By Clare Martin
Your pace quickens, your heart races. The headphones tucked over your ears are silent; you need to be able to hear any movement near you. Your hand grips your mobile, ready to dial.
This horrific routine is all too familiar for women and nonbinary people the world over. We’re taught it as children, before we can fully comprehend the systematic, misogynistic violence we’ll be subjected to for the rest of our lives. According to the Irish Times, more than half of Irish women avoid using public transport after dark out of fear for their own safety. It’s an exhausting existence, made worse when the blame is shifted from the perpetrators of such attacks to the victims themselves.
Intersectional feminist band M(h)aol—made up of Róisín Nic Ghearailt, Constance Keane, Jamie Hyland, Zoe Greenway, and Sean Nolan—speak to this experience on their powerful new single “Asking For It.” While the song was written a couple of years ago and initially due for release in May, the post-punk group shared the track early considering the ongoing conversation around violence against women and nonbinary people, especially in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard. The Irish outfit have long woven activism into their music. Their 2020 single “Laundries” highlights how the Catholic Church and the powers that be have abused women in Ireland for generations: “The shame of our secrets / the stain of those days.”
On M(h)aol’s latest release, low, droning guitar and insistent drums fill the air with a sense of sinister dread. The song pulses with righteous anger. Lead singer Nic Ghearailt sings with growing fury over the course of the track, “Was I asking for it?” The answer is a sharp, resounding no.
All proceeds from the song will be donated to Women’s Aid. Listen to “Asking For It” below or purchase it on their Bandcamp.