04.11.13

Kate Butler

Journalist and Barrister

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Kate Butler is a barrister and freelance journalist. She lives in Dublin with her partner, Ross Carroll, and their daughter Edie Butler.

Because I am a Girl I ask for … nothing. Because I’m a person I ask for equality.

Because I am a Girl I believe … in other girls, especially my sister Sophie. She has an intellectual disability but she hasn’t let it stop her living her life the way she wants to. Three years ago, at age 27, she moved out of home and into her own apartment. She had to learn to cook, clean, lock the front door, use a mobile phone. It was a staggering learning curve for her but she took it on because she values her independence so much.

Because I am a Girl I hope … my daughter has even more opportunities than my wonderful parents gave me and that she grows up happy and confident. I also hope she becomes a computer gaming ace, tutored by her father.

Because I am a Girl I wonder … whether the baby I’m about to have will be a boy or a girl.

Because I am a Girl I dream … of tax returns. The price of a self-reliant, flexible career, which allows me to determine when my working day ends (and so allows me to spend late afternoons and some half days with my daughter) is administrative tedium. But it’s so worth it.

Because I am a Girl I remember … being allowed to make the stuffing for the roast chicken with my granny and my mother in the kitchen on a Sunday. I remember the taste of the warm buttery onions with the bread crumbs and the herbs. I think of it every time I cook my own roast chicken.

Because I am a Girl I like … sparkly things, and so does my daughter, despite my dressing her in unisex clothes for the first two years of her life. I have watched her grow up next door to my best friend’s son, who is the same age, and marvelled at their innate differences. I now try and roll with the tyranny of pink and hope that it passes soon enough.

Because I am a Girl I dislike … aging. The beauty industry has a prize sucker in me.  I wish the way I look wasn’t important to me, but there it is.

Because I am a Girl I feel … optimistic, but that might be all the happy pregnancy hormones flooding my body right now.

Because I am a Girl I celebrate … all champions of women’s rights, but in particular the suffragettes. I once read Sylvia Pankhurst’s account of being force-fed while on hunger strike in jail. We have come to associate the idea of ‘best interests’ with paternalism, and Pankhurst’s experience is one of the most extreme examples of how that philosophy can justify a brutal and oppressive regime. In our society today, we continue to have a policy of ‘best interests’ when it comes to people with intellectual disabilities. I, sadly, know of many adults who are not allowed to live their lives in a manner of their choosing. It has to end.

 

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