My personal story
R: And I guess, yeah... kind of... I mean one of the other things I kind of found... one of those social things, I just don't know how to do it properly here. Because in Ireland I think it is also very 'social' like you're supposed to know a lot about people around you. That kind of gossiping. I don't know about gossiping, I think it is more kind of like 'talking about your 'shared social networks' or whatever. I guess because I moved a lot, ‘cause I moved here and then I changed schools a bunch, I wasn't very good at that because I remember my ex-boyfriends mother and sister who had like lived in Dublin the whole of their lives, and they were very different from me and more kind of like, just like, much more kind of - what's it? - 'normal', but ... just like kind of, you know... I think are much more representative almost of Ireland than I feel like I am. But, but like kind of... I remember being in his house for a family event and the men went outside and talked about - whatever that was, like football or something - and the women were sat at the kitchen table and started talking about the various people they knew and how so and so and ‘didn't she have a daughter?’, and... you know, that kind of thing, you know. And I was sitting there and just kind of like: ‘I didn't know any of the people they were talking about and I couldn't kind of like participate. So I ended up sitting in a kind of little TV room with his little brother and like watching cartoons and it was kind of like one of those things where: 'Wait a minute, I shouldn't be sitting with the kids anymore. I'm supposed to go in and talk about the stuff'. And I would have happily done it, but I can’t, you know. That was one of those things I always found difficult. Like trying to, trying to find kind of a similar wavelength to his mum and sister. It was interesting actually because it was just like, things like when he would go and buy me presents, they'd give him advice so I remember once he went on holiday to America where he has an uncle and he came back with this bottle of perfume that was really expensive and it was horrible, I hate perfume. But like his granny and his sister had been there telling: 'oh, girls love this!' and you know: 'it kind of like a really good present' and I was kind of like going: 'oh, it is lovely...'. It was one of those things where there was this weird difference, I always felt between me and them, kind of like... I don't know. Just things that kind of I felt that maybe they fit the stereotype better than I did but I always found it kind of interesting that I was trying to try to catch up with it and couldn't quite sort of make it happen or something. But... yeah, sometimes I did get on with the sister because there were things like TV shows and music. Stuff like that, that was kind of like, more like, you know, people of our age at the time were watching that kind of thing. Where it's like I could share that kind of thing with her. Whereas there was things I grew up in that I really couldn't share in. It was as if I wasn't from the same [not understandable word] in Dublin. Even if I would have grown up all my life in Ireland, I'm from town A and they're from town B, so it was all the people and the granny and her aunts, who like sort of lived all in the same sort of general area near that town. And I was kind of like: 'you know, there was no way like I could have known all these people. But, you know, I was just remembered thinking that one day I was sitting there with his little brother, watching cartoons, then kind of going: 'I feel like I'm not meant to be here'. I meant to be fulfilling a different role. But I just can't quite manage it or something.
R: I feel like stereotypes can also be so different for different parts of the countries. It is kind of like, if I don't have any local contacts, and of course class differences make a big difference. Which is actually what might explain - not explain, but could contribute to - the thing I mentioned earlier about my ex-boyfriends’ mother and sister. I mean they weren't... he put it to me once that, when he was born, his family was working class and by the time his little brother was born, eight or nine years later, they were middle class, but just to say that this is interesting kind of difference again because I guess like, I think my family has been middle class all my life and also kind of bizarre because my family is a kind of travelling middle class because my dad wasn't from here, so it was all kind of weird lifestyle. I remember a sort of difference in any case in that they were a kind of newly middle class and that was... in some ways I could see how some of those things maybe tight into that kind of thing...
I: Are there still a lot of class differences in the Irish society?
