The flaws of feminism

Since curious eyes gazed upon provocative works such as ‘A vindication of the rights of women’ by Mary Wollstonecraft what it meant to be a woman began to change. Throughout history many brave and courageous women risked it all to fight for what they were entitled to: equality. Without yesterdays heroines I would not be the woman I am today. My bones, etched with their tiny, printed names and my soul woven with the fibres of their very essence. Amelia Bloomer, Betty Friedan, Alice Paul, Simone De Beauvoir, Gloria Steinem each name engraved on me somewhere. These women fought for our equality and dignity but now, I fear we have lost sight of that goal. The word ‘feminism’ has been tainted with a negative brush. You see, I thought feminism was about the sisterhood, allowing, encouraging and arming women to do whatever they want and be whatever they want. That is what we are teaching our daughters, isn’t it? As a gender we are telling young women they can be anything. Anything, as long as it fits in with the unscripted feminist ideals of 2017. If you are a woman who is pro-life you are punished by your own gender. Pro-life must surely mean you don’t want women to have the freedom of choice over their own bodies? If you are a woman who desires nothing more than to have children and spend your days baking cookies and finger-painting, you are told you simply are not a feminist. You are an enemy to women everywhere. Feminists should have ambition, want a long, thriving career, children are not a goal. In order to be a real, respected woman in 2017 I have to fit many ideals. I have to love Lena Dunham, I have to be fine with sexually promiscuous behaviour, I have to wear my ‘repeal the eighth’ t-shirt loud and proud, I have to fight for the right to use forms of contraception I am not totally on board with, I have to be a Hilary supporter, I have laugh at every Amy Schumer anecdote and I can’t really talk about how I am an emotional wreck when I’m on my period. COS THAT JUST AIN’T FEMINIST.

It’s funny, I was under the impression feminism was about the freedom to choose whatever I wanted, be whoever I wanted, yet it seems feminism is a new type of limitation these days. I no longer feel under pressure to be what a man expects of me, now I feel under pressure to be what other women expect of me.

So, while all of you are focused on wanting to exclude and punish the women who don’t fit your narrow ideals I’m more worried about the gender pay-gap, the thigh gap, the fact that more young girls have eating disorders than their male counterparts and the fact that men receive more scientific funding than women just cos.

I am a feminist. The women and men who dedicated their lives to give me the vote, allow me to wear trousers, burn my bra and blur the lines of gender are heroes. I’m ready to embrace what they set out to achieve. When feminists are ready to embrace the sisterhood, let me know.

-Christina.

 

My womb but not my choice.

In the wake of Donald Trump’s rise to power I have been forced to confront my own feelings on some things. Everywhere I go there is some mention of reproductive rights. Something, somewhere always acts as a trigger. Websites chiming in, celebrities tweeting their own personal beliefs, a statement T-shirt on a crowded college campus, news headlines, a friend absent-mindedly discussing his overt views over drinks on a Saturday night, blaring radio segments, magazine covers, trashy red-top papers with misleading headlines, it doesn’t cease. Everyone has an opinion and most are forcing theirs down my throat. I sat in a crowded room, each of them bickering casually over their own thoughts and feelings. I reached into my bag to get my phone and instead met some old tablets. My mum’s tablets. Then it occurred to me that I hadn’t used this bag since before my mum’s passing. I held them tightly in my hand and my breath became shallow. Must. Keep. It. Together. Just as Birdy’s voice began to wind down I was transported back.

I sat in the kitchen of their house. It hadn’t even been four months since I had faced my greatest challenge. They had two children, their first has CF, now in her thirties, fit and healthy. Their second was lucky enough not to receive two copies of the gene. They spoke of their experience with their first child. They had never even heard of the disease. They faced shock, sadness and a steep learning curve. They spoke about all of it in such a ‘matter of fact’ way, emotions of their distress clearly in the past. They then spoke of their second pregnancy. This was when the tone changed. They tell me it was then that they realised they were pregnant with a ‘decision, not a baby’. My heart sank. I felt sick. I felt the colour drain from my face. I was already upset but now I was just disgusted. Did they really just say that? I had no idea how to feel. I was outraged, horrified, hurt, bewildered and just outright irritated. How am I supposed to respond to that? I zoned out. I was too busy immersed in my own grief and misery to defend my personal opinion. Then, they stated in a rather aloof ad stolid way ‘you too Christina may be faced with such a decision, since you carry the gene’.

