I read the news today, oh boy.
It has been a heavy week of breaking news: Racially charged legal decisions in Florida, unsavoury language being flung in the Irish Senate, the mysterious case of the NSA whistleblower, so it’s easy for things to just slip by unnoticed. One of these things that is threatening to disappear right under our very noses is a column in the June 17th edition of the Irish Independent by journalist Sarah Carey. The column relates to an incident in the Irish Parliament that took place during the debate concerning historic changes to abortion legislation. A male politician – and voter on the legislation – pulled a female politician onto his lap in full view of the cameras of the state broadcaster for the whole world to see. And that that it did.
Carey has delved into this event with all the sensitivity of a jackhammer to the face.
“Possibly because I’m small and have a sense of humour, I’ve been on the receiving end of a bit of groping down the years.” Well Sarah, I’m rather large actually, 5′ 10″ or so to be more accurate, and I’ve had my arse and tit grabbed a few times. Rather unpleasant it was too I’ll have you know. So why did I feel bad Sarah? Why did it upset me and why does it continue to upset others when it happens to them? Well ladies, we have it all wrong. The key is to keep your moaning Myrtle mouth shut and carry on as usual. “Every single time I’ve carried on as if absolutely nothing had happened,” says Carey. Bingo. That’s it. Next time I am simply going to adjust my hem, pat my damp brow and smile sweetly to the heavens while some asshole toddles off to feel up the next mute woman he sets his gaze on.
Problem is though, in the next paragraph Carey actually tells us she is not the quickest horse out of the box: “Why do I ignore the wandering hands? For many reasons. Firstly, I’m really slow. You could meet me in the street and we’d have a chat. Three nights later I’d wake up and say, “Hang on a second! When she asked me if I was on my way to hairdresser, she really meant my hair was a mess. What a cow!”‘
Excuse me? So you’re now saying it takes you several days to register that a grasping hand on your nether regions may have been an inappropriate action and you are telling us this as an authoritative voice in a national newspaper?
This is a minor issue though. The most horrifying part of the whole shebang is her next admission. “The other thing is I hate scenes. Even if I do cop what’s going on, my instinct is to avoid a row,” writes Carey.
And isn’t that the very problem women face the world over? Don’t make a scene. You’ll embarrass yourself. You’ll embarrass your family. It’s not like it was rape, he only grabbed your arse, have you no sense of humour?
And she leads us to what she appears to believe is some well of feminist strength that we may all draw from: “Rather than him having power physically over me, I ended up having psychological power over him and reaped the rewards.”
Keep telling yourself that love. But don’t you dare come out on a national platform and risk that sentence being read by some girl or woman who is currently being bullied or molested. There is always help waiting, and this is not it.