A few years ago I developed a proposal for an interactive theatre piece called ‘Farmed’. Besides having some lovely, talented people willing to work on it and a heap of optimism, I didn’t exactly have all the components to bring it to fruition. It was a pretty loose idea about a world set in a not so far off dystopian future where the wrong people gained power and the world went to war, which led to an influx of global refugees into Ireland. The world that we know was ‘see ya later alligator’, and the government needed to create a new society – from scratch. So this government began a programme wherein they would farm women. Eligible women were sent to warehouses turned labour wards, like cattle, to produce this elitist society whilst the public perished in Armageddon.
Inspired by global conflicts and the 8th amendment in Ireland. How in the eyes of Irish law, once a woman falls pregnant she is merely a vessel to bring that child to term, even if puts her health at risk, if she lacks the resources or desire to raise a child, if it has fatal foetal abnormalities, or is the result of a sexual assault, whatever the case may be. It’s the idea of a vessel that provoked me. At the time the ideas seemed too outlandish, I couldn’t quite piece it all together and did not pursue the piece further. Simpler times.
An oopsy-daisy on my behalf led me to miss that a story similar to this pre-existed in the novel ‘The Handmaids Tale’ written by Margaret Atwood, which is now being adapted as a TV show for Hulu. In this world a woman has only one function, to breed. This is after “an extreme Christian movement ” launches a revolution and suspends the United States Constitution under the pretext of restoring order. They are quickly able to take away all of women’s rights. The new regime moves quickly to consolidate its power and reorganise society along a new militarised, hierarchical, compulsory regime of Old Testament–inspired social and religious fanaticism among its newly created social classes. In this society, human rights are severely limited and women’s rights are unrecognised”. Hmm.. that sounds familiar, ‘restoring order’… where did I hear that lately?
“We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and to restore its promise for all of our people.” – Donald Trump (Inauguration Speech)
This novel and my unintentional, loosely plagiarised theatre proposal explores the oppression of women in a patriarchal society. The women’s marches that took place all over the world on Saturday was a spectacular demonstration of solidarity for women’s rights which needs to be the starting pistol for a four year long race. Whilst watching some of the spectacular speeches, from the marches worldwide, I made the rookies mistake of reading some comments underneath and some of what I read was gutwrenching. Not just the cliché ‘who’s going to make the dinner” shit, I’m talking vile, misogynistic, racist, pure hatred of women type stuff. It wasn’t just men writing this stuff, the majority of this venom came from women. They versed their disgust at the women speaking, their horror at the support of ‘baby murderers’ and how it’s all just an unnecessary ruckus, that American women have equal rights and should shut up and stop complaining. And those were the nicer things being said.
I had a talk with an older man recently who said if they had a referendum, to repeal the 8th amendment, in Ireland he would vote ‘Yes’ for pro-choice, but wasn’t entirely sure if it aligned with his beliefs. He claimed he still considers the embryo, even at the earliest stage, as having the potential to be a person who may go on to do great things for the world. I went onto to rebut that with the facts of it’s not yet a life and it should be the woman’s right to choose, to which we both agreed. It’s a woman’s choice. The only thing you have in your life that is truly yours is your body. To oppress this power leads to an ideology that women don’t have power over their body in any regard. It is controlled by men. This idea can spread like a fungus to influence behaviour towards women in society.
The global gag rule is not just about abortion, it means cuts to family planning programmes, limiting access to contraception and fewer HIV support programmes. When Ronald Reagan introduced this originally he said “what single issue could say more about a society’s values than the degree of respect shown for human life at it’s most vulnerable human life still unborn?” That was 1984. This is 2017 and this is not the cha-cha slide, we do not need to ‘take it back now y’all’.
How about the degree of respect for women? In these instances, there is none. These men have the final say about the fate of a woman’s body. It’s about control, taking away a woman’s power and control. The woman is, merely, a vessel. It’s like that in Ireland and it’s something someone like anti-LGBT, anti-women, pro-squinting eyes, pro-asshole Mike Pence most certainly would advocate in the States if he could.
They’re taking power, so even if you’re low-key anti-feminist and all this is merely noise in your chauvinist ears, your power is about to do a Liam Neeson and be Taken 2. The Trump administration has banned certain government agencies from speaking to the press, including the Environmental Protection Agency from speaking about climate change. Now that is some shady business. They are denying science, SCIENCE!
Look at that picture! Look at how smug these mofos look.Is this what it’s going to be for the next four years? Each day a new fear-inducing exhibit of Trump’s regime? There’s only so much eye rolling a gal can take. I guess all we can do is take the advice of the badass Greenpeace folk who scaled the crane near the Whitehouse today and ‘RESIST’, before extreme dystopian stories start becoming less outlandish and more conceivable.
Copy and paste this link to your search bar to read a previous post on the 8th amendment law and reproductive rights in Ireland:
Author: Shaunna Lee Lynch
About: I am an Irish writer, performer, avid day dreamer, generally enthusiastic, hip hop enthusiast.
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