As a woman, complaining is not something that comes easily. From birth, we are conditioned to view womanhood in a very restricted way, and this extends to our attitude towards complaining. A woman is supposed to be sweet and demure, effortlessly beautiful, and clean, passive, and
dependent on our male counterparts! The reality of womanhood is much uglier, much grittier. There is much to be angry about once our shared history is fully excavated. A young woman’s feminist awakening is often horrific, and her protests often fall on deaf ears.
What’s the point in having the right to vote when our voices just bounce back off the wall?
I am from Northern Ireland, a country notorious for letting down its women. In my lifetime, I have seen the decriminalisation of abortion versus the reality of not actually providing safe, accessible
healthcare. I have seen women prosecuted for a miscarriage, for procuring abortion pills for her underage daughter. I have seen a high-profile rape case against two rugby players thrown out, and with no negative effect on their careers – I still think of that poor girl, her bloodstained underwear
passed around the court. I have heard stories of “mother and baby homes” where vulnerable and
isolated young mothers as young as 12 were forced to work, their babies ripped from their arms minutes after birth (we should not have to know the phrase “12-year-old mother”).
At the time of writing this, another young woman from Ireland has been murdered in broad daylight. She was out for a run at four in the afternoon. She “did everything right” – a sentiment that erases the actions of the man who killed her.
Women should not have to conform to a set of rules to be
granted the basic human right of existing without fear. The narrative that surrounds cases such as these hints at these “rules“ each time, focusing on where the victim was, what she was doing, whether or not she was by herself, without turning to stare at the elephant in the room: the story of
violence against women at the hands of men is centuries old. It shows no signs of stopping. Society refuses to attack the problem at its root, instead looking back and asking, “What could she have done differently?” The rules we have had laid out for us do not apply. We could „do everything right“, we could take every precaution to make our lives as risk-free as possible, and there is still every chance that we could die despite it all.
My point: we have been complaining for years. We can do nothing BUT complain. There are so many human rights that we have been denied, and the white Christian majority that run our country just smile and nod. How could one NOT complain when so much is so fundamentally wrong? How do so many of these issues end up being framed as being OUR fault? We are told not to get pregnant, not to find ourselves alone, not to get too drunk, not to get spiked, not to get raped. It’s rotten and condescending.
The foundations of Northern Ireland are rotten, and its women are falling through the forming cracks.