Joker: A cry for attention

Joker: A cry for attention

The year is 1981 in Gotham City, where the rich have become richer and the poor are getting poorer. Isn’t this a story told a number of times? Joker (portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix) tells us the story of  Arthur Fleck, a troubled professional clown and wannabe stand-up comedian, who sits in front of a mirror, slowly painting his face. His quest to smile from ear to ear is never so lasted naturally unless he forces it. Joker is a story of a troubled, ignored, abused man. He is a man who is often mocked and misunderstood. He considers himself an outsider in an ever-growing city that has gone from bad to worse. He tries to overcome his laughing fit as the world shuts the door behind him. This movie is ultimately what Joker is: an origin story.

Despite an 8-minute standing ovation at the Venice film festival, Todd Phillips’ origins picture about the birth of Batman’s nemesis has become the focus of a moral backlash, with critics using words such as “toxic”, “cynical” and “irresponsible” to describe its relentlessly embittered tone. Joker does everything but gives you easy answers. It is a story of a chaotic invisible individual calling for acknowledgement.

The filmmakers have heavily drawn in equal measure from Martin Scorsese’s media satire The King of Comedy, and Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke. It has a similar worldview filled with characters drunk on self-pity and self-gratification. The main question here would then be whether this movie is about the mental, moral, emotional and physical makeup of an individual who cruises through a number of murders along his way to prove something. Are voices of isolation, abuse and self-pity being acknowledged or even addressed in the society anymore or just being heard and ignored? The feeling of empathy for Arthur Fleck musters momentum for a while but as Arthur screams around the edges of his sanity, this empathy towards him is not guaranteed.

Todd Philips (Director) has definitely thrown open a disturbing subject into popular media. Some critics have heavily criticised this movie due to the portrayal of the mass shooting and extreme violence. While some others have given this movie a standing ovation. A serious issue such as mental health is a subject that needs to be heard and addressed in every form that is possible even if it is through the story of the origin of a villain.

 

Photo by Niko Tavernise (Warner Bros)

 

 

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Joker: A cry for attention

STAND reviews Joker, a movie receiving an 8-minute standing ovation at the Venice film festival, as well as critics using words such as “toxic”, “cynical” and “irresponsible” to describe its relentlessly embittered tone.

Tarantino review: violence and violence against women

When Tarantino depicts violence against women, there might be more than an uncomfortable portrayal of women.

Review: When They See Us

A review Netflix’s the gut-wrenching story of lost innocence.

Book Review: The Milkman

Tommy Gilsenan reviews the Man Booker Prize story set during the Troubles.

Unacceptable Status Quo in Accessing Abortion Services in Ireland

Unacceptable Status Quo in Accessing Abortion Services in Ireland

The 2018 referendum – which repealed the oppressive Eighth Amendment to the Constitution and allowed room for the government to legislate for abortion access – came following years of grassroots activism and campaigning. But what is the status quo regarding access to abortion services in Ireland? STAND investigates. 

Abortion in Ireland is now regulated by the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018 which provides the legislative framework for the provision of abortion services in defined circumstances. The framework draws on the recommendations of the 2017 Citizen’s Assembly and the Joint Oireachtas Committee. Both groups recommended that termination of pregnancy should be permitted ‘with no restriction to reason’ up to 12 weeks’ gestation age. This is in line with the laws of other countries such as France, Finland and Germany. After the 12-week gestation the Bill permits termination in cases of risk to life, of serious risk to health, or fatal foetal abnormality. 

The criterion of “serious” risk to health has been denounced by groups such as Amnesty International and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties as it puts the onus on doctors to determine whether the risk is severe enough. This puts doctors in a difficult position, making them more likely to err on the side of caution. Other issues include the fact that abortion services are provided free of charge to Republic of Ireland residents but not to women from Northern Ireland (as many groups had campaigned for). A 3-day waiting period between initial consultation and the termination procedure was also inserted into the Bill despite protests from activists. 

