The 2021 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Doctors David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian for their “discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch.”
They might have been pipped for that prize had SDLP MLA Pat Catney been quicker in revealing his discovery that “some men experience menstruation.” He made this ground-breaking research public when he explained his rationale for the Period Products (Free Provision) Bill which he is sponsoring in Stormont.
The legislation is remarkable – or ought to be if we were still living in anything resembling a sane society – for containing not one reference to females; women or girls, since humanity has apparently laboured under the misapprehension for millennia that women and girls are the only people who do actually have periods as part of their biological cycle.
The proposer in January of the equivalent Bill in the Seanad, Fianna Fáil Senator Lorraine Clifford Lee, must be kicking herself that her text merely suggested that it apply to “everyone.” She did however introduce the Bill by claiming that it was a “fitting tribute to the women, girls and trans people of Ireland.”
In seconding the proposal, Senator Fiona O’Loughlin quoted Gloria Steinem “who once said that the world would be a very different place if men had periods.” No doubt it would, but they don’t. Indeed, the rest of the debate in the Seanad was relatively sensible and none of the speakers obviously seriously believe that the provision of such products is a matter for males.
Which leads one to the conclusion that all the strange elisions and distortions of language are nothing more than lame attempts to signal that the proposers are somehow pushing out the envelope of radicalism. Which when it comes to Fianna Fáil Senators and SDLP MLAs is worthy of a hearty guffaw