Posts Tagged ‘Constitution’

IB imageSnapshots of law, gender and sexuality news from the past couple of weeks

UN Women Ad Campaign Shows Pervasive Sexism

Lauren Posada

Recently, UN Women has launched an ad campaign, created by Memac Ogilvy and Mather Dubai, which shows the extent of worldwide sexism and discrimination against women. Using the Google search bar, UN Women inputted the beginning of sentences such as “women shouldn’t”, and put the drop down options over women’s mouths. While shocking, a quick check of Google shows that these are in fact true. Arwa Mahdawi, writing for the Guardian, warns us against taking the campaign too literally and notes that “autocomplete isn’t always an entirely accurate reflection of the collective psyche”. Whilst this may be true, and no doubt Google does come up with some questionable autocomplete answers at times, it is undeniably disturbing to see these searches from a world widely used search engine. Whilst perhaps the searches are not reflective of all of humanity, the adverts are definitely thought provoking and lead us to question how far equality between the genders has actually progressed.



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Aoife O’Donoghue is a lecturer at Durham Law School. This post was originally published at Human Rights in Ireland and is reproduced here with permission and thanks.

In the years preceding independence, the vision of Ireland as a women in need of protection became a standard of nationalism. Genderised Ireland has roots in Róisín Dubh and the Earl of Tyrone’s attempts to stay off the Tudor expansion in Ireland. Directly linking the Earl’s resistance to his daughter’s woes, standing in for a forsaken Ireland, the image of a women as Ireland needing male intervention to fully substantiate both her rights as a sovereign power but also to fully embrace her Irishness, as opposed to any foreign interpretations of femininity, became an entrenched trope of nationalism. This was replicated by Yeats and Gregory in the play Cathleen Ní Houlihan. In this play, Maud Gonne, as elderly mother Ireland, is only revived as young and, importantly, beautiful, upon the sacrifice of young men to regain her freedom to be distinctly Irish. Thus, Ireland becomes a women who, while personifying the very character of Irishness, also requires others, always men, to protect, vindicate and guard her from outside influences and interference. Cullingford has described the depiction of Ireland as a women as neither natural nor archetypal but so common as to be ‘rhetorically invisible.’ Further, she argues that Ireland as women has been so effective  that it is entrenched in the idea of women in stereotypical roles invariably linked to nature that is to be possessed and cultivated to its utmost by men, becoming a settled trope of Irish culture. This has created a state structure and culture in Ireland where men occupy the political role of fighting and vindicating rights on Ireland’s, and as such, women’s behalf.


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Enright,_MaireadMáiréad Enright is a lecturer at Kent Law School and is completing a PhD at University College Cork which examines the legal treatment of questions in Muslim divorce practice in the UK and the United States from the perspective of a multiculturalist feminism.

A great deal has been written about the recent developments in Irish abortion law. Most readers will know the basics. The Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution, as interpreted in a case famously known as X, provides that a pregnancy may only legally be terminated in Ireland if: (i) there is a risk to life (as opposed to the health) of the pregnant woman; and (ii) as a matter of probability, that risk to life can only be averted by termination of the pregnancy.  In all other events, Irish women may and do avail of their constitutional right to travel, and most often seek abortions in the UK, often at significant personal cost, or use medication purchased online. (Although the purpose of the Amendment is to ‘balance’ the rights to life of the pregnant woman and the foetus, women who are carrying foetuses which are not medically viable are habitually denied abortions in Ireland, even though the state itself argued in D v. Ireland before the European Court of Human Rights that such a foetus does not necessarily enjoy Eighth Amendment rights.) In the past year, three difficulties with the constitutional regime (always a matter of unofficial knowledge) have emerged into public view. (more…)

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