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The year that was 2016

I’ve not been writing that much of late, life had been a bit bumpy and the mood a bit dark. So I am going to treat myself to a 2016 round up post to remind myself of the nicer things which happened this year.

This year I tried to do one thing which was new or scary to me each month, most months I managed more then 1 thing.


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In January I sat my exams and pass officially moved into being half way through my degree in DCU.

 

#freesafelegal #ge16 @freesafelegal

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In February I took part in two photo shoots, one for the X ile Project and the other for Trinkets Jewelry. I was also being ahem present at the GE2016 TV debates

 

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In March I was doing Promotions for a wonderful Arts event, which was an installation, musical play and discussion on giving birth in Ireland. http://4elements.ie/projects/daughters-of-the-revolution/


#clarkov

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In April I had the absolute honor and privilege of preforming a wedding ceremony for two dear friends.

 

#unilife

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May was all about getting assignments in and my end of end year exams.


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In June I was an invited speaker at the The 2016 Tom Johnson Summer School

 

3 days at #Longitude2016 helping to campaign for #repealthe8th #freesafelegal

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July I was at #Longitude and worked 3 days at the Abortion Rights Campgain stall, running the twitter and instagram account, talking to the oh so many wonderful people who came over to get leaflet, sign petitions and by badges and t shirts.

 

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August I was a speaker at the Galway Pride Festival about the intersection between lgbtqi rights and reproductive rights. I was also on TV3 as a spokesperson for the Abortion Rights Campagin as part of a debate on National TV as well as being on Dublin City FM for the Nerdy wordy girlie section of the Kitchen Table show.

 

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September was very, very busy. I was delivering training in Cork, working on the March for Choice,
from the press conf to doing media spokes person stuff, which involved going out to RTÉ today’s in a row to be interviews by the BBC, BBC Gobal and BBC 2. Doing interviews with media outlets. Then helping with coverage of the March on the day, and taking part in the Speak Out.

 

#Octocon2016 www.octocon.com 14th to 16th of October

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October was OCTOCON! I was pro and Vice Chair! I got to be on some amazing panels, take part in some excellent discussion and help make the national SFF convention happen! We got some lovely coverage on Newstalk, Irish Examiner and Dubiln City FM. I am really looking for today next year as I am to the Convention director and two of my Fav writers are coming over as Guests of Honour!

 

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November was thankfully a bit quieter after October and September. I was an invited speaker out at UCD Labour to talk about repeal the 8th as an ARC spokes person and to GIGSOC in GNUI to talk about reproductive rights. I also did one of the hardest, most panic inducing things of the year, applying for a passport. It was a mess of red tape, involving 4 different governmental departments.

 

Soo there were some tickets for tonight gig… So we are going again. #TheCure

A photo posted by JanetOS (@janetos_) on

For in December having a passport meant I left Ireland for the 1st time in 18 years, boarded a plane and headed off to the UK, where in Wembley I got to see The Cure play, twice.

2016 has been an eventful year (what I have listed is barely the tip of the iceberg), the last 1/3 of it have been a struggle at time, but looking back has helped. Still can’t believe the BBC 100 women thing! We got through this year, here’s to getting through the next one.

Remembering Savita, 3 years on and what has changed?

This hasn’t been easy to write, it is hard to believe it has been 3 years.

3 years ago today on the 28th of October 2012 Savita Halappanavar died, leaving behind her bereft husband. On the 21st of October she had started to have a miscarriage and as the 8th amendment dictates miscarriage management in Ireland she was denied the options and care which would have been available to her in other countries.

She asked for the pregnancy to be ended, she asked for an abortion as there was no way to save the pregnancy and this was denied to her as there was a fetal heartbeat. So she was left to miscarry and eventually through a series of callous missteps went on to die from infection. The news of her death didn’t break in the press until the 14th of November when he husband took advice having not been able to believe the responses he was getting from the hospital admins. What happened to Savita shocked people in Ireland and internationally.

 

There were vigils held in front of the Dáil, all over Ireland and across europe. So many people started to wake up to what the 8th amendment means in terms of restriction to health care. The 1st big March for Choice had already happened and those who helped put that together did their best to network and get the word out about the vigils.

 

The next year the government finally after 23 years moved legislation to cover the X Case ruling. This became known as a the Protection of Life in Pregnancy Act. This allowed for abortion in the case where a person is pregnant and suicidal. This new law did nothing to change miscarriage management. The international best practice for miscarriage management where there is no way to save the pregnancy is to offer the option of ending the pregnancy, either via surgery or via medical abortion using abortion pills.

