Happy new year, readers! It’s that time again, when the tinsel and Christmas jumpers have vanished from the shops, to be replaced by a range of items designed to make you hate your body. Lycra, dumbbells, kettlebells, diet pills, skinny tea, diet books and magazines, protein powders. To turn on the TV or open Facebook is to be bombarded by images of skinny, muscled humans advertising weight loss programmes. Just like the relentless fake-happy-clappy magic-of-Christmas advertising onslaught since October, there is no escape. And this writer is having none of it.
This article originally appeared in The Mayo News on Tuesday, 18th April 2018.
A relationship with a close friend came under strain a few years back, when he was adamant in his opposition to the marriage equality referendum, and I was just as adamant in my support for it. We talked, we debated, we argued, we cried (well, one of us did) and ultimately we fell out. He went his way and I went mine and we each cast our votes according to our consciences. Afterwards, we reconvened. We didn’t talk about the issue ever again. And things have changed. I see him differently now, even though he’s the same person. He sees me differently too. And I miss the way things used to be, but we can’t go back.
I tried really hard this week to write about something else, something other than the verdict from Belfast last week and the subsequent reaction. But I couldn’t. Truth be told, I’ve thought about little else since the verdict.
I won’t dwell on the verdict; it’s been done to death by the amateur lawyers on Facebook. However, it has rightly been acknowledged that “not guilty” does not equate to “innocent”; and in a complex case like this, proof “beyond all reasonable doubt” always felt like a bridge too far. The only positive outcome – if there is one – is the conversations that have been started, but the time for conversation has long passed.
This isn’t going to be a long blog post; I’m at my desk and don’t have time to delve into the horror that is today’s verdict nor to engage with any of the misogyny that is no doubt currently polluting social media.
It is a very short post to say I BELIEVE HER. Beyond a shadow of a doubt I believe her, and so do hundreds and thousands of others.
I can’t begin to imagine the effect that the coverage of and verdict from this trial has had and will, for many years, continue to have on those who experience sexual violence. They, like many others are neglected and abandoned by the state when it comes to providing essential services.
If you’re angry today, make your anger count. Donate, so that service providers can continue to support survivors.
Support Rape Crisis Network Ireland – a fantastic organisation that advocates for survivors, informs policy-making, conducts research and collates statistics
Donate to Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (Or text ‘DRCC’ to 50300 to donate €2)
Donate €4 to Rape Crisis Midwest by texting RAPE to 50300
Please feel free to add more links in the comments below if you wish.
This article was originally published in The Mayo News on 24th October 2017.
Last week, amidst all the talk of inclement weather and hatch-battening, it was reported by Ellen Coyne in the Irish edition of The Times that Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan had quietly reneged on a promise made by his predecessor, Frances Fitzgerald, to fund an updated report on sexual violence in Ireland. The first Sexual Assualt and Violence Report (SAVI) was carried out in 2002, and was groundbreaking both in its methodology and the insights it provided into the dark and murky world of sexual violence, as well as estimating the prevalence of the problem. (Hint: a lot more prevalent than many would like to acknowledge).
In the aftermath of the Brock Turner rape case sentencing in the US, and the powerful words of the woman he assaulted, Irish women took to social media to share their own experiences of “rape culture”. From being groped in nightclubs, to catcalling, to casual” sexism in the workplace, it painted a harrowing picture of a culture that is so engrained, we often don’t think to question it. The response to this outpouring from men was interesting and mixed, and I’ll be following up with a column on that.
In the meantime, here’s the column I had (coincidentally) written for last week’s Mayo News, on one of my own experiences.