Pope Bootillicious I is still the pope of my heart.

Pope Bootlicious

-Elected on the fifth vote of the conclave, one more than was needed to elect her predesessor Pope Benedict XIV

-Benedict, now Pope Emeritus, will take up residence in the granny flat at the end of Pope Bey’s garden and shout at her how he’d do everything better.  His duties will now included cutting the grass, wearing sandals with socks and being grumpy about retirement.

-will adopt the Papal name Pope Bootilicous I, after her classic pop hit, ‘Bootlicious.’ Speaking from the Balcony of St Peters she informed adoring and jubilant crowds that her body ‘too bootilicious for ya babe’ and that the crowd was ‘not ready for this jelly.’ she then led the crowd in song and prayer before delighting them with her patented ‘single ladies’ move.

-First American, black, married and second female  pope.  Also first grammy winner and oscar nominee to win the papacy in a move that media outlets speculate is an attempt to modernize the church.

-A native of Houston Texas, Bootlicious was a surprise choice, not being a cardinal, ordained in the church, baptized Catholic or present in the Vatican during the vote.  However through copious viewing of MTV bases’ countdown of Beyonce’s 47 best dance move, Cardinals unanimously agreed to make the shock appointment.

-Of of course, none of this happened and instead they elected a conservative elderly man who hates gays and democracy. But close enough!

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Niamh ‘The Pope can’t handle me’ Keoghan

FEMINISM GETS YOU LAID MORE (A guest post)

I have an illness that’s stuck on shop demo.  Since last Thursday I have had a sore throat, fever, dizziness, nausea, motherfucking partial blindness, aches and pains, shivers, cold sweats, a chesty cough and a congested nose.  I haven’t been able to do much except lie in my bed, cry and occasionally roll over and beg for someone to make me tea.  

Obviously in this state, I haven’t been able to write anything so it’s lucky for me that I had a guest writer lined up!  This Blog all about why Feminism facilitates rather than impedes people getting laid is all the more relevant now considering the recent totally rational backlash to feminist ideas surrounding consent, masculinity and sexuality. We seem to be in a bit of a series at the moment, discussing why feminism is not at all anti man or anti sex.  Of course, seeing as my own sexual activity is a bit limited, I thought I should call in the services of someone with a bit more experience in the matter.    

Our Guest Blogger is a noted sex positive feminist, erotic writer and enjoyer of sex who very kindly sent me on this post explaining how by furthering the cause of feminism, you are likely to get laid a lot more.

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Hello, lovely readers of BHT! It’s very exciting be here, talking to you, hoping I might be able to entertain you for a few hundred words.

I’ve had too many conversations with straight horny college boys [henceforth SHCBs] – and read about too many other conversation with SHCBs – who complain about feminism in one breath and complain about not getting laid as often as they’d like in the next. Anti-feminist SHCBs probably don’t make up a huge percentage of this blog’s (lovely, charming, intelligent, sexy) readership, but if there are any lurking – and for the amusement of the rest of you – I would like to offer up a primer on why SHCBs should like and indeed vocally support feminism.

[Note for all the already-feminists: all of the things I’m talking about have vastly huger consequences for women than they do for SHCBs, obviously, and please don’t think I’m trivialising that. But “what about the menz?!!?” is a frequent if stupid complaint and “the world doesn’t in fact revolve around you” is a fact some SHCBs struggle to understand. So here’s an alternative response.]

FEMINISM GETS YOU LAID MORE

Reason #1: Feminism makes it safer for us to respond to you hitting on us (and for us to hit on you)

There’s no cute way of putting it: if I flirt with someone at a party, decide I’m not interested, and then later on they rape me, there is a 5% chance that person will ever be convicted. There is a pretty decent chance that anything I say about their actions won’t be believed, and if they boast about getting with me, their friends will congratulate them.

This kind of puts me off flirting with people at parties.

Anti-feminist SHCBs complain – frequently – about women falsely alleging rape. But believing and supporting rape victims, as well as squashing anyone who says things like “a no is just a yes that needs some persuasion” or catchier, rhymier versions of that complete bullshit, is a great way to reduce the number of rapes. If “rape” is eliminated as a possible outcome of “hitting on cute SHCB” then I will be a whole lot more likely to ask SHCBs if I can buy them a drink.

Reason #2: Feminism does not like transactional sex

If I can buy them a drink? Me, a lady-type, buying a boy-type a drink? Isn’t that all back to front and terribly modern and think of the children etc?

By “transactional sex” I do not mean prostitution. I mean the faux-prostitution of “you buy me dinner, I give you a blow job.” Where sex is something that men want and women endure in exchange for something else.

This is not a good approach. I mean, I like having people buy me dinner because I am a poor student, but there’s no dinner/blow job causation here. Sex happens when both parties want sex, not when one party has spent the required amount of money. Maybe this doesn’t mean more sex, always. But it means sex where both people want to have sex because having sex is fun and enjoyable, not because stuff has been bought. Isn’t that way better? And less expensive?

Reason #3: Feminism does like contraceptive choice

You know what else is expensive? A baby.

If having a baby was a possible consequence of having someone put their penis in my vagina – if I could not get condoms in every corner shop and my preferred brand of the pill for €10/month and the morning after pill for €40 and if all that lot fails then an abortion an affordable Ryanair flight away – if all of that did not exist, I would not be letting anyone put a penis in my vagina. I probably wouldn’t let anyone put a penis near my vagina. I would probably start exclusively dating ladies, in case the proximity of a penis tempted me.

Really, “an abortion an affordable Ryanair flight away” is not good enough (I am lucky enough to be able a) to afford it and b) to be an EU citizen and thus able to come and go as I please – there are a lot of women in Ireland not in that situation), but it has been a long, hard, feminist struggle for all the rest of it as well. Wanting to put your penis in a vagina while wanting to restrict what the vagina-haver does with the consequences of that penis-putting is… my kindest option here is “optimistic.”

