from - http://www.headstuff.org/
In the run up to the General Election, we’ll be hearing a lot about abortion rights and the need to repeal the 8th amendment, as well as lots of arguments against (so far, largely ideology-based and with plenty of misdirection, but that’s another story). I, for one, won’t be voting for anyone who doesn’t have a strong stance on letting the people have their say, at the very least.
In a bid to make themselves seem both progressive and well, not, politicians are attempting a splits-like straddling move, not unlike Jean Claude Van Damme in that ad with the two trucks. They will consider access to abortion in Ireland, but only in exceptional cases. To be fair, these are the hard cases that, shockingly, haven’t been dealt with til now: cases of rape, incest or fatal foetal anomaly. Heartbreaking cases. Obvious, clear crises.
But what about the rest of us? The unexceptional. The majority. Those who, like me, faced a crisis not so clear-cut to others, but a crisis nonetheless. Are we to continue to be ignored – 10 or so of us a day condemned as criminals and forced to travel? It may ease political conscience – they may even see it as a way to broach the issues of bodily autonomy and reproductive rights – but the truth is that such an approach will change little. It will leave most of us stranded. We are voters, too.
I was thinking angrily about this while walking last week on a fictitious beach. To my surprise, I found a fictitious bottle bobbing on the shoreline. There was a fictitious letter in it, voicing a very real cry for help.
“I am marooned on an island. It’s not paradise, although coconuts have recently become plentiful. Not all year round, don’t be ridculous. They are still expensive and prized. But you can get their milk in a can almost anywhere and their water comes in a carton as a status symbol, for some reason.
I am not alone. We are many. For the most part, island life is alright. Many of us have shelter and, if you believe all the tourism ads, the craic is only ninety; in them, we eat lobster and windsurf all day long – often at the same time. In them, we have no problems.
The island is mysterious, but unlike the cast of Lost, we didn’t crash here and we can leave any time we like. In fact, leaving is encouraged. That’s part of the problem. (Ironic, as we don’t have any.) We handle these not-problems our own way. We’ll tackle excessive social drinking by putting up the price of alcohol (wine is already the price of a small car, or 3 coconuts). We’ll tackle unemployment figures by getting people on “internships” for zero coconuts. And unwanted pregnancies… Well, there are none.
For we are situated right beside The Island of Solution. It was decreed that any not-problems be sorted there, in silence. IT IS WRITTEN, and so it shall be. You shall not contradict the windsurfing ads.
Three long decades ago, our fates were sealed by elders you don’t hear much about nowadays. We assume they wandered over to the other side of the island like half of the Lost cast. They believed in magic, so it’s apt that they have vanished. But, carved onto a big stone, their will remains. You couldn’t really fault the stone itself. It’s a fine stone. But it stonily states that half of us are not equal, and that verily must we take ourselves across the sea to “sort things out, on the down-low, if you know what I mean.” This is followed by a symbol, worn with age, which archaeologists believe to be a winky face.
You would think that the remaining elders would be happy with those who comply and leave the island. But they don’t want to know. Almost as if half of us were worth nothing –certainly worth much less than a coconut. Even an off-season coconut. The idea of being fruitful, like a big palm tree, is of value. The fruit delivery system or “woman”, less so.
Non-islanders may find this hard to understand but these are our ways. We don’t get it, either, but it’s on the fecking stone.
Elders make sad faces but these faces are fake. All unwilling fruit delivery systems, regardless of circumstance, are forced into escape canoes and then condemned for getting into them. While the stone still stands, we must keep the escape canoes bobbing in the secret cove, and hope we have enough coconuts for passage.
On this island, being fruitful is the law. And you can cope. You can. You’ve read the stone. Carved in small print at the bottom, worn from much touching, is a reminder: “Plenty more where you come from, girl. It’s not like you’re a coconut.”
We are weary of being sent away, deserted. The elders may have ears for the urgent cases; what about the rest of us? The beaches are overflowing. There are not enough canoes. Not everyone has coconuts.
We dream of a day we will not be forced to leave the island. So we are sending out these messages and smoke signals in the hope they’ll be seen from the air. In the sand we’ve spelled out Help us.
Perhaps that help will never arrive. But even if it doesn’t, we know this: we’re worth more than a fucking coconut.”