‘It’s really only when you try explaining The Room of Shame to your lesbian friends that you realise how mad it is’

Sound Off: Claire Hennessy, writer

Claire Hennessy: “You go in and you ask for the morning-after pill and the nice man behind the counter goes a curious shade of eggshell or vanilla.”

Claire Hennessy: “You go in and you ask for the morning-after pill and the nice man behind the counter goes a curious shade of eggshell or vanilla.”

 

It’s really only when you try explaining The Room of Shame to your lesbian friends that you realise how mad it is.

“So, like, you go in, you ask for the morning-after pill,” I say, completely unfazed by the prospect of sharing this – as I am when it happens. I’m rubbish at understanding the shame that is supposed to overwhelm you, how you should slink in, head down – it’s like buying condoms. You’re practically strutting in, really, aren’t you? “Lads, I got laid,” is what you’re saying. (Don’t do the fist-pump, not yet.)

But as happens so often, I forget: we live in Ireland. So you go in and you ask for the morning-after pill and the nice man behind the counter goes a curious shade of eggshell or vanilla (you don’t have a paint chart to compare it to) – “and then the Room of Shame!” I declare. “Where you wait ’til the nice lady pharmacist is available.”

That consultation room is not always the Room of Shame but becomes so when you get the frowns and the faces and the reminders that the morning-after pill is not “reliable regular contraception” (in other news: water is wet). Lads, the morning-after pill more often than not brings on an early (and if you’re me, horrendous) period. Who in their right mind would use that as “a form of contraception”? It’s like those who think abortion-as-contraception makes sense (have you ever owned a uterus, ever?).

At least now you can get it over-the-counter though, versus the prescription that was still needed (and sometimes tricky to get) when I was in college. At least now there’s only one judgemental human you need to go through before you behave in an incredibly responsible way about your reproductive system.

Claire Hennessy is shortlisted for a Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Award in the Dept51@Eason Teen / Young Adult Book of the Year category for her book Like Other Girls

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