Reason #4: Feminism does not like body policing

SHCBs, hands up if you fancy this hypothetical woman: size 8, tallish, able-bodied, white, DD boobs, blonde hair down to her nipples, mostly hairless below the neck, no stretch marks, spots or general standard-issue crinkly bits.

That’s OK, I think she could be hot too.

Now take your hands down if you would sleep with a woman who did NOT match that description.

I really hope there aren’t any hypothetical hands staying up. If there are, lads, I have news for you, you’re not going to get laid very often.

Our culture is really good at making women who don’t match up to all or most of those criteria feel shitty about themselves. That sort of feeling shitty about themselves that results in “No sex with the lights on in case he sees my crinkly bits” or “I’d love a shag, but I haven’t shaved my legs in a couple of days so I told my SHCB that I was busy tonight.” This is colossally sucky for all concerned. Obviously body policing occurs for men too. But the amount of things on their bodies that women are supposed to care about – and feel insecure about – is ridiculous. SHCBs, when you say that women with armpit hair are gross, 1) you’re shitty human beings but 2) consider how much your boner would actually care.

Reason #5: Feminism does not like slut-shaming

“Why won’t any of these disgusting dirty sluts sleep with me?!”

This one should be self-evident. If someone will think less of me for sleeping with them, I am not going to sleep with them. If someone is going to insult me for sleeping with them, I am not going to sleep with them. If someone is going to mock me with their mates for sleeping with them, I am not going to sleep with them.

I’m kind of a slut. I use slut to mean “person who has a lot of sex” and I use it in a neutral/positive way. But I don’t fuck anyone who uses it in a negative way. Because I only sleep with people who like me, and someone who casts a moral or social judgement on women who have a lot of sex does not like me.

 

You know, I could go on. If the average woman didn’t have to work 13.9% longer to earn the same amount as the average man, maybe she would have more average time to have some average sex with him. Maybe I would have been having sex with SHCBs more often this past year if I hadn’t needed to go on so many sodding marches for the sake of basic bodily autonomy! Sex with SHCBs is a LOT more fun than standing in the rain chanting “never again,” but I direct you to reason #3. There are a whole load more things I could list here, but frankly rewriting feminism as a movement to get SHCBs laid more becomes depressing if you keep it up for too long.

Feminism! Good for women, good for horny college boys who want to get laid more often. And now back to your regularly scheduled programming. Over and out. 

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Niamh ‘I’m Niamh Keoghan and I approve this message’ Keoghan

Some common questions about Feminism

Happy international Women’s day!  Wow ladies, a whole day.  It’s like the oppression never even happened and isn’t still happening!  No but seriously, on this day I’d like to take time to answer a few questions that I’ve heard recently about Feminism and to respond to some frequent critiques of feminism that I hear and would like to address.  Oh, and to answer the most commonm question I hear every International women’s day; International men’s day is on the 19th of November.  It’s also international white middle class man day EVERY DAY OF THE FUCKING YEAR.  Stop being a smartarse.

I look really stereotypical. Soz.

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Do feminists hate men?

 

Okay, so firstly let’s talk about what feminism is exactly.  A lot of people assume that it’s a hard and fast philosophy that all feminists agree on and never debate amongst themselves.  It’s much more like marxism or any other political theory- just that, a *theory* that everybody has a grand old time debating about.  Feminists agree and disagree on plenty of things.  Just because one woman who called herself feminist told you this one time that all sex is rape does NOT mean all feminists agree with that.  There are feminists like me who are staunchly pro choice and there are others who argue that abortion damages women- I don’t agree, in fact I’ll disagree to the bitter end, but the basic fact is this-

Feminism is the idea that gender doesn’t define a person, who they are or what they’re good at.  It’s about empowering women to take control of their bodies and lives, and to not feel inferior to anyone.

But do feminists hate men?  Well, I certainly don’t.  I have two brothers and a dad that I love very much, not to mention my two uncles, my grandfather, my five cousins and countless male friends.  I like men so much sometimes I even FANCY some of them.  Not the ones I’m related to.  That would be weird.  But yeah, I don’t hate men.  And I know men don’t hate me.  Not really.  Germaine Greer and some second wave feminists might disagree and say that all men secretly subconsciously hate women because society has programmed them that way but I take a more chilled out look.  Guys get totally fucked over by society’s notions of gender.

So do you support men’s rights too?

OBVS LIKE.  I so do.  I believe in gender equality.  Feminism is all about the gender equality. I’m not saying you’ll never see a feminist argue against that because like I said, anything goes, but generally we’re good with men having rights.  If men didn’t have rights, we wouldn’t have them either because hey, we want to be equal.  Thing is, a lot of critique of feminism from a men’s rights perspective misunderstands what feminism wants to do.

My dad and brothers as working class men find it incredibly difficult to express emotion through any conduit other than anger.  My Dad has admitted to me  ‘Ah no, I can’t cry.  I cry on the inside.’ There’s a reason the suicide rate among young men is so high, and it’s not feminism- it’s the standards we still judge men by; expecting them to be tough, and stoic, and virile.  Be the breadwinner and if you’re not able to support a wife and family on your own, you fail as a man.  This is all the stuff that feminism is opposed to- it’s opposed to the idea that men have to fit into any sort of prescribed gender role.  It argues that just as women can be tough and ballsy, men can be caring and nurturing and neither option is better or worse than the other.  A major argument I hear in critique of feminism is that fathers have very few rights in relation to custody of their children.  And let me put my hands up right now and say this- I think fathers should have equal right to custody of their kids.  It’s the old assumption that men aren’t carers and women are, and I don’t like it.  I don’t for one second deny that men get totally gypped by custody law. Feminism wants to make custody law fairer too- We don’t want to go back 150 years when men were given sole automatic custody of their children and nor do we want the burden of childcare to inevitably be a woman’s job.  Equality for all!  Feminism is a synonym for ‘gender equality.’  The only reason I don’t go around calling myself a ‘Gender Equalist’ is because it’s too clumsy a term and there’s also nothing wrong with the word ‘Feminism.’  It doesn’t alienate dudes at all.  Dudes be my brothers.  Dudes suffer from this screwed up idea of gender too.  I think a major problem with the whole ‘mens rights’ thing is that while well meaning, they tend to misinterprete feminism as being just blind misandry- they seem to envision rights as a finitie resource and asking for more of them for women means men losing a bit, but that’s not it.  Mens and Women’s rights are all important.  Nobody’s fighting here.  We’re all friends.

