It's odd isn't it, the importance of women in society and the lack of value placed upon us regularly? For creatures that gave you life, there is deep rooted lack of appreciations throughout society. From carrying us in their bodies, to cleaning us when we could not do it ourselves, to helping us learn to walk, talk and grow, to being the shoulder to cry on we so often need, women carry such importance on a personal level for us all. Not only do they nurture us, feed us, teach us but they also have made strides in science, politics, and the arts.
Take for example, Ada Lovelace, a female mathematician who is considered to have created the very first computer algorithm, a century before modern day computers were invented, making her the first computer programmer. Or the 'Hidden Figures' women, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Dorothy Vaughan who helped win the space race, with little or no recognition, to which I would highly recommend watching the movie, Hidden Figures (2016). In the arts, we have seen Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, Georgia O'Keefe, Augusta Savage and Frida Kahlo and so many other talents.
And how could we forget the first female politician in Ireland, the one and only Countess, Constance Markievicz, appointed Minister for Labour in the revolutionary first Dáil Éireann. But even with the extension of universal suffrage in 1922, the golden age for women in Irish parliamentary politics essentially never came. In 100 years since women won the right to vote, only 114 women in total have been elected to the Dáil. There was a 60 year gap between The Countess's election and appointment as Minister and the election of the second female Minister in the Irish Government.
For Irish women, we have endured a lot of oppression through the ages, what with tampons being illegal in the last century, due to fears they would provide sexual pleasures, thanks McQuaid! I cannot imagine anything more erotic than a ball of bleached cotton grazing the delicate linings of my most intimate workings, can you? Truly tantric bliss if you ask me.
In 1932, there was ban on an married woman working within the public sector. This was not lifted until '73, when my own mother was a toddler. Section 17 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1935 prohibited the sale of contraception in Ireland. In 1979, the Health (Family Planning) Act, 1979 allowed the sale of contraceptives in Ireland, upon presentation of a prescription. Up until 1976, a husband could up and sell the family home, without the consent or even knowledge of his wife. Big boy De Valera's first term as Taoiseach saw the complete banning of divorce. This was only repealed 25 years ago in 1996, Ireland repealed its constitutional prohibition of divorce; this was affected by the Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution Act, 1995, which was approved by referendum on 24 November 1995 and signed into law on 17 June 1996. This has now been amended by the 38th amendment to the Constitution in 2019, which has removed the requirement for a defined period of separation before the Court can dissolve a marriage and eased restrictions on the recognition of foreign divorces. Marital rape was ONLY outlawed in 1990. Up until that point nothing would be done to help victims if they were married to their abuser.
So why are women so often treated as less successful and less valuable than their male counterparts? Why are we so often seen as property, an asset, objects created to fall on our knees for any man that makes an advancement? Why do we have to scream at the top of lungs just to ask to be treated as equal? A combination of factors may possibly be the reason;
1. Property being introduced, and wanting to hand land down to your offspring meant a man would need to know for certain the mother of his children was only procreating with him, unlike what was occuring previously.
2. The systemic oppression of women's sexuality for extended periods of time, stemming from religion and government, has ingrained the idea that women are little more than baby making factories, and sex for pleasure is only for the man.
3. I know I sound like a broken record, but the insane increase of porn and sale of sexual acts, has lead to the societal ideation that women are willing to get into cars with men they don't know, that our bodies are worth cash in pennies, that we are little more than object of sexual pleasure, ready to please anyone and everyone and if you protest, you are a prude, 'not woke', or my personal favourite compliment - 'Didn't want you anyway, ye ugly bitch'.
Today, let's remember the quote of Audre Lorde - "I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own." Let us keep fighting for ourselves, for the women world wide experiencing violence and oppression, simply for being women. Let us fight against female genital mutilation, sex trafficking and child marriages. Let us think of the peaceful protestors in Paris who were attacked yesterday, March 7th, just for voicing their concerns about the porn and sex work industries. Let us never forget the ground work done by our sisters through history, for we would not have the freedoms we do without them and their revolutionary work. And most of all, let us celebrate each other, today and everyday.
Happy International Women's Day,
With love and hope,