Sunday 25 September 2016

If you can't find anything to feel persecuted and victimised over, you can just make something up

Barbara McCarthy

Published 22/08/2016 | 02:30

Campaigner Caitlin Moran
Campaigner Caitlin Moran

In my lifetime, I've been flashed at seven times. Unsavoury highlights include missing a plane because of a man revealing himself to me en route to the airport and being exposed at twice in one day - once from a guy inside a car, then a few hours later in the middle of the baths in Budapest.

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Back home, I've been called a tranny and when I used to host a karaoke night, a half-dozen or so people thought I was a man.

It's grotesque and offensive, but when I multiply days in the year with my age and humans I have encountered on the street in my life, it's an insignificant number of people who have been rude or perverted. I also join every living person who has been subjected to rude and vile sexist, racist or moronic jibes for no reason.

Yet, if it were up to the growing culture of offence which surrounds me, I should call upon all men to be castrated and create a #cuttofftheirballs movement.

The reaction du jour is to protest over one person's behaviour and cause a mass movement, the exact opposite of what we're told when it comes to terrorism - don't tar with a brush an entire race or religion because of the actions of a few.

I watched a breastfeeding social media campaign recently, which depicted women being forced to sit in toilets with their babies and feed them in dark cubicles covered in graffiti.

It had 7.5 million internet hits and thousands of comments by people who simply could not believe how women who nurse their babies could be vilified for such a natural and necessary act.

I searched in vain for comments saying "That happened to me", but alas my valiant efforts were fruitless. I breastfed my baby girl for 10 months and never once did I encounter any issues. I even ordered a pint of Guinness the odd time while I was feeding because I had a bottle prepared for the next feed and allowed myself a treat.

No one I know, nor anyone they know, was pushed into a loo to breastfeed out of public sight. But let's create a conspiracy where there is none. Everyone got on the bandwagon saying "How dare they?" and "How in modern times do women get treated like this by society?" The answer is - they don't.

You can breastfeed anywhere you want. You're just seeking attention, looking for some kind of medal for doing something totally normal.

The same goes for exhibitionist Carina Fitzpatrick, who was forcibly removed from Knockanstockan festival in Co Wicklow for being topless. Ms Fitzpatrick insisted that she subverted her body to (yawn) fight social stigmas and stand up against the blatant sexualisation of women's breasts.

Predictably, outrage ensued and the narcissistic we-have-too-much-time-on-our-hands #FreeTheNipple campaign got lots of traction. If men can go topless, then why can't women?

The male equivalent of going topless is going bottomless and, from what little I know, a bottomless man at a festival will get removed quicker than you can burn a bra.

If Ms Fitzpatrick had done it in another country - like Germany, for example, she would also have been removed, even though Germans have a very liberal attitude to nudity - but only in certain places at certain times.

Neo-feminists make a mockery of the cause they allegedly care so deeply about. I'm all for standing up for human and women's rights, but I want the thing I'm outraged about to be an actual thing.

Last week in the UK, a gay couple were shopping in Sainsburys when a fellow shopper complained to a security guard that they were behaving inappropriately.

The security guard informed them of the female shopper's disapproval of their holding hands and touching each other.

Next thing, outrage. One gay activist tweeted: "Sainsburys kicked out gays from shops, again, so we're gonna go and snog in the aisles."

It was great and they made their point and lots of people snogged in the aisles, but somewhere in the disgust the actual facts went askew - like the fact that they hadn't actually been kicked out at all and that Sainsburys had nothing to do with it.

On the other side of the coin, imagine a shopper, unsteady on their feet, faced with an aisle full of people getting in their way.

Would they have cause for outrage? No? Of course not.

Public discourse is often more vulgar, offensive and without regard for others than the supposed offensive act.

Just look at the abortion campaign - why are women being photographed with abortion pills at the tip of their tongue like tabs of acid in the early 90s? How crass.

While some people are getting offended about the removal of an Eighth Amendment poster in Temple Bar, they're happy enough to pay over the odds for an apartment in Dublin city.

The landlord decides to increase the rent from €1,800 to €2,800, no problem. Knock yourself out, rip us off, but what's worse is that there's this women who couldn't show her nipple somewhere in a packed festival. There's an element of do as I do about the virulent campaigns of yonder.

Intolerance is a key, as is a dismissal of large sections of society. While rambling on about feminism, strident women's rights campaigner Caitlin Moran - the one who likes to get her belly out in public - said "Women under 30 don't know what they're talking about" in a recent interview.

She was referring to Taylor Swift, who didn't identity as a feminist and disregarded the opinions of her generation. But that's okay, because she is an ambassador for women's rights.

In order to be a legitimate female member of society these days, you simply must be neo-feminist, breastfeed and shout it from the rooftops, have had at least one abortion and not regret it and not have had a new thought in the past decade.

Being pro-abortion is key. There is no choice in the matter.

I'm all for women having abortions here, if only just to shut everyone up about it.

Unlike the rest of the campaigners, I feel pain for people who can't have children, or regret having abortions - they do exist, even if their voice doesn't count.

Women shouldn't have to travel to the UK to have abortions in cases of foetal abnormality or rape, but why are the rest of them so offended?

It's not like they're being sent to an institution. London is a one-hour flight away. Plus there are monies available for people who can't afford the trip.

I have no issues with people being offended, I just wish they got offended about things like human sacrifices for medicine in China, the Syrian war, the refugee crisis, the activities of Boko Haram.

Before you #freethenipple, why not try to do something to stop climate change, which no one seems too bothered about.

The world is dying and we're killing it, but we are too busy indulging in the paroxysms of disapproval over 'that thing some rude guy said to that woman that time' to do anything about it.

Irish Independent

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