It’s 1994 and I am 12. From a very early age I learn that it is not a good thing to raise one’s head above the parapet. I ask the right questions when the priest visits the school. I give the right-rote-learned answers. I conform. I wear a uniform. I go to mass. I dress in white to receive the body of Christ. I confess my sins and say three hail Marys and one Glory Be. I watch the abortion videos in home ec class. I strongly debate on the anti choice side of a debate on abortion in school. It’s 1994, I am anti-choice, anti-divorce, anti-sex before marriage. I am 12 and I am anti-me.
I have guilt. I have guilt that I am not one of those girls who questioned or challenged or marched or rebelled. I was your parents’ dream. I was a good girl. I was complicit.
I was complicit in a culture that tells young girls to be ashamed of their bodies, their minds, their sexuality. Complicit in a culture that teaches girls how not to be raped and sighs that “boys will be boys, you know”. Complicit in a culture that allows people to say how could she be so stupid when they hear of an unplanned pregnancy. Complicit in a culture that says not in my backyard when a young Irish woman bleeds to death in the back of a London taxi. Complicit in a culture that hand wrings when those who swear to do no harm are endangering women’s lives every day.
And though I am no longer that 12 year old girl I’m still complicit. I have a voice. I have knowledge and facts at my disposal. But I have fear. My 12 year old self still says “Don’t raise your head above the parapet. Don’t make your opinions public. You will be punished for them. Don’t be so angry. People don’t like angry women. Don’t be so opinionated. Leave that to Other People. Other People are better at it. Other People have less to lose.”
Other People are losing their lives while I cower in silence for fear of losing the esteem of peers and people I don’t even know.
I write music that is angry and hurts and sometimes leaves me in tears and I’m afraid to say why. But my friends are taking the boat and are nearly dying in labour wards and it is my duty to shout that I am pro-choice and pro-women and that this is a song about women and the separation of church and state and that there are many other songs like this one and that I will continue to be afraid but the fear of reproach will no longer silence me and that I’m sorry.
I’m so sorry it’s taken so long.
Tracy Bruen is a musician from Galway