In conclusion- Everybody is my bro, I don’t hate men.

So can men be feminists?

Totes.  Feminist men, as I have discussed elsewhere at length, men who respect me as a person and as an equal are rad.  I was being humourous obviously, but there really is no subsitute for genuine respect and support.

Are all feminist lesbians?

No.  I am a noted man-lover, as are many others.  Of course there are lots of lesbians who are feminists too, not to mention lots of gay men and trans men and women.  One of the big challenges to feminism at the moment is supporting and accepting trans women (i.e. people who were born as psyically male but transitioned to living as a woman).  Again, early second wave feminism (Which was the 1960s radical movement that is most people’s go to image for feminism- think angry bra burners and shouty women) Was quite unpleasant about trans women and men, but it’s moved on since then.  Feminism has also now had to become intersectional- which means basically that it doesn’t fight against the massive monolith of PATRIARCHY anymore (when you hear me joking about ‘crushing patriarchy’ it’s usually slightly toungue in cheek) because although there is a patriarchal order to the world, women are oppressed for a lot of different reasons- My experiences are very different to a black woman, or a muslim women, or a woman not from europe.  It’s also very different from the experiences of working class women or women who live in poverty- In these cases it’s often racism and class constraints oppressing women and their experience of sexism is marked by these things also.

So it’s not enough to just rail against ‘teh menz’ anymore.  We have to understand that it’s all a bit more complex, and that systems of oppression are wildly different depending on location, race, class, gender assignment and sexuality.

So are not all feminists shouty and angry?

Well, some are.  I know a lot of women who are currently very angry about lack of legislation for abortion in any circumstance in Ireland.  That makes me quite angry too.  A lot of women are angry at being told not to dress too provocatively or drink too much in order to avoid being raped, as if the responsibility is on us not to be raped rather than on the rapist not to rape.  I’m angry that people like David Quinn can pontificate about sexuality and abortion to teenage girls and that in my lifetime women were incarcerated in industrial laundries.  I’m angry that women are deprived of choice in this country, and that young mothers and single mothers are often still stigmatized and sneered at.  It makes me all very sad, and very angry.  In fact, a lot of this general background anger is the reason I got back into writing after a long break.  But I’m also by nature an optimist, and I was raised with manners and politeness on me, so generally I try not to get shouty.  I’m not good at being angry- some people are fabulous at it and they do well, but it’s not my style.  I prefer to be a comedian and to make my point via humour.  I think making sexism and misogyny look silly with a single zinger is worth twenty angry blog posts.  That’s just my style.

So yeah, I think all feminists have anger in them, particularly in Ireland right now.  Not all shouty though (Although there’s nothing wrong with being shouty- there is plenty to shout about), some of us do better with humour as an outlet for the rage.

Dont’ you already *have* equal rights?

Nominally, maybe.  But some burdens fall unequally on the shoulders of women.  Things like childcare, which as we’ve discussed, is unfair to mothers and fathers.  Women are also still asked things like ‘what were you wearing’ when they report that they’ve been raped.  In some cases, a woman’s sexual history has been used to throw out rape trials.  Women still get objectified in comics and games in a way men never are.  Most of the ‘objectification’ men go through in games- the super muscled hot heroes- that people site to me as an example of ‘men are treated bad too!’ are really wish fulfillment roles for guys to play as.  I refuse to accept that you’ll see a page three spread of a guy with his cock out any time soon.  All I’m saying is that you don’t just roll up feminism when you’ve got legislation.  You have to keep pushing at thousands of years of society having certain ideas about women and their capabilities.  That’s all.

So what makes me a feminist?

Basically if you’ve ever been made feel ashamed of having or wanting sex, or of dressing a particular way, or if you’ve ever just felt really uncomfortable with the way you or your friends/relatives are treated because they’re women, or felt that women are held to a higher standard and half to work twice as hard to be considered half as good, or been accused of ‘getting hysterical’ when you’re just trying to debate a point, yeah. That’s all the bullshit feminism deals with and tries to critique.  You’re a feminist.  It doesn’t mean you hate men or agree with every dumb thin Caitlin Moran says on twitter, it doesn’t mean you punch the air and go ‘FUCK YEAH!’ when Julie Burchill says prostitutes should be shot as collabarators with the partiarchal regieme, and it doesn’t mean you have to be anything other than what you want to be.  It justs means you want to do your own thing, and for everyone else to get off your tits about it.

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Niamh ‘This is what a feminist looks like’ Keoghan

Please don’t be alarmed- I’m not trying to oppress you

Lately, on my wanders through this world, I’ve encountered a strange phenomenon in Ireland and the discussion around feminism.  This is when I throw up one of my feminist cards- like talking about rape culture, or casual misogyny, or consent- I’m usually rebuffed with ‘well what about the MEN? Men get oppressed by sexism TOO, you know?’ And this makes me sad.  Because most of the people who say this are very cool, groovy, right on people who are concerned with justice and fairness.  We’re on the same page, guys.  We shouldn’t be fighting!  But most alarming to me in the ‘mens rights’ camp is one John Waters, who has been on my radar for a long time.  Oh Mister Waters.  I used to read you column in the Irish Daily Mail back when I was a baby writer.  You taught me more about writing than anyone else- I just didn’t do whatever you did.  Lately he’s got a gig trotting onto various radio shows and wailing against feminism and women’s rights as infringing on the rights of men.