 

Neither of these are currently legal in Ireland, and the new law the  Protection of Life in Pregnancy Act imposes a 14 year criminal sanction on any woman or dr who would end a pregnancy with a fetal heartbeat even in the case of inevitable miscarriage. This is another tragedy waiting to happen. Medical professionals should not have to wait for a patient’s condition to decline from the threat to health to a threat to life before taking action.

 

While the legally and medically nothing has changed in terms of the restrictions to miscarriage  management, we as a nation has woken up to the injustices which the 8th amendment causes. Many brave women have stepped forward to share their stories so that we no longer only hear about this issue when someone had died or had taken a case to the courts.

The stigma which surrounds being pro choice and having had an abortion is being fought, we have had people stand up and say enough is enough, the Abortion Rights Campaign has been joined in their fight to repeal the 8th by Unions, Artists and by NGOs. Political parties find themselves having to state where they stand on the issue of repealing the 8th and if it is a red line issues for them.

 

Many people will be making sure they Vote Pro Choice in the upcoming General Election. Hopefully then we will soon see a referendum to remove the horrific amendment which has caused so much suffering and we will see miscarriage management and healthcare in Ireland come in line with best practice so that no one else when they ask for an abortion; esp when they are in pain and suffering (which the UN Committee on Human Rights terms as torture), demand an abortion to end it, it will be a health care option medical staff can offer in all our maternity hospitals and units.

3 years on and it’s still hard to watch the video of Savita dancing in the St Paticks Day parade in Galway. Herself and Praveen moved here, were part of the local community, wished to raise children here. In any other country she would have been given the abortion she asked for and then be able to go on to maybe have a child which she could have taught to dance, with whom she could have celebrated Diwali with next month.

 

For Savita - Never Again from Christopher Tierney on Vimeo.

We need to repeal the 8th amendment so that the words “Never Again” have real meaning for all those living in Ireland.

 

So I have been invited to Trinity by The University Philosophical Society

I was surprised and delighted to be invited to be a speaker at a debate in Trinity College Dublin hosted by The University Philosophical Society; which is said to be The World’s Oldest Student Society.

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The motion up for debate is “This House would Sell it’s Virginity”, it is bound to be an interesting debate and I am looking forward to it. I will up date this when I find out who the other speakers are to be. The Debate will take place on Thursday the 8th of October.

Ice Cream on Sale you say?

What is better then Ice cream? Why Icecream on sale?

What is better then Ice cream on sale? Why finding your Favorite Ice cream on sale! currently Lidl have HäagenDazs ice cream on sale for €2.99

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I usually prefer mostly savory flavors but I do like a good salty caramel and this just hits the best spots for me. Creamy vanilla, thick salty caramel and caramel coated pecan nuts for crunch, texture, and protein. It is pretty pricey as it’s usually close to €6 a tub, but when it’s on sale why not.

 

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I always find it amusing that the plastic lid suggests leaving it to stand for 10- 15 mins, I mean really who does that? It’s not like the ice cream is not malleable enough and the caramel doesn’t freeze sold, also who has the patience. I can eat my ice cream any way I want to with no wait times.

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See plenty of space to get a spoon in right away, and follow the caramel to the pecans. The ratio of vanilla to caramel and placement of the pecans is always good. Too good for ideally one should not eat an entire tub, by oneself but there are somethings I am just not good at sharing.

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Nuts and caramel, all the way down to the end, no skimping. Damn posting this has my mouth watering all over again, just as well I got two tubs. HäagenDazs on sale currently in Lidl get it while it’s there and to stop me from buying all of the Pralines & Cream.

 

You scream, I scream….

We all scream for Ice cream!

 

I am a big fan of ice cream, it is comfort food of the highest order. So when I heard there was to be a new Magnum which was being advertised as espresso flavored I my interest was peaked. Coffee and Ice cream in one, oh yes.

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The fair trade frog for coca beans is always good to see on what I consume.

 

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Oh oh, it’s not just ice cream and espresso, but also dark Chocolate. Could this be the adult Choc Ice I have been searching for?

 

 

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The espresso flavor is folded all the way through, why yes I am the type to bite off the chocolate, especially when it’s good dark chocolate, but it also let me see inside. The flavor was more then I expected, how ever there was no chance of a caffeine hit which for me would have made it utterly perfect. The balance between the dark chocolate, the buffer of the ice cream and the espresso flavor is perfectly stuck and pleased my palette no end.  I savored every bite, right to the stick.

