She was by far the best most passionate and innovative speaker of the night.
She made people laugh, cheer, scream, applaud, go silent and nod their heads.
She spoke about her freedoms in this part of the world compared to those elsewhere.
She spoke about the sexual shaming and silencing of people, but particularly women in this part of the world.
She talked about the secrets and deceit of sexual and child abuse, covered up and defended by corrupt institutions, the problem of confession and confessing, the secrecy and lies that have hurt the vulnerable
She spoke of celebrating sex, how we are all here because of it and how we shouldn’t ignore or regulate the beauty and diversity of the body.
She was thoughtful, articulate, clever and smart.
But a conservative and judgemental editorial team at the Belfast Telegraph has chosen to undermine the entirety of the passion, intelligence and authority encapsulated and held within the Alternative Miss Ulster event on Saturday night. They made a very specific choice in their reporting of the event to draw attention to what she wore and to question the appropriateness of her wardrobe selection.
I was there and I was moved and challenged by her words. (You can read them here)
Someone else was there, taking photographs and made a childish attempt to sexually shame her.
It’s not surprising. It’s totally indicative of the maturity of the press and editorial staff at the Belfast Telegraph. It’s exactly the kind of gesture that taunts the ‘old guard’ and provokes a meaningless conversation to distract us from anything important as journalists are dispatched to get quotes about ‘costume’ and ‘nudity’ and ‘toplessness’.
There could have been a front page article that talked about the diversity of women; of all ages, different ethnicities and the various roles they had in their communities. Or there could have been a front page article about the issues; mental health, politics, sport, economics, flexible working, the environment, the role of the media, body image and self esteem, education and trauma in our society.
There could have been interviews with people who attended.
But no – the Belfast Telegraph decided to make the entire event about breasts – well not even – just the side of one breast. The Belfast Telegraph has behaved like the kid in the class who throws paint over the good paintings because they’re jealous and threatened. Making a comment about breasts when the discussion was so much more moving and important than that is sexist and immature – shame on them.
So here are some suggestions as to what sort of protest you can make:
- If you’re on Twitter use the hashtag #amu and start a tweet with the words ‘Anger As…’ to highlight a real issue that has been ignored/glossed over in order to talk about female breasts.
— kelephonica (@kelephonica) March 10, 2014
- If you’re on facebook or other social media sites don’t share or link to the Belfast Telegraph article or even The Guardian article – because that will give them traffic and ‘hits’ that will indicate some sort of ‘popularity’
- Share this article instead and get people involved in responding to it
- Email or tweet Clare Bailey (@ClareBaileySBGP) and Steven Agnew (@StevenAgnew) from the Green Party to thank them for organising and hosting the event.
- Similarly let the Belfast Telegraph know what you think by a) tweeting or emailing them and b) stop reading their paper online or buying it on the street
- Tell http://www.everydaysexism.com (@EverydaySexism) about this