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Posts Tagged ‘Irish Times’

“every day, every hour, every minute and every second, somewhere in the world, women – irrespective of race, colour or religion – are being subjected to violence and abuse”.

When I was just a child my father extended the hand of friendship to a woman he knew only slightly; a customer who regularly came into a shop he ran in Dublin. Suspecting that all was not entirely well he overcame his natural reticence and indicated to her that if she ever needed a friendly and sympathetic ear he would be willing to provide it.

Shortly afterwards, at 2am one morning, this woman arrived at our house with her three young children in tow. She had once again been beaten by her husband but now, for the first time, she had somewhere to turn. My parents asked no questions. They merely opened their home to this woman whose own family had disowned her for marrying a man who they believed was no good. Several of us vacated our beds and shared with our siblings to make room for these late night callers. The next morning they left with hardly a word but returned several times over the years until finally this woman mustered the courage to leave her abusive husband. What was extraordinary to me was the fact that this woman was a professional with a good income of her own and the financial if not emotional wherewithal to leave anytime she chose to. I have never forgotten her story.

We have probably all encountered the scourge of domestic violence, even if unwittingly. The veil of secrecy that still conceals this dysfunction in our society is to this day preventing women, and indeed many men, from seeking the help and support they so desperately need for themselves and their children. Today in the Irish Times Health Plus supplement I was given the opportunity to highlight some of the work being done by Women’s Aid and Avon here in Ireland and to specifically draw attention to an extraordinary poster exhibition taking place in the Lighthouse Cinema in Smithfield until December 10 2010. I’d be delighted if you followed the link and read my piece. For those interested in visiting the Lighthouse Cinema here is information on the poster exhibition, as compiled by Anthea McTeirnan in the Irish Times today.

“More than 400 posters highlighting the issue of violence against women, curated by former Garda Colm Dempsey, are on show at The Light House Cinema in Smithfield, Dublin. The exhibition is part of Women’s Aid “One in Five Women” 16 Days Campaign, which runs until December 10th.

Director of Women’s Aid, Margaret Martin, says the exhibition highlights the facts that “every day, every hour, every minute and every second, somewhere in the world, women – irrespective of race, colour or religion – are being subjected to violence and abuse”.

“In an era when we are overloaded with images, words and sounds, the powerful graphics in these posters can help us realise the enormity of living with someone who abuses you. For women who are experiencing abuse, they also reach out to show that help is available and they are not alone, that support is available.”

The free exhibition is open to the public and runs daily from 2pm-8pm. The Women’s Aid national freephone helpline is at 1800-341900. womensaid.ie

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I love men. From the time I was a little girl – in a co-educational Catholic school in New York – I learned the boys were the ones who presented me with the REAL competition on the soccer pitch, in the football card trading stakes, in political and current affairs discussions and later, in the workplace. I have always worked in male-dominated fields (Wall Street and business journalism) and enjoyed good support from (most of) my overwhelmingly male bosses.

Dating – and moving up the business ladder – was a different story altogether. Many American men don’t want a girl with a brain (no matter how tiny) and ambition. Some Irish guys still physically shrink away from me when I’m friendly, assuming I’m making a pass at them. (I’m not. I’m married to a great guy.) Others finds the bolshie Yank an amusing distraction.  To some men, a woman with strong opinions and the willingness to voice them is, well, incredibly distasteful.

They believe in the “Women know your limits” school of thought parodied here by the brilliant Harry Enfield on the BBC:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LS37SNYjg8w 

A UK Independent article this week, pointed out by RTE broadcaster Miriam O’Callaghan on Twitter @MiriamOCal, also decries the “noise” created by women on television. It claims the new “boss-class” of women makes men feel bad. The author, Amol Rajan, claims many women on tv are bossy, bullying, preachy and patronising. Read it here and weep:

Too much interference on our televisions
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/features/too-much-interference-on-our-televisions-2012099.html

There’s also a myth, taken as fact, in Irish broadcasting that women’s voices are grating/ irritating to the listener. I have not been able to find any research that backs this up. The research I did find says women’s voices are more musical and complex. So, why is Irish journalism such a male-dominated profession?

Una Mullally wrote an interesting piece on the gender imbalance in radio in the Sunday Tribune in May 2010 and found that ” Eighty percent of RTé Radio One’s regular programmes are male-led and 80% of 2fm’s programmes are male-led. Newstalk has 10 weekday programmes, none of which are presented solely by women, although Claire Byrne co-presents Breakfast. The weekend schedule is a little more female friendly, with three of the 11 programmes presented by women. Overall, 84% of content is presented by men. On its weekday shows, Today FM has just one daily female presenter, Alison Curtis. The station has 16 weekend shows and just three are presented by women. Overall, 90% of its programmes are presented by men. Over on 4FM, just one of that station’s 25 programmes is presented by a woman.” Article here: http://www.tribune.ie/magazine/article/2010/may/02/final-edition-radio-gaga-where-are-all-the-women-o/)

In the print media, the draining away of women from the business and (some) news desks is shocking. It wasn’t always this way. The Irish Times and Sunday Times business desks were fairly equal gender-wise when I worked on the desks (1996-2006).  At the moment, the Sunday Business Post seems to buck the trend with a higher ratio of female to male by-lines in the paper.   

Why has this happened? Are women less skilled as “hard news” journalists or do they opt out of journalism to have children? Or, as Carrie Bradshaw might say… “Could the real reason women’s voices are not more widely heard in the media be because women should not have opinions?”

What do you think? @margareteward

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