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Archive for January 27th, 2011

Hello! I’ve been asked by The Anti Room to contribute a number of pieces over the coming months to offer a different voice and perspective on issues than might otherwise be found here. As a fairly recent convert to Twitter, and social media in general, I’m glad to do it, and, being interested in other perspectives myself, I’m looking forward to some robust debate!

To start I’ve been asked to reflect and respond to the general furore surrounding the accusations of sexism made against Richard Keys and Andy Gray of Sky Sports. Because a furore it has been. Column inches have turned into yards and on into miles. Calling it a storm in the teacup would be an understatement. Storm in a thimble, possibly. First of all let me declare I’m not a football fan. I don’t know the game; indeed I rarely watch it outside of World Cups (on the rare occasion when Ireland make it through!). And I wouldn’t know Ryan Giggs if he jogged past me on the street. But from my perspective, the media reaction over the past few days has been akin to a medieval witch-hunt. Quite clearly (to me anyway) a liberal media consensus has emerged with commentators hell-bent on ramming a feminist agenda down the throats of the public by punishing and humiliating two men who were simply caught off-guard in a moment of professional privacy. What was simply an instance of harmless male banter, the type one hears day-in day-out on building sites, offices and even houses of parliament, has somehow been upgraded to the status of a sexual assault.

Now don’t get me wrong, suggesting that Sian Massey can’t understand the offside rule because she’s a woman is clearly going to be insulting to a girl who tries very hard at her job. But how is the public interest being really served by the sort of affirmative action which results in these women being “promoted” to major roles in what is essentially a male realm? Do feminists want or need traction in every aspect of male society? If we are to believe, for example, that women should run and own clubs and even officiate at the games then why not take that thought process to its logical conclusion? Let’s see if women can play in the darned things! Of course nobody cares to mention this great big elephant in the room – you won’t see “Tina Down The Street” take on John Terry or Robbie Keane because of physiological reasons that go back to the very creation of the universe! Anybody who thinks otherwise is clearly living in Cloud Cuckoo Land – and let you tell me it’s getting very crowded there.

But I digress. Events like football matches have a proven sociological benefit – everyday, male aggression, which might otherwise emerge in more sinister forms like war and rape, can be expelled in the den of a stadium or in the cut-and-thrust of watching your favourite team on TV. This healthy, primordial urge harks right back to hunter-gathers and should not be denied in the name of some feminist liberal ideology. Men have a right to this private, albeit very public, space. I only wish our media would spend more time focusing on the real moral crisis in football culture: young men stuck in pubs all weekend; rampant hooliganism; the sex and pornography permeating TV advertising; not to mention extolling “role-models” like Wayne Rooney and Ashley Cole – two philanderers who clearly don’t understand the real Offside Rule!

Oh, and speaking of which – my husband must have tried explaining the Offside Rule to me ten times over the years and guess what? Nope, cannot get my head around it! And I’m University educated! Something tells me that if you gathered together most regular Anti Room contributors or indeed any random female focus group to watch a game, many of them wouldn’t get it either, and let’s be honest, simply wouldn’t care. Richard Keys mentioned “dark forces” at work in the leaking of the offending clips to the media. In this instance, I must most forcefully agree.

God bless,
Attracta McCarthy-McKenna

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It’s been brought to our attention that the Anti-Room posters are some sort of cabal of terrifying feminist lefty-liberals. So in attempt to balance this, we’d like to introduce you to our brand new contributor, Attracta McCarthy-McKenna. Unlike us baby-hating wife-swapping sodomites, she is a voice for a different sort of Irish womanhood. Please, make her welcome, and enjoy her posts ….

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Lemme start off by saying that I’m no fan of girl groups. Nor boy bands. Nor any homogenised battalion with their own colour scheme and dance moves. Though I’m going to rant about a sneering take on Irish popstrel Una Healy, I must admit that haven’t heard a single song from her band, The Saturdays. I wouldn’t know The Saturdays if they’d been creeping into my lugs at night and crooning subliminal messages directly into my noggin. I’m not writing this from the perspective of an indignant fan, in other words. I’m an indignant twenty-nine year old Irishwoman, though, which gives me more than enough in common with my subject.

So yes, Una Healy is a gorgeous strawberry-blonde pop vocalist. Once a struggling singer-songwriter, she now makes up 20% of The Saturdays, and so is appropriately dolled-up and adorned with sparkly things. Last weekend’s Sunday Independent featured a piece by Niamh Horan, calling out Ms. Healy for being a bad role model and a drunken mess, basically because the writer has seen paparazzi images of Una looking rather worse for wear on a number of early-hours occasions. Her latest excursion resulted in her taking a tumble in front of waiting photographers, who naturally zoomed in and went all out.

Ms. Horan was most put-out by the whole thing.

…you’ve got to wonder what her parents must think. Not to mention her reserved country and Irish musician uncle Declan Nerney.

Indeed. Especially as Una was wearing a

… skirt up to her backside

… at the time, which I would have thought was probably her lot in life, being a member of a girl group. And hey, it’s not like she was out there wearing fishnets as trousers with a gigantic teabag on her head. Though if she was, we’d probably swoon and call it art, eh, Lady Gaga?

I was rightly riled by Horan’s attack on Healy. Whatever you may think about booze culture in the UK and Ireland, or about wimminfolk wearing minidresses in January, what’s righteous about singling out a grown woman celebrating a friend’s birthday and haughtily hypothesising how her poor Mammy must feel about her partying ways? It’s not as if Healy threw up on the pavement, dodged her taxi fare, or lamped a nightclub toilet attendent. She had a few drinks, tripped over her own feet, and looked less than graceful getting into a taxi. I doubt any manner of uncle would disown her for that … although it’s certainly an evocative image, Declan Nerney weeping into the Sunday newspapers whilst clutching his Nano Nagle action figures; “My kingdom for a shapeless tunic!”

Obviously, we have to advocate taking responsibility for one’s own actions, especially when one is nearly thirty, in good health, and financially independent. Ms. Healy chose to become a pop star, and so invited a certain amount of public attention down on her head. But that doesn’t mean that she must be held accountable for every angle she is snapped from. That doesn’t mean that she must remain poised and coiffed and boring and blank-eyed, for fear she may appear off balance or chunky and so frighten impressionable tweens. In fact, the notion Horan seems to push here – that female celebrities should restrict themselves to a particular hem length and a particular bedtime, that they must be graceful above all else, and that they must never lose control – is rather too sinister to chance adopting as standard. Young fans striving towards unattainable perfection and constantly berating themselves when they fall short? What a depressing thought.

Personally, I wouldn’t advocate Una Healy as a role model, but it’s because Una’s an entertainer, not a neurosurgeon. If my nine-year-old comes home and tells me she wants to be in a girl group when she grows up, I’ll probably roll my eyes and say something disparaging about the cost of fake eyelashes. That wouldn’t be half as disturbing as her coming home and claiming she wants a career as a dewy-eyed mannequin, Stepford-elegant with a silver ramrod up her jumper, though. Una Healy’s antics may well stop upsetting Niamh Horan when Niamh Horan accepts that Una Healy’s not an international ambassador. She’s a young, pretty popstar. Surely, then, she can wear her skirts as short as she damn well pleases?

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