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Now, Mister Waters is absolutely, 100% right in saying that men are oppressed.  Try getting married to your male partner or adopting a child to raise together or indeed, even try walking around town at night holding hands.  You’re pretty certain to get a shit storm of abuse.  Also rather oppressed is the Trans man, who some feminists have said very mean things about and who a lot of people will still be really resistant to accepting.  Oh, if you’re a working class man or a man with a mental illness, you’re likely to get shit too.  If you’re a man from the travelling community you’re probably getting a fair bit of ‘we have the right to refuse admission’ off bouncers and dying about 10 years earlier than your settled peers.  So yes, men are oppressed.

But the men that are decidedly NOT oppressed are ones like John Waters and David Quinn.  Middle class, comfortably employed, conservative, catholic broadsheet columnists are doing pretty okay in this country.  You’re not being oppressed on the basis of your religion or your gender.  If you’ve been interned without trial for simply being a catholic well then you’re totally being oppressed, but somebody talking about the massive industrial scale slavery that religious orders ran or the institutional rape that was covered and perpetrated by the Catholic church  isn’t.  If I have to as a feminist deal with the stupid shit Caitlin Moran has said on twitter then you guys have to deal with the criticism of your religion’s hierarchy.

I should probably point out here that I have heaps of what is now fashionably called ‘privilege’.  I’m white, straight, comfortably supported financially by my parents and studying at university.  I get misogynistic comments and sexist bullshit but it’s usually of a sort that doesn’t ruin my life or severely impede my liberty.  I get a little bit more bother for being outspokenly atheist and left wing than I do about being a woman, generally.

That being said, I do get some strange comments.  When I’m told to cover up and not get drunk in order to avoid getting raped- guys, why doesn’t this attitude to rape bother you more?  I give out about rape culture and a lot of guys take offence to the idea that women are always victims and men are always the rapists.  But this ‘look after yourself and avoid dressing a certain way’ is so insulting.  It basically says the men can’t control themselves- that if given the slightest chance, they would rape a woman for showing skin or being vulnerable.  It reduces men to animals unable of control or restraint or respect for bodily autonomy.  I think about the men I know- the kindest and most polite gentlemen you’d ever meet- and I know that’s wrong.

But yknow, women do get oppressed and in Ireland, we were fucking chronic for it.  In my lifetime, there were Magdalene women imprisoned in laundries.  Women had to sneak over the border to get contraception and sneak it back.  The original premises of the Irish family planning association had a back exit just in case they were raided.  Information about abortion- not even the procedure itself but information about it- was banned from distribution.  Women weren’t even trusted to make their own decisions about their bodies with all the relevant information and options.  Symphesiotomies happened until 1986.  In the same year a fifteen year old girl gave birth and died in a grotto in Longford.  People see Nell McCafferty on telly and roll their eyes.  I get hounded for expressing the apparently radical opinion that I should have a voice.

Really what John Waters and David Quinn are afraid of isn’t being oppressed.  They’re afraid of losing the position of power and privilege that the Irish catholic male has held since 1922.  They don’t like women speaking out because they then lose the ‘right’ to speak for them, act for them and make decisions for them.  They wail oppression when the old taboos are broken- when we criticize the church openly and bitterly, as it should be criticized as an institution.  You can’t claim to speak for ALMIGHTY GOD and ask us to lay off when your massive rape ring is uncovered.  That’s insulting to your members, your followers and insulting to everyone else.

Women don’t always just get oppressed for being ‘the women.’ Often it’s influenced by race, by ethnic background, by social or economic status.  One of the challenges of feminism now is how we collate all these different little bullshit things and kick them down.  But whatever the complications and challenges of the movement, You simply can’t ask women to get back in the box.  It’s arrogant.  Please stop politely and reasonably asking to be treated as something more than a baby and cake dispenser, because you’re oppressing John Waters.  Stop politely and reasonably asking for reform so that childcare and custody are equally shared between parents.  Stop politely and reasonably asking for equal marriage and gay rights.  Stop politely and reasonably asking to change things, because it’s making John Waters feel challenged.  Yeah.

I’ll get right on that.

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Niamh ‘crushing you with the boot of my polite requests for fairness’ Keoghan

Bank Holiday Tuesday 26th February 2013

This column originally appeared on the StudentStandard.ie on 26th February, 2013.  Additional editing by Keith Broni.

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I think everybody likes breasts.  Who wouldn’t?  They are providers of food, arousal and can be all-in-all aesthetically pleasing.  Let me just make that clear: I’m very pro-breast.  I am a tits-positive feminist.  But also increasingly, I feel like I have less and less ownership of my girlies.  Generally when I see jokes made about boobs, they’re all made by definite non-breast owners. Like Seth McFarlane who had a whole song dedicated to lady bits at the Oscars.  Unless Tina Fey and Amy Poehler had a song dedicated to the cock when they did the Golden Globes, I am going to absolutely 100% file this under ‘sexist bullshit’ (McFarlane was also heaps of unfunny overall, but lets just focus this on tits).

I’ll concede the point that tits are just a lot more aesthetically pleasing than penises (up for debate but generally, I mean), but that still doesn’t condone their massive overuse in media, marketing and advertising. And alarmingly, I don’t feel like I’m in control of mine a lot of the time.  They are disembodied from me: my disembodied tits, if you will.  Floating just separate from the rest of me, two ghostly orbs to be objectified. Both slagged and admired.

Often I have reflected, while lounging in the bath pouring water over my head from a plastic jug because our showerhead doesn’t work, that my girls are a good reflection of who I am.  They’re a bit lopsided and awkward, but they dress up nicely (in a nice bra they can be killer). They’re a bit small but they’re also resilient and determined. Essentially, my breasts are just some plucky kids trying to make their way in a crazy mixed up world.  I can empathise with their struggle.  But sometimes even though breasts are everywhere in our culture, I often feel like my girls are not my own.  I feel like they’re out there in the public realm despite the fact they live here, under my shirt and very few (very lucky may I add) people actually see them.