The continued criminalisation of terminations outside of the current framework is one of the biggest agenda items for abortion rights activists as – although the 2018 Bill does not criminalise women procuring abortions for themselves – it states that it is an offence for a person to carry out or assist in carrying out a termination outside of the provisions of the Bill. Amnesty International Ireland (whose original abortion rights campaign in 2015 was titled ‘She is Not a Criminal’, focussing on the inhumane nature of the 14-year jail sentences placed on women accessing illegal abortions in Ireland) has condemned this continued criminalisation. This 14-year jail sentence continues to loom over doctors who are deciding whether there is a “serious” risk to the health of the mother, or if a foetal anomaly is fatal. Linda Kavanagh from the Abortion Rights Campaign stressed that women who qualified for terminations in Ireland were still being forced to travel ‘due to overly cautious interpretations of the law from doctors fearing criminal sanctions’. In November 2018, Dáil Eireann voted on the possibility of decriminalisation but this proposal was defeated. Minister Simon Harris claimed that continued criminalisation was necessary from a policy perspective and that removing it may put the life or health of women at risk. 

The mandatory three-day waiting period between the initial GP consultation and the termination is an aspect of the Irish legislation which falls short of international human rights law. It puts some of the most vulnerable women in a difficult position when they are trying to procure abortion services. The Irish Council for Civil Liberties characterised this mandatory waiting period as an ‘unnecessary restriction on safe access to abortion [that] reinforces patriarchal notions of women as incapable of making decisions regarding their own health’. It also highlights how this will have the most impact on people in abusive relationships, those who live in remote areas or in Direct Provision centres, disabled people and those who struggle to pay for two separate doctors’ appointments. In June 2019, the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) raised concerns about these barriers to access for those in vulnerable or complicated situations, as well as concerns around delays in “buffer-zone” legislation. Dr Cliona Loughnane of the NWCI highlighted the ‘institutional conscientious objection’ which can be seen in places such as Kilkenny and which the government promised would not be the case. She also calls for urgency in passing buffer-zone legislation to protect women and their doctors. In many cases, particularly in rural areas, the inability to access abortion services privately and without exposure to protestors is enough to force some women to travel to the UK.

One of the Together For Yes slogans seen on billboards across Ireland during the lead up to the referendum stated ‘sometimes a private matter needs public support’. Although in theory Ireland now has legislation allowing for abortion services, in practice there is still much to be done to ensure access to these services is a reality for every single person capable of becoming pregnant in this country.

 

 

Photo by Together for Yes on Facebook

 

 

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Unacceptable Status Quo in Accessing Abortion Services in Ireland

The 2018 referendum, allowing the government to legislate for abortion access, came following years of grassroots activism and campaigning. But what is the status quo regarding access to abortion services in Ireland? STAND investigates.

The true cost of period shame

The commercialisation of women’s sanitary products has contributed to the unhelpful notion that a period is inherently wrong in some vague, grimy sense. This completely natural experience is presented as strictly ‘women’s business’; something which must be hidden from society at all costs. It is a problem urgently requiring a solution.

How the Breakthrough Case in Women’s Rights Set us Back Instead

With the constant expression of feminism in this day and age, it is worth considering the case of McGee v Attorney General to investigate the true intention behind the seemingly revolutionary case which supposedly forwarded women’s rights in Ireland via the Constitution.

Girls Challenge the Script on International Girls Day!

“It’s urgent that we no longer create stories that teach children to view women and girls as second-class citizens – not when we’ve seen the level of sexism in our culture so egregiously put on display.” Learn more about #RewriteHerStory, on the International Day of the Girl.

Ireland’s Direct Provision system needs to end!

The Direct Provision system must comes to an end as it violates several human rights. Especially, women’s right.

Women’s economic and social rights play crucial role in countries’ development

Countries with “highly respected” women’s economic and social rights have better health outcomes and are more likely to have “accelerated development”.

