. I am prepared to kill myself.”

The interview only becomes more harrowing as the young woman depicts the moment she was refused an abortion after fighting so long for her right to one:

“You can leave me now to die. I don’t want to live in this world anymore.”

This becomes more than just a pregnancy issue. This is destroying someone’s mental health, their psyche, their life. Abandoned by the State, the young girl also said that she feels like she has been “left by everybody” and she is enshrouded with shame. But none of this is her fault; and yet still this place we call home can make one vulnerable young woman look like a monster because she wanted justice for herself.

I, along with many others, have been criticised and condemned for adopting a pro-choice stance. I have been called a murderer, disgusting, immoral; and on more than one occasion, a Nazi. All because I believe that pregnancy is a choice (which it is) and I believe that a woman should have the right to her own body (which each and every woman does). And still, these people do not put themselves in the situation of any woman who has been betrayed their rights over the years in this country and worldwide. Just because something does not affect you directly and/or your circumstances allow you to have a different outcome to another person does not mean their rights are non-existent. We can no longer pretend that these injustices are the moral thing to do because Ireland has “always been that way”. The UN are right: the Irish state treats women like vessels. All of us. And it does not matter if you wanted to have a baby or not, or you want to ever have one for that matter. We are still expected to be incubators; every last one of us.

And this denial of health care and reproductive rights is not the only thing Irish society has done to reduce women to dust. Think of the young woman at Slane in 2013 who was hospitalised after she was a victim of extreme abuse and harassment online. Think of the transmisogyny of Irish society which led to mass online bullying of a transwoman in Limerick city. Think of the women at the Magdalene Laundries, one of which is not far from my front door. Think of all the Mother & Baby homes. Think of the unrepresented and disrespected sex workers that have no one to protect them. Feminist writer Bell Hooks once said: “Being oppressed means the absence of choices”. That is exactly what we all are in this society: oppressed. And you may not want to acknowledge it; you may not even realise it. But you have less choices than any man does if you are a woman or identify as a woman in this State.

You know what? We are all that woman. We are the women staring at themselves in the mirror — crying — wishing it was all different. We are the girls that sit on the curb outside the nightclubs waiting for friends because some creepy guy molested them on the dancefloor. We are the girls filled with shame because that is what we are told how to feel. We are the women who are catcalled and beeped at; and we are told: “It is a compliment”. We are the girls who wake up every morning feeling successful and happy and somewhere along the way we are shut down by a “higher” male power. We are the lonely girls. We are the girls who don’t want to be boys. We are the sad girls. We are the women making ourselves sick with worry, scrambling on cold bathroom floors. We are the the broken girls. We are the “Want You To Make Me Feel Like I’m The Only Girl In The World” girls; but they will never give us that. We are the college dropout girls. We are the single mothers. We are the girls who lay victim to revenge porn.  We are the X Case. We are Migrant X.

But most of all, we are the girls that should not; that will not back down. Support your sisters; and not just your cis-ters. We cannot lose the battle.

 

“It is obvious that many women have appropriated feminism to serve their own ends, especially those white women who have been at the forefront of the movement; but rather than resigning myself to this appropriation I choose to re-appropriate the term “feminism”, to focus on the fact that to be “feminist” in any authentic sense of the term is to want for all people, female and male, liberation from sexist role patterns, domination, and oppression.”

– Bell Hooks

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.