By Joyce Rubotham
Donald Trump stood as candidate for presidency with allegations of rape and sexual misconduct against him – but finally a female campaign has ignited and we assess how much work Ireland has to do to make this country fairer for women?
We have talked to Irish women who have been sickened by the allegations against Trump – including the claimed rape of a 13-year-old girl – and the lewd comments he made about grabbing a woman “by the p***y.”
The graphic, sick and violent nature of the allegations and words have caused anguish to women across the globe with “Pussy grabs back” becoming the war cry from women all over the world on Twitter.
Trump’s words, the allegations against him, are like knives digging in to most the female psyche and perhaps nowhere more than Ireland – a country that still forces rape victims to give birth.
Helen Plass from Dublin, said: “Donald Trump’s recent remarks were vile, disturbing, deeply shocking, but ultimately it’s so sad that a man of his age and supposed importance in this world, has such a demeaning view of women.
“It shows there is so much work to be done in the higher echelons of business, politics and in life general, to bring women to at least, a level playing field, when this bull***t is around. Who stood up to him? Nobody. All I heard in the clips were pathetic sniggering men, giggling like naughty schoolboys. Disgraceful.
“I believe that because someone in his position can ‘get away with it’ on so many occasions, he sends the message across the world that it’s just ‘banter’ and that it’s okay for men to do this. He truly disgusts me. His daughters and wife should be mortified of him. He should be arrested for forcing himself onto women without their consent, but that just won’t happen.”
Helen, who works with women and their birthing partners to achieve an “empowering, healthy and happy journey into pregnancy, birth and motherhood” with her online company Nurturemamas, couldn’t recall if she’d ever met Trump type language but she had faced laddish behaviour, like most women – and even being groped – another dirty issue many women deal with daily in Ireland.
The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre released research that 13% of Irish women have experienced rape or attempted rape over their lifetime.
As a nation, many of us are suffering in silence and watching a man who speaks so insultingly of women gain such power, must bother so many who’ve been mistreated or abused by men.
“I have definitely walked in on a group of lads chatting about me, in a sporting environment. It was a short conversation, I know that much,” Helen said.
“And when I was in Spain on my Erasmus year abroad, I was walking along the street during the day in Seville, when a young local lad, no more than 18 or 19, got off his bike and felt it was okay to grope my breasts.
“He got on his bike and rode off again. I felt sick and utterly violated. I was taller than him and was so angry I wanted to run after him and deck him. Probably not the best thing to do. But I just froze and was deeply upset. Again, he just saw me as this tall, blonde creature that stuck out like a sore thumb in Seville, as the men were all tiny, so thought he’d ‘have a go’.”
Helen also told how when she was travelling by train the day of the All Ireland GAA replay.
“There was your typical group of lads on the train, in their mid-20’s, drinking before the match. They were all very-well spoken may I add,” she said.
“There were about eight of us standing in between the carriages of the busy train. One lad was noticeably louder, and more drunk. He was full of guff and started talking about his ‘conquests’ from the previous week.
“He told how he went to a strip club, got two girls to kiss in front of him, total bravado and no doubt, complete bull***t. The other guys were smiling awkwardly and aware of me standing behind him, and started to get embarrassed.
“He became aware of the awkwardness, so turned round to see me looking at him. So I said ‘oh please do finish, I’m intrigued as to what happened next.’ He was mortified and put an end to the story immediately.
“Then he tried a few minutes later to talk normally to me. What an arse. But all I could think of were my two sons, who are only small boys now, and how one day they are going to be lads going to football and rugby matches.
“I hope to God that I will have instilled in them, a deep level of respect for women. Perhaps when we have more women in powerful positions, when it is normal for women to manage men, be seen as the boss, the respect will start to even out. I’m hopeful.”
Dr Edel Hyland, researcher and lecturer at Queens University Belfast, has been enjoying a running daily joke with her partner for weeks. It begins “Did you hear what Donald Trump said today?”
“It’s our attempt to find humour in the farcical spectacle that is the current U.S presidential race. Last weekend however, upon the release of the Access Hollywood tape (the secret recording that revealed Trump and Billy Bush’s conversation on women) we couldn’t find any humour.
“The reality of Donald Trump that was revealed in that video is shocking at best, and at worst, a damning indictment of the potential leader of the free world.
“As a female lecturer and researcher in biosciences, I have had to navigate some male-dominated arenas. As such, there were times when I was very conscious of my gender, or indeed have had other colleagues draw unnecessary attention to it. As uncomfortable as these situations were, thankfully that has been the extent of first-hand sexual harassment.
“Unfortunately, however, I have witnessed the misuse of authority by male senior academic staff who have taken advantage of the ‘hero status’ that is sometimes afforded them by young female students, not unlike how Donald Trump misuses his celebrity status with women.
“biggest tragedy here is not only the fact that this ‘man’ is running for one of the most powerful positions in the world, but that in spite of these deplorable comments, there are still tens of millions of people who will go out and vote for him, including women.
“It would appear that people are somehow forgiving of his despicable behaviour and some women will justify it. How are we ever going to explain this to our daughters, and indeed our sons?”
Dr Hyland is a geneticist and molecular evolutionary biologist, originally from Dublin. She graduated from the natural sciences program at Trinity College Dublin.
Edel lived in the U.S for more than ten years, studying and working at John Hopkins University Maryland and Harvard University Boston. She currently runs her own research laboratory and lectures in Queens University in Belfast.
Aoife Lynch, photographer and lifestyle blogger, from Dublin, said: “I think that Donald Trump is an odious, misogynistic narcissistic billionaire whose whole campaign was best described as a half-assed ego trip and adventure tourism for the idiot rich.
“I try not to focus on the boorish behavior of a brash billionaire in America, as I find everything he says to be backward, vile and small minded and I find it utterly depressing that so many people subscribe to his negative views of people and our planet.
“It’s utterly terrifying that a person who may soon be in such a position of power actually denies that climate change is happening.
“And although he has flip flopped on his abortion stance and is now on the pro-life side to adhere to Republican party views, I personally don’t believe that old white men in government have any right to dictate what we do with our bodies.”
Aoife said she found Trump’s words “offensive and crass” and felt he had attempted to objectify women and “reduce them to nothing more than their appearance”.
“I have worked in male dominated industries since leaving college. Firstly, in TV and film post production and now in photography and I honestly have never experienced any real sexism or misogyny in my workplaces.
“But when I want to get up for a sunrise photography session or head out into nature alone to do what I love best, there is a fear that there’s a possibility that as a woman I stand a greater chance of being attacked when out alone.
“It disgusts me to hear this man so flippantly talking about sexually assaulting a woman like we are nothing more than objects on this planet for their pleasure. It is so important that a man like Trump does not win this election.”
Aoife Lynch is currently working as a photography studio assistant. You can follow her or catch a glimpse of her inspiring photos on Facebook at Aoife Lynch Photography or on Instagram at aoifenoellelynch.
Dr Joyce Rubotham is a molecular biologist, a mother and blogger. You can read more from her blog Diary of a Wimpy Woman here.