[After the findings of the Commission on Mother and Baby Homes, we have reposted this blog from June 8, 2014]
Much has been said about the #TuamBabies during the week, and when it comes to the vagaries of the Catholic Church and what they have gotten up to on this island since the formation of the State, there’s not that much I can add.
But at the risk of appearing to deflect attention from the Church, there is one key element of this outrage that I feel isn’t being mentioned at all.
There were 796 babies reportedly “discarded” in Tuam. That means there are up to 796 fathers who are just as much involved in this story as the mothers, the babies and those in the institution involved.
Of course the whole reason for the existence of the institution was that the identities of the fathers was kept secret, so it’s not as though I could realistically expect us to ever discover any of their names.
But why aren’t we at least talking about them?
Too much goes wrong in society at large because of the supposed need to protect people we deem to be important. And the girls who were unfortunate to find themselves in these mother-and-baby institutions were usually being “blamed” for their situation.
We all know this to be wrong now, but as well as calling foul on the Church for their part in it, we should also be acknowledging exactly who is to blame.
Sure, such places like Bon Secours (which amazingly translates to “good relief”) contributed to a system whereby men, and more often than not men with a so-called “respectable” standing in society, had a ready-made “get out of jail free” card whenever their libidos got the better of them, often within their own family. But I’m sure I’m not the only one sickened by that last sentence, so surely if lessons are to be learned from all of this we must start there.
Do we honestly think the root of this problem has gone away just because these institutions ceased to exist over 50 years ago on this island? Hell no.
Men are still acting on their urges today are they not? And they have just as much need to have those urges hidden so they can remain in their lofty positions – only now we have things like sex trafficking to provide the supply to their demand.
Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten I’m a man myself – but that’s my point. Just because I am one doesn’t mean I should feel the need to defend the actions of these people, not by a long shot. In fact, it should be people like me towards the front of the queue crying foul because I believe those of us who like to think we treat women with respect are very much in the majority.
And when the women who find themselves caught up in those horrible businesses get pregnant, the “inconvenience” is still “dealt with”, only in a different way, and you can bet your bottom Euro the father is nowhere to be seen.
I hope the true extent of the #TuamBabies scandal around the country is discovered, but I also hope we derive the correct lessons from it.
Sure, it is another stick with which to beat the Catholic Church, but as much as I’d be happy to wield said stick, I cannot ignore the fact that it is merely a subset of a patriarchal mindset which still thrives throughout the western so-called civilisation and the longer we avoid talking about it, the longer it will endure. JLP