I see a lot of dudes making the breast-related humour and breasts being used to sell to them.  I read the A Song of Ice and Fire series (on which the Game of Thrones HBO series is based) and have often noted how Daenerys Targaryen seems to be extremely aware of what her tits are doing at any particular moment. Are they swollen, bouncing, swaying gently in the breeze? Doing their accounts for the year? Sometimes the way they are described is as if they’re like a little principality beyond the rest of her body: sharing a landmass but also a state unto themselves.  This is a mistake a lot of guys make about breasts: they assume that ladies are super aware of what they’re doing at all times. I think a lot of guys assume tits are the same as their penis.  Having to gently explain to a seventeen year old boy that no, squeezing them will not arouse a lady nor is it a particularly pleasant sensation was quite mortifying.  It took the girls a full year to recover from the awkwardness of that ill-advised grabbing.  [EDIT- After being told by a good griend that this seems to generalize a bit on what ladies like done in the boudoir, let me expand just a tiny bit on the story.  I left this part out of the standard column because it is a reputable publication and not a place for my sexual misadvantures to be recorded- that’s what this blog is for. The unfortunate boy I was referring to here grabbed onto my girls as we had an awkward, unpleasant shift in an alleyway out his back garden.  He, not being schooled in the ways of actual subtlety or indeed, basic human biology, sort of kneaded my girls the way you’d test a melon for ripeness or a piece of bread for freshness, and then asked the immortal question- ‘Are you gonna come?’ No.  No, aimlessly poking at a girls boobs is not the way to make the vast majority of women orgasm.  This is also the boy who could not locate my vagina while his hand was up my skirt.  ANYWAY.  Poor boy.  Left my girls in a state of trauma for years.]

It’s like we all love tits, but they’re public property so we’re not allowed own them.  The sort of tits you see exposed (in mainstream non-porn media anyway)  are a very specific kind of tit. Usually white, not too big but not too small.  Kate Winslet and Emilia Clarke are both famous owners of great tits and I’m struck by how similar they are.  Again not too big, small or ethnic.  Just your good garden variety, well-proportioned, English breast: the sort you’d grow in a garden or buy from an organic farmer’s market.  They are the golden ratio of boob.

Because most things are advertised to the heterosexual white male, the power and appeal of the boobs are placed solely in their hands.  I’m not allowed to make jokes about tits aimed at other women. How many comments are there going to be about this very column calling it ‘brave’ or ‘honest’ or indeed ‘fucking disgusting’ when ALL I’M DOING is talking about these poor beleaguered breasts that I’ve been hitching along for the ride since they arrived from the puberty fairy in 2004?  This isn’t bravery: it’s just me owning me bleedin’ body, lads.

Tell me anyone who doesn’t like breasts?  Straight men and lesbians of course like them and within consensual jolly sexy times they are a wonderful thing to share.  Children like them because food and the often overlooked fact that they make a lovely soft pillow with built in mother’s heartbeat to fall asleep to.  Gay men and straight girls can appreciate tits for their aesthetic qualities: how they look in bras, how they move and how women can just rock them.  I know there’s a whole spectrum of people I’m leaving out here but I still stand by my point: give me a person of any gender or sexual identity and I will give you back a person who can appreciate breasts.  Of course individuals can not like breasts, but what I’m saying is, we’re generally living in a pro-tits world. But maybe we’re just a bit boob drunk, and we need to lay off them for a bit. Maybe we need to get off everyone’s tits, collectively.

We also need to discard the idea of the ‘perfect tits’. It’s a fallacy and we’re only limiting ourselves.  We need OWNERSHIP.  We need a revolution in private ownership of the breasts.  I now implore you all, as I oft implore, to stand on a chair/table/raised platform, grab your breasts through your shirt with both hands and scream “THESE ARE MY GIRLS AND I WILL HAVE AGENCY OVER THEM.” We need to reclaim our girls, ladies.  It’s okay for us to share them with our partners and our children and everything, but we need to do so with the firm conviction that they are OUR girls.

The world gotta understand that there are ours; that we are sole purveyors and monopolists of breast. We need to topple this empire of the golden ratio.  I want to see everyone with ownership over their respective girls: big, small, black, white, working class or high society.  But always owned and operated solely by the body they’re attached to.  I’m calling this social movement pro-tits feminism.  Say it with me now (if you’re still standing on that chair/table/raised platform so much the better) loud and proud: I AM A PRO TITS FEMINIST!

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Niamh ‘Girls just wanna have fun’ Keoghan

Drama was my one thing- a letter to NUIM Drama

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FINAL EDIT: NUIM Drama, I am glad to no longer be involved with you guys.  end of.

When I was 13, I started going to a drama group in Clontarf. While I was there, my brisk no nonsense teacher guided me through the craft of being a good performer. No bullshit, no arty farty crap, just how to act and how to speak well. Drama became the first thing that I was just… good at. Acting was easy. Even when it was challenging it was easy. It was fun. Drama was the one thing. Drama was my one thing. I might be fat, or stupid, or lacking in subtlety- but I could do a decent monologue and that was all that mattered. Acting became something really important to me not for productions or the limelight but for a small inner peace I had never known before. When I fell into the character of another person I could forget how much I hated myself. Eventually, as it went on I slowly began to accept myself. If I could do this well, I could do anything well. If I could turn in a good performance, nothing else mattered.

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Drama basically helped me work through all my problems and my anxieties. It was enriching and rewarding and fun. My little group still keeps in touch- my fantastic, no-nonsense teacher is now training me to take the teaching exams myself after college. I’m still welcome in that class now. When I started in NUI Maynooth I hoped that the Drama society there would be just as fulfilling.

NUIM Drama, you have beaten me. You’ve exhausted me, and you’ve won. You have finally, as a society, killed my love.

