In Ireland, You Too Can Have the Gilead Experience.

We watched the first episode of The Handmaid’s Tale this week, and it was very difficult not to compare and contrast Gilead with Ireland. In Ireland, a pregnant woman cannot have an abortion until her life is at risk. She can be imprisoned for 14 years if she attempts to procure an abortion. She has virtually no autonomy during pregnancy and if the State so desires, she can be taken to court during pregnancy and full legal representation granted to her foetus. She is essentially treated as a handmaid, all because of hysteria fuelled by Roe v. Wade.

Of course, there had always been a don’t ask, don’t tell policy around women, their wombs and their choices. Rich women like me could get the name of an accommodating doctor through a friend and pay a large sum for a safe D&C. Poor women got the name of a local woman who was known to provide the required services and took their chances on their kitchen tables. And women, after 1983, continued making their trips to the UK for medical services. ‘Going to England’ was a nod and a wink to the notion that Ireland didn’t really think too deeply about what women wanted, but if the really wanted it no one would stop them.

Then suddenly there was a court case, wherein the State took a 14 year old child, pregnant following rape, to the High Court of our land, a place of wigs and polished wood that smells of bureaucracy and judgment. The State didn’t want this girl to have an abortion. The State wanted to force her to bear the child of her rapist. The Supreme Court decided no, a suicidal child shouldn’t have to bear the child of the man who raped her, the State should allow her to have an abortion because her life was at risk.

And a lot of people huffed and puffed and thought it was indeed a bit mad that women and children should be brought to court if they wanted abortions, and were probably a bit annoyed that the girl didn’t just have her abortion in England and maybe thought secretly her parents shouldn’t have caused a fuss by asking a policeman if the foetal remains could be used as evidence. Making a show of us, they said.

So we huffed and puffed a bit more and the State held another referendum, on three proposed constitutional amendments. One was about not preventing women from travelling, one was on the right to information on abortion. And the third wanted to stop children like Ms X, who’s life was at risk from suicide, from being able to get abortions if they couldn’t slink off elsewhere.

The third didn’t pass. But for 21 years, the State did nothing about legislating for abortion in those cases where children and women are at risk of death from suicide and are allowed to have abortions here. In 2013, the Government got around to it and passed a law regulating the grounds on which women and children can have abortions.

And we heard about floodgates and loving both and all the usual guff we’ve heard for the past three decades and before because to be perfectly bloody honest about it Ireland hasn’t trusted women since the foundation of the State and didn’t intend to start now. Ireland forces any pregnant women or children who can’t travel outside the state to stay pregnant, and that’s where we are unless you’re at risk of dying.

So if you’re looking for somewhere that makes you feel like a handmaid, get pregnant, come to Ireland and get the real Gilead Experience. You might not get any scans during pregnancy, because what can you do if there’s a problem anyway? You might object to a nurse breaking your waters, but she knows best and you have no say. You might be taken to court by the State and given no choice in the delivery of your baby, but sure we love both.

Don’t we?

In Ireland, You Too Can Have the Gilead Experience.

“Forget the myths the media’s created about the White House. The truth is, these are not very bright guys, and things got out of hand.”

From All The President’s Men. I feel like these words are truer than ever this week. I don’t think humans are designed for so much news, and news of such intensity, in such a short time. I don’t know where this is going, and I am 100% certain it will be a bumpy ride, but I think I need to dig out my copy of All The President’s Men this weekend.

“Forget the myths the media’s created about the White House. The truth is, these are not very bright guys, and things got out of hand.”

What’s In A Name?

The decision to relocate a national maternity hospital to another, more medically appropriate site, seems logical and positive. Until you realise just what this will involve. The state is, in effect, giving a €300 million asset to a private organisation that’s loyal to another state and has proven itself to be completely and utterly amoral, to have failed women and children, to have manipulated the needy through indoctrination and has managed to convince generations of people that if it wasn’t for it, we somehow wouldn’t have all the normal services of most western democracies.

This is supposed to be a national maternity hospital. If we’re allowing this decision to move towards completion, we are getting a national maternity hospital in name only. I don’t believe any promises made by any religious order or Minister any more, because the best way to predict what will happen in the future is to look at the past. And in the past, both religious orders and Ministers have lied, or told mistruths, or have used whatever weasel words they need to for social or political expediency.

Religious bodies have used the state’s education system to convince generations upon generations that it is completely normal and positive for essential services to be controlled and delivered by, but not paid for, private foreign entities. We have given them billions. They have abused our people, they have stolen babies and enslaved women, they have indoctrinated children, they have covered up child rape, they have created trusts to hide and retain assets and they have shown us not one example of why they should be handed ever greater sums of state money.

It is not normal for a state to hand over millions to private foreign entities that have an appalling track record. It is not normal for us to be expected to accept this is normal. It is not normal for women who are supposed to be getting care in a national maternity hospital to have to ask about the religious limits that they might be subjected to.

A body which styles itself the Sisters of Charity should not and cannot be handed our national maternity hospital.

What’s In A Name?

