Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.  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 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.












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.


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 and 89.6K followers on Twitter,

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.

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.

Hi there!

My name is Janet Ní Shuilleabháin, I also use the name Sharrow  online. I’m currently a Mature Student at DCU and blog about that in the  Unilife section. I am a parent  with two brats, both of whom is on the autistic spectrum. I am a feminist, gamer, geek, inquisitive person. I can be found on twitter as @Sharrow_ie

This blog was once my online scrap book but it, like myslef has evolved over the years, it now Has sections,

For my writing on  social issues check out the  Activism and Agitation.

For my  writings on generally pagan matters, check out The Wanton Witch.

For my writing out all thinks geek, gamer and fandom check out Worlds Beyond Counting.

If you need to contact me via email you can do so here: Ladyshadowsharrow [@] gmail .com


I have done a certain amount of press work over the last 2 years, if you are interested in reading/listening to what I have done have a look here.


Comment Policy

Comments and questions are welcome, abuse is not.

I’ve not been bothered to have one of these explicitly spelt out, but after a few surges of hits to here and a selection of comments which followed all with in the same day and a very narrow time period and the ping backs have showed me were they came from well.
I am putting one in place.

I had expected there to be rational arguments and a civil discourse even with people who have differing opinions and view to my own. I enjoy discussion and debate.

But I won’t ever be publishing comments which denigrate me. If that is all your are aiming for with your comments then you are wasting your time.

DC131 or I am going to be a first year!

22 to years ago when the CAO results came out I was in town with the girls from my year with the new edition of tomorrow’s newspaper, trying to look up the sting of numbers which hopefully was printed with against the course code I wanted. I didn’t see the code and I went home on the last bus to double check again on the kitchen table, I didn’t get what I wanted that year but I did two years later.

But they say 3 times the charm and this morning so much has changed in those 22 years, including how I got my offer. It arrived by text message, saying I had an offer for course code DC 131 and to log in to the CAO site to accept it. DC131 is the Degree in Communication Studies in Dublin City University.

Today I am giddy with excitement, the details and concerns as to how I make it all happen, the grant applications, the child cared ect can all wait for 24 hours while I revel in the idea that I am going to college this Autumn and all going well in a few short years I will graduate.

Most people go to university as a teen, I am going as a mature student. I am really looking forward to it. Just hope I don’t give in the urge to straighten the collars and pull down the shirts of my fellow first years.



No Gods, No Masters (Or Mistresses)

“Genuine equality and human rights is no longer a gendered issue and feminism is not concerned with men’s issues. Either we need a parallel activism that advocates for men’s rights and against the excesses of feminism (and vice versa) or we need a new, syncretic movement for genuine equality that deals with the facts as they genuinely are and with the interplay between the differences, rights, responsibilities and freedoms of both genders and society in general.”

I do think a parallel movement is needed, one which is not about attacking feminists, but about supporting and providing space for men and boys.