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Let me tell you a bit about how I flirt.
Come on, we can have a laugh and later, I can have a cry. I know how to flirt. I do. At least, I know what flirting is. It’s about eye contact, open body language and, if the Cosmo article I read as a teenager was to be believed, flaunting your wrists and touching their arm at every given opportunity. Considering this, it feels hugely euphemistic to call what I do – which is bombard the person with a series of bordering on inappropriate questions then laugh intensely at their jokes – flirting. Let’s face it, if you’re doing it right, you probably shouldn’t come away feeling angry about your country’s abortion laws. I know what you’re thinking. How is this girl still single?
Because my seduction techniques more closely resemble an interrogation scene from Homeland than they do one from Sex and the City, I find that I’m more suited to the sort of bar where the flirting happens after you’ve started kissing. It was just this sort of place that I met Conor, from Donegal. These two nuggets of information are all that I know about him. Mind you, a name and a county are all you need to know about someone to find them on Facebook these days. Not that I would know.
How we got to the point of kissing, I don’t want to remember, although I imagine that for onlookers, a David Attenborough narration would have been fitting. While still at the bar, I spent our time together interrupting to ask questions that ranged from “What do you think of Donald Trump’s intentions to stop federal funding of Planned Parenthood?” to “Have you watched Beyoncé’s new visual album, Lemonade?” Each question harder hitting than the last.
It was a fun night but the following week I found myself longing for something that I couldn’t put my finger on. Was it companionship? Love? No, it was my period. I just really, really wanted my period to arrive. This anxiety meant that my most dreaded time of the month, consisting mainly of discomfort and ruined underwear, was now desperately longed for. I spent the morning after that night calculating where in my cycle I was, googling the most effective morning after pill for overweight women (Ellaone) and mentally recalculating that week’s budget to allow for it.
The following week saw my internet browsing history shift from Keeping up with the Kardashians to keeping up with Marian Stopes. This worry was present regardless of the fact that a condom had been used, that a morning after pill had been taken and if my calculations were correct, I wasn’t at a particularly fertile time in my cycle. With all this anxiety I began to think, how’s his week going? Did he read an article about the position of your cervix during early pregnancy, then have a feel of his for comparison? I highly doubt it. Talk about male privilege! The only thing he had to cope with was a hangover and if he’s catholic (which he totally was), a bit of guilt.
I on the other hand was descending into an anxious waiting game that would be soothed only by the sight of blood in my underwear. With this building anger, my mind regurgitated one of the last questions I asked that night, “What do you think of the 8th Amendment?” Yeah that’s right, I know how to woo a man. I feel two things when I consider this question. Confused. Do I need to talk to someone about how I engage with men I fancy? Angry. He had no opinion on it and possibly, judging by his vacant expression, did not know what it was.
Why should he, he’s just a guy? Except that he’s a guy who haunts Coppers every weekend looking for casual sex. He’s a guy who had to be reminded four times to put on a condom. No responsibility was taken on his behalf that night to ensure that I didn’t get pregnant and in addition to this, it seems that no consideration by him has been given to what happens should I or other women get pregnant.
He benefits every weekend from women having increased bodily autonomy. Without the relatively easy access to contraception Irish women have today they would not so readily engage in casual sex. So, for him to not have an opinion on women’s reproductive rights, then later have sex with someone whose name he had to be reminded of in the taxi home, in my opinion demonstrates a lack of personal and civil responsibility.
When I try to understand how someone can be so removed from this issue, I’m reminded how incredibly easy it is to disconnect from words and phrases that get thrown around in the media. Perhaps his relationship with the phrase “8th Amendment”, is similar to mine with “NAMA”, when I was 19. Despite being a phrase so commonly used it was 2009’s depressing answer to YOLO, my understanding of what it meant was extremely vague. If you had asked me then about its meaning or how it could impact me, you probably would have received a response not dissimilar to Conor’s.
The 8th amendment affects everyone and yet the worry about it seems to fall almost solely on the shoulders of women. Everyone has an obligation to consider different scenarios with empathy. And so Conor, if you’re reading this, maybe it’s time you started reading up on women’s reproductive rights and the 8th Amendment. Consider how they impact not only the women around you, but you and the notches on your bed post.
And while you’re at it, watch Lemonade. It’s a phenomenon.