On Friday, the Criminal Justice (Sexual Services) (Amendment) Bill was introduced to the Dáil. This bill, if it is passed, will criminalise the purchase of sex from prostitutes. Thomas Pringle TD certainly has strong feelings about it, attesting that “gender equality is not achievable while women are for sale,” and that “when people make a conscious decision to purchase the body of another human being to do with it what they see fit, that is unacceptable human behaviour, which should not be tolerated or accepted as the norm”.
Opinion: Despite her status, Thatcher did nothing to help improve the lives of women
References to Margaret Thatcher habitually prompt familiar questions regarding her status as a trailblazer for women, or, indeed, as a feminist icon who dispelled myths of female fragility and victimhood.
However, despite her remarkable political career and unscrupulous imposition of unpopular policies, t he Iron Lady was no feminist.
Thatcher acknowledged as much, once asking, “the feminists hate me, don’t they?” only to provide her own response: “And I don’t blame them. For I hate feminism. It is poison.”
If you can have your friend sit in your kitchen
with troubles piled, not knowing what to do
and ease her cares and help her just by listening
and know that she would do the same for you
If you can lend your voice to joy and laughter
and sing and dance to some old blissful song
but keep your wits when facing a disaster
and know when something's right and something's wrong.
Careful now, as the residents of Craggy Island might say: the Irish State is sponsoring threesomes for teenagers. Was it for this? cried whistle-blowing politicians. Was it for this? cried afternoon radio callers. Was it for this? cried the bones of Éamon de Valera as they creaked and shuffled into an entirely new position.
The alarm was rung by Michelle Mulherin, the Fine Gael TD whose previous claims to fame include the perceptive observation that “fornication” is “probably the single most likely cause of unwanted pregnancies”. Mulherin stumbled – who knows how – upon an article on the website SpunOut.ie which explained what a threesome involved, listed some possible pros and cons, and suggested precautions. (“You’ll need to change condoms if you are switching partners during the threesome”; “only do it if you want to do it”).
On Wednesday, March 20th, UCD Women’s Studies hosts renowned sociologist, Prof. Hill Collins for a public lecture entitled ‘Where do we go from here? Intersectionality and Social Justice’. Prof. Hill Collins specialises in critical race theory and feminist theory, and is perhaps best known for her work on intersectionality, that is, the notion that people are often subject to multiple and mutually reinforcing disadvantages based on gender, race, or class, for instance. Below, Prof. Hill Collins discusses some of the key themes of her work.
CF: You have spent many years as an educator, scholar and activist exploring issues of social justice and inequality. How would you describe the relationship between grass-roots activism outside of the academy and change-making within academia?
Due to the recent issue that took place on the IFN facebook page this week (where an article about the sexism in the Oscars was posted, resulting in people making many women feel very unsafe through the sort of comments they made) we are welcoming constructive feedback on the way moderation, policy, etc. are handled in general within the IFN. It might be 'only' the internet, but it's extremely important women feel they can contribute in an inclusive and comfortable online space just as much as offline.
if there's anything you wish to express, feel free to leave comments in this blogpost.
Here is the IFN comments policy:
"Feminist Ethos: We wish to undertake all our work from an explicitly feminist perspective. While mindful of the complexity and multiplicity of feminisms, we purposefully embrace the term ‘feminism’ and invite others to follow us in doing so.
Equality: We wish to advance equality in all spheres of Irish society. As different types of inequality overlap and reinforce each other, we recognise the importance of working toward the elimination of inequalities that are not just based on gender, but also on class, racial or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, and other markers of difference.
Inclusiveness: We wish to protect and promote the interests of all of our members, and we respect the diversity of women and men who join us in opposing gender inequality.
Solidarity: We wish to work toward increased gender equality in Ireland by forging alliances with other social justice groups, community groups, NGOs and movements with whom we share similar values and priorities. Such alliance-building will also extend across national boundaries and will encompass the whole island of Ireland.
Progressiveness: We wish to form a focal point for feminist women and men who seek the introduction of positive and progressive measures for the achievement of gender equality both in Ireland and abroad.
Core Principle: Respect for people's lived experiences of oppression. As a feminist organisation, we are particularly concerned that people respect women's lived experience of gendered oppression, although we welcome comments from everybody on the page, as long as they are respectful.
Commenters are asked to acknowledge the above values and core principle, and to leave comments in accordance with them. The IFN reserves the right to determine whether or not comments are in accordance with our values and core principle."
Paying attention to multiple, often mutually reinforcing disadvantages, can help us understand injustices committed against marginalised members of our society, writes Clara Fischer.
RECENT EVENTS HAVE highlighted the inability of a largely monolithic and unrepresentative legislature to take decisions that are in the interest of people who are other than them. The overwhelmingly white, male Dáil, with its members predominantly selected from a narrow spectrum of dynastic families and professions, has proven itself to be incapable of acting justly toward all those historically excluded and marginalised. We have witnessed spectacular political blunders and injustices, for instance, in the handling of the Savita Halappanavar death and subsequent establishment of inquiries; in the refusal to introduce abortion legislation as mandated by the Irish people; in the treatment of Magdalene survivors; and in economic policy measures disproportionately disadvantaging women.
OPINION : The response to the Savita case tells us women’s lives don’t merit speedy action
Five weeks have passed since Savita Halappanavar’s tragic death in an Irish hospital. While much has been written on the circumstances, not much has been said about the messages conveyed by the story to the women of Ireland, and the further contextualisation of those messages in the wider debate on women’s reproductive rights.
The last five weeks have witnessed not, as should be expected in a civilised country, decisive action to protect women’s lives, but a continuation of the shameful 20-year tradition of political inaction that has prevailed in Ireland at least since the X case.
A chara, – Political editor Stephen Collins (Opinion, December 1st) stated “the Irish State has managed better than any other in the EU to protect the most vulnerable sectors in society from the worst hardships” endured during the course of fiscal correction.
Given that successive governments have refused to undertake impact analyses, which would provide information on how “vulnerable sectors” have fared since the beginning of the economic crisis, it is difficult to accept Collins’s statement, nevermind the certainty it seeks to convey.
The truth is that the State does not know how different sections of Irish society are impacted by governments’ economic policies, as the relevant disaggregated data haven’t been collected, and impact assessments have not been conducted.
Moreover, the limited research that is being done (eg by independent think tank Tasc), clearly highlights the disproportionate and repeated disadvantaging of certain groups, such as lone parents, and captures drastic increases in inequality over recent years. Unlike other countries, which include equality or gender-proofing as a logical and necessary part of economic policy-making, planning, and review, Ireland remains – perhaps wilfully – ignorant of the equality outcomes of policies introduced by government.
Unless the Irish State adopts equality-proofing as a standard practice applicable to all economic policies, it will continue to lack the relevant information to establish how vulnerable groups are affected. One would be wise to refrain from proclaiming the first-rate protection of “vulnerable sectors” until such time. – Is mise,
Dr CLARA FISCHER,
On behalf of Equality
C/o Poolbeg Street, Dublin 2.
Cross-posted from the Irish Times, 5th December 2012
Proposals for an EU wide quota for women on boards of companies have sparked widespread debate over the past weeks. Critics of the proposal, both male and female, describe the idea of mandatory quotas as demeaning, discriminatory and a blatant attack on companies' right to self-determination. After weeks of speculation, the European Commission finally released EU legislation aimed at improving gender balance on company boards in Europe. Whist this version seems slightly more watered down with no specific mention of mandatory quotas, it still obliges Ireland to ensure that listed companies have 40% female board members by 2020.
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