#womensstories: Girl power: four Irish women and what feminism means to them
Girl power etc. (Irish Examiner) #womenstories from Ireland. The first excerpt is from Louise O’Neill. Tara Flynn, Andrea Horan, and Sarah Maria Griffin also contribute. (Aside: have you ever seen a list of such Irish names in one place?)
“This was particularly true when it came to sexual agency. The teenage girls I knew who were exploring their sexuality were ‘sluts’ and ‘easy’, but the teenage boys were simply ‘players’.
” It was only when I was 15 and my English teacher, Ms. Keane, gave me a copy of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood that I began to develop the language with which to express my burgeoning sense of feminism.
“I don’t think I truly understood what being a feminist meant until I turned 26. I was living in New York and working for a fashion magazine when I suffered a major lapse with the eating disorder that had blighted most of my teenage years.
“I started seeing an incredible therapist there and it was she who encouraged me to examine the role in which a patriarchal society that depends a certain level of beauty from women had played in creating and maintaining my obsession with my weight.
“Once the blinkers are off and you notice all of the misogyny that we take for granted in our everyday lives, you can’t unsee it. From then on, feminism became a crucial part of my identity and it’s always evolving and changing.
"There are articles that I wrote only two years ago that make me wince now as my point of view has changed so much.
“I don’t think I ever saw myself writing something as explicitly feminist as Only Ever Yours or indeed, Asking For It.
"The idea for the former was like a bolt of lightning and it was only that I began to flesh it out that I realised how central a theme sexism was to the book, and the more interested I became in feminism, the more that influenced the work I was producing.
“I get shouted at frequently for saying that there is still a need for feminism in Ireland. People cite countries controlled by the Taliban where women are not allowed to drive or war-torn regions where rape is used as a method of torture, and tell me that I’m lucky to live somewhere as liberal as Ireland.
"I would argue that it is entirely possible to feel horrified at these stories, to feel huge empathy for the heartbreaking plight of the women involved, and to simultaneously believe that there is room for improvement in the way in which women are treated here.
© and rest etc. Irish Examiner