Thursday 27 October 2016

O'Doherty: Sorry sisters, but abortion isn't a gender issue

Published 15/11/2015 | 02:30

Tweet and sour: Gráinne Maguire is disappointed that Enda hasn't responded.
Tweet and sour: Gráinne Maguire is disappointed that Enda hasn't responded.
In need of muscle: Professor Melissa Click.

I'm Ian, and I have a confession to make - I've never had a period.

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I've also never been pregnant, and I've never had to have an abortion.

So, as a man, is it fair to day that I have no right to a view on terminations and the 8th Amendment?

That's the question that cropped up repeatedly this week every time the ludicrous 'tweet your period' campaign was menstrutated... sorry, mentioned.

For those who have been living under a giant tampon for the last few days, the 'tweet your period' campaign is the brainchild of Gráinne Maguire, an Irish comedian who came up with the wizard idea of tweeting Enda Kenny with details of her menstrual cycle because, she says: "It's a big leap to expect a load of middle-aged, middle-class, white men, who are spooked by the word 'period' to effectively discuss pregnancy and reproduction."

Ah yes, the perils of the 'white man', a phrase which carries serious weight when used in America but just looks bloody ridiculous and redundant when used in an Irish context.

This kind of fatuous virtue signalling raised its dreary head during the summer when a similarly ill-judged campaign, 'shout your abortion' soon collapsed under the weight of its own obnoxious stupidity and sense of entitlement.

Here's the thing - contrary to what the loopier members of the sisterhood seem determined to think, most men aren't terrified or shocked by periods, it's just that we have as much interest in discussing them as we do in talking about someone's bowel movements - both are a biological fact of life but that doesn't mean we want to sit around the dinner table, prattling on about them,

According to Maguire, she is sick of Irish women 'being treated like second-class citizens' when it comes to abortions. But, again, that's about as ludicrous as the casual slur about 'white men'.

Women would only be second-class citizens on this issue if men had full and free access to terminations and were provided a service that was explicitly denied to women. Since that obviously isn't the case, it is simply absurd and fallacious to suggest that there is gender-based discrimination.

But if they want to turn this into a gender issue, what about all the women who turned out to vote in previous referenda who were opposed to abortion? Are they all to be dismissed as middle-aged, middle-class white dudes?

As much as it might irk all those feminists who want to reduce this to a simplistic gender issue, abortion is something that as many women as men are firmly opposed to. But when you're trying to frame a narrative that places you as a victimised minority, it's hard to keep that thread alive when it turns out that you're also being 'victimised' by plenty of your own sex.

As it happens, I'm firmly pro-choice and agree that the 8th should be repealed. And, I must admit, that is largely because of the fact that despite my own moral qualms about abortion, I don't feel that I have the right to tell a woman what to do with her own body.

But that doesn't mean that these hysterical activists should be given a free pass to reduce the single-most complex and divisive social and moral issue in this country to a juvenile shock tactic which owes more to grandstanding than anything else.

Not surprisingly, Maguire expressed 'disappointment' that Enda Kenny hasn't yet replied to her Tweets.

Well, what was he supposed to do? Recommend that she take a couple of Nurofen, buy a load of chocolate and watch a box set of Scandal?

The unfortunate reality that confronts these activists is that democracy sometimes produces a result you don't agree with, and while it might be easier to simply blame those bastard men, women make up 54pc of the electorate.

Are they misogynists as well?

Step away from the ­batter burger

Fresh from launching a brave and selfless one-woman campaign against the scourge of ice cream vans and then warning people that MMA wasn't really a sport, Fine Gael's Catherine Noone is once more back to what she does best - sticking her beak into things that are none of her business.

You'd like to think that having suffered national humiliation with her previous attempt to be the nation's Nanny, she would have explored other avenues of gaining publicity but, no, this time she's going after chippers near schools.

This is one of those periodic examples of the think-about-the-children simpering that crops up whenever a politician has nothing fresh to say and her suggestion that no takeaways be allowed near a school or a playground is an example of the unthinking cynicism which passes for political ideas in this country.

Nobody is suggesting that it's a good idea for kids to have fish and chips for their lunch every day but it is not the job of the government, or indeed the schools, to decide who gets to eat what.

We have a truly obnoxious habit in this country of assuming that prohibitions or extra taxes can solve any problem. They never have and they never will. But it allows politicians to show how concerned they are, so we have to endure this witless buffoonery on a depressingly regular basis.

Do you think parents should have the right to raise their own children as they see fit? Or do you think the State has an obligation to remove a fundamental piece of parenting - deciding your child's diet?

Who elects these people? Oh wait, I forgot. Noone is a Senator, she wasn't actually elected by the people at all.


Never trust people who teach when they could be working in the real world - particularly when it comes to media courses.


In need of muscle: Professor Melissa Click.

I've seen journalists who couldn't cut it in a newsroom securing a nice niche in academia but undoubtedly the best example of this comes in the squawking face of Melissa Click, an American media professor who apparently hates journalists.

During a confrontation on the campus of the University of Missouri, Click was filmed as she tried to have a student reporter thrown off the grounds, and was caught on camera saying: "Hey, I need some muscle over here to get rid of a reporter."

The footage has gone viral and is a perfect example of how the free-speech movement of the 1960s has been replaced by a suffocating intolerance of any view that doesn't exactly match their own.

The best line, however, came from a student who complained that: "I'm not interested in debate, I want to talk about my pain."


And there was me foolishly thinking that college was where young adults with enquiring minds go to be challenged. Must be me my white privilege kicking in.

Still, mark these campus wars in America - they're coming to an Irish college near you.

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