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Archive for August 3rd, 2010

Super model Giselle Bundchen has opined the following –

“There should be a worldwide law, in my opinion, that mothers should breastfeed their babies for six months.”
And:
“Some people think they don’t have to breastfeed, and I think, “Are you going to give chemical food to your child, when they are so little?”
Breast milk might very well be better for new babies, but some women cannot breast feed and some women don’t WANT to breast feed. And since women and women alone are the owners of their breasts it is entirely up to them what they do or don’t do with them, and this includes breast-feeding. A law mandating breast-feeding? A law?
I wish there was a law that stopped super models from spouting nonsense.

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Forlorn Celtic Tiger

Where are they? Who are they? You know; the women bankers, auditors, property developers, stockbrokers, industry regulators, etc., responsible for pricking the Oirish bubble with a sharpened golf club. The ruthless go-getting millionairesses who cleared the way for spiralling unemployment, a kaput banking system, demolished property sector, an albatross of debt and all the rest of the yack you’ve been hearing all over the telly for the last year. It’s not a facetious question, I’m genuinely curious. I asked a male journo friend a while ago, who makes a living writing ‘business’ articles: “How come we haven’t witnessed the usual media ‘witch-hunt’ of women (semi)responsible for the bust?” *pause* “Eh, they were probably caught up writing memos or getting their nails done at the time,” he quipped. [He considers himself awfully gas altogether].

From the off it was big-boy names being flung on the turbo charged execution cart: Bertie Ahern, Brian Cowen, Brian Lenihan, Pat Neary, Lehman Brothers, Liam Carroll, Seanie Fitzpatrick, Brian Goggin, Padraig Walshe, Sean Quinn, John Hurley, Sean Dunne, Dermot Gleeson and so on. Newspapers were keen to pinpoint the perpetrators in articles throughout this OMG awakening. With the exception of hearing Mary Harney dubbed a deregulation fetishist or the likes of Anne Heraty, former bank director and stock broker, I cannot locate the ‘wimmin’ in this sordid tale. Even when it came to the Yellow Brick Road venture of NAMA, the cock-stock was made up of high-ranking banking officials, men in the pinstriped wink, nod and know: Frank Daly, public interest director at Anglo Irish Bank, the bank that likes to say a multi-orgasmic “yes yes yes yes yes yes!”, until there’s nothing left; along with colleagues Michael Connolly, Peter Stewart, Brian McEnery, Willie Soffe and some other guys…Aside from Eilish Finan − an independent Consultant and Director in various Financial Services Industry sectors − appointees to the board of NAMA are men.

I’m not an economist (if I was I’d have nice clothes, a car, a holiday home and an Irish wolfhound) or even a business journalist (if I was I’d have nice clothes, a car, a holiday home and a Yorkshire Terrier), but to my mind the entire environment in which the Celtic Tiger blackguards operated was exceptionally macho. There was a testosterone-fuelled air to the whole enfant terrible. Even the media language deployed: ‘Celtic Tiger Man’ or ‘Breakfast Roll Man’ etc. was ever so vigorous and potent. There was a real sense of aggression in the urban professional Irish male, particularly in Dublin. Places like Baggot Street were full of young geezers guffawing over caramelised scallops in the Unicorn during ‘very important’ business lunches. Down at the financial services district there was a real swagger in the way the men used to walk, talk, and conduct themselves. I remember Googling: ‘why do men wear ties?’ because there seemed to be a pandemic of scorching power-colour ties, more than usual. Red: excitement, desire, speed, strength, power, aggression, danger, war, a sprawling economy. Purple: flamboyant, wise, arrogant. The ritual wearing of ties, by the way, dates back to 17th Century wars. It’s not just a cloth arrow pointing to his wotsit. I found it all very unpleasant at the time.

It chimed too with a sense of national smugness…that we were the new masters of the universe and the Brits were down at heel, and that soon we would be so rich that even the stupid unionists would give up the ghost and accept a united Ireland. The gorilla chest-beating was strewn across all jungle paths of Irish life: politics, economics, the retail sector. At the height of boom (2005-2006) Ireland had proportionately the highest number of sports cars (yes, penis extensions) in Europe and the highest number of year-in registrations. I lived in Smithfield then and almost all of the top-quality penthouses were rented by young single business men who snorted cocaine and watched Fashion TV in-between making Ireland great. “Hi my name’s Paedar, I work in the IFSC, I rent the glass penthouse over there…” Penthouses riddled with Bang & Olufsen and every wall-hanging gadget imaginable. I knew quite a few sassy career women too, but for some reason they didn’t have the same chutzpah or cockiness towards themselves or their jobs.