R: I don't think it is as much a class society as much as England is, but I think, I mean, it is also one of those things where class isn't really just about income really, it is about kind of other social norms. And like, if you end up with more money by the time you're older, it is like all those norms that you absorbed that transfer across. I think class is not the right kind of word anymore. I think there are different things, like 'the North and South side' kind of thing in Dublin (in Ireland the South side of Dublin is associated with rich people and the North side with poor people). I had a geography teacher when I went to school in the South side of Dublin and he said he'd actually done a study about the North and South side of Dublin. If you looked at it like from a geographical kind of thing where it is actually divided and like a socioeconomic kind of thing income wise, it just didn't exist. It is totally in the minds of Dubliners and Irish people. It's like totally, it is not a real thing. In other words, it is a very real thing! But it was just interesting because I think there is kind of definitely an atmosphere like on the South side it is kind of very privileged and very moneyed and I find it difficult all the time. And my ex-boyfriend he was from the North side, suburbs but still, North side or even West side, I'm not sure, and it was interesting because when we went to the theatre on the South side one time, he just kept going: 'oh, this is beautiful, this is awesome! The South side is like paradise really!' and I was like: 'No, it is snotty and full of horrible people!'. It was interesting to see those differences, such different views because I had spent so much time there with the teenage population over there which I guess is not the best way to create an impression of that, because again teenagers are not the best, not the nicest people. And it was really, really weird to see that kind of a difference. And I don't know if that was about.... it was really strange to see that kind of, I don't know, if it was a gender difference or just me and him difference or like a class... I don't know what it was but it was just kind of interesting... it is a very nice area of Dublin, but to me it was just I saw, to me I look at it and I see entitlement and smog people and lots of money, but not so satisfied, lots of money, that just irritates me and I'm under no illusion that I'm not privileged myself but, at the same time, it's like of I'm kind of aware of how lucky I am. Or maybe not aware enough, but like I have some sense that I am luckier in a lot of things that I have been able to do in my life and that has nothing to do with me, it's about what my parents were able to give me and, you know, what people around were able to kind of let me... you know, it is sort of dependent on other people.
I: You think there is a difference between how women are treated in the working class and the middle class?
R: I mean I think it is interesting, because again I'm thinking about me ex-boyfriend. He's kind of like, I guess it is one of the Irish families I knew the best as well. When you're a teenager you don't know your friends families that much. But, oh, I have another friend actually. I'm thinking about their mothers and... I think there is kind of the thing where I remember my ex-boyfriend towards the granny, was kind of like really the intense matriarch of the family. You know, she did a lot of the work for it. Now I can't remember if she actually worked for money? I guess she must have actually worked for money, and his granddad did as well but it was one of those things, you know, where granny is LAW. It is one of those things... I remember him saying when I first met his grandmother, it was kind of like: 'my grandmother liked you so now you're IN! Now you're in with the dog, like!'. So, she gave you the nod of approval, so you're good now. But like his granddad had also liked me and that was fine but it wasn't the same kind of thing. So there was this kind of like, his granny was just really powerful in that family. What she said went, you know. But then I have a friend now...
I: A type of matriarchy?
R: Yeah, the kind of thing where it was just: Granny is the strong one and she was like a really strong women, and that, what she said went in the house, and if she said this was the right thing to do... you know what I mean, so that was kind of interesting. But then I had a friend when I was in school as well and I think her parents, I think, how she lived was that she was partially funded by the council and that kind of thing. Her mum worked a lot but her dad was kind of, I think he was a bit of an alcoholic and he kind of didn't really contribute much to the house and then he accidentally burned it down at one point. And that kind of thing was, you know, her mum again was doing a lot of the work and kind of, but I don't know if she was 'law' the same way.
I: That she was?
R: The LAW, because with my ex-boyfriend she's kind of like, I was referring to what she was in her kind of family. It was more kind of like she did all the work and I don't know if she got as much of the control and it was kind of quite difficult for her and I remember that relationship with her and my friend’s father being quite a difficult one and kind of very sort of up and down and kind of volatile at times. But I haven't been in contact with them for a while, so I don't really know. So, I don't know, I'm trying to think now. You know the South side, it is as well the same thing. I don't think that many people's mum's worked. I get the impression that South side is full of sort of upper class 'yummy mummy's', you know, drive big fancy cars and just have lots of kids again - because they can afford them now - so, they kind of wander around, being well dressed ladies who lunch, or something like that. It was interesting as well, because again, my ex-boyfriends family, when his parents sort of when his dad earned enough so that he can support the middle class, the first thing that happened was that his mum stopped working! Like when he was little he spend a lot of time with his mother’s mum, like babysitting him because his mum was working and by the time his little brother was born, he was to stay with his mum and I think that is an interesting shift, and it was really strange because it was one of those things where it was like: she was very decorating the house. Like I felt she was bored, but she didn't want to work, so. So, it is kind of strange that she would choose to be taken care of. You know. And she kind of enjoyed the idea of having the luxury of not having to work but, at the same time, I think she's bored. She used to go down to like the local shopping centre just to have coffee, for like, no reason, or to meet up with somebody. It is kind of like, you know, slightly pointless things that she did just to fill time. I don't know, I would never have said that to her, but it was one of those ways were it was kind of like: I can't imagine ever being happy like that. And to me, like my mum has worked all my life which is kind of, I don't know, because those are both kind of middle class examples in a way. So that once you get the luxury of not working...