 

Please allow me to set the record straight: I will never be faced with such a decision. A child’s life is not a decision for me. It isn’t a choice or something I can play with. Any child of mine will be loved and cared for regardless of their health or their life expectancy. How dare you confront me with your ideals.

 

I understand everyone has a journey and I don’t understand that journey unless I have lived it myself but this is my opinion. Please don’t talk to about my future. I believe in being informed, prepared and educated on these things but I certainly don’t believe I have a say in any of it. I don’t want a choice, not in this scenario. Unless I explicitly ask for it, I don’t want your advice or thoughts.

 

-Christina.

Dear Dad..

When I was nine years old you told me I could be an astronaut, in fact you told me I could be whatever I wanted. I now realise that was ridiculous since I was almost legally blind and got car sick.

That is when you planted the seeds. You were raising me not to settle. You encouraged all of my whimsy and ridiculously free-natured mannerisms. I didn’t realise it then but now, I understand. You told me never to accept what I find to be mediocre. Not in love, not with my passions, not with my friendships and especially not with my dreams. You made me laugh when I was sad or angry. You gave me my sense of humour. Now, after a day of lab work that has gone wrong I make a joke and we both laugh. I got this quality from you. When I am broken you help me find the missing pieces and you constantly tell me I could find them without you but I know that isn’t true. You push me when I am on the verge of quitting and you tell me to run when it isn’t worth fighting for. You never doubt me, even when the world is telling me I’m taking the wrong path, you trust me, blindly and totally. This is where I get my blind faith from.

Most importantly, you taught me what true love and mutual respect looks like. When I was growing up I always knew I wanted someone to love me the way you loved mum. It is because of you that I know what I deserve. It is because of you that I didn’t settle in love. I wanted the blissful existence you both had even when times were hard. I wanted someone who looked at me the way you looked at mum even until her final day. Others would say that love like this is fictional and unrealistic but having seen it first-hand I know I too can have that. You made me want someone that really would love me in sickness and in health. You know what? You knew that mum might not live until old age and you didn’t care. You watched her brother lose his battle with CF and you threw caution to the wind and followed your heart. I wanted that. You taught me that love doesn’t involve logic or science. Love doesn’t follow any rules or any perfect path. When everything in our lives was dictated by timelines, rules and regimes you showed me that this one thing wasn’t. None of it mattered. All that mattered was this indescribable thing you felt for her. For all of this, I am eternally grateful. You taught me endless lessons. You are the unsung hero of our story, did you know that? I really mean that. You held us all together when we were almost falling apart. When a mean boy hurt my feelings you drove to my university campus to take me home and when mum lost her damn good battle with CF you promised me everything would be okay eventually.

 

Thank you.

Thank you for being my best friend, my role-model and my inspiration.

I love you.

 

-Your favourite child by default,

Christina.

The story of us.

We met in the darkness. Do you remember? My frail body like a piece of fine china in your big, broken arms. For a while it was too dark to find our way out. We stayed immersed in the veil of darkness but eventually the light found us. We had yet to realise it. We were too busy living, something that was novel to us again. By the time we had become aware of the blinding sunshine our paths were thoroughly intertwined. Not by fate anymore but by choice. We made the unconscious decision to tackle it all together. To grow together, to leave hibernation together, to dance together. We knew we were going to be together before we had even made the decision. We were wild. Our souls were untamed. We were complicated puzzles with missing pieces but each day, we found replacement pieces. It was us against the world, mainly because we had written it that way. We were the only characters in our play. The songs were written just for us. We danced carelessly but passionately. After a while I realised I couldn’t see anyone else. Each scene was tightly scripted but with only two characters. We were these horribly flawed but beautifully open caricatures. Everyone else were merely extras in the story of us. The grey that we lived in before had disappeared and now everything was tainted with a warm hue of every colour.

You see, in the beginning the darkness brought us together but it didn’t keep us together. So many other things kept us together. Our mutual love ridiculously scandalous behaviour and our hatred of most other things kept us together. Our dark sense of humour kept us together. The spark of creativity between us kept us together. Stolen, coy glances on cold, drunken nights kept us together. Raw passion kept us together. My ability to stay two steps ahead of you kept us together. Your brutal honesty and my inability to be tactful kept us together.

And now, love keeps us together.

-Christina.

