First years from Trinity’s debating societies enjoyed success at this year’s Cork IV, with two first-year speakers from the College Historical Society (The Hist), Meg Beare and Lauren McLaughlin, winning the competition’s novice final, speaking as opening opposition on the motion that ‘This House Would Sleep with their Boss’. Three other fresher teams from Trinity also made the final – the first time in recent years that a final has been made up solely of teams from one university.
Blánáid Ní Bhraonáin and Conn McCarrick of the Hist spoke in first in opening government, with Joe Molloy and Doireann O’Brien of the University Philosophical Society (Phil) speaking in closing government, and Anna Kylkilahti and Amy O’Sullivan of the Phil wrapping up the debate as closing opposition.
Opening the case for the proposition side, Ní Bhraonáin of the Hist described any women who would sleep with her boss as “very ambitious” and someone who is deserving of a promotion but has been held back over the years because of the patriarchy.
Speaking first for the opposition, Beare criticised the idea, asserting that “any case in which someone who has power over another person gives the impression they’ll get a promotion [for sleeping with them]… is harassment.” Sleeping with the boss means “colleagues will no longer respect [the employee]” and that she would “lose [her] social status”. She concluded by challenging anyone present to “look me in the eye and tell me that, even as a feminist, you wouldn’t judge someone for sleeping with their boss.”
The second opposition spokesperson, Lauren McLoughlin, raised the issue of consent, asserting that “consent does not exist if you’re doing this because you need the money.” She said that any organisation where a woman would feel compelled to sleep with their boss “is not an organisation I want to work for”.
Up first for the Phil, Molloy said that “feminism is about women being free… and doing what they want to do.” “Ultimately it is our free choice to do this,” he said. “If we get more utility from this then we should do it.” Also speaking for the Phil, Anna Kylkilahti criticised the idea as “basically prostitution”, saying that “authority is based on respect and it is earned.”
Closing the debate for the proposition side, Doireann O’Brien maintained that “as independent women we shouldn’t feel pressure to conform [to the culture] of institutions that oppress us.” She repeated that “feminism is about giving women the ability to make free and autonomous choices.” Summarising the case for the opposition and the debate as a whole, Amy O’Sullivan told audience members that “the motion works against everything women have worked for in the workplace” and warned that “even if you feel you deserve to get the job, many others don’t.”