Thursday, September 15, 2022

the last book I ever read (We Don't Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Modern Ireland, excerpt nine)

from We Don't Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Modern Ireland by Fintan O'Toole:

In 1971, a woman in Ireland could not, in effect, sit on a jury–that privilege belonged to registered property owners who were almost exclusively male. She could not, if she was a civil servant or worked in a bank, keep her job when she got married. She could not buy contraceptives (unless the Pill was misprescribed as a ‘cycle regulator’). She could not buy a pint of Guinness in a pub–some pubs refused to allow women to enter at all (my grandfather’s local on Leonard’s Corner was colloquially known as The Man’s House); some allowed a woman in if, and only if, she was accompanied by a man; and many refused to serve women pints of beer. (Even in 1978, in a popular pub in central Dublin, a barman accidentally sold me a pint of Guinness for my girlfriend. He could not take it back, since I had paid for it, but insisted on pouring it into two half-pint glasses instead.)

A woman could not, as of right, collect the state allowance paid to help her raise her children–the legislation specified that it be paid to the father, who might, or not might not, mandate her to collect it. She could not get a barring order in court against a violent husband. She could not, if she was married, live securely in her own home–even if she paid for the house, her husband could sell it at any time without her consent. She could not refuse to have sex with her husband–the concept of marital rape was regarded as a contradiction in terms. She could not choose her own legal domicile – if her husband moved to Australia but she stayed in Ireland, she was legally domiciled in Australia. She could not get the same rate for a job as a man. She could not get a divorce under any circumstances.

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