Tag: women

When will the Irish media stop reporting on rapists as ‘doting fathers’?

You would never have suspected

The Irish Independent article published on Saturday March 25th  titled “You would never have suspected anything about his past’” was difficult to read.  The nature and scale of the sexual attacks carried out by Michael Marville against seven siblings is distressing.  But I have to admit the articles insistent coverage that the man’s attacks were so out of place in the village where he lived and married also made for difficult reading.  I am baffled by the Irish media’s continued coverage of sexual criminals and abusers as ‘normal’ and quiet members of the community as if this is unusual.

When will the Irish media realize being ‘quiet’ is exactly how sexual abusers and rapists across communities survive and keep their victims living in secret shame?

RTE loves to interview the parish priest so he can express horror and assure viewers that there were no signs and the village is a ‘quiet place’. ‘They keep to themselves’ is apparently both documented method for proving innocence and for avoiding being a victim of sexual crime.

This article not only references the church attendance of the rapist’s family but brings out the GAA club, and his in-laws ‘respected’ standing in the community. These are all completely irrelevant facts and perpetuate the notion that sexual violence is obvious and attackers are skulking around the inner-city with guns and knives ready to pounce on women and children on a dark street.

“It’s a quiet area, you’d never expect something like this to happen here,” is the recurrent theme in these articles.  I completely understand the sentiment as a neighbor or friend but does this mean it is part of the news of crime reporting?

Where do we expect these crimes to happen? Where is it less shocking? Ballymun? If any community should understand the conditions that allow sexual abuse to go undetected for long periods of time, it should be rural Catholica Ireland. When will the Irish media stop perpetuating the dangerous myth that the priest and men of authority should be the mouthpieces of the community and your church attendance and GAA membership predicts your trustworthiness with children?

The Civil Service Girls

When do you stop being a ‘girl’? It seems to me that if you work in the public sector in Ireland, than you will be a ‘girl in the office’ until retirement. Is this sexist or just a another cultural difference that I don’t quite understand? While it doesn’t seem to bother anyone particularly but me to hear grown working women referred solely to ‘the girls’ or ‘the girl, I can’t help feeling it represents a systemic disrespect in the Council that I worked in that goes beyond language.  Now this would certainly not the first time that I would be accused of taking things too seriously and making too big a deal out of equality stuff so I am open to the possibility that I am simply missing the intent.

So who is a girl and who is a non-girl? I would hope as a non-girl, that I’ve reached woman status but I suspect there could be other less endearing ways to refer to us non-girls!

Do you have to be young, sweet and single to be a girl? No, doesn’t appear to be any correlation to age, temperament nor marital status.

You can be a bitter, frumpy, 45 year old with a man’s haircut and a mustache and still be a girl if you sit at a certain desk usually surrounded by other ‘girls’. In fact, it took me a while not to laugh when I heard some women referred to as girls because they were so far beyond being girls it seemed ludicrous to pretend otherwise.

Is it a sign of affection and endearment used by men for women they’ve worked with for years? Possibly. Is it just common Irish slang, like referring to men of any age in certain contexts as lads? Possibly but I don’t ever hear anyone referring to a meeting of the Senior Management Team or Directors as ‘the lads are meeting in the conference room’ so it seems to have more significance than simply being an expression although that is the preferred explanation when pressed.  Most commonly men and women are referring to ‘the girls in the front office’ or ‘the girl at reception’ who they are offering up to provide some admin or secretarial support or make tea and coffee.  The context is what makes the language sexist.

These positions and employees are always women. It is hard to compare how a man would be treated in a similar role because simply there appear to be no men in clerical roles. They are just so good at administrative and clerical tasks that they fly through the grades and receive promotion after promotion despite that fact that I’ve worked with numerous life long civil servants who couldn’t’[t write a letter or even seem to type and have zero phone skills. Hmm?

A clerical officer once asked me “Don’t you have someone who does all this for you?” referring to sending emails, making phone calls, updating outlook calendars, and reminding her boss to ring or meet people. I couldn’t help laugh and replied “I don’t know any woman who doesn’t do all that stuff herself and come to think about it, I don’t know one man who does.”

I hope this culture is simply just the leftover sexism from an all around out-dated and unfit for purpose Irish public sector.  Is everyone a ‘girl’ in the private sector? Is the American civil service any different? Or am I just an uptight Yank missing the point?