Monday, 29 March 2021
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I wish to speak about and congratulate the young women and girls in Maryfield College, Drumcondra, who along with Amárach Research conducted a study on how young girls and women are being intimidated by catcalling. They call for legislation and for this to be made illegal.
The Seanad is mostly male. I am sure the Leader is very well aware of how intimidating unsolicited shouting, whether that be so-called compliments, whistling or whatever case may be, can be to a young woman, or any woman, who is walking down the street. It is not the effect of the catcalling and unsolicited comments; it is the domino effect of what that does to society. It is about sexualizing young girls. One thinks of grown men whistling at young girls in school uniforms and how perverse that is when one steps back from it. It leads into a domino effect in sexual behaviour and sexual assault and blaming the victim.
I spoke on the radio this morning and raised a very personal issue about being physically and violently groped in a nightclub. By pure reflex, I threw my elbow back and hit the person who did that. I was in pain and in shock, and who got in trouble? It was me. The bouncer came to me and said, "Less of that, lady, or you will be out." I explained my issue and he told me to move on. Therefore, I was the problem that night. This is continuing and repeated behaviour. It is an everyday occurrence, although obviously not now as nightclubs are not "everyday" anymore. We need awareness, however. We need to challenge the norms and be able to stand up and call it out. When we do, however, we also need other people to say they will call it out with us. We need awareness and education and we need to legislate.