With my daughter’s permission, I would like to showcase a piece of prose that she wrote and performed for her GCSE drama exam today. When she rehearsed it in front of me last night I was almost moved to tears, not just by the gentle Dublin accent which she spoke it in but also for the depth of maturity which it conveyed. I was convinced that she was reciting James Joyce at first and was stunned to hear that she had written it herself. The conviction of delivery and depth of feeling in the written words was astonishing. Not surprisingly, she received the top mark for writing and performing this monologue which looks set to bring her an A-star. I am very proud.
I always wanted to be an explorer. To visit England and Europe and the USA, and to voyage the sea to one day come home again and be the same woman I started out as. He will have developed a heart beat by now, fingernails and tiny, tiny closed eyes. I knew it would happen. A small lump of naive life all curled up inside of me, slowly taking away parts of my body to nurture his own and I hate it. The doctors refuse to take him out of me because they say it’s not my choice who lives or dies, that it’s not my choice which way he comes out of me.
They tell me he’s my responsibility, it’s my responsibility. Do you think I was responsible for that? Do you think if I showed them my bruises, and the cut above my left thigh they’d change their minds? They scrutinize me at the question as they pry over my sickly ever-growing stomach, they say I’ll be a fantastic mother - that my husband will be overjoyed. Who? Who are they to tell me to give myself up to another human being just because he grew inside of me? If the doctors, who claim they care can’t help me, then I’m sure the backstreet dealers with their sweaty palms and their shabby back pockets can. They lure me in with their makeshift instruments and their shallow eyes; maybe it’s something to do with the way they promise me my life back.
Above anything else, they promise me my life. I’m being pushed into a position where I have to choose between moral right or living half the life I ever lived …and that’s not right. That’s not right! Why should I have to conform to their idealistic biased male regulations to be considered a ‘real’ woman?
A woman has every right to be a woman just as every child has the right to be a child. The female population of Ireland is being condemned and deprived of their right to be their own by the Irish government, and I’m going to do whatever it takes to change that. This isn’t my only option. I’m leaving for England for the first time, and I’ll do whatever is in my power to change something. Anything. A woman isn’t defined by the way she was sculpted, a woman is defined by her state of mind. And anyway, I always wanted to explore.
Hope Slater. March 2012.