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I really, really hope HB Ireland keeps this  limited edition around for longer then the summer.

 

Painting a different picture

They often say a picture is worth a thousand words and certainly pictures help to set the scene, the tone and context of an article. Which is why sometimes images which are paired with articles about abortion be it in the news, magazines or online can be problematic.

Often the go to image is that of a pregnant person. We have all seen them the headless pregnant woman who is 30+ weeks pregnant, is sometimes called the preggo belly shot. Sometimes the image is just a front close up  the preggo belly or other times the image is in silhouette, eliminating the woman from the image entirely.

The problem with those sorts of image it that it distorts the discussion of abortion before it even begins. The vast majority of abortions happen before 9 weeks, when person really has no outward signs of being pregnant at all. They can often be unfortunately paired with a really good pro choice piece.

Some online news outlets have gotten better at the image they choose, from using airplanes, pictures at protests rather then the preggo belly image or one of a distraught women. But how do we bring about a change in what pictures are used?

Often simply asking works. Campus.ie  recently published an article on Repealing the 8th amendment. It was by Tomás Heneghan and a great read but alas it had been paired with the preggo belly image. So Tomás and Campus.ie were asked over twitter could the image be changed; the suggestion was made for the article to have instead a stock image of a positive pregnancy test. And I’m delighted to say it was changed and it is a worth while read. http://campus.ie/surviving-college/politics/why-we-need-remove-eight-amendment

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We are now starting to see a new type of image being used on articles about abortion, that of women telling their stories,  which clearly makes the article and the discussions focused on the woman, her rights and her choice.  Which is why the photograph of Tara who shared her story of travelling staring into the camera brave, defiant and unflinching is such a powerful one.

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http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/tara-they-shouldn-t-have-control-over-my-uterus-1.2089490

This means we are seeing abortion being discussed a very different way in the media in this country, one which no longer promotes stigma and shame, and this creates the space to have different conversations which we have not been able to have before. There will be no going back, we can only hope that our legislators can find a fraction of the courage Tara and other women have had to do and set in motion the referendum to repeal the 8th amendment.

Suggestions for Distraction Pieces for Scroobius Pip

At the time of writing this the Distraction Pieces Podcast by  Scroobius Pip has released 12 episodes.

2007 was when Scroobius Pip cropped up on my radar, it was the letter from god which did it.

I was at his gig last February in Vickers St and I used Get Better to sign off my week of curating the @Ireland account.

I do on occasion listen to the Joe Rogan podcast and was happy to see Scroobius Pip after being on with Joe kick off Distraction pieces.

The 1st episode was an interview with Alan Moore and that was it I was hooked. How ever as more podcasts were released I notice that there hadn’t been any women on them yet. So I asked on twitter if he had any plans to have women on.

The reply I got was that he doesn’t see creed, race or gender and it’s about interesting people.  So fair enough it’s a new venture for him, but when you are treated like a minority (there are more women on the planet then men) you notice when the line up of something is all men, or all white people or all herto cispeople.

So at the opening of Episode 8 in which Scroobius Pip interviews Jodi Ann Bickley (to date the only woman), he calls out for people to make suggestions for people to interview. So here is my list suggestions.

 

Laurie Penny aka @PennyRed

Jane Goldman aka @ferretprincess

Rihanna Pratchett aka @rhipratchett

Voilet Blue aka @violetblue

Cindy Gallop aka @cindygallop

Ann Furedi aka @AnnFuredi

Cheryl Morgan aka @CherylMorgan

 

Anyone else got suggestions? Get in touch with Scroobius Pip and let him know what they are.

 

 

 

 

Purple Monkey Dishwasher

Ever play Chinese whispers? That game when you get a group of people and a sentence gets whispered from one person to another. This of course distorts the message, some times it is completely different, other times parts remains or it’s important context is lost.

Sometimes the internet is like the most complex game of Chinese whispers. Often primary sources can’t be found, esp in the fast moving world of internet blogs, forums and of course twitter.

The sheer amount of stuff which can get written by thousands of people on various platforms around the globe in one 24 hour period can be staggering. So it’s not surprising that it can be at times impossible to get a grasp on certain topics like Gamer Gate.

