Guest post – Clodagh Leonard
We all know by now about the Slane Girl incident, if you know me at all there is no way you have avoided it. Since the pictures appeared online, this has been the only thing I have spoken about. It is all over my facebook page, I even managed to force into my weekly recap chat with my father. I am absolutely livid about the whole event. This has caused people to ask me why I am taking it so personally.
This came as a shock to me. I was so staunch in my opinion I couldn’t imagine any reasonable person I was friends with having any opposing view or feeling apathetic about it. It just seemed ludicrous to me. So, like all reasonable adults I sat down to dissect the motivation behind my uproarious response.
Why does a young girl involved in a sexual act with some other stranger whilst being photographed effect me? What business of mine is it what she does or how people react to it?
To be completely honest, what she is doing has absolutely no effect on me, just like I am completely unaffected by any of your sex lives. Unless you are having sex with me or my girlfriend it really does not factor into my life at all. I couldn’t care less if she was sucking a lollipop.
What does affect me is the attitude the photographs have incited. When did we start thinking it was ok to hold people up and flog them as an example? When did we re-commission witch-hunts? I was not consulted about any of this. It’s not that this mob mentality is anything new, we have years of experience, the Kerry Babies case springs to mind. I had just really hoped that we had gone beyond this, but I guess a sympathetic, open-minded mature population is still a pipe dream.
In all of the debates this nation has had in an attempt to drag ourselves into the 21st century there seems to be two groups that are most disgusted by the idea of progress. These appear to be general sexists, of all genders, and pious ‘well meaning’ people. This current hoopla has been no different. The first group make themselves know pretty easily and can be defeated. Usually it only takes as much as big words or a modest amount of common sense to make their believe system fall apart and them to go back to watching porn and wondering why they are so alone.
They, however, have plenty of back-up and resources from years of unquestioned privilege so they will survive. I think maybe early intervention is the only way to save these people, in not sure, I’m working on it. Another reason that it is so hard to change this mentality is that it is bolstered by the second group. This is where it gets personal.
As I explained earlier this is an attempt to see why I am not able to get over the treatment of this young girl and I think this group holds the key. Bear with me, this is all relevant. While trying to get my head around the treatment of this girl and how negative it was: compared to the guy who was also involved and the complete scumbag who uploaded the photo and completely disregarded someone else’ privacy and humiliating them, one story kept circulating through my mind.
When I went to college at first I studied theology, my classes include seminarians and were in the Catholic tradition. One of our lectures was a discussion about the ethical implications of being able to have a child gestate in a box instead of a womb (the Church, always trying to make women more redundant). A girl in my class posited that it would benefit gay couples because of the lack of surrogate required. The class railed against her, I mean with venom. I, of course, defended the girl, outing myself in the process and was lambasted and informed of my imminent damnation. I got over it. Walking from that class that day though through campus I passed an RTE van as the crew filmed one of my lecturers and a number of other priests going into their meeting rooms to discuss clerical sex abuse. I left not long after.
You might be struggling to see the correlation but to me this is the same issue. For too long this society has elevated and highlighted its pathos which simultaneously ostracising the most marginalised in its society. I am just fucking appalled at people proudly decimate each others mental healthy to uphold a redundant status quo. I believe that appropriation of religion into the education system and everyday life has given people a skewed idea of what it is to be ethical.
The arguments I have had with member of the second group about this have been shrouded in generations of internalised misogyny from a patriarchal institution. Claims that she deserves it and should have more respect for herself. When really we should be having more respect for ourselves that to bastardise the messages we cling to.
As Jesus himself did say in John 8.7 to the adulterous woman.
“He is without sin among you, let him be the first to cast a stone at her”