Journey home turned to degradation by gangs of lustful males
Published 14/10/2015 | 02:30
Saturday evening, 10.45pm on Camden Street in Dublin City. For me, this was the beginning of my journey home from work and the source of overwhelming feelings of degradation, objectification, anger, fear and raw sadness.
As I reached my bus stop last night, I realised I would have a long wait and so zipped up my long, padded jacket and braced myself against the cold October night. It was not long before it became clear that the cold would be the least of my worries that evening.
As I looked around me at the all too familiar (yet, at the time, harmless) scenes of energetic groups of friends enjoying their weekend, I sensed it was a particularly busy night. There were significant numbers of all-male groups coming from all directions. Now, upon reflection, I can find no word more suitable to describe these groups than 'packs,' based on their behaviour towards me, one another and other members of the public.
As I stood at my bus stop, the wolf whistles, comments on my physical appearance and 'hellos' loaded with intention began and brought with them those well known feelings of self-consciousness, awkwardness and embarrassment that I am certain countless women in Dublin face on an irritatingly regular basis. My experience of this night has made me realise that, due to regular exposure, I have become somewhat desensitised to this kind of behaviour and so, my reaction to these acts was quite muted. I stood, I waited, I ignored.
They continued. It was not until one group in particular passed that my vulnerability became acutely apparent. It began with one group member looking directly into my eyes, pointing at me, turning to the others and announcing, "I fancy that one. That one."
To which another member replied in agreement, suggesting what he might like to do if he got me home. To which another added further details to this imagined scenario in which I was an object with the sole purpose of fulfilling their desires; details which filled me with pure white rage and, if I am honest, questions around my own value as a person. If I can be seen in this way, I must not be perceived as an equal member of society by these people. Right? My thoughts were supported by the roars of laughter that followed as the group passed me by. They laughed, I became filled with fear. I was alone and it was now screamingly obvious that not only was I a source of entertainment for these groups, but a target.
I decided then to walk towards another bus stop at Eden Quay, simply to feel like I was not placidly awaiting the next wave of comments and jeers.
As I walked briskly by, dodging and ignoring as I went, I noticed the faces of many other women on their own - all looking blankly ahead, also dodging and ignoring. I thought to myself, 'why don't we say something back? Why don't we tell them that we deserve more than to be objectified in this way? Why don't we explain WHY we respond to their 'compliments' of how attractive we are with a stare of distaste rather than the gratitude they so clearly feel entitled to?'.
It was a long bus ride home. I sat close to the driver. The degradation that filled my commute that night was not yet over. As I got off the bus, I heard thrashing against the windows and looked up to find yet another group of males.
They taunted and made sexually explicit gestures towards me out the window. I walked home. I opened the door and sat in my kitchen.
I cried. I was so very, very tired. I knew then that just because I was home, it did not mean it was all over. I too am exhausted, not only for myself but for those who have had and will have similar experiences, the innumerable amount of men who do value and respect women and anyone who believes that gender should not influence a person's right to be viewed as an equal in the eyes of another.
Shameful murder of a garda
Like all decent people across this island, I was revolted at the foul murder of Garda Tony Golden in Omeath, Co. Louth, on Sunday evening.
The fact that the sociopathic thug responsible for this horror came from my own beloved county of Down filled me with an illogical sense of sadness and shame. The fact also that this individual styled himself a republican is to my mind a vile affront to that noble aspiration.
To his young widow and children, his family and colleagues in An Garda Síochána, may God comfort and strengthen you at this terrible time.
Ardrahan, Co. Galway
Western policy on Isil is wrong
By now, it is clear that the policies of the Western democracies to intervene and topple the autocratic regimes in Iraq, Libya and Syria have been an unmitigated disaster. The evolution and development of Isil and its control of large areas of Iraq and Syria is but the worst result of those interventions.
The need now to organise a coalition to cope with the threat of Isil is obvious. However, it seems that the Western democracies are not yet ready to admit to the abject failure of their interventionist policies, not least their attempts to oust President Assad. Hence, instead of seeking a coalition, recent communiques from Washington and London simply criticise Russia .
J. Anthony Gaughan
Blackrock, Co Dublin
Bar-stool expert's about-turn
What a difference a few days can make.
On Thursday evening, post Ireland's heroic football display against World Cup holders Germany, the man in the pub was in full flow. He searched for as yet unused superlatives to laud the team's gritty performance. One sensed the purchase of a leprechaun hat beckoned/threatened.
By Sunday night, his mood had darkened considerably as he held court on the team's loss to Poland. Overpaid and underachieving players. Couldn't win an argument etc. Now take rugby. There's a man's game, he pronounced.
The Irish football team could of course yet qualify for the European finals in France through the play-off route. Should this happen, his views may again change dramatically. The leprechaun hat and perhaps even the giant plastic hammer could still make their way into his shopping basket.