I: So for her, because she moved up the social ladder, from working class to middle class, she took it sort of a... it was an outward towards the rest of the world that: now we are middle class because I don't even have to earn my own money.
R: Yes, yes, that is my understanding. Just from things he said to me - I can't remember exactly what exactly - I think he said as much to me. It was one of those things where like his mum didn't really like working so it was one of those things where like... she didn't like working so his dad took pride into providing to the family. I think that is sort of a male stereotype of thing. I think his dad also said some very interesting things like... I remember talking to me ex-boyfriend a lot about gender at one point and he was talking about his dad kind of having said to him at various points that it used to be easier to be a men or something like that. That kind of thing. I think his dad was quite an old fashioned kind of guy, that he liked - not much or anything, his dad was quite lovely and like a sensitive and sweet kind of guy - but at the same time those masculine roles were very important to him: to be able to take care of his family and that kind of thing for him and he found it more difficult now that you're kind of supposed to - I don't know - kind of let women take care of themselves or something like that and kind of like he found that whole shift towards female empowerment difficult. And not so much, not like, you know, I don't think... maybe he felt a bit lost, by that kind of thing.
I: And yet, he did not choose to do that in his relationship because his wife became more dependent on him by choosing not to go to work.
R: Yeah, that was interesting. Their family was quite traditional in that way... But, at the same time, his dad still felt that sort of impact from the whole thing. I think it might have been with his sister more than like... He said his little brother was his mum’s favourite because he was the baby and then the sister was his dad's favourite because she was the girl, and I think it was one of those things where I think maybe that the dad found it harder to kind of take care in the way that he felt fathers are supposed to. I mean she was quite independent. His sister was actually quite interesting. I didn't know her very well but for me she was quite interesting because she was like that independent kind of person, also what I quite consider a stereotypical girl in a way. I don't know, that to me maybe says, maybe it's a class thing, because the stereotypical kind of middle class girl is a bit more demure even, like more independent like would probably go to university and like all do all those other things independently. But, I mean, his sister also went to university. But as far as different career goes and plan to work, but, at the same time, and somehow also more like me. That was really strange because the sister was definitely planning to like, she was going to be a nurse and she was going, she would definitely get married and have kids and all that kind of thing. But in the same way she's kind of - she's a force to be reckoned with! When she gets angry, it's scary. I remember when she got annoyed about something when I was there once and she just came in and got really annoyed with my ex-boyfriend and I was like... I thought: ‘oh God, this is so scary!'. Like, she was probably terrified when she was angry, you know what I mean? In that way really strong. I felt that was maybe a class, I don't know maybe a city like - not Dublin - but maybe like a sort of Dublin class. Like out here (outside of Dublin) I don't think it would be quite the same kind of thing. I think it is also a sort of - from her granny as well - sort of an assurance, she felt very confident of herself. Like when you have more rural people, who are maybe not as well off, there is kind of a bit more, you know, looking down kind of thing. But in the city that will happen as well, but I think it is more of like an intense pride. Because again, if you're like this, if you're not doing well, you know your social group is smaller so you don't have that same kind of thing where you can created that sense of pride. Whereas in the city, if you came from working class roots and you have pride, they brought it up with them. It is an intense sort of pride, kind of what she gets from her granny I guess. That friend I had in school that I was talking about earlier, they would have been from a town just down the road, so I don't know. Talking about that granny being a really strong woman, that is kind of an archetype, like North Dublin, working class women, through the ages, there were definitely women who were treated worse but there was a lot of, you know, strong women who were law in their house. It was one of those things that depend as well, like people, like his granddad was a kind of 'mousy good man', who found a big strong woman and then there was... that's the kind of archetype that kind of exist there and I think it was kind of I don't know, maybe stereotype as well. But like it definitely exists!
I: Thank you!
Gender did matter