Mary Kenny and the Women’s Liberation Movement

Published in Issue 6 (November/December 2015), Letters, Volume 23

Sir,—Mary Kenny is right that there were women strongly opposed to serving on juries. Throughout the life of the 1937 Juries Act only two women applied to serve (they were objected to and did not serve). The morning after the judgement was announced in the Supreme Court, I received a phone call from a woman in a state of hysterical rage, shouting that I had no right to make her sit on a jury and she would never do so. I was gentle with her because I recognised fear when I heard it. Many women then—and, indeed, now—were content with their third-rate status. They knew their place; nothing serious was expected of them. The Women’s Liberation Movement was asking for equality and freedom for women, but it also asked women to take their rightful place as equals and to accept the obligations this placed upon them. It asked that women be given choices that they had never had to make and this terrified some women. Happily, the vast majority of women rose to the challenge and the results are being experienced in our society every day—women presidents, women attorneys general, women newspaper editors, etc., etc. A long way still to go but I have no doubt but that we will get there.—Yours etc.,

MÁIRÍN de BURCA

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