The Play I was in the cast of before Christmas, The Last of the Last of the Mohicans, is going to the ISDA festival, and my part is being re-cast. Going to go public with this and say right now how much NUIM Drama have ruined my love of acting. Every time I’ve gotten involved with that society as a performer I’ve come out the other end feeling used and badly treated. Last year, it was to do with politics that had nothing to do with me directly but concerning the play I was a cast member of and now it’s about me directly. With your cliques, your politics and your complete disregard for my self worth as a performer, you’ve beaten me. You’ve used my ability to act for two productions and once again, you’re discarding me as an inconvenient piece that won’t fit. I hope Mohicans and it’s cast are brilliant at ISDA because they will be going at the expense of my good will towards your society. You’ve lost me. You’ve lost me as a writer, as a performer, a director and a well wisher. You must have realized this was the only reaction I could have to your standing by as I’m airbrushed out. You have burned your bridge with me. I’m not even angry; I’m just very sad that I matter so little as a member of your group. Whatever the reasons are for re-casting my part (and I was told it wasn’t based on my actual performance, which was fine), I reserve the right to be very hurt.

You’ve turned something that I fell into as a vulnerable kid for escape and enjoyment into something that I dread to think about. I’ve lost all confidence in my ability to perform and I don’t think I’ll ever have the same love of drama and stage ever again. I’m not bitter, I don’t wish any individual member any harm (Many of you are my good friends and I wish you all the best) but as a person and a performer I feel utterly rejected and alienated. I won’t be participating in any productions anywhere for a long time. The thrill I used to feel being a part of something is lost- the confidence that used to flow in me is all drained out. You’ve taken a very important part of me away, and that hurts. That hurts me deeply. You kicked me out, and I’m not going to limp away without noting how much exactly you have taken away from me, how much it meant to me and what it’s cost.

I’m not putting this post up to have a go at you or make you look bad- as a society you are full of talent, boundless creativity and incredibly good people. That’s why I haven’t named anybody specifically in this letter. I’m not even mad. I’m not angry at the fantastic cast of Mohicans or the fantastic director who made the decision to re-cast me. I’m just really, really sad. I’m alone. I’m back in the place I was when I was 13.

Consider this my retirement notice from NUIM Drama and from acting at large. I will never participate in a production in Maynooth ever again. As for anywhere else, I’m still not sure if I will. I won’t write it off forever, but for the foreseeable future I can’t see myself being able to face it. Which is a pity. I wasn’t half bad.

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Niamh ‘And no you can’t borrow my vintage radio for the set this time’ Keoghan

Beiber Fever

Column originally published on the StudentStandard.ie

About Beiber

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Just this afternoon on her train, Bank Holiday Tuesday (BHT) noticed many “tweenage” girls in short shorts and brightly coloured baseball caps. I wondered if I had in fact fallen through a wormhole to 1993.  No, these were just the final stragglers returning from staking out the Merrion Hotel where Justin Bieber was staying.  Oh Bieber fever.  When I was a girl it was Spice World and Boyzone – we were big into pandering the gender binary to little girls in my day and viewed the new wave of co-ed pop groups with suspicion. Liberty X and Hearsay and all that MIXING of the SEXES! It was too much for my little 9 year old head.  Now we’re back to the nice binary system of boys in one group, girls in another.  Now some don’t even NEED band mates: we have Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber to aspire to.

I drove past the point depot with my Ma last night and marveled at all the cars parked around- way more than you’d usually see waiting after a gig.  When I heard it was Bieber I realised this must be an army of mums and dads waiting anxiously to pick up their darlings from the concert, possibly chaperoned by cool older sisters or younger aunties.  There is something strangely cult like about Bieber.  I think his hair has nanobots in it, controlling the little girls via electron pulses.  That is the only way I can justify his alarmingly hysterical popularity.  Maybe he’s a cult leader. I think Anonymous needs to get onto him, to be honest.  He could be sacrificing virgins to Xenu for all we know.

But seriously, let us all be fair.  Bieber is pretty easily avoidable in music fan terms. He doesn’t get that much radio play and he’s not on the music channels (yes this is how BHT experiences her music because it is still 2003 in her head…) and the level of hate he produces online is about equal to that of Osama bin Laden.  People haaaaate this kid.  BHT is not sure why.  As far as pop crooners pandering to little girls go, he’s certainly not the worst.  Often I hear people complaining that kids are listening to shit music these days.  Eh, yeah, because that’s what kids do.  You have to go through a stage where you listen to total twaddle before you catch five seconds of, say, Joni Mitchell’s Blue played by your mother at 3AM on a Sunday and you understand.

We need shitty pop music slopped out by the mainstream labels: if we didn’t  we would have no way of obscuring our gems so they don’t get sucked in by the mainstream.  Let the little girls work themselves into a state of weeping hysteria. Let them get it out of their systems now in one fearsome  dose of fever: the Bieber fever.  Bad music is, to BHT, a rite of passage we must all take.  We don’t all have parents with extensive Rory Gallagher back catalogues or Uncles who lend you Talking heads ‘77 to help you in your education- some of us curate our tastes slowly, through accumulation.  The first Album BHT owned was Avril Lavigne and a best  of Britney Spears.  Let those without sin cast the first hip hop style diss.  Besides, little girls have always listened to inane crap. It’s how Donny Osmond and John Travolta made careers.  There is NO POINT trying to play Ani DiFranco to your 3 year old cousin (BHT has tried).

So let it be said now: BHT is defending Bieber.  She is defending Bieber because all little girls have to have their shitty music quota filled, so that when they are 24 and sipping ironic PBR at a party in a squat on Camden street wearing one of those absurd furry animal hats, she must still pause before passing judgement on another person’s music taste.  It is an  anchoring anti hipster force in the world, for no matter how hip and cool any of us will ever be,

There will always be a Bieber Fever scar on our heart.

