Equality. “What does it really mean?” Maeve Connolly asks.
“Mharaigh mé mo leanbh de bhrí gur cailín í”.
“I killed my baby because she was a girl”.
This is the opening line from the famous Irish play An Triail by renowned Irish playwright Máíréád Ni Ghráda. The play centres on the pregnancy and subsequent trials and tribulations of a young, unmarried, girl, Máire. It’s an excellent play which gives an amazing insight into the horrors and discrimination that was widespread in 1960’s Ireland.
Why on earth am I talking about this? Why am I resurrecting anything related to the Leaving cert, a period many of us would like very much to forget ever happened? Simple. The subject matter of this piece is one of great significance even in today’s age: gender inequality.
You see, one of the main issues that particularly affected me in this tale was the double standard awarded to Máire and Padraig, the misogynistic gadabout who impregnated her. He received no retribution for his actions. He was not shunned by the community as Máire was, nor was he berated and called a slut or striapach (or whatever the 1960’s equivalent was). She was treated as a common criminal whilst he got away with a “boys will be boys” mentality.
We have been welcomed into a new era of sexual freedom. Women, apparently, have been liberated in this sense and are permitted to “enjoy” sex now, unlike those generations before us, who engaged in these amorous activities for the sole reason of procreation (or so society was made believe). However, women’s sexual liberation is only skin deep. In reality, the concept of “slut shaming” is still as rampant in our society as ever. If a boy brings a girl home after a night out either he is met with admiration and respect from his cronies, or his relations go unnoticed due to the normality of them. If a girl brings a boy/girl home under the same fact scenario, then she is met with societal shame and judgement. (I realise that in recent weeks we have been inundated with articles relating to this matter, so for fear of tiring out the subject I shall go no further down this path.)
Now, I’m sure a lot of people reading this will think “oh dear, here comes another angry man hating feminist”. This is a common misconception. Feminists do not hate men (well we hate some men but that’s just because they are confusing and don’t text us the next day and act like they “like” us even though they really don’t and make us feel bad about ourselves leading us to gorge ourselves on chocolate and swear off them until the next one shows an interest in us – woah..I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it out the other side of that..) ; We do not seek female supremacy. All we want is to be placed on the same footing as our male counterparts, to be on a level playing field. Another misconception people have is that all feminists are females. Au contraire, there is a huge party of men who also seek to alleviate the gender divide – the “meminists” (I swear that is a thing, I’m not just putting letters together in the hopes people will think they make a word!) I recently read a quote from Daniel Craig – 007, Britain’s finest, license to kill etc. etc. He stated that “Women are responsible for two thirds of the work done worldwide, yet earn only 10 percent of the total income and own 1 percent of the property…so, are we equals? Until the answer is yes, we must never stop asking”. Along with good old Dan, we have Terry Crews (who could forget his iconic role in ‘White chicks’! “making my way downtown…”) Seth Rogan, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Ryan Gosling and a personal favourite of mine, Tom Hiddlestone. These are all famous, successful men who have spoken out about their disgust that their female colleagues are not seen as equals.
Equality. This is a word whose meaning has evaded many for so long. A simple concept really, equality means all people being equal regardless of race, gender, religious beliefs, disabilities etc. Yet, this undeniably simple notion has yet to be successfully implemented across all factions of our world. We are in the year 2015 and yet if you just scratch the surface of our outwardly tolerant world you will discover a place where racism is rampant; where those not born into privilege are made to feel inferior; and where women are still treated as second class citizens. We must never settle and must continue to strive for equality in all areas of our lives. As it stands, it is still a man’s world; but we must realise that it really would be nothing, without a woman or a girl.