herald

Thursday 8 December 2016

Colette Fitzpatrick: I've never seen an Irishwoman post a video like Emma's ... it's so important

Emma Murphy
Emma Murphy
A pregnant woman with a glass of wine
Pamela Flood
Halle Berry
Chrissy Teighan

I've seen just about every type of video on social media. But I've never seen a young Irishwoman, bruised, vulnerable and emotional talking about an alleged assault on her by her boyfriend.

While we've seen pictures of Rihanna after she was beaten by Chris Brown, and pictures of Charles Saatchi grabbing Nigella Lawson by the throat, this is the first time that an Irishwoman has uploaded a video of her story.

In the video, Emma Murphy explains that she debated for a long time about whether or not to publicise her story, but ultimately decided she had to for the sake of her two young children and to raise awareness "for all the women out there".

She's received widespread praise for highlighting an often secretive issue. Her boyfriend, for his part, claims he pushed but did not punch her.

On the other side of the world the Sydney Morning Herald commented "these sort of stories are not new but suddenly we have massive public awareness and, in that sense, it is empowering women to be able to tell their stories".

The Sydney Sun-Herald described domestic violence as "family terrorism" and said Emma had pinpointed some of those issues.

It's now hoped that women and men previously afraid to tell their stories will use social media to share what happened to them.

How many friends do you have? How many women do you know? What if one in four of them was being abused?

It's likely - an EU report last year confirmed that one in four Irish women suffers violence. Think about that. It's clearly nearer than many of us would believe. The survey, by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, also revealed that Ireland has the poorest reporting rate for such crime, with 70pc of Irish women saying they don't contact authorities after serious abuse.

It also found that one in three Irish women have experienced psychological violence from a partner.

Unfortunately social media is also often used to attack victims. Previously, domestic abuse victim and model Christy Mack, was told she was a slut and deserved it, while someone tweeted Rihanna saying she was beaten because she was ugly.

Thankfully the vast majority of comments about Emma Murphy's video are supportive and positive and wish her and her two little children well.

Fitness blogger Emma usually posts about her workouts and healthy foods but this video is the most important one she has ever posted.

The more women like Emma Murphy speak openly and harness the power of social media to talk about and post pictures and videos of something that's not their fault, the more likely it is that we will be able to start a difficult conversation about domestic abuse.

Maybe then, we as a society can transform our response to this issue.

 

Docs say mums-to-be shouldn't drink, but does an occasional sip hurt?

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'Pregnant and p****d' screamed the headline on Today FM's lunchtime news this week after a report found that most women drink while pregnant.

It sounded like every woman with a child got regularly hammered during their pregnancy. The headline referred to a report that 45pc of Irish women binge drink during pregnancy. This is deeply troubling, but the majority of women don't do it. They either don't drink at all or drink little or moderately, perhaps just occasionally.

Now they're feeling guilty and irresponsible. I even spotted a thread in a forum on a popular Irish website entitled 'The wans necking wine while pregnant'. Demonise much?

There is other evidence. A study by Danish researcher Janni Niclasen found women who drink an average of a bottle of wine a month during pregnancy have children who are emotionally better adjusted than those who abstain.

US obstetrician Austin Chen said: "If a patient tells me that she's drinking two or three glasses of wine a week, I am personally comfortable with that after the first trimester. But technically, I am sticking my neck out by saying so."

The mantra seems to be that no amount of alcohol is safe. No doubt that's true, in a strictly theoretical sense, but it's also theoretically correct that you can't go down the stairs in the morning without risking an accident. That doesn't deter us from getting up in the morning.

Surely, with everything in life, you should make sensible, balanced judgements about what's an unacceptable degree of risk.

There's no denying that heavy drinking during pregnancy is harmful for babies and mothers. But is there a middle ground? Some studies show that perhaps there is - that perhaps having a sip or half a glass of wine at a special occasion during pregnancy may not be an unreasonable or unsafe choice.

 

Pamela is leading the  way for mums in 40s

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It's Mother Nature's cruellest trick on women - our age is the single greatest factor in getting pregnant. Sometimes it seems like everybody wants to remind women that their fertility falls off a cliff after the age of 30.

So I'm delighted to see that Pamela Flood (has bucked the perception - she is pregnant at 43 with her third baby. There has to be many upsides to being pregnant in your 40s. You're with Mr Right. You're probably more emotionally and financially stable.

You don't miss out socially because all your friends are at home with their kids. Being pregnant won't throw a wrench into your career. Pamela's in good company too - Halle Berry had her first child when she was 42. Of course, there's also the added bonus of older kids pushing the younger one on the swing.

 

Topless feminism? Let's nip it the bud

I see female celebs are photoshopping male nipples over their own, to protest at Instagram censorship. The #FreeTheNipple campaign is fighting for women's right to bare nipples just like men.

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Model Chrissy Teigen brought the campaign into the headlines after a topless photo she posted to Instagram was taken down. She reposted it several times and when it was continually removed, she came up with other ways to show everything but her nipples - like placing cans of hairspray over the offending body part. I have to say I find this confusing, it seems to me like a feminist movement that encourages toplessness. How is this is meant to be one in the eye for the patriarchy?

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