The kurdish: a history

The kurdish: a history

To help you understand the recent military attacks against the Kurdish population at the Syrian border, STAND News takes a look back at the history of the Islamic ethnic group.

It is difficult to underestimate the bitter history of the Kurds, an Irianian ethnic group of approximately 36 million people living mostly in various regions of the Middle East – namely Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria. About 25% of the Kurd population currently live in western Turkey, while up to 15% live in northern Syria. This Islamic minority have once more held front pages across the world after Trump’s White House stood back to allow Turkey to launch attacks on their former allies at the Syrian border, displacing over 130,000 Kurds in just a few days. 

The Kurdish people have been stateless since the 1800s, with the closest resemblance of Kurdistan borders being considered after World War I. Since then, Kurdish kingdoms have been crushed by Iraqi, British and French forces. They faced genocide from Iranian forces in the 1980s during Reagan’s office, and fought for thirty-five years in a guerrilla war against Turkey. 

Since 2014, Kurdish fighters took control of key cities in Syria to defend them from a rising Islamic State. The Kurdish population of Syria have long been vocal about their infringed human rights in the country, staging the Rojava revolution to establish the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria in 2016 – an area deemed to have a social revolution of democratic confederalism. In doing so, they have fostered a growing allyship with the United States, which alarmed Turkey, 

By standing back and allowing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to send his army into northern Syria, Trump has bitterly betrayed those who were once the US’s most purposeful allies in the fight against the Islamic State. Rallies have taken place across Europe over the weekend – including in Dublin – to protest against Trump’s action, and to encourage alliance with Sweden’s plans to embargo weapons with Turkey at an upcoming EU summit. 

 

 

Photo by Hilary Ellary on Twitter

 

 

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to receive our top news straight to your inbox!

The kurdish: a history

To help you understand the recent military attacks against the Kurdish population at the Syrian border, STAND News takes a look back at the history of the Islamic ethnic group.

The Fixable Fact of Homelessness in Ireland

It cannot be denied that homelessness is a devastating issue gripping contemporary Ireland, but perhaps the solution is closer than it seems.

Ireland’s Direct Provision system needs to end!

The Direct Provision system must comes to an end as it violates several human rights. Especially, women’s right.

Migrant crisis in Venezuela

Venezuela is in the midst of a severe political and economic crisis and ripple effects of which are now felt at an alarming rate across the hemisphere.

Media and Migration : The power of imagery and its perception

Deepthi Suresh looks at how media coverage of migrations influence our own perceptions of refugees.

Why Are World Hunger Levels Increasing?

Rising inequalities and decrease in foreign aid funding are to blame for a rise in world hunger, writes Amyrose Forder.

Will the G7 Fashion Pact change fashion for the better?

Will the G7 Fashion Pact change fashion for the better?

As people have become increasingly aware of how our lifestyles damage the environment, the devastating impact of the fashion industry on our planet has become more widely known. 73% of our clothes go to a landfill or an incinerator when they are thrown away, despite the potential recyclability of these fabrics. Fashion uses up huge amounts of water, both in the growth of raw materials like cotton as well as in the manufacturing of clothes. On top of this, according to the UN, the fashion industry contributes 10% of total greenhouse gas emissions, using more energy than the aviation and shipping industries combined.

It is undeniable that we need to urgently change the fashion industry. In light of this, a new ‘Fashion Pact’ was announced at the G7 summit this August. The pact aims to improve the fashion industry by setting targets on three fronts – Climate, Biodiversity and Ocean. The Climate commitment includes measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon offsetting schemes and renewable energy use. The Biodiversity commitment focuses on ways to protect ecosystems, by promoting wildlife-friendly agriculture for growing clothing materials. The elimination of the use of single-use plastics and the reduction of water pollution to protect our seas are the main commitments in the Ocean section. The pact also suggests joint initiatives between companies, such as agreeing to transparency schemes and supporting technological innovation.

