Feminism, to me, is a good idea with a bad image. I suppose I am an advocate for women’s rights and having the same opportunities as men. When I was growing up, my mother was a teacher, my father was a farmer. My mother was a very strong woman, and it was always a case of, ‘If you want to be the captain of a sports team or if you want to be the President of a country, then you have every chance of being it as a woman, the same as you would if you were a man’. I think that’s kind of for me what feminism is about — it’s about equal opportunity.
But it doesn’t mean that you should bump up the numbers of women in anything just because there seems to be a shortage, because sometimes there is a reason for the shortage. I think maybe there’s a lack of confidence in women to put themselves forward. I’ve seen it myself: you’d often have men that would be under-qualified to do a job, and they’d be sitting across the table from a woman that’s overqualified, and yet the man would put his hand up faster. I think that’s an innate instinct, not all the time, but, as a rule, men have that confidence in themselves to give it a go. Whereas women can sometimes doubt themselves and not put themselves forward.
Ultimately, for me, feminism is about freedom for women to be whoever they want to be and to achieve whatever goal that they’ve dreamed of achieving. But I would like to think that there should be a bit of feminism in everybody, men and women, because ultimately a man might grow up to have a daughter, and he will want equal opportunity for her.
I was a girl who grew up playing sport in a very much male-dominated environment. I played sport with my nails painted, wearing fake tan. I might defy the stereotype of what people perceived sports women to look like. In my career, I’ve often had people say, ‘You don’t look like a camogie player’, to which I’d often respond, ‘Well, can you enlighten me — what does a camogie player look like?’ I think it’s about educating people to treat everyone, regardless of gender, with respect.
For me, it’s about the freedom to choose whatever you want to be; it’s about offering opportunities to both. It’s about educating people and about the respect and treatment that we should have for each other. A lot of the time when I am asked am I a feminist, what I would say is: ‘Well, what does a feminist mean to you?’ If that person has this idea of a bra-burner, then they have a completely different idea of feminism to me. It’s about women playing a part and not getting their reward perhaps in equal measure, because, you know, we need to speak up for ourselves a little more; we need to put ourselves forward for those jobs; we need to support each other, instead of tearing each other down in our endeavour.
Sports contributor, presenter, and family coach for ‘Ireland’s Fittest Family’