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Nationwide rallies will take place tomorrow to protest victim blaming in the Irish courts following a controversial trial verdict in Cork.

Irish women have been sharing viral images of their underwear in response to the rape trial, in which a Cork barrister used a 17-year-old girl's underwear to argue that she had given the man accused of rape consent.

The 27-year-old man was found not guilty of raping the young woman in a Cork laneway; a result which has caused outrage all over the country.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Scribbles Urban (@scribblesurban) on

The barrister representing the man, Elizabeth O’Connell SC, asked jurors to take into account the underwear which the teenager had been wearing at th time of the alleged rape.

She claimed the woman's "thong with a lace front" suggested that the woman "… was attracted to the defendant and was open to meeting someone and being with someone."

The Socialist Feminist organisation ROSA have responded by organised multiple rallies all over Ireland following the result.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Through their Facebook account, the group called the reference to the underwear a "disgrace" and are campaigning for an end to "victim blaming in the courts."

"These lines of character accusation and victim blaming are unfortunately a common tactic used in cases before the courts relating to sexual violence," ROSA stated.

"The judiciary has proven itself time and time again to be utterly damaging to survivors of sexual violence to seek justice."

The hashtag #thisisnotconsent has appeared all over every social media site, alongside photos of women's underwear in all forms.

There is a huge amount of anger online regarding the trial, which is especially poignant following an emotional year for women. The Belfast rape trial in March also caused a backlash nationwide when all four rugby players involved in the incident were acquitted of rape.

The '#IBelieveHer' hashtag is also spreading throughout Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in solidarity with the Corkwoman.

Protests in Dublin and Cork will begin at 1pm tomorrow, the rally on O'Connell street will meet at the Spire. On Wednesday November 14, a Limerick rally will begin at the earlier time of 12.30pm, and the Waterford protest will take place at 3:30pm on Friday November 16.

Check out the Ruth Coppinger TD and ROSA – Socialist Feminist Movement Facebook event page for more information.

Feature image: girlcrew.com

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Asking For It is one of the most ground-breaking pieces of Irish literature to be published in a long time.

Since it hit shelves in 2015, Louise O'Neill's novel has been the catalyst in addressing rape culture in Ireland and giving sexual consent a vocal platform. 

For those unfamiliar with the plot, Asking For It follows Emma O'Donovan, a fifth year student from the fictional Ballinatoon in Cork, suffers a horrific gang-rape at the hands of her male friends, which is plastered across social media afterwards.

It's aim, as author Louise says herself, is to start conversations of consent, slut-shaming and sexual violence.

The book explores how Emma's family, friends, wider community and of course, how she herself, reacts to the rape and the ripple effects that that fateful night has on everyone in Ballinatoon. 

So, how did the book translate to the stage? 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Landmark Productions (@landmarkireland) on

Julie Kelleher came up with the idea to adapt the book for stage, a job which was taken on by Meadhbh McHugh in collaboration with director Annabelle Comyn under Landmark Productions.

And what an adaption it is.

It opens with Paul O’Mahony’s monolithic set, with it's fantastic use of glass panel buildings that transform into a bedroom, school, party and kitchen. 

Emma, played to perfection by Lauren Coe, is by no means a likeable character – she is a bully who belittles her friends.

Her girl group are well cast and fizz with chemistry, with a stand-out performance from Zoe (Venetia Bowe) who is harbouring a painful secret.

The dynamics of female friendship are explored as well as the teenage boys who are cringey in their attempts at overtly sexual banter.

Is this what being on the cusp of adulthood in 2010's Ireland is like? 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Sinéad McKenna’s lights show glimpses of writhing bodies at a house party along with Jack Phelan’s video images of girls in states of distress.

When Emma ends up in a room with the Football Captain, he forces sex upon her – all which happens off stage – with voice-overs of Emma thoughts narrating it. 

One of her thoughts is that if she moans, it will end quicker and sure he seems to be enjoying it. 

The gang rape itself which happens after is blurred out in a fog of alcohol and drugs, and the first act ends with Emma's parents and brother finding her, unconscious, blistered and bleeding on her doorstep.

She wakes up and sees the events of the night before on Facebook.

It is conveyed by a series of splintered images of naked limbs, with overlapping voices echoing things like ''great sesh'', ''she's a bitch'' ''she was asking for it.'

The second act is an agonisingly slow and claustrophobic build-up to a heart-wrenching crescendo.

The set closes in on a suffocating kitchen, streaked with rain, in which Emma is trapped – as are we as the audience watching her. 

It is one year since the sexual assault and we see how it slowly destroying Emma's family.

Mam, played by Ali White, is trying to hold it all together for her ''beautiful family'' but cracks are showing in her marriage to Dennis (Fran O'Connor) who has retreated from his daughter and cannot cope with the trauma she has suffered…and the whispers of the neighbours.

Emma loses her voice for most of this act, with voice-overs letting the audience in on her thoughts as she remains a prisoner in her own home, with no access to the outside world. 

She has to cope not only with her own forms of PTSD, but her toxic mother, absent father and brother Bryan, who is the only person that shows any real sympathy and support for her. 

