I am a woman. I have periods. I was pregnant. I breastfed. I don’t want much other than equal rights and opportunities to use words that describe me.
But in the latest salvo against the female sex, apparently wanting to be called a mother or a breast feeder or a woman is bigotry.
One of the most heinous examples of the new trend in charities and companies attempting to score politically correct points at the expense of their core audience came earlier this week when Sands, a stillbirth and neo-natal death charity, tweeted about dealing with the death of a baby: ‘Often the focus of support and comfort is on the birthing parent…’ when what they should have said was mothers. MOTHERS. The charity later apologised.
Tampax meanwhile tweeted out an advert telling us we needed to: ‘Celebrate the diversity of all people who bleed.’ Do we really need to celebrate periods in an inclusive way?
In just the last few months we have seen; JK Rowling have her books set on fire because she is a ‘Terf’, a Ted Talks series for females change the word women to womxn, the Irish version of the NHS put out a leaflet about cervical smears which talked about transwomen, transmen and ‘people with a cervix’ but not women and the Scottish Lib Dems adopting a definition of transphobia which forbids referring to a biological fact. In the meantime, a colleague was sent a press release advertising products for ‘menstruators’ while a writer was told to stop using the word ‘female’ in her book reviews because it has, ‘pejorative connotations’.
This only happens to words about women. Man hasn’t been changed to mxn, ‘people with a penis’ has not been used on posters about prostate cancer and no one says the word male has a ‘pejorative connotations’.
Yet, when a female dares says anything against these erasures of our womanhood, they are labelled hateful murderous transphobes. We are in 2020, its more than 100 years since we got the vote, we’ve had two female Prime Ministers, and yet people are still suspicious of what women say. Even so-called liberals. In today’s age, especially so-called liberals.
The movement against women has mainly taken place on the margins but now its crept into the mainstream and can be seen in every chemist. There are some who might say that in the list of things women have to worry about – sex assault, job inequality, general misogyny – woke companies attempting to be inclusive with words should be the last of our worries. That may be so but that doesn’t mean we should stop worrying about them.
It is just two years since the #MeToo movement exploded when it emerged even virtue-signalling Democrat-supporting men in Hollywood were prone to sex assault and rape. And where are the people who pledged then that they would stand up for women? They are the ones pointing the fingers and calling us hysterical witches and bigots. Sometimes it feels like we haven’t moved on from the Middle Ages. These are just new ways of telling us to, ‘Keep quiet woman! If you don’t shut up, I will make you shut up.’ I know I will get hate messages for writing this story; the extremists will be making my point for me.
There is no point in having ‘inclusive words’ if they which offend the people they are meant to be aimed at. That is the very opposite of inclusive. Women don’t want their word to be changed to womxn. The word is broad enough that it should already include everyone who already considers themself a female, whether they have a period, a cervix or breasts or not.
Women don’t want to be called menstruators; they don’t want to be defined by whether they bleed once a month. In some cultures having your period means you are dirty; women don’t want to be called something that for many is a source of shame, discomfort and bullying.
Women do, however, want to be told they had a cervix. The charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust found that 44 per cent of women did not know what a cervix is so it stands to reason that if you are trying to get people to have a smear, you have to spell out that they need one. The term, ‘people with a cervix’ means nothing if you don’t know you are a person with a cervix. This is where political correctness becomes dangerous and it is genuinely scandalous.
And women do want to be called mothers. For many of us it is a key and life changing moment in our lives. The word encompasses both the joy and the pain of being a female parent.
But how dare we complain about these things? The Ted Talks company made clear its distinct distaste for females – or at least majority females – when it eventually reluctantly took the X out of its supposedly pro-women talk series. This was because some of those who Ted claimed weren’t covered by the word woman (including natal women of colour) said that actually, they were women and it was offensive to claim they weren’t.
The tangled knots Ted found themselves in is vaguely amusing but the statement they put out announcing their change was not; it dripped with disdain for women. ‘Although some of our speakers and community have told us they feel more included and welcome through our use of womxn, we have heard from other trans people, non-binary people and women of colour who do not feel this way,’ they said before going on to abuse others who had not agreed with the term. ‘The invasive conversation we have witnessed from public figures, sensational journalists and others who want to sow hatred, fear and division has only strengthened our resolve to stand in solidarity and allyship.’ No woman needs allies like these, how dare they pretend to be?
The saddest thing for me is that this extremism, often driven by people who are neither trans nor female, divides women from transwomen and transmen when they want the same thing; safety and respect.
Transwoman Dr Debbie Hayton has written movingly about how trans people like her just want to get on with their lives without usurping women’s rights. Buck Angel, who transitioned to become a man 25 years ago, tells me: ‘This new language situation is hurting more than helping. There is a lot of anger that is coming from all of this; it is not a good thing. The majority of us can see that we can make this work by co-existing but there are some people who have been socialised as males and are refusing to listen to women.
‘I find it hurtful because they don’t seem to want to understand that women have been fighting for their rights for centuries. If they had more compassion, they would understand why women are saying what they are saying.’
The erasure of words which depict and describe femaleness – particularly from so-called woke organisations who say they are on our side – undermines everything women have ever fought for. They need to start listening to us.
Photo credit: Amnesty International