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Niamh ‘I’m about to lose my mind up in hurrr’ Keoghan

Tales from the wreck of the Friendzone

*Angry Face*

I hate the friendzone.  I hate the word.  It’s a shockingly clever concept- a catch all term for shaming women who turn a guy down, or decline their romantic advances, or just plain don’t want a relationship.  It has a close connection to the concept of ‘leading one on” wherein a woman is oft accused of stringing a hapless everydude into her web with those feminine wiles only to cut him off cruelly for her own amusement.  Most troubling for me is how women have started to use these terms I’ve heard girls say ”’he friend zoned me” or ”I wish he hadn’t led me on”.  Hell, I’ve used these terms because there are out there people who will mess you around a little bit, and flirt outrageously.  But these people aren’t friendzoning you.  And generally this is a guy on girl trope- Some of parlance has begun to creep into lady talk, but it’s an institutional of hetrerosexual men to begin with.  (Note- Not all straight men are ‘Nice Guys’in the way I describe them here.  I have a lot of male friends and I’m not hating on the menfolk at all, just commenting on something I’ve experienced.  Blah, I don’t hate men, these sexist concepts hurt men too, whatever  x)  

They might be kind of dick, but they’re not friendzoning you because and this may shock you so hold onto your hats and assort beverages the friendzone doesn’t exist.  Sorry everyone.  It’s just not real.  I’ve seen women get messed around by men and men messed around by women, and I’ve never seen evidence of a real life friendzone.  I did do a bit of research I stood around while my friends talked about relationships, and have also been in a few disastarous ones, and been on either side of the ‘let’s be friends’ equation.  It’s also linked to another concept- that of Nice Guyism that we’ll talk about and discuss why it’s really fucking creepy.  Bad romance is my specialist topic- so let’s talk the friendzone.

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In the zone

In basic parlence, the ‘friendzone’ is where men who have romantic and sexual notions on a woman are placed when those women declined their advances- ususally with a phrase like ‘I don’t want to mess up our friendship’or ”Í don’t think of you that way’or ‘I love you!… as a friend!’ The zone is the purgatory men go to when women selfishly withold the sex that they are entitled to.  Because hey, why does that girl have to be such a bitch and turn you down?  You’re a nice guy, you treat her really well, you’re always interested and looking out for her.  But okay.  Here’s the thing nice guys- Somebody being nice to me is my BASIC prerequisite for continuing to even associate with someone.  A guy being polite, courteous and listening to me is my baseline for being his friend- It’s not some magical perk that will automatically make me spit out a sexy time token, and that’s what it’s really about at the end of the day.

Nice Guyism

And further, the whole nice guy… thing is a bit creepy to be on the receiving end of.  Lads, we know when you’re genuinely being nice and when your interest is forced only to make us think you’re nice.  I have plenty of male friends who have little to no interest in hearing me discuss the finer points of my as yet unfinished novel, and in return I have no interest in hearing about the details of their record collection.  You don’t have to take boundless interest in every single thing I care to mention or be involved in; all encompassing adoration and undying interest are as unsettling to receive as it sounds.  It’s not nice.  It makes me feel like I’m living in a world of plastic automatic yes men, all poking my ego until sexy time coupons pop out.

The scary thing is when men, after frantic and endless prodding, delude themselves into thinking a sexy time token HAS popped out, and that they ARE entitled to more of me than I am willing to give.  That’s when I politely decline, and they scream, with arms thrown to heaven ”’FRIENDZOOOOOOOOONED!”

Sexy Time Tokens

I know I’m the last person that should be complaining about romantic attention heck, usually I’m complaining that nobody’s into me and how much that sucks.  But the opposite extreme is scary and unpleasant.  I was trying to quantify what makes one a ‘nice guy’ in the sex coupon seeking way I just described, and I have a very handy litmus test to discern between genuinely nice people, and ‘nice guys’-

If asked to give you some space to think and breath, a genuine person will do just that, and back off.  They might be confused sure, or hurt or think you’re being dramatic, but they will still give you the space you’ve asked for and respect your feelings.  A Nice Guy however, will ignore your requests for space and continue to bombard you with increasingly false-sounding declarations that they will understand and listen to you.  They’ll completely ignore the fundamental point of what you’ve asked, and continue to steamroll you.  And that’s the point of the Nice Guy, and the Friendzone.

In this whole unpleasant scenario, the woman is just an object to the nice guy.  His feelings and his ego are the important things.  It doesn’t matter how scared or uninterested or even hostile the object is, she still owes him something; He can wrap it up as a relationship, but in the end, the object becomes his possession, and in that possession there are obligations the object must fill.  And if you refuse to play the game, check out and decline the thrilling chance to become an object?

Well, you’re just a frigid bitch who dumped that poor nice guy into the friendzone.  You MONSTER.

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Niamh ‘Offside in the friendzone’ Keoghan

My Kingdom for a Pope!

RTÉ are hilarious.  An entire hour or so was dedicated to his Popiness calling it off- personally, I think he should be made carry this papacy to term (Joke courtesy of @emjb but too good not to include here) and understand that if he didn’t want to be a pope, then he shouldn’t have become a priest in the first place.  I mean, I’m not trying to be judgemental, I support his decision, but you know… I still judge him.  Anyone with a bit of life experience would    

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But yeah, I find myself not able to wring much comedy out of the Pope resigning.  I did try.  I made a cup of coffee and sat down at the computer to make some LOLZ about his special pope chair and the special pope hat that makes him infallible as long as he’s in the chair and has the hat on, the dresses, the fact that he looks like emperor palpatine, his German-ness, and I tried to write a long thesis on why I should be crowned the Ultra pope- I’d be fifty feet tall like a power rangers bad guy and stamp on St Peters- but all my efforts at humour fell flat.  

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Irish people have been pretty playful about the papacy thing, as we always are about matters of the catholic church; that kind of self deprecating, eye rolling father ted style ‘sure where would you be without it’ kind of humour.  I think the main reason Father Ted is watchable is because it is brutally satirical- pointing out the hypocrisy of the 1990s catholic church.  It was from an era just prior to the Ryan report and the really massive child rape scandals, so I’m not sure how it would look if it was made today.