The pact aims to sign up 20% of the fashion industry and at the moment 32 companies, owning about 150 brands in total, have signed it. These include the likes of H&M, Zara and Nike as well as more ‘up-market’ brands like Chanel and Giorgio Armani. 

While this may seem like a leap forward in reducing the environmental impact of fashion, it remains to be seen whether this will make any difference. Several commitments already exist in the global fashion industry, such as the UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Change and the Circular Fashion System Commitment. Given that many of the brands signing on to the G7 Fashion Pact have already agreed to these existing standards, it is not clear what real difference this pact will make, especially as it is not legally binding and clearly states that the goals it includes are only suggestions for the companies. One could argue that these companies would have already implemented their previous commitments if they actually cared about the environment… Consumer awareness of the importance of sustainable fashion has increased massively since the signing of the other deals, so these companies might just be trying to persuade consumers that they are environmentally friendly by signing the Fashion Pact, rather than actually planning on implementing it.  

In defence of the G7 Fashion pact, it is one of the only fashion industry agreements that focuses on the promotion of biodiversity. However, disappointedly the commitments in this section are vaguely worded and have no numerical targets or time limits for actions to be taken. The pact nevertheless has slightly more focus on collaboration between companies than in previous agreements, which could potentially help inspire more action. However, some sections of the agreement, especially those relating to collaboration, are merely vague guidelines, and do not add much value on top of collaboration suggestions in other agreements.

Overall, the Fashion Pact is underwhelming and unlikely to create change. Even in the best case scenario, if 20% of the industry actually implemented its suggestions, the other 80% may not do anything.This is not enough to stop climate change. What is more likely to actually make a difference is consumers voting with their wallets to force companies to change, and our governments creating laws targeting the pollution created by fashion companies. Without these actions, the Fashion Pact’s commitments are unlikely to be upheld.

 

 

Photo by Christian Fregnan on Unsplash

 

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Will the G7 Fashion Pact change fashion for the better?

The G7 Fashion Pact to reduce environmental damage has been signed by many of the world’s biggest brands – but will it actually solve the problem?

Why the EU-Mercosur worries environmentalists

As the EU signs a trade agreement in principle with the South American trade bloc Mercosur, environmental advocates in Europe, especially in the agricultural sectors, oppose the deal.

How Looking Good Can Help the Environment – Sustainable Fashion from the Ones in the Know

“It’s not about a small amount of people being perfect, it’s about a huge amount of people making incremental changes.” The Slow Fashion Panel Discussion and Upcycling Masterclass in TCD was a roaring success.

Fracked gas and climate action: an activist point of view

The last few weeks have seen an explosion in activity on the Irish climate activist movement. STAND News sat down with Maeve O’Gorman, an activist from Not Here Not Anywhere (NHNA) to get her take on the current challenges activists are fighting for.

The true cost of period shame

The true cost of period shame

The commercialisation of women’s sanitary products has contributed to the unhelpful notion that a period is inherently wrong in some vague, grimy sense. This completely natural experience is presented as strictly ‘women’s business’; something which must remain private and exclusive to the individual – and which must be hidden from society at all costs. It is a problem urgently requiring a solution.

In a recent commercial campaign for period products, the Australian company Libra was criticised after their depiction of menstruation was deemed ‘distasteful and unnecessary’ by some viewers. The offending advertisement depicted menstrual blood running down the legs of a woman showering, a used sanitary pad, and a visual demonstration of the pads’ absorbency. More than 600 formal complaints were made to the ad standards authority stating that the advertisement was ‘vulgar’ and ‘extremely offensive’. However, these complaints were swiftly dismissed, with the campaign gaining praise for its attempts to fight period taboos. The advertisement has raised questions regarding the dialogue that presently surrounds periods.

