A CORK woman said her decision to stand alone on Patrick Street in her underwear, with her mouth taped and ‘this is not consent’ written all over her body, was prompted by a desire to encourage people to listen to each other rather than endlessly argue their own points.
Four days after hundreds turned out in the city centre to chant and march to the courthouse on Anglesea Street, Jena Keating chose to let her silence be interpreted by bystanders as they wished.
Underwear and consent are in the news since controversial comments made by a defence barrister in a Cork trial sparked international furore.
“I think we get so caught up in talking sometimes that we forget that nobody listens half the time,” Jena told the Evening Echo.
“We are all so obsessed with getting our point across, so when does it come to the point of listening?
“I decided to do a peaceful, silent protest where it was just myself standing alone.”
The Midleton woman was unprepared for how much reaction her protest would provoke. In the hour that she was there, dozens of people spoke to and hugged her.
“It was amazing, the people on the street were fabulous,” Jena said. “I didn’t expect that much kindness, people of all ages were coming up to me.
“One woman in her 70s or 80s had a child with her, first the child came over and gave me a hug and then she did. It was crazy, people jumped into my arms. We had a massive group hug with people crying on me and I was crying too, it was crazy.
“I think it was people’s emotions finally opening up. We suppress them so much that we forget they are there.
“Everyone who came up thanked me, either for themselves or for their daughters or nieces or for everyone.”
When the clip of her protest was shared online, there was some negative reaction but she was contacted by many to express their admiration for her act and share their own stories.
Jena, who describes herself as a creative expressionist, emphasised that her stance was on behalf of all victims of sexual violence.