The fiscal cauldron was brimming over with ‘fabulous’ men who couldn’t shut up about our endless wealth and the part they were playing in rainbow-nabbing it. Our GDP per capita rose from 60% of the EU average to 120%. Women with similar Tigerish jobs were just too busy to brag, it seems. But they were definitely out there: we were told over and over of uptakes of women on third level business courses throughout the boom, women studying economics, a sharp rise in female entrepeneurs, organisations like WITS began to appear…equal opportunities at the highest levels of power in the land, even in the civil service for God’s sake! There must’ve been women property developers who squandered millions in rice-paper transactions? Women who took part in dirty deals, secured multi-million euro loans over the phone in the dead of night from beaches in Donegal, sanctioned nonsensical far-off investments, who later took part in hiding it all with the help of politically connected mates, who now owe more than they’ll ever be able to pay back in several lifetimes.

What part did Irish women play in the catastrophic decision making, at business level, that flung us into financial decay for decades? I’m wondering why these women didn’t appear on Late Late slots like Harry Crosbie or Mick Wallace did. I’m wondering why I hear of ‘developer’s wives’ in the abstract, and not women who surely snapped up glass towers in Dubai or beach villas in Cape Verde when it was trendy and apt to do so. Boy journalists are spinning out reams of books on the bust, so perhaps I’ll start my research there. Maybe even a Diarmaid Ferriter of the future will answer my question: where are the women who helped ruin Ireland? I promise to have my nails done and I’ll listen intently…I might even write a memo on it if I can put my cocktail down for long enough.

June Caldwell is a writer, who after 13 years of journalism, is finally writing a novel. She has a MA in Creative Writing and was winner of ‘Best Blog Post’ award at the 2011 Irish Blog Awards. You can read this post on her own blog here:

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Emma Donoghue is the author of 10 novels, including the bestselling Slammerkin (2000) including her latest, Room, which has been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. She was born in Dublin in 1969, and has been writing books since the age of 23. She moved to Canada in 1998, where she lives with her partner, Chris Roulston, a women’s studies professor, and their two children, Finn (6) and Una (3).

Room was inspired by the Fritzl story and tells the story of Jack and Ma, who are trapped in the room of the title.


Have you ever had a nickname?

Occasionally ‘Emsie’ within the family, but it never stuck.

What’s the first record you ever bought?

A cassette of Fame (to my shame, the tv series, not even the film)

What’s your favourite smell?

Chocolate.

What is your favourite room in your house?

Our bedroom – peaceful, white walls, no toys, prospects of books or sleep…

Who was your first kiss and where did it happen?

Miss she’d-kill-me-if-I-named-her, somewhere in Ireland, 1986.

Who was your first love?

A different Miss she’d-kill-me-if-I-named-her.

What are your guilty pleasures?

Too much chocolate. And more-ish TV such as 24 or The L Word.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

Perhaps my extremely flawed table manners.

Who is you closest female friend?

My partner Chris.  (It’s a multi-tasking position.)

Do you have any tattoos or piercings?

I pierced my ears late, when pregnant for the first time at 33, but I rarely use them.  I’d never consider any further modification: I believe in sticking with the body you’ve got.

Where would you most like to live?

Right now, the place I’m on holiday (and know well), the Port Vendres area in Southern France.

What’s the most unusual question you’ve ever been asked?

I’ve clearly blanked it from my mind in shock.

What’s the best Christmas present you’ve ever received?

Our son Finn came five weeks early, but he was meant to be a Christmas baby rather than a November one, so he’s what stands out.

What is your favourite word?

At this moment, the  vegetable we’re having for dinner: samphire.

If you weren’t doing what you do, what might you have become?

A tragedy.  (I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t write.)

Is there a book you’ve bought several times as a gift for someone?

Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials.

What happens after we die?

This may sound childish, but: we go to heaven.

What female historical figure do you admire most?

The one who inspired several of my early works: the outrageous, snobbish, quarrelsome Regency diarist Anne Lister.

Sum yourself up in three words:

Impossible, I’m too fond of words to stick to three.

Finally… What are you anti? What are you pro?

Anti-journalists-who-distort-and-misquote.  Pro-oysters.

Room is out now, published by Picador

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