Period shame attaches itself to women and girls for many reasons. Symptoms associated with menstruation include nausea, back pain, vomiting and headaches. Such symptoms have forced girls to miss school with recent Irish studies carried out by Plan International showing 61% of girls are too embarrassed to discuss their periods. A further 88% of girls feel less capable of paying attention in class during their period. Similar research by Plan International is being carried out on a global scale. Results in India show that 20% of girls living in rural areas will leave school once they get their first period. In Malawi, 70% of girls miss 1 to 3 days of school a month due to their periods. These results highlight the injustices, embarrassment, shame and unnecessary challenges girls must contend with when faced with a natural bodily occurrence – and they illustrate how period shame is a serious barrier to the educational experience of girls all over the world. 

Other barriers to attending school during one’s period can be associated with the cost of sanitary products. In Ireland the average annual cost of sanitary products is estimated at €132. This price does not include the cost for pain relief such as painkillers. The cost also fails to include any new underwear that may need to be purchased when leakages occur and underwear is soiled from blood. Campaigns such as Free Periods in the UK aim to tackle the cost associated with menstruation. The goal of this campaign is to ensure that no girl has to miss another day of school due to the cost of sanitary products. Similarly, the charity Homeless Period fundraises money and takes donations of sanitary products for homeless women across Ireland and the UK. 

In recent days, the Free Period organizer Amika George has started a new campaign called Free Period Stories. The campaign aims to end the embarrassment and shame that surrounds periods and to open a dialogue surrounding menstruation. 

Free Period, Homeless Period and the ad campaign run by Libra all serve a vital role in combating the damaging implications of period taboos.  

 

To find out more about these issues – and to join in the menstruation conversation – you can visit: https://www.freeperiods.org/ & http://thehomelessperiod.com/

 

 

Photo by Marco Verch on Flickr.

 

 

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Unacceptable Status Quo in Accessing Abortion Services in Ireland

The 2018 referendum, allowing the government to legislate for abortion access, came following years of grassroots activism and campaigning. But what is the status quo regarding access to abortion services in Ireland? STAND investigates.

The true cost of period shame

The commercialisation of women’s sanitary products has contributed to the unhelpful notion that a period is inherently wrong in some vague, grimy sense. This completely natural experience is presented as strictly ‘women’s business’; something which must be hidden from society at all costs. It is a problem urgently requiring a solution.

How the Breakthrough Case in Women’s Rights Set us Back Instead

With the constant expression of feminism in this day and age, it is worth considering the case of McGee v Attorney General to investigate the true intention behind the seemingly revolutionary case which supposedly forwarded women’s rights in Ireland via the Constitution.

Girls Challenge the Script on International Girls Day!

“It’s urgent that we no longer create stories that teach children to view women and girls as second-class citizens – not when we’ve seen the level of sexism in our culture so egregiously put on display.” Learn more about #RewriteHerStory, on the International Day of the Girl.

How the Breakthrough Case in Women’s Rights Set us Back Instead

How the Breakthrough Case in Women’s Rights Set us Back Instead

There is constant talk today in Ireland of vindicating the rights of women by striking out that controversial provision in Article 41.2 of Bunreacht na hÉireann (the Irish Constitution). S 2.1° of the article states that “In particular, the state recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved” while s 2.2° states that “The state shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home”.
Many people hold that this method of recognising women’s rights by tackling the provisions of the Constitution began (and succeeded) in the case of McGee v Attorney General – however, I argue that the true result of this case actually decelerated the cause for Irish women.

The landmark case of McGee v Attorney General [1973] IR 284 illustrates an unprecedented breakthrough in the area of family planning in Ireland and tells the story of May McGee, a young wife in financial difficulty whose health was in danger after four pregnancies.