 

Team adulthood

That’s what I thought we would be. You see, my parents were optimists, they raised me to celebrate other women. They taught me to encourage, support and love other women. I guess I was naïve because I had this crazy idea that there would be a sense of community, a sense of solidarity. I thought we would pass each other in our adult lives with a nod of support and acknowledgement. There are enough men in this world who believe we can’t do what they do. With every bone you pick with me you are proving a sexist, chauvinistic man right. You are showing him that we can’t do it. We can’t even act like a team. If we can’t even support each other how can we expect the opposite sex to give us their provision?

I showed up here one day. I had these crazy ideas about my adult life, it would be different from my teenage years. The juvenile angst and animosity would have melted away and we would finally guide each other. We would celebrate each other’s strengths and help work on each other’s flaws. We would be friends. We would be comrades. We would be human beings.

I didn’t realise that there was a rule-book which some of you played by. This rulebook could not be obtained by someone like me, that, I learned pretty quickly. This rulebook was immense. It dictated all of your interactions with people like me. It taught you to tear me down, wear me down, pick holes in everything from my dress sense to my sense of humour. Just when I thought I understood these toxic rules, these laws which you were guided by, you changed them. That’s right, just when I felt like I had cracked the code, the algorithm changed. You despised me for new reasons. Your insults took a new direction, a new dimension. In some ways, the madness was impressive.

I think, you let your insecurities become something that dictated the direction your life took. This theory makes me sad. You see, a long time ago I made a decision to never punish myself for who I truly am. I took a leap of faith and decided to love myself. You hate me because I lack that self-doubt which plagues you. My unwavering confidence bothers you. It shouldn’t. If anything, it should inspire you. Inspire you to be a better you, a stronger you.

When you want to leave the dark side and celebrate each other, you know where I am, probably dancing at my desk with something sugary in my hand at 10:00am.

 

-Christina.

 

How to survive Christmas.

A warm and fuzzy guide to surviving the Christmas period after loss. All of my ridiculous tips and advice are to be taken with a giant pinch of salt- to the eyes.

 

  1. Gin

And a lot of it, just joking, mulled wine is a safer bet. This way you just look like you are getting in on the festive spirit and nobody can say anything but! Plus, mulled wine gives you that tingly, fuzzy feeling inside that warms your whole body. Nobody ever got violent on too much mulled wine. Fact. What could go wrong?

 

  1. Mince pies.

That’s right, if over-eating doesn’t make you forget the pain of Christmas then nothing will! If you don’t have crumbs all over your hideous Christmas jumper then you aren’t doing it right. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a hefty dental bill and swearing at your scales.

 

  1. A healthy dose of denial.

So what you are going to want to do is take all your emotional baggage and put it into a little metaphorical box in your head. Once you’ve done this, go right ahead and pretend it doesn’t exist. This is what healthy people do, right?

 

  1. Outbursts of anger.

I mean, why go to hours of counselling when you can just randomly take all your pent-up issues out on those you love most?
 5. Honesty. 

Make sure to tell your family and friends repeatedly how shit the holiday season is. Don’t stop there though. Tell them how much you hate the Christmas tree, the music, the decorations, your hideous jumper, the food, your aunt Sally and her dog Scotty. Christmas is the time for honesty and what is more honest than sharing your blatant hatred for the holiday?

 

One last thing, remember, if you are suffering then everyone else should be too! So spread that misery!

 

 

-Christina.

Dear Irish government..

An open letter to the Irish government, 
I was looking for the right words to describe what it has been like to watch you all play God with something that you know very little about. I thought the words would be ‘angry’ or ‘exasperated’ but really, what I feel is frustrated and heart-broken. Aside from all of the hard evidence of Orkambi’s physiological effect, it has so much more to offer. You see for you, Orkambi is an annoyance that is costing you a lot of money (much like the solid-gold pensions of Brian Cowen and Bertie Ahern) but for so many people: mothers, fathers, brothers, husbands, children, the drug offers hope. If someone had offered me a drug that would improve my mother’s quality of life by even 5% I would have given a limb to ensure she got it. We are talking about the future of many children and adults alike. A drug that could make their day-to-day life easier. Can you put a price on that? You don’t have to sit at the bedside of your struggling child this Christmas eve, watching them fight for every breath. I can never explain just how soul-destroying it is to watch someone you love fade away like that. Don’t let any more CF patients fade away. It took years for organisations like Cystic Fibrosis Ireland fighting tooth and nail for basic facilities, basic healthcare needs and they did it. Don’t make us struggle for another five years before you see the light.
 
Regards,
 
A concerned citizen ashamed of her government and a heartbroken twenty-something who misses her mum.