Miriam’s Musings

Why is the onus on women to stay safe?

A survey undertaken by The National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence has revealed that ‘one in three women – (33%) – has experienced physical and/or sexual violence since she was 15 years old’.

My reason for mentioning this comes on foot of a conversation regarding the tragic death of Sarah Everard, who vanished in the UK while walking home from a pal’s house, and whose remains were sadly discovered in an area of woodland. This tragedy has, once again, raised the issue of the dangers we women face when out walking, jogging, socialising or shopping alone, etc. It also highlights the measures we go to in order to avoid being attacked. Wayne Couzens, a British Metropolitan Police Officer, has been charged with kidnapping and murder in relation to Sarah’s horrific death.

As women, we’re used to being harassed both in private and in public places. Only last Friday while in town, a gentleman, upon seeing me parallel park my car, felt the need to animatedly direct me into the space, barking orders so loudly, everyone in the ATM queue could hear. I ignored him and parked, but decided to acknowledge him by thanking him for his ‘help’, saying: “Cheers, fair play, I think I’m okay now”.

However, Mr. Misogynist – unable to cope with the fact that me and what he saw as my ‘inferior’ female genitalia could park without needing direction from his, ahem, ‘far superior’ male genitalia, removed his mask and abusively spat out the extremely derogatory and homophobic term, “stupid dyke” at me. What a prince.

I wasn’t scared of this obnoxious clown, however his aggressive and plainly homophobic behaviour when addressing/approaching any woman – whether straight or gay – infuriated me. You understand, ladies, I couldn’t let this go, I kept my face firmly on screen-saver mode and in a loud voice, exclaimed: “One hundred thousand sperm… and you were the fastest? Ya gobs***e”!

When discussing this incident with a friend, she said she would have felt ‘extremely spooked’ if this had happened to her. And as if I needed a reminder of how heavily the threat of violence hangs over women, my friend revealed that whenever she enters an underground car park, she holds her car keys between her fingers, because in the event she’s ‘jumped from behind’, she would be able to use them as a weapon of self-defence.

Why is it ladies, that while embarking on such a simple, everyday task as going to our cars – or in my case, parking my car – we are open to the fear of being attacked/abused? Why is it that while young girls, we’re conditioned to be more fearful than boys? Why are we viewed as being more fragile and less capable of taking care of ourselves?

As we age, that very notion of feeling feeble and weak solidifies in our psyches to such an extent that it manifests into an all-encompassing terror, leading us to watch what we wear, mind how much alcohol we drink, and modify our behaviours so as not to attract ‘unwanted’ attention. If we’re out, we’re expected to constantly ‘check in’ with partners/families/friends. To an extent, the onus is placed on us to protect ourselves from the increasingly present possibility we’ll fall prey to an attacker.

Why is it that, when going for walks, we feel the need to choose our routes based on how isolated they might be? Why is it that we are advised to always ‘stick’ to well-lit areas? Why is it that we’re always wary of any man who walks behind us, towards us, or who passes in front of us? And why is it that if we are attacked, instead of society seeing this as a violation of our right to be in any place at any time and not be harmed by another individual, it instead places the focus firmly on our own culpability… why were you out alone? What were you wearing? Society must stop implying that attacks on women will end if we, as women, take more precautions. It is not our fault.

 

We’re in for a week of high drama

Last Sunday was not only Mother’s Day, it was also a day of two significant ‘breaking news’ stories, both of which were guaranteed to deliver moments of high drama in the national broadcaster’s ‘current affairs’ department. I can just picture George Lee’s impish grin at the prospect of delivering more worst-case doomsday scenarios to the nation! You go, George!

First, we had the curious case of Leo and ‘that’ leak, with An Garda Síochána now upgrading their initial inquiries into our Tánaiste’s leaking of a ‘confidential document to a friend’ into a full-on investigation.  Good for them, nobody’s above the law.

Then came the news that, acting on a ‘precautionary principle’, the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) recommended we temporarily suspend the AstraZeneca vaccine on foot of a number of incidents of serious blood clotting events in adults following their jabs.

Now personally, I couldn’t give a fizz about a former Taoiseach who seems to view being handsome as such a burden that in order to ensure not just ‘the early risers’ but the slackers took him seriously, he drew references from popular culture when responding to our first, now historical, lockdown. For the record, Leo – in what I’d call an air of pained geniality – has apologised over the ‘leaking’ affair, and while it’s likely he has committed no offence, it’s now in the hands of the Gardaí.

But I digress. I’m more concerned about the latest vaccine issue for the simple reason that along with being embroiled in a supply cock-up, with doubts around its efficacy in the over 65s, we’ve now been dealt this major blow regarding what is a very serious health concern. I’d imagine the recipients of the 109,000 doses already administered in this country (some of whom are people I know) must be feeling pretty anxious – and who could blame them? I hope they can bear in mind that over 17 million people worldwide have received this particular vaccine without experiencing any problems or setbacks whatsoever.

 

We are all entitled to our honestly held opinions!

Love him or loath him, but when he’s on our screens, Piers Morgan is usually TV gold; I would’ve liked to have had him as a guest back when I worked on RTE’s The Afternoon Show. However, I have to say that the sight of Morgan, a grown man, marching off during a live TV broadcast and essentially behaving like a spoiled brat, was more laughable than it was credible.

Mind you, I wholeheartedly agree with his view that we’re all entitled to voice our own honestly held opinions – and he is someone who’s paid to voice theirs. That said, it must surely wound Morgan’s massive ego to know that his arch-enemy – the woman he has ‘thrashed’ – Meghan Markle, had a starring, albeit minor role, in his departure from a well-paid job at Good Morning Britain!

Apparently the Duchess of Sussex (does she still hold the title?), along with 41,000 others, made a ‘formal complaint to Ofcom’ over Morgan’s comments. According to Sky.news.com, a YouGov survey suggests that as a result of the Sussexes’ tell-all interview, the pair’s popularity ‘has fallen to its lowest level’. Of course it has… I mean, a pair of millionaires bellyaching to a billionaire about how tough life is –during a pandemic when people are dying and others are losing their livelihoods – was never going to fly, now was it?