What I have found startling is that the same arguments which get put to me about why I should not say I am a feminist are being used to tell people why should not say they are supporters of gamergate. Should radical or extremist elements be let take over an idea or a movement?

I can understand why the reasonable and moderate people who id themselves as part of not wanting games to be censored and who think that there needs to be better ethics & standards in game reviews and games journalism won’t walk away from gamergate. There are actual issues which do need to be talked about.

Where ever a person stands on how they think the games industry & culture needs to evolve, the abuse and threats to people need to stop. I would dearly like to see those who have made such threats feel the full force of the law, but that mean justice depts have to start taking online abuse seriously.

Yep Z.Q. is being punished for being an outspoken woman, I know what is like, thankfully never as extreme as what she has had to endure. There were those who were out to get her before her ex trashed her in that blog and it was the excuse they felt they were waiting for, all of which is unacceptable. Funny the journalist whom she has been accused of trying to bribe isn’t being hounded, a reporter who let themselves be compromised would be the person I would be pissed off with.

How ever I do know there are some who won’t want games to be sanitised and I get that and know people have not acted in a reprehensible manner. I really worry that those who have behaved as vile scum will tarnish the term gamer for ever and cause a regression in how people think of games. It feeds in to the whole manchild myth about games and gamers, how it is to be ever taken seriously as an art form with this crap happening around it.

I honestly think it is the generation who grew up playing Halo on consoles who created a community out of foul mouth teens who have dominated gaming culture to a point. There were awesome online gaming communities before them but that for me was the tipping point of one which grew up with out much adult interaction and it’s spread across online gaming, unfortunately.

I don’t agree with at least 40% of the critique in FemFeq, esp as there seems to be an element of eroticphobia to A.S. feminism. I think that the series of videos should have been the kicking off point for a heap of much needed discussion about games as an art form and how they can reflect society and culture. Don’t agree with what someone says and their conclusions, then refute them, tear down the position and the argument.

If you can’t do that and your only recourse is to attack the person rather then the position or the argument, then you’ve lost, you are not going to be taken seriously or have any credibility. All that has been done by those going to extremes to shut up women like Z.Q. A.S. and D.W. is to poison the well and make Jack Thompson seem right to people who don’t game and don’t know the joy it brings.

Seriously my kids who have been brought up as gamers would rather people they are ‘filthy casuals’ then have their peers link them to the hatred and misogyny gamer gate has become associated with. They both have had run in with asshats online, they both try and model good gaming manners, not quiet to Starcraft levels but still the last few weeks has had them distancing themselves, which I understand, but it still saddens me.

I have tried to keep up with what has been going on but until no I have not written about it, I have instead when ever I felt the urge to get into discussions, I’ve gone and played games instead. Mostly Assassins Creed Liberation, which has a protagonist who is a woman a person of colour and  the game is nuanced, smart, full of tangential learning about class, gender and the world as it was in the time period of the game. And I get to kill people, what more could I want in my games.

Well bar some day Steam allowing games like Leisure Suit Larry and Lula The Sexy Empire on the Market place. Why is it I can kill people in so many ways, but not get people off in games? But that is a topic for another blog post.

 

 

Getting to know you… meeting Joanna Kuchta

So being a mature student, I do when I get the chance to ask my fellow first years, why they choose communication studies. Asking the slim little blonde who sat beside me Tuesday lead to an interesting discovery.

As Amanda Palmer has stated several times “We are the Media” and this 18 year old has certainly embraced that over the last two years. Her name is Joanna Kuchta and she describes herself as a Polish Princess living in Ireland.

She choose Communication Studies as a general communications degree but is aiming at communications as part of the fashion industry. She already models and has created her own “brand” using tumblr, twitter and instagram. She has that many followers which means she gets paid to feature items and lines on these platforms, but will only do so if she likes them and thinks they are cute.

She has a staggering 200,00 + followers in instagram http://instagram.com/joannakuchta and 89.6K followers on Twitter, https://twitter.com/pixiejoanna.

She chose the degree course in DCU rather then a fashion specific course in case she changes her mind or direction over the next few years. She is bright, smart, aware of the tools she is using and the type of messaging her ‘brand’ is composed off, be it in interviews, or her interactions on social media or her vloging via youtube.

http://www.lazyoaf.com/blog/2014/10/virtual-reality-with-elizabethcharliekuchta/

Was the last shoot she did, I look forward to seeing how she managed to juggle her fashion career and the degree over the next 3 years.