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Just how does Santa deliver all his presents in one night?

(First published in the Herald on 19 December 2012.)

It’s a question as old as Christmas itself: how does Santa deliver
presents to every child on the planet in just one night? Many people
have developed theories but only Santa and his elves know for sure. Continue Reading →

Our Lives, Our Choice

When I couldn’t have a baby, people said, “be thankful for what you’ve got”, “focus on the good things in your life”, “maybe God didn’t want you to have a baby”. The Irish public health service doesn’t offer any fertility treatment and no health insurer covers private treatment.

The health service was happy to diagnose my medical condition, it just wouldn’t treat it. Thankfully our insurance paid for the procedure that fixed my husband’s infertility but mine was something I’d just have to accept or pay for myself. Continue Reading →

A Return to Burnout Britain?

Are you happy with your work-life balance? Most of us are according to the government’s Work Life Balance Employee Survey. Over half of UK employers now offer flexible working hours and the vast majority of employees report that this improves workplace morale. However, when more than half of those on flexible hours feel they’ve had to compromise (with lower pay, longer hours, blurring of boundaries between work and home), is this emerging culture actually improving our lives? Continue Reading →

How to Survive a Home Renovation

“If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” William Morris Continue Reading →

Bystander Intervention in Rape Culture

Would you intervene if you witnessed a sexual assault? Would you call the police if you felt unable or unwilling to tackle the perpetrator?

A video has emerged showing hundreds of people standing and watching while an incapacitated woman was gang raped on a beach in Florida during spring break celebrations last month. The police officer investigating the incident said the footage was the “most disgusting, sickening thing” he had ever seen.

“There’s hundreds, hundreds of people standing there – watching, looking, seeing, hearing what’s going on. And yet our culture and our society and our young people have got to the point where obviously this is acceptable somewhere.” Continue Reading →

But what about the men?

“A truly equal world,” wrote Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in her bestseller, Lean In, “would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes.”

A common accusation levelled at feminism is that men and women are equal now so any gains that women make would come at the expense of men. Women can vote, they have access to equal pay in law, they can rise to the top of any profession, what more could they want? Continue Reading →

Let’s Talk About Infertility

Nobody expects to be in for the long haul when they start trying for a baby. It is supposed to be a time of great hope and anticipation, when you start planning your new lives together. It is true that having a baby changes your life, but not having one changes it so much more. Sadly, this is something that more than one in six couples will find out. Continue Reading →

The Boyfriend

We’ve had their jeans and now their coats have infiltrated our wardrobes. I’ve always been a casual girl so when Chelsea boots, slouchy jumpers and baggy coats are considered the height of fashion, I am in my comfortable, effortless element. I can get dressed in five minutes (it never takes me more) and actually look like I’ve made an effort. Just you wait until no makeup and messy hair comes back, I’ll look like I’ve come straight off the catwalk.

So, boyfriend coats. I admired them last winter but, as I’d taken out a mortgage to buy an All Saints Monument coat the previous year, I had to wear that coat every bloody day for two years and bide my time.  Continue Reading →

Are you a feminist?

Are you a feminist?

If you’ve paused to contemplate your answer, then here are a couple of questions that might help you clarify your position.

Do you think that men and women should be treated equally?

Do you think that sexism prevents this?

If you have answered yes to both questions then congratulations, you are a feminist! Continue Reading →

Making it work: motherhood and career

Imagine a “female Paradise on earth”, where women succeed alongside men, where women have equal access to the most senior positions and where gender segregation is a thing of the past. That Paradise is right here, right now according to Alison Wolf, author of ‘The XX Factor: How Working Women are Creating a New Society’, but only if you are a high earner.

About 15-20% of women in developed countries fall in this group, which combines higher education, good incomes and prestigious occupations. However, in order to facilitate the success of these women, there has been an increased need for lower-paid jobs in the areas of childminding, cleaning and caring. It is the other 80% of women that fill these and other traditionally female roles and for them, argues Wolf, not a lot has changed in the last forty years. Continue Reading →