It's Rose of Tralee week again. The island of Ireland has gone into 'lovely girls' overdrive as young, available women of Irish origin compete for the Rose crown.
It's not a beauty contest, per se, although value is placed on what lovely frocks the lovely girls wear and how they carry themselves. You won't see a fat rose grace the stage of the dome.
You won't see anything other that a beautifully groomed young woman in formal attire looking as lovely as she possibly can. and, worst of all, doing a "party piece" - to show that not only is she a lovely girl she can also do a jig or sing a song about her mother country or play a recorder.
The winning rose will of course spend a year smiling and wearing a crown and sash and doing good works.
(We'll not even get into how she needs a male escort to help make everything look above board and make sure no harm comes to her.)
If I have not made it clear enough, I detest the Rose of Tralee and all it stands for. I hate the dated, sexist, old country Irish-ism of it al.
I hate that we are fawning over it in a week when two Irish women publicly shared their trip to England to secure an abortion because they are not allowed to have one in their own country.
I hate that we went one day from being a country that raged about how terribly awfully Ireland treats women - and how it has always treated women as second class citizens who wouldn't know what to do with themselves if their lives depended on it - (Which resulted, of course, in the case of Savita Halappanavar -who died when doctors refused to terminate her doomed pregnancy, even when sepsis was setting in.) to a country that welcomed the annual pageant and even got excited about it.
Now, I'm not a total arse. I get that we can poke fun at it. I get that we can watch it with disdain and even get a laugh out of it - but we shouldn't have to.
We shouldn't want to.
If we are to really forward the cause of women in Ireland - we shouldn't be accepting the Rose of Tralee as something wholesome and intrinsically Irish and "just a bit of fun".
It's not just a bit of fun. Not when women are still fighting for their rights in this country. Not when women are still dying because they don't have autonomy over their own bodies.
Otherwise, it just becomes an international joke. A celebration of our backwardness. A public week long celebration of women as objects - as trophies who entertain with their party pieces and who look lovely in satin with their hair pinned to the top of their head - like all good girls should.
I suppose at least on Monday night we had one joyous reprieve when the Sydney Rose, called out Ireland on our attitude to reproductive health - stating it was time to repeal the eighth amendment.
I was expecting the dome to descend into silence - for tumbleweed to rattle across the stage and for poor Daithi to take a full on conniption on an epic scale.
But there was applause - and I wondered if we were finally, albeit, very slowly moving in the right direction.
Still, if the women of Ireland are to have equality, parity, respect and all we deserve, the Rose of Tralee must be allowed to wilt and die.
Why Skirting the Issue?
For 14 years I wrote my Skirting the Issue column for the Derry Journal each Friday - I may have moved on, but I still have opinions!