On Friday May 25, I’m going home to Galway so that I can vote in the referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment of our constitution. I’m voting yes.
There are thousands of reasons to vote in favour of deleting the Eighth Amendment and allowing for abortion services to take place in Ireland. We have heard these reasons on a near daily basis from our friends, from strangers, from canvassers, from politicians, from doctors, from women who want to tell their own stories, and from those who want to tell the stories of their loved ones. And over the last thirty-five years Ireland has – reluctantly with averted eyes – witnessed these reasons, in the experiences of women who were forced out of the country to access safe healthcare and the women who didn’t make it that far and died at the hands of State law. The women who died at the hands of a political regime that values her life in terms of the ability of her body to be a vessel of reproduction, in a society that values her identity as the sum of her image and obedient sexuality.
Right now I’d rather speak about the reasons to be angry. The reasons to be fed up, annoyed, frustrated, exhausted, enraged, pissed off, outraged and furious. These are also reasons to think, to act, to vote, to help, to change and to disrupt. One evening not too long ago, I felt angry and I made a list of ‘Because’.
I have the ability and the means to access several sources of empowerment. Writing and publishing is one. Empowerment through peer support is another, such as music networks and feminist groups. The ability to deeply consider the fact that I have the power to change something is one that I hold very dear. Contributing to tangible social change in the country I live in with the people around me is an empowering experience. Making that ‘Because’ list was empowering simply because I was saying exactly what I meant.
The song ‘Goodbye 8‘ by the Irish, alternative post-punk band Alien She says what it means. It is my transparent fury and it is the raging voice of the silence that surrounds women in Ireland who step outside the lines of acceptability and choose a different path. It is what the Eighth Amendment is not. The lyrics do not hide behind ornamentation and ‘due regards’ in order to hide the facts of women’s subjugation to a State-ridden, bedridden, Christ-ridden moral regime.
Is what’s on offer.
For every mother.”
gOODBYE 8, BY ALIEN SHE
The repetition of these lyrics and the power behind the voices that shout them across thrashing cymbals, cuts across the insulating barrier that protects Irish politics from accountability. Alien She have a political voice in their music. They unashamedly speak about reality and about the experiences of people in society through music. I am empowered when I listen to ‘Goodbye 8’, and when I vote this coming Friday I will be listening to this music and taking control of my own choices.
You can listen to ‘Goodbye 8’ on Alien She’s Bandcamp.