They’re Too Worried About What People Think

This is what I heard a grandmother say about young people today, and why they wouldn’t get up to dance at a social function. She said they’re too worried about what people think, which restricts what they can do.

This phrase has been ringing in my ears. They’re too worried about what people think.

They’re too worried about what people think. So they send their ‘fallen women’ into prisons.

They’re too worried about what people think. So they don’t need to treat the children of these people with dignity and respect.

They’re too worried about what people think. So they let a church run the schools, hospitals and social services rather than shout stop.

They’re too worried about what people think. So they don’t ask where the babies they’ve bought have come from.

They’re too worried about what people think. So they let their children be indoctrinated regardless of their own faith or right to privacy.

They’re too worried about what people think. So they let lies be told in public in the name of balance.

They’re too worried about what people think. So they’d don’t ask whether wanting to draw a line under another exposed atrocity is a bad thing.

They’re too worried about what people think. So they don’t look too deeply into why children are playing with babies’ skulls.

They’re too worried about what people think. So they don’t speak out about obstetric violence.

They’re too worried about what people think. So they don’t think, they just do.

I am also too worried about what people think. I am too worried about why parents will continue to indoctrinate their children. Why my peers have church weddings and baptise their children. Why we are allowing lies to take equal status alongside the truth. I am too worried that the 800 babies and children who died in Tuam died and were forgotten on purpose because They’re Still Too Worried About What People Think.

 

They’re Too Worried About What People Think

Here We Are Now. Entertain Us.

This is not a story about how much of a Nirvana fan I was. I came to their music late, long after they were at the peak of their success and long after they had stopped making music. When Nirvana were popular, however, I was a ten year old girl living a sheltered life. While my father was into music, our pop culture references were few and far between. His record player didn’t work, but his tape player in the car did and I had a steady diet of very old Hank Williams and the Elvis Sun Sessions. I still love hearing that music today. We had a very old TV that had a about six stations on a good day and I’d turn off BBC1 at 7pm on a Thursday because I didn’t want to hear the music. We had no VCR so if we didn’t see something that was that.

Now I have Netflix and Virgin Media TV channels galore. I have Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter. I have news and entertainment on tap. I can see almost any news report or music video within seconds. Today I watched footage of the Berlin Wall coming down, with a chaser of Melissa McCarthy’s Spicy Act. I was inspired to write this post after watching a BBC4 documentary on 20 years of rock anthems. I can write this while streaming something else to entertain me. I have woken up at night in a panic and been able to grab my phone and see on Twitter that the UK had voted to leave the EU and that a reality TV star was on the brink of election.

Do I check these things obsessively because I’m telling myself I want to be informed about the state of the world? Or am I consuming these stories because they’re now as much part of being entertained as which movie star is having an affair and with whom? Am I now expecting life to have a series of entertainments, of which politics and current affairs form a part? Is the latest compelling press conference just something that’s offered to us because we’re here, and we expect to be entertained? Or are these just lyrics from a song that became a hit and meant that the hair bands had to rethink their sales pitch?

Here We Are Now. Entertain Us.

The Chalet Girl Grows Up

I have retreated to the Chalet School in recent weeks, partly out because I’ve managed to track down several difficult-to-find unabridged editions to replace my paperbacks and mainly for reasons of sanity, self-preservation and to quell the constant low level anxiety that’s been hiding at the pit of my stomach.

It’s oddly comforting to know that there’s a universe where I know they’ll make it through the chaos of the 1930s unscathed and filled with stiff upper lips and shoulders being put to the wheel to defeat a foe. It’s also nice to read that the school doesn’t believe in shielding the children and young adults in its care from bad news-we’re told they don’t want to raise jellyfish but strong and able women. There is, however, only so much bad news one can take each day and the Chalet girls weren’t living in a world with endless access to ceaseless media chatter.

Living in a world where openly mocking disability and using the coarsest of language to describe how you treat women doesn’t stop millions people voting for you and an electoral college rubber stamping your rise to public office is difficult, to say the least. Jolly difficult and frightfully unnerving. I can’t help but feel that the fines for slangs weren’t the worst idea.

The Chalet Girl Grows Up

Forty Shades of Please Don’t Do It This Year

Every year, on the 17th of March, the Taoiseach of Ireland participates in a slightly twee and bizarre ceremony, known as the shamrock ceremony. He (thus far, always a he) presents the President of the United States of the day with shamrock in a crystal bowl and there’s a photo op and sundry other Irishy things happen around various parts of Washington DC, the USA and the world. We’re always told it’s great for Irish-international relations and trade, that it is a type of access that’s utterly unique and aren’t we fierce lucky that we have this type of thing to draw attention to ourselves every year.

I don’t think it should be done this year. I don’t think I want the leader of our country participating in this type of event given the current circumstances, where facts can be dismissed and lies presented as alternative facts. I don’t think we should pretend this is another opportunity to go about business as usual and I don’t think I’m alone in wanting our Taoiseach to skip it this year.

Enda, this year, please stop the shamrock. We’re better than this. And we really should show that we are and we will be.

Forty Shades of Please Don’t Do It This Year