If you have found yourself a little uncomfortable with the snide comments and dark chuckles surrounding the two women who were detained returning from Dubai, you are not alone.
Last Friday, the news broke of two women who had arrived back from Dubai and refused to enter the quarantine hotel. The new Covid-19 legislation was announced just one day before they left for Dubai and the hotel stay costs €2,500 per person. Claiming they had not known about the new legislation when they left for Dubai and could not afford it, both women were remanded in custody for breaching the Health Act.
As time passed, it emerged that the two friends had left for Dubai just a few days prior for a trip that had been a “gift”. The intention flying was to have breast enhancement surgery, though neither woman went ahead with the procedure.
I am not saying they shouldn’t have to quarantine or that there should be one rule for some and another for others, but the circus that has surrounded both women should make you uncomfortable.
We like to make a sport of young women failing. They have quickly become dubbed “The Dubai Two”, following on from the equally breathless fervour surrounding the Peru Two in 2013. But these two women are not accused of attempting to smuggle eleven kilos of cocaine into Peru, as Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid were.
They have performed no higher crime than not paying enough attention to the (frequently changing) travel guidelines and being unable to pay the €2,500 expense outright. It’s worth noting here that prior to leaving Dubai, they were informed of the quarantine hotels and had agreed to pay the charge in instalments, but once they landed they were told they need to pay it immediately and in full.
And yet both women now know what it’s like to spend a night in Mountjoy Prison. Their names are out there, their addresses. Their entire neighbourhood is whispering about their parenting skills. The teachers at their children’s school, the person who serves them in the local shop, their acquaintances, potential employers.
It was recently made public that Dublin stock brokers Davy had been fined a whopping €4.13 million for regulatory breaches by their own staff members. In 2017, 16 employees, including a group of senior executives, came together to buy bonds from a client, who did not know who the buyers were. They essentially pretended to be unbiased middlemen in a sale to themselves in order to increase their personal wealth.
They then gave “misleading” information to the Central Bank when the regulatory body began to investigate and lived with complete anonymity for years until the story broke last month. So where are their names? Does the person who serves them in the local shop know of their greed? The short answer is no because corporate greed is nowhere near as sexy as two women going to Dubai for cosmetic surgery, is it?
And don’t even get me started on the “boob job” angle. I can only imagine the clamour around the courtroom when the judge said those words, “boob job”.
We legislate women’s bodies, demand an ever-changing, ever more challenging physical standard that even the Kardashians, the vanguards of the current curvacious preferred body type, can’t even keep up with. We demand perfection and then we mock those who strive for it. We’re embarrassed by their zealousness, by their shameful attempts to fit in. And yet, when was the last time you saw a pair of breasts on TV that have clearly fed a child, breasts that couldn’t be described as perky, or symmetrical, or not there at all instead replaced with scar tissue?
We set so many standards for women. You should work on your body, but not too hard. You can have surgery to enhance but God forbid it’s noticeable. After having a baby you should “bounce back”, focusing on yourself while giving all of your attention to your children. We ask women to walk this thin, wobbling tightrope and when they fall off it we point and laugh, have a chuckle amongst our friends, crack a snide joke on Twitter.
I understand they broke the law and they should be held accountable for that. But I don’t think the public’s verdict fits the crime, and that’s on us.