But I can’t make lolz out of the pope, because the Catholic Church is, to me, just too screwed up an institution.  I can’t laugh about the silly hats and the robes and the cardinals having a piss up when just last week I found out the state I’m a citizen of was complicit in the slavery of thousands of women over 70 years at the hands of religious orders.  Just three years ago my best friend spoke up in a religion class to question our male religion teacher on the very obvious bias against abortion in the lesson we were having on morality.  When I was seventeen the speaker who came to talk to us about ‘the facts of life’ dropped her voice in the middle of a presentation about the rhythm method of contraception and told us ‘girls, I used this method, and I have three children, so just… consider that.’  It’s an institution in Ireland that consistently discouraged me from being loud, from having opinions, from having agency.  Look even now, I’m trying to be light hearted and I can’t! I need a different topic.  

It’s Richard III I feel the worst for, you know.  You spend five hundred years under ground after your grisly murder (in Leicester no less).  Then some young upstart named Will Shakespeare writes a play that solidifies you as only the baddest mother fucker who ever walked the earth and you go down in history as a twisted crazy tyrant, and then worst of all, someone builds a carpark on top of you.  A carpark for a tesco, no less.  I can think of no worse a humiliation than to have my resting place disturbed by a budget supermarket chain.  If all this wasn’t bad enough only a few days later the horse meat scandal properly broke and twitter, the papers and everyone else had a new story to wring lolz out of.  THEN Beyonce blew up the super bowl.  THEN the Pope announced he was resigning.  Jesus, there was so much.  If there is a god and he is planning this shit, last week definitely proves he on the side of the satirists.  Maybe God is actually just a celestial Alan Bennett.  Think of all the horses that were technically in that tesco next to Richard III all along.  All he needed to do was test for them.

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Niamh ‘The Pope can’t handle me’ Keoghan

Beyonce

This column originally appeared in the Student Standard volume 1, issue 1 on the 12th February 2013.  The Student Standard is NUI Maynooth’s independent new source and can be read online here 

published here with kind permission of Keith Broni, editor of the Standard.

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Bank Holiday Tuesday 12th February 2013

Beyonce

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Another year, another Superbowl Sunday passed with me in bed early, not willing to stay up until 5AM watching the most excruciatingly boring sport known to man (Worse than Cricket, Curling and Lawn Bowls put together because AT LEAST those sports don’t stop for a little rest every every.  single.  Play) only for the faint promise of nine minutes of Beyonce that I could catch on YouTube the next day.  No, I experienced the superbowl the way I also experienced the Late Late show’s debate on marriage equality last week- tucked up in bed with a hot chocolate, following the proceedings via twitter.

Twitter is a great medium for experiencing telly, a crowdsourced annotated commentary of whatever happens to be on.  It’s basically watching highlights that are tailored to your own personal tastes- so in my case, the Superbowl coverage I saw was mostly ‘When’s Beyonce on?’ Then hysterical tweets when she actually did come on (SHE’S SO GOOD AT WALKING!) all about the dancing, the costume, the choice of song (‘Baby Boy?’ Really?  That song was lame back in 2004.  Come on Bey, do Bootilicious, come on-OH MY GOD THEY’RE DOING BOOTILICIOUS) and of course, the fact that Destiny’s child had ‘reunited.’ When really, all that happened was that Bey got her moderately famous backing singers back.  I always liked Kelly Rowland. She reached a minor solo peak around 2003 when I first got into pop music.  Sadface.  Oh wait, now they’re doing single ladies- I have to do Single ladies on this deadly silent train now, excuse me.

The Bey halftime show was a bit of an experience for me, watching it on my phone on the train to Maynooth Monday Morning.  It was when I finally sort of ‘got’ Beyonce.  We’ve long had a complicated relationship because she just doesn’t really have a lot of songs I can groove to.  Bootilicious and Single Ladies are aggressively good and that is Beyonce at her best.  Telephone is an over produced masterpiece of pop excess.  If I were a boy and her other break up jams always felt a bit flat to me.  It never really captures the actual pain of a break-up- they’re more like revenge dreams.  I’d theorise that ‘If I were a boy’ is really a dissing of the sort of casual misogyny  that’s common in most hip hop and rap.

Beyonce isn’t particularly titillating.  She’s too fucking scary to be titillating. Compare some of her earlier videos- writhing on  a beach because Sean Paul is just too hot to comprehend (note- it was 2004 after all) in baby boy, to the aggressive dominance of the Single Ladies dance.  Single Ladies is an aggressive, iconic song.  It’s not sensual- it’s a war cry.  She’s strong and she will fucking TRASH YOU in a song if you wrong her.  She’s not pandering to sexism so much as sticking a sharp heel through it.  Men do fancy her (note-I fancy her.  everyone fancies her. don’t lie.) but she’s not for a moment subservient to any man.  She consistently out-earns her husband.  All you need do to set off any woman born between 1980 and 1993 is to go up to her and ask earnestly ‘Kelly, can you handle this?’.  You will be treated to every woman in the vicinity shrieking the lyrics to ‘Bootilicious’ at the tops of their voices.

Which brings me to the title of her new tour- Mrs Carter.  Using her husbands name on her solo tour has been a bit… confusing to people who have always seen Beyonce as a strong independent figure.  Personally, I had actually forgotten Beyonce had a surname at all.  ‘Knowles’ sort of became redundant after Sasha Fierce came out- She’s reached Cher levels of ‘first name only’ recognition.  I had also forgotten Jay-Z had a surname either, in fact I just assumed they were monarchs and didn’t have a need for one, you know?  Privately, Bey and Jay apparently both hyphenate their names, going as the ‘Knowles- Carter’ family.  Bey has said publically that when she’s stressed, she likes to go make love to her husband to chill out.  She is one of the most athletic and accomplished dancers of our generation- I’d argue her choreography will define the dance of our generation in the same way Michael Jackson defined the 80s.  In the promo for this tour she’s dressed  in a Louis the XIV style leotard and a fur cape.  She’s Beyonce.  LADS.  She is Beyonce.  Beyonce is allowed name her tour whatever she wants.

Image (Beyonce for Pope)

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Niamh ‘I don’t think you’re ready for this Jelly’ Keoghan
@Keofunkel