“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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Obama’s executive action on Gun Control

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President Obama unveiled his new plan to combat gun violence on Tuesday, January 5th in the East Room of the White House. He was surrounded by the relatives of those who lost their lives in the many mass shooting that have occurred in the US over the last number of years. In attendance was former Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona who was shot in the head in Tucson during a constituent meeting in 2011. Mark Barden who lost his seven-year old son Daniel in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012 introduced the president, before he left the podium he said that every gun related death is preventable.

“In this room right here, there are a lot of stories. There’s a lot of heartache. There’s a lot of resilience, there’s a lot of strength, but there’s also a lot of pain.”, President Obama

During his speech Obama referred to the time he spent with Mr Barden during his visit to Sandy Hook just two days after the shooting. He said that this event changed him and that he had hoped it would change the country. Although the President is known for being an impressive speaker he is often accused of appearing removed or clinical but last Tuesday’s speech was to be an exception to that rule. He delivered a very emotional, heartfelt speech that left the audience under no illusions about his passion and sense of regret on this subject. The Obama administration has been blocked by congress at every turn on matters of gun control and therefore very little progress has been made in spite of the fact that these shootings have become more and more frequent. In fact no other developed country sees this type of violent crime happen over and over again. Continue reading