Holiday catch up. Part 1…

Happy New Year equality lovers!

I took a bit of a break from blogging over the Festive period for some total R&R and resolved to think only as hard as was required to maintain a quiet existence between my sofa, the park and the warm interiors of the homes of friends and family. However, as every woman will know, even the simplest of existences is gendered thanks to the pervasive sexism that has infected everything we see and do. So despite my best efforts to be oblivious here are some things that happened over Christmas that made me think like a feminist (Part 1 of 3):

  1. Iris Robinson announced she is quitting politics due to her struggle with mental illness.

I found this story really provoked mixed feelings in me when it broke on 29th December. Here is a woman who has caused untold damage to the cause of equality for LGBTQ people in Northern Ireland by ignorantly reinforcing the bigotry that makes Northern Ireland a difficult and dangerous place for them to call ‘home’. The arrogance in her misappropriation of Christian teaching is so disgusting as to make me wish I’d never been associated with the same faith she espouses and in all the mess of Northern Irish politics I don’t think anything has ever made me as angry as this single statement:

“There can be no viler act, apart from homosexuality and sodomy, than sexually abusing innocent children.”

So there has to be a ‘but’, right? Well, it’s not easy to find the humanity in a woman who has become so demonised over the past year as to have earned the nickname “Wicked Witch of the North” and be voted Bigot of the Year by Stonewall. But for me it’s right there in her honesty about her experience of depression. My work has one foot in the mental health field and I know the courage it takes to admit even to yourself that your mental and emotional well-being is not entirely within your own control. I can’t help but give props to anybody who sets such a positive example to the millions who suffer in silence. So while in one breath I might utter a steely “good riddance”, in the next I have to feel compassion for her as a woman struggling to find the contentment and balance she needs. AND with both Iris and Carmel stepping out of the political arena it leaves the urgent question of where are the younger women coming through to take their places? When female representation in the assembly already stood at only 14 out of 108 (having fallen from the 18 elected in 2007) losing 2 in such a short space of time is a hefty blow. 11% representation folks. That is simply terrifying.

Also, I have 2 copies of her autobiography if anyone wants to borrow one. Faith Mission bargains.

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