“Gloria”

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There are some days you know you will remember forever. I recently had one of those when I got the opportunity to hear Gloria Steinem speak at the West Cork Literary Festival. It was one of the highlights of the year for me. Everyone knows Gloria Steinem as a feminist icon. However she is also a prolific writer, editor and a keen social and political activist. From a very young age I thought of myself as a feminist. I grew up with strong female role models like my mother, sisters, aunts and friends who taught me that men and women had as much value as each other. In spite of identifying as a feminist I was often made to feel as though I shouldn’t call myself one. There seemed to be a kind of stigma attached to the word, as if it somehow meant you were angry or anti-men. I was influenced by this attitude at first but then I was introduced to Gloria Steinem.

Gloria made me feel proud to call myself a feminist and now I wear it as a badge of honour. I am a feminist hear me roar and so on. In truth all it really means is that you believe in equality for everyone. The older I get the more I realise that if we hold one group in society down it holds us all down. Gloria is 82 years old, now I don’t mention that figure so we can put it next to a picture of her in order to dissect her image like they do in the magazines. I say it because Gloria has spent over five decades fighting for women’s rights and there is no sign that she is slowing down. Her career has spanned nearly 60 years. She is also the furthest thing from anti-men or angry either. Continue reading

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A Political Circus

 

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If you’ve been following the world of politics lately it might seem as though we are living in some sort of alternate universe. It is starting to look like the inmates are taking over the asylum. It would appear that on both sides of the pond things have gotten a little crazy. First the UK shocked the world by deciding to leave the EU back in June. To be honest even the politicians who were campaigning to leave seemed surprised by the outcome. The result of the Brexit referendum showed that the leave side received 52.5% of the overall vote whereas the remain side only managed to acquire 47.5%.Usually when a party secures the result they set out to achieve celebrations follow but not in this case. This time they all began to disappear from both sides. First David Cameron resigned. Then as if reeling from the shock of a surprise victory Boris Johnson decided not to run for Prime Minister after all. Nigel Farage stood down claiming he wanted his life back.

I’m sure at that point there were a number of people who wanted their country back or just to go back in time to before the election. Thanks to Nigel and friends however this wasn’t possible. The Austrian actor Christoph Waltz put it best saying, “of course, the head rat would leave the sinking ship.” No one seems to know what’s next for Britain in the wake of this result. They can’t just leave the EU over night. It’s much more complex then that. There is also the worry that other countries will follow suit. There is a lot of uncertainty in the air as the new Prime Minister tries to wade through unchartered water. It will take a number of years for this messy divorce to be resolved but you can bet in this case it’s the children who will be the ones to suffer the consequences of this decision. A decision that was largely made by older people who have considerably less to lose. Continue reading

It’s Not As Easy As It Looks

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Many of us, myself included like to give out the impression that we can do it all. This idea that we can work, live and look amazing is drummed into us from an early age. We want to have the perfect body, to be the perfect parent, the perfect employee, the perfect partner, the list goes on and on. I think that women in particular prescribe to this notion of perfection. The phrase never let them see you sweat springs to mind. We like to believe that if people think we can do it all than somehow this makes it true. I personally think this is very damaging and we need to change it. The sooner we realise that it’s impossible to do it all the better off we’ll be.

I am a big fan of the writer and researcher Dr Brene Brown. I always get something new from her work, even if I have come across it before. Brene tells a very relevant story about the movie Flashdance that I think best illustrates the notion of perfection and how it is perpetuated. First, just let me say that Flashdance is the second highest grossing dance movie of all time. It made a staggering 150 million dollars at the box office. For those of you who are not familiar with Flashdance, it’s an 80’s movie about a young women called Alex Owen who is a steel worker by day and an exotic dancer by night, (yeah seriously!) Continue reading

The Kabul Zoo

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As the news circulated yesterday of yet another Taliban bomb attack in Afghanistan that claimed the lives of 64 people and injuring more than 300, was reminded of a story I recently came across in a book called The Taliban Shuffle. (now a major motion picture starring Tina Fey) It was about the Kabul Zoo and its most famous resident Marjan the lion.  Marjan which means coral or precious stone in Persian, was given to the Kabul Zoo by the Germans along with a lioness called Chucha in 1978 . He was donated in order to quite rumors of a Soviet invasion. Of course within a year the Soviets invaded Afghanistan anyway and like all the other sites in Kabul the zoo also suffered the consequences.

Kabul, Afghanistans capital City was captured in 1992 by Jihadi groups and the Government lost control. As soon as the Russians left Afghanistan warlords moved in and a terrible civil war broke out. They began shelling and sending rockets into Kabul, as a result the walls of the zoo came tumbling down. The medical unit was destroyed making it impossible to treat any of the animals. Disease and hunger spread like wild-fire. Although many of the animals were eaten or died the fledgling zoo somehow remained open. Continue reading

The Donald Trump Effect

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I have always found American politics fascinating. It’s like theatre on a giant stage. This time around though the world has watched in wonder as the American election has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous. Perhaps the best way to describe it is like a Shakespearean tragic comedy. It can be classed as neither because it has huge elements of both. In the beginning I think we all viewed Donald Trump as an amusing caricature with bad hair who would be entertaining to watch for a while. After all the election process goes on for so long why not get some amusement out of it. No one really believed that he would still be in the race at this point, let alone be in with a real chance of winning the Republican nomination but alas it really is happening.

As the weeks rolled on the jokes got less funny and the threats got more real. In the course of his candidacy Trump has managed to offend Women, Mexicans, People with disabilities and Muslims to name a few. Everyday the list seems to get longer. His rallies have become a breeding ground for violent and racist behavior.  This has of course brought him more attention in the media and has in turn made him very popular. It also helps that the other Republican nominees aren’t very credible. There is no doubt that it’s a fascinating circus and people seem to be enjoying the show but at what point do we all have to get serious about the business of electing a real president? Continue reading