Who am I to speak about the Repeal of the 8th Amendment when I am excluded from the vote? Who am I to comment on Ireland when I no longer live in the country full-time? Who am I to speak about what freedoms we deserve as Irish women when I, along with millions of women in Australia, are afforded many of those freedoms in my adopted home? Perhaps it is in the very fact of this exclusion, in this distance, and in this new freedom that I feel extremely passionate about what it means to be culturally an Irish woman and the past that has defined us and the future we need to fight for.
So when I was invited to speak and sing at the 3rd Annual Vagina Conversations where 10 women shared current and personal stories about their Vaginas in Byron Bay, NSW in aid of the Women's Resource Centre, I knew exactly which fire from my feminist heart was wanting to be heard, but I had no idea the form it would take. This year’s event had even more significance to me as it was commemorating the 20 years since Eve Ensler’s feminist cultural defining moment that was the Vagina Monologues.
It was also significant to me as at the time I was considering my participation, Ireland was collecting the thousands of voices of women and good men to call for a referendum to change our Constitution. And soon after this speech, this monumental referendum was called for May 25th and we are now all now mid-campaign to Repeal our 8th Amendment. The Repeal of this amendment would give Irish women the basic human right to have bodily integrity over their reproductive health. It is archaic to be living in a world where women do not have sovereignty over their own bodies and considering the warriors of women we come from as Irish women, how have we got here? How was the strength of the power of the church and state so profound that we even lost our own bodies in the river of faith along the way? Personally, I know that very same feeling, not of an abortion, but of a decade of the loss of my own power as a woman over my body and destiny and the more I have stepped away from my own culture, the more I have been able to piece together how our wiring as Irish women have all been affected by this same systematic disempowerment. For me it was a decade, for us collectively as Irish women it has been centuries of being sold the fictitious good Irish catholic girl myth, but not anymore, the myth has caused the wounds that we are all healing now and it is time for us to be the bad ass Irish women we are as we take that power back.
After my rant, which seemed to arrive from somewhere far deeper than just my own personal experience, you will hear a satirical and topical song by Bird Cloud called 'Saving Myself for Jesus' with my satirical queen of a friend Mandy Nolan joining me on the harmonica (vag-monica). Through laughter and wit we, as humans, are somehow able to expose the absurdity of those power structures. These long held truths of our catholic and patriarchal upbringing must pushed back to the point of laughter and then deserve to be heavily questioned through the eyes of equality and justice. And then hell yes, the basic human right over fifty percent of our population should be restored. Our referendum comes at a time where the collective voices of women are gathering worldwide and the power of all our sisters are standing with us as well as the spirits of the many generations of Irish women who had no voice. We will not be silenced this time.
If you are in Ireland, please make my noise and BE my VOTE YES. If you are watching this from other places in the world, please check out some resources:
Repeal the 8th. Use your voice.