My threshold to tolerate human suffering, real or fictionalised, indigenous or exogenous, is diminishing.
I must have struck an odd figure, a flat-bellied, white girl sitting alone amongst the pregnant Indian ladies and their husbands. Their bellies came in all shapes and sizes, some modest bumps, others round like melons. The woman sitting to my left had a belly swollen to the size of a beach ball. I thought about the little human she had growing inside of her, extending itself, taking up space in this world but insulated from the worst of its suffering.
The Irish referendum to repeal the 8th amendment and remove the legal barrier against abortion takes an issue of immense complexity and reduces it to a yes or no answer. It has taken place within the public forum, pitting one grass-roots movement against the other. Battle lines were drawn. Adversaries were marked.
The voting decisions of the Irish public were the spoils of war. Persuading others to also pick your side is a always a tricky business, one that requires certainty and conviction to keep the facts afloat. But matters of public morality elicit the resolute stubbornness of a crusade, a vertiginous unassailability that elevates its ideological underpinnings to biblical heights.
Last week’s series of ‘Failure to Launch’ showcased Karen and her mother Geraldine, who shared their experiences living together in South Dublin while Karen worked in a law firm. Since then Karen has been living in India for a year and a half, completing a fellowship at Ashoka University and training as a meditation coach while living in an Ashram. With the passing of distance and time, this week’s follow-up interview is one of reflection and recognition between mother and daughter, and a rumination of the quality of life for younger generations in Ireland.
In part two of Failure to Launch I chatted with Karen and her mother Geraldine, who spent one year living together in their family home in South County Dublin when Karen was twenty four. The conversations took place a year and a half ago, when Karen was preparing to move to India for a fellowship and contemplating a career as a barrister. In this revealing and insightful interview we talk money, fears of the future, and the difficulties having sex when you still live at home. Karen continues to live in India, where she is living in an Ashram and training as a meditation coach. Next week’s piece will see Karen and Geraldine reflect on their own and each others answers one year on, having spent twelve months living on other sides of the world.
We watched with a mixture of bitterness and resentment as the sweet interlude of salaried jobs, minimum responsibilities and a home to call our own, before the onslaught of mortgages and babies, shrank into nothingness, meanwhile the worth of our parents’ investments, the houses we occupied, multiplied in value right under our feet.
An object cannot feel pleasure, an object cannot give consent. In the aftermath the Belfast rape trial, where do we go from here?
If women are to be protected it is obligatory that there be established a whole new body to handle reports of sexual abuse when the available evidence is unlikely to meet the burden of proof in a criminal case. A civil suit is always an option but this is costly, placing a huge financial burden on the victim, which could be devastating if she loses. Furthermore, on a whole current procedures are still vastly ill-suited to the everyday occurrence of sexual misconduct in its many forms and contexts. It is likely in such a system that the punishment would no longer fit the crime but for most women the end goal of reporting sexual violence is to ensure it doesn’t happen again, to themselves or other women.