Mrs McGee’s doctor prescribed her contraception from London which she attempted to import but it was seized by customs officials, as it was illegal in Ireland at the time to sell, offer, advertise or import contraceptives. She sought a declaration that the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 1935, (under which she had been threatened by the Revenue Commission) was unconstitutional. Mrs McGee claimed the law that prevented her from bringing contraceptives into the State infringed the implied right to privacy guaranteed to all citizens under Article 40. She also argued that under Article 41, the importation ban violated the “inalienable” rights of the family in attempting to frustrate a decision made by Mrs McGee and her husband for the benefit of the family as a whole. It was also disputed that the law violated her freedom of conscience, with all claims denied by the Attorney General. Judge O’Keefe dismissed her case, but when Mrs McGee took her appeal to the Supreme Court in November 1973, she won decisively by a 4-1 margin. Judges Walsh, Budd, Henchy and Griffin all found that the act breached her constitutional right to marital privacy.

This judgment divided the nation. On one side, the anti-contraception campaigner Desmond Broadberry deemed it a “sad day for Ireland” and Catholic bishops reiterated that contraception was “morally wrong”. On the other side, the Family Planning Clinic in Dublin saw it as a “big breakthrough”. The Supreme Court was decisively ahead of public opinion and politicians on contraception. However, only a decade later was the anti-abortion amendment added to the Constitution. How did this happen?

It is crucial to note that the majority of judges did not condemn the law banning the use of contraceptives – they simply based their decision on the right to marital privacy implied in the Constitution. Judge Walsh specifically referenced Article 41, detailed above, which is currently receiving some media coverage for its comments on the family and, in particular, the role of women within the family. This clause has come under criticism with many campaigning for a referendum to either change this wording or strike out the Article altogether for its disregard to women’s rights. In a similar vein, although referring most likely to S 3.1° (ie. the state’s pledge to guard the institution of marriage with special care and to protect it against attack) the Supreme Court again seems to only superficially support women’s rights (just as in S 2, which while appearing to consolidate women’s rights is instead incredibly limiting). May McGee won her court case, but not because she was in danger of dying, not because the Supreme Court found the ban on her importation of contraceptives unconstitutional, not because as a woman in Ireland she deserved her right to this healthcare. May McGee won her court case not because she was May McGee, but because she was Mrs McGee. In this way the court case was, according to Ivana Bacik, “a catalyst for the pro-life amendment campaign”.

May McGee’s case is the pinnacle of paradoxical finding and possibly the most important Supreme Court case in Ireland. Although it accelerated women’s rights in Ireland to a huge extent, it had a detrimental effect in setting them back too.

 

 

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

 

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to receive our top news straight to your inbox!

Unacceptable Status Quo in Accessing Abortion Services in Ireland

The 2018 referendum, allowing the government to legislate for abortion access, came following years of grassroots activism and campaigning. But what is the status quo regarding access to abortion services in Ireland? STAND investigates.

The true cost of period shame

The commercialisation of women’s sanitary products has contributed to the unhelpful notion that a period is inherently wrong in some vague, grimy sense. This completely natural experience is presented as strictly ‘women’s business’; something which must be hidden from society at all costs. It is a problem urgently requiring a solution.

How the Breakthrough Case in Women’s Rights Set us Back Instead

With the constant expression of feminism in this day and age, it is worth considering the case of McGee v Attorney General to investigate the true intention behind the seemingly revolutionary case which supposedly forwarded women’s rights in Ireland via the Constitution.

Girls Challenge the Script on International Girls Day!

“It’s urgent that we no longer create stories that teach children to view women and girls as second-class citizens – not when we’ve seen the level of sexism in our culture so egregiously put on display.” Learn more about #RewriteHerStory, on the International Day of the Girl.

The Fixable Fact of Homelessness in Ireland

It cannot be denied that homelessness is a devastating issue gripping contemporary Ireland, but perhaps the solution is closer than it seems.

Ireland’s Direct Provision system needs to end!

The Direct Provision system must comes to an end as it violates several human rights. Especially, women’s right.