'Powerful and disturbing' - No Country for Women documentary elicits massive response from viewers
The first half of RTE One's harrowing two-part documentary No Country for Women aired on Tuesday night and elicited a massive response from viewers.
The doc charts women's lives from when we achieved the vote 100 years ago to the present day via the story of a number of Irish women whose lives and those of their mothers and grandmothers were affected by discriminatory legislation.
Asking the question of how much has really changed for women in the last century, the film comes up with some uncomfortable answers about the impact of government, legal and religious control over women's lives.
The first episode: No Country for Women: A Woman's Place aired on Tuesday night and examined women's life in the home and their resulting dependency on their fathers, husbands or religious orders.
Samantha Long explored what life was like for her grandmother Anne who was confined to a 'mental asylum' while Catherine Corless shared the story of Julia Carter Devaney who spent the first 45 years of her life as an unpaid domestic in Tuam’s mother and baby home. Her story was told with the help of a newly discovered audio recording of Julia herself, made in the 1970s. She is one of three women in the series who were confined to institutions because of poverty and not having families.
Catherine Corless is simply a hero, a warrior, there are no words to describe my admiration for her. This country has lurched forward only because of ordinary heroes who say NO MORE.— Katie Dawson (@katiedawson23) June 19, 2018
It's not like we didn't know this, but seeing and hearing the stories of real women who had to endure that life has me in tears. It could have been any of our families— Gráinne O'Toole (@toole_grainne) June 19, 2018
My grandmother was born the same year as Julia from Connemara, it could have been her. #nocountryforwomen
Mary Magee, from Skerries, talked about challenging the contraception ban through Irish courts in the 1970’s, saying “I was having problems with pregnancies: pre-eclampsia, strokes. I got scared and decided to use contraception. I couldn’t take the pill because of the stroke, so I found out about the coil. But you needed spermicide from England and my order was stopped by customs”.
Journalist Justine McCarthy, spoke of the heartbreak of a sister having to give a child up for adoption.
Part one has been so incredibly powerful. Heartbreaking and infuriating. We knew and yet it’s still hard-hitting. This is true public service broadcasting. So proud of @gordonspierin’s work. #NoCountryforWomen— Louise McSharry (@louisemcsharry) June 19, 2018
The second half of the documentary - No Country For Women: A Woman's Work - airs tonight at 9.35pm on RTE One.
It will tell the story of women's quest for social and economic freedom and the women who protested the marriage and promotion bars in the workplace, women who fought against laws giving husbands the sole right to the family home and women's lack of independent social welfare entitlements, housing and pensions.
Tonight Rebecca Roche will tell the story of her step-mother Eileen Flynn who she met when she was eight. Eileen was fired from her teaching job in the 1980s for living with a separated man and becoming pregnant. Rebecca has lived abroad for most of her adult life and wants to learn more about Eileen’s case.
We had a theocracy ruling this country for so long, not too different to Taliban ideology - withholding education, restrictive dress code,control freedom, control rights, control media, men on pedestal . Let us never forget #NoCountryForWomen— Dr. Madeleine Ní Dhálaigh (@Madser2002) June 19, 2018
Samantha Long continues her family journey, learning in this episode about her mother, Margaret who, after being born in Grangegorman Mental Asylum, spent her childhood in industrial schools. Age 16, she was moved to a Magdalene Laundry where she worked unpaid until her death.
Mary Merritt was incarcerated for fourteen years as an unpaid worker a religious-run laundry. She was in so many institutions she began to think the whole world was run that way. Samantha Long meets Mary to ask what work life might have been like for Sam’s mother, Margaret.
Micheline Sheehy Skeffington’s grandmother, Hannah Sheehy Skeffington, was a feminist and suffragette. She was fired after being arrested protesting for women’s vote 100 years ago. More recently, Micheline fought her own employment equality case.
Phil Walsh had to leave her work as County Librarian in the 1970s because of the marriage bar. Today and as a result, she still gets a lower State pension and wants that changed.
Here are some more of the reactions to the first episode:
Watching #NoCountryForWomen and it really is hard to fathom how all these “fallen” women were locked up as if they all became pregnant by black magic. As one of the contributors just said; “men wanted to have sex before marriage but wanted to marry virgins”.— Maïa Dunphy (@MaiaDunphy) June 19, 2018
Off to bed to hug my little boy a little tighter than normal (until he bats me off!). Women have made such strides thanks to trailblazers like those in #NoCountryForWomen but there are miles to go before we sleep. X— Maïa Dunphy (@MaiaDunphy) June 19, 2018
There's only one conclusion an honest person could reach watching #NoCountryForWomen: Ireland really, really hated women.— Donal O'Keeffe (@Donal_OKeeffe) June 19, 2018
#NoCountryforwomen was wonderful TV with incredibly brave women. Lavinia Kerwick’s courage & realisation of impact she had on rape law was a heartstopping moment. Is Ireland changed utterly? So important to vote for change, to mobilise, to show solidarity #feminism— Dr Margaret Ward (@MargaretWard1) June 19, 2018
#nocountryforwomen is like watching a horror movie. A devastating reminder of this State's abysmal attitude towards women, in particular pregnant women. It has just been one vile incident after another.— Sarah Bardon (@SarahBardon) June 19, 2018
Despite knowing so much of this, #NoCountryforWomen is at once fascinating and soul destroying.— Maïa Dunphy (@MaiaDunphy) June 19, 2018
‘Young girls were just dropped at the gate... who dropped them there? Their mothers, fathers, their parish priest...’ 😢 #NoCountryForWomen— Skinny Doll ❤️ (@theskinnydoll) June 19, 2018
I'm feeling somewhere between rage and panic watching this. Grim, compelling and so very sad #NoCountryForWomen— Jac Sinnott (@JacSinnott) June 19, 2018