The climax, when it comes, is like a valve releasing pent-up tension with lines that evoke audible gasps from the audience as well as sobs that could be heard around the theatre. 

Asking For It is not an easy watch – it is 2 hours and 40 minutes of raw dialogue, difficult questions and a searingly honest depiction of modern Irish society and family life.  

Tweets like these say it all:

''The stage adaption of Asking For It is SO IMPORTANT. I am in absolute bits. The whole thing is so real. THAT is what is being brushed under the rug for my generation.''

''‘They’re good boys really, this just got out of hand’ #AskingForIt in @AbbeyTheatre is powerful, heartbreaking & unapologetically intense. The audience sobbed silently in solidarity for the second half.''

It runs in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin from 9 – 24 November – please try go and see it, you will not regret it. 

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Louise O'Neill's novel Asking for it completely grasped the attention of the country last year.

Not only was the novel a shocking portrayal of the realities of the attitude towards women and sexual assault in Ireland, the novel hit too close to home for many who had experienced similar attitudes in their own lives. 

The book has since been adapted into an on-stage production, which sold out – but it has just being announced that fans of the heart-wrenching novel will have another opportunity to see it played out on stage. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Alina Carroll (@alinacarroll) on

Asking For It is now heading to the Abbey Theatre, Dublin for a strictly limited run.

The curtains will go up from 9th – 24th November, so clear your schedule. 

Tickets are on sale right now, so make sure to snap yours up ASAP. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Louise O' Neill (@oneilllou) on

The novel was adapted for the stage by Meadhbh McHugh and Annabelle Comyn.

Louise O'Neill herself said og the show: 'Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw on that stage. The first act was a whirl of youthful energy and raw sexuality, cut through with an undercurrent of crackling tension,' she told The Irish Examiner. 

'During the party scene, the music felt as if it was pulsating in my veins, my heart racing, and my throat closing up with dread. As the huge screen splintered into broken images, with Emma’s voice narrating the scene, I desperately wished for a way to save her from her inevitable fate. I could hear someone quietly sobbing, and jolted when I realised it was me.'

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Disney movies were a staple part of my childhood, and there was one in particular that made me dream of life under the sea. The Little Mermaid has always been one of my favourite Disney movies with its catchy soundtrack, the colourful setting, and Ariel- the determined and caring mermaid.

The original tale comes from 1837 when Hans Christian Andersen penned a gripping fairytale about a young mermaid who is willing to give up everything for the man she loves.

Fast forward to 2018 and Louise O’Neill has released her own adaption of the classic fairytale. Her twist on The Little Mermaid takes place under the waters of the Irish coast. We meet the teenage mermaid Gaia, who dreams of escaping to the surface, away from the clutches of her horrid father.

 

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The tale is similar to the Disney classic with Gaia falling for the handsome human boy and decides to give up her tail for legs, however, what West-Cork writer O’Neill does is trickle the tale with meaningful feminist messages.

It’s the fairytale every young woman needs to read. Gaia’s naivety shows us just how easily love can fool us. As kids, we fell for the dashing Prince Eric, but the male protagonist in this story will leave you feeling seasick.

 

A post shared by Louise O' Neill (@oneilllou) on

The Surface Breaks is dark and will make you feel uneasy at times, but that discomfort is necessary because it shines a light on the horrid issues women have to deal with today, including sexual assault and being disrespected solely because of our gender.

This retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's story is a thrilling read, and the powerful ending will leave you gasping for air

The Surface Breaks published by Scholastic is available for €12.99 at Dubray.

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Young Adult author Louise O’Neil has been called “an heir to Margret Atwood” and it does seem that her work will follow in the footsteps of one the literary world’s favourite female writers.

Variety have reported that Killer Content has acquired the rights to Louise’s novel Only Ever Yours. There are supposedly plans to develop the property as a film and TV series.

Her debut novel was originally released in 2014 and landed Louise the unofficial title of “the best YA fiction writer alive today” from The Guardian.

The dystopian novel follows the story of the young women of The School. This is a world where women exist solely for the pleasure of men and must fight to ensure their place in the top 16 rankings before they ‘graduate’ in order to ensure they don’t end up living as a concubine or a “chaste”.

Adrienne Becker of Killer Content said of the novel:

Only Ever Yours, while dystopian in genre, may be closer to today’s reality than adults recognize. Today’s young people struggle to define themselves on their own terms under the harsh glare of the information age Klieg lights.”

Louise, a native of West Cork, announced the news on twitter yesterday, joking that someone was throwing her a party on a yacht to celebrate.

Only Ever Yours won the Best Newcomer Award at the Irish Book Awards last year and this last week O’Neil celebrated the release of her latest novel, the much-discussed Asking For It.

The novel examines rape culture in a small town in Ireland which Louise says she started thinking about in 2012 when a story from a small American town caught her attention.

“I started to think about what would have happened if this case had occurred in an Irish context, in a small community in which the football team were local gods, where boys will be boys but where girls are expected to safeguard their virginity.”

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