Monday 20 May 2019

Leopards may change their placards, but never their spots

Lisbon's nuttier opponents will repackage themselves to rebel against some other cause, writes Eilis O'Hanlon

REFERENDUM campaigns may come and go, but the campaigners themselves are always with us. These leopards only change their placards, never their spots.

That's the real lesson of the Lisbon treaty marathon, now mercifully concluded. In fact, you can only feel for Declan Ganley, who, whatever one thinks of his arguments, at least had some to begin with, but who increasingly found himself buried under an avalanche of innuendo and smears from the Yes camp, who feared his articulacy, and simultaneously drowned out by nuttier voices in the No camp. Never was a pox on both their houses more deserved.

Unlike Ganley, though, they'll be back. For this campaign, the wilder zealots dressed themselves up as principled opponents of the Lisbon treaty, but ask them what they're honestly rebelling against and their answer would most likely echo Marlon Brando's in The Wild One: "What have you got?"

One minute they're uber-green eco-warriors like Patricia McKenna, or radical feminists such as UCD's Women's Studies professor Ailbhe Smyth, or more-Irish-than-thou nationalists like Sinn Fein. Next they're repackaging themselves as, in their most recent incarnation, Women Say No to Lisbon -- Again. Same war, different uniforms.

That nobody with any sense listens to a word these hectoring Cassandras have to say doesn't diminish the cheek of them in claiming to speak on behalf of all women. Women Say No to Lisbon, indeed. Not even Some Women Say No to Lisbon. Just women in general. Half the population is supposed to agree with their deranged analysis of the world purely on the basis of anatomy. It's like we don't need to think for ourselves. Our genes do that for us. Opinion, in this mean and miserable philosophy, becomes a mere matter of ticking boxes. Are you a woman? Yes. Then you're against Lisbon. Now troop into the polling booths like good little feminists and vote No the way you've been told.

What's that you say? You want to weigh up the pros and cons of the debate first? Now don't be silly, ladies. You shouldn't be worrying your pretty little heads with things like that.

Just let Ailbhe Smyth, chair of Women Say No to Lisbon's most recent press conference, and her cronies do your thinking for you.

As for the women who are in favour of the Lisbon treaty, they're presumably not real women at all. They're simulacra. Imposters. Traitors.

The ultimate joke was that, while claiming to speak on behalf of all Irish women, the Women Say No to Lisbon crowd managed to amass only a few dozen signatures. Last time anybody checked, there were about three million women on the island. And they couldn't get into treble figures?

They were hardly overflowing with intellectual luminaries either, just a ragbag of Shinners and socialists and Shell to Sea activists, not to mention a couple of folk singers and a presenter on Radio Cuba.

You'd swear the organisers got in a time machine and picked up a job lot of the usual suspects from the Seventies. Then they even managed to keep a straight face as they claimed hilariously, "This treaty is out of date."

Pot, meet Kettle. Kettle, meet Pot.

What's the big deal about being a woman anyway? Everybody else, pro and anti, managed to have a debate about Lisbon without mentioning their gender.

Can you imagine a group calling itself Men Say No to Lisbon? It's ridiculous, but the sisterhood still seems unable to engage with any issue without bringing their ovaries into the equation.

They're like those demented old dolls at the bus stop who keep reminding you that they're 93. Yes, we get it, you don't have mickeys.

Congratulations. Now get over it, girls, for pity's sake. You can't build an entire creed on what you have in your pants.

Sunday Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss