Monday, June 09, 2014

Black and White and Denial all Over

Part 1 of _____

Another of my lobes has exploded, so enough of my blog-fluff for now:

Tuam. Dead children being tossed in unmarked disused septic tanks in Galway up to 1961. The stark horror of it all. But nothing is black and white is it? The debate can rage on if it was or wasn't a septic tank. Distraction from the huge black elephant lounging about in the living room shoving everything else out of sight. I read vituperative blasts of prose condemning the "bitches", the "evil bitches" who ran these horrific homes for "wayward girls" who had the temerity to get themselves pregnant, all by themselves. The bases were covered in these places - if they were younger than the age of consent, still children themselves: well then the devil himself had a hand in it, making them tempting seductresses of innocent adult males, be they their fathers, uncles, brothers or the local priests. Those fathers of these casual sperm implantations were never made accountable. Or answerable to the law of the land. Oh, sorry, the land where the word "rape" was never countenanced. And paedophilia I didn't know about apart from a difficult to spell word in crossword puzzles.

She must have been "asking for it" was the phrase I heard around my house.

There was a girl in my class in national school. We were 12. Just past our confirmation where we pledged our purity, our bodies, ourselves to the Invisible Cosmic Housekeeper. By the age of 12 I'd been touched inappropriately by men a few times which I've written about on this blog - no little girls are safe in a patriarchal culture such as Ireland was in my time. This little girl's mother was a casual church acquaintance of my mother. They were poor. I remember that. Kathleen was her name. Kathleen got very fat very quickly and then one day never showed up at school again.

I kept pestering my mother as to what happened to Kathleen. Finally my mother broke down and told me Kathleen's mother was expecting another child (her fourteenth) and was older (mid forties) and Kathleen had to stay home and help her.

Later, much later, I was in high school and had seen Kathleen around, wheeling an obviously mentally challenged toddler in a stroller, my mother told me Kathleen was one of the "lucky ones" and didn't have to go to a "home for bad girls."

And that's when I heard another phrase, common in use in Ireland then: Kathleen had "allowed" someone to "interfere" with her.

Later again, my mother told me it was Kathleen's father who had "interfered" with several of his daughters, thus the massive "retardation" in the younger "siblings" and an aging mother covering it up, to protect her daughters from the hellish "homes" run by the sisters.

He was a good man, a pillar of the church, said my mother, with only the one "weakness".

A good man? I asked her in disbelief, a good man?

Ah, said my mother, sure he didn't drink at all.

See Part 2 Here


  1. The attitudes of another time and place. Makes me think what we are doing now that will be looked upon as heinous in a few decades…like our penchant for guns?

  2. Well, the milk just curdled in my coffee reading this. Not that it's new; the catholic church has been responsible for so many ills, and the patriarchy and abuse of children are among the worst of them.

    "The attitudes of another time and place"....oh that it were. It's still alive and well in the world, witness the war on women by the US republican party, in Africa and elsewhere.

    I have two daughters, and this stuff just makes me crazy.

    We men and also, alas, women are culpable. Silence, sweeping it under the rug, making excuses. It perpetuates and nourishes this evil.

  3. DKZ:

    "Another time and place"? Surely you jest?

    The Taliban just shifts around to other countries - I only have to read of the plight of aboriginal women and girl-children here to make me throw up. Disposable.

    As women still are in MOST places.


  4. SFM:

    It still continues. Women are brain washed into participating in such horrific abuse. I will write more on this.

    We are still in the dark ages and I fret for my granddaughter who is 19 and encountering misogyny everywhere.


  5. The mother protected her daughters from these hellish homes? Now if only she and many like her had been able to protect them from their hellish fathers, there'd have been far fewer of the same homes. I'm incandescent with rage over this whole fucking business.

  6. Tessa:
    I will be writing more on this, I hit the tipping point myself when the fecking archbishop came out and publicly said (I had privately thought) that there could be many more mass graves.
    I personally know of one where babies were dumped and wrote about it in a magazine about 10 years ago to NOT ONE response or comment (250,000 readers).

  7. There's plenty of religious dogma still constricting people's lives. In Northern Ireland for example, widespread homophobia, strict anti-abortion laws, misogyny etc. For every dogma that's disposed of, another takes its place.

  8. Nick:
    Absolutely. In my time alone I've seen women's rights eroded time and time again. Did you read recently of having to name your foetus BY NEW LAW in some Usian states before termination?
    Seriously? Yes.
    It is hopeless.

  9. Don’t, please don’t.

    What can we do except NOT sweep it under the carpet.

    I want to empower women and children, boys too, to the extent where their protection is a given, not only written into the moral code but kept by all.

    I want to make the perpetrators suffer. All those cases being tried in the UK at the moment. Those poor men either couldn’t help themselves or it wasn’t as bad as the (now) women and men make out.

    That is if it was abuse at all.

    I want to do unspeakable things to the perpetrators.

  10. Friko:

    The lid came off the top of my head. I may never write of fluff again.

    I do this for my daughters, my granddaughter, my nieces, my grandnieces. I do this for all women everywhere who may read my words and maybe one will resolve to fight to her last breath for equality.

    We are so far from it, women are so brainwashed it, we only have to look at billboards, magazines....

    The cover-ups of death and ill treatment are rampant.

    I'm alright Jackie doesn't cut it anymore.



  11. You know the debate is not just whether it was or was not a septic tank but also whether the children (I know babies sounds more dramatic but they were aged 0 - 9 years!) were dumped or maybe placed - which for some reason seems to allow the conclusion that they were in fact buried. I was also told that it was highly likely that they were all baptised anyway, so why was I so mad?

    But if you check Irish online media it has all gone very very quiet.

    This here sums it up I think:

  12. Sabine:

    Every woman with a conscience is mad. The brainwashed, the desensitized are not.

    The men of my acquaintance are not. They talk about the last games of the hockey. Or those poor RCMP gunned down in New Brunswick.

    This news, and news like it, does not effect the Old Boys Club. Ever.

    There are a few enlightened males out there. But not in my circle.


  13. Oh and Sabine.

    Thanks for the link.

    Phew! A young woman writes, and so well, of how I feel.


  14. Oh
    the comments spoke to my heart.
    "A good man or person"
    hear that still
    and have many thoughts on these
    Not so many times...

  15. What a story! And the punchline is priceless.

  16. No, i don't jest…throughout history things have been done that are just horrible, like slavery, and yet for the time and period people think it's 'okay' when it's not. So much of what is happening today is not okay, but society keeps doing it and acting as if it is 'okay.' It is sickening to me, but, because society is 'okay' with it, my voice is not heard.

    Right now, in Arizona, over a thousand children are being 'confined' as they have come illegally into the US from Central America. World humanitarian agencies have not stepped in to help. I am not 'okay' with this.

  17. my fella and I were discussing this the other night. Well, the global this. I've been reading books that seem linked by the nature of them being about oppressed slaves of one sort or another. Ireland during the famine, modern India and the sexual selling of 'sealed packages' (virgins), a movie about a young Saudi girl who wants a bicycle, a true story fictionalized of a young Scottish man and his meeting and loving (and this was loving) between him and a Copper woman in the wilds of Canada and on and on. I keep picking them up thinking this one won't be connected but of course, as we know, past, present and future - it is one world.

  18. dkzody says exactly what I've been thinking!

  19. My god, WWW, what you write is hard hitting. And my breath is not easily taken away.

    A friend of mine (his mother is Irish)pointed me to the "Magdalene Sisters" - a fate his mother was not spared at a time (forget rape) when it was a sin if you had a child out of wedlock.

    I too was born out of wedlock. Not in Ireland. And my mother, supported by her family, held her head high. Sure, she could have had me aborted. I wouldn't be any the wiser. She didn't. And for that gift I am, always have been, grateful.

    As to rape and gender: Whilst a boy/young man will not be left "holding the baby" they sure are not exempt. The first time I "met" rape, I didn't even know what the phrase meant, was when two of my friends told me their younger brother (12 years old) had been violated by two men. So innocent was I I didn't even know it was possible to "rape" a man. Well, it is. My mother never minces her words. She told me how it works. She was the first to point out a girl who was habitually invaded by her father. She said (we were living briefly next to some mentally retarded twins): "That comes from inbreeding: Idiots."

    And when I hear, as you say, the word "pillar" I run a mile. "Weakness"? There isn't a snort loud enough to transmit my disdain for what amounts to the excuses of all excuses. However, the saddest part of your account, and I could cry, how women collude in women being abused. It is shameful. Shameful.

    To close on a happy note: My parents did get married once my father didn't need his parents' permission to do so.



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