The Wolf of Masculinity is Dressed Up in the Sheep’s Clothing of Gender Ideology; Progressiveness is Now an Exercise in Destructive Male Entitlement
I have previously written about the debate surrounding self-ID and gender identity here — at which time it seemed everybody had reached an ideological impasse. There was a very tangible atmosphere of vitriol, and it seemed like something would have to give. That was 6 months ago, and nothing has budged. Except, there has been a notable movement towards a new paradigm of normalised absurdism, with a increasingly noticeable and bitterly unpleasant masculine undercurrent to it. That is to say, the context of the debate has shifted so that what was once considered a farcical outlier in terms of intellectual merit is now the starting point.
“This is the new normal, and if you disagree with me, you are a cunt”.
Many articles have explored the issues and concerns surrounding gender self-ID, radical feminism, the concept of transgenderism, the rights of natal women and transwomen, and the philosophical underpinnings of said debate(s). This shows how expansive the subject matter now is. Women in particular have been writing about this for decades, but their concerns were often just consigned to the dustbin of hyperbole.
Take Julie Bindel for instance. Bindel wrote about the underlying worries of transgender ideology all the way back in 2004. Similarly, Janice Raymond’s The Transsexual Empire is still a talking point almost 40 years later.
This topic is nothing new, and it has been raised by women for many years as a point of concern, with a specific focus on what transgenderism means for the concept of “woman”, and subsequently, what “real world” implications this might have for women as a sex-class.
This essay will address the absolutely bizarre context within which the gender debate is now taking place, and what this consequently means for the aforementioned concept of, and implications for, women. What this means is that - and I will say this explicitly — this is a critique of a particularly malicious and rancorous strand of male-driven transactivist ideology that has developed as a result of mixing destructive masculinity with the communicative platform that living in the digital age provides.
It is not a criticism or admonishment of transgender people, or the denial of transgenderism as a concept, nor am I “hate preaching”. I am also not denying the reality of gender dysphoria and the impact that has on the day to day lives of people around the world. Similarly, there is categorically no “questioning of trans peoples’ right to exist”, which is an utterly absurd statement. There is a clear delineation between being transgender and this new form of transactivist ideology. As transwoman Debbie Hayton tells me:
Successful transition used to be defined by re-integration into society in target gender. No fuss; no publicity; simply life without gender dysphoria. The GRC was the icing on the cake. It allowed the transsexual to marry and protected their privacy.
Transgender ideology turns this on its head. Instead of integration, there is separation into the trans community where fuss and publicity are courted. Gender dysphoria is now optional and the GRC has become the cake.
It is also worth noting; I will focus almost entirely on the ideology that is propagated by male transactivists, whether or not they identify as transgender or simply trans-allies. The reason for this I will broach later on.
With that nice big info dump out the way, perhaps some grounding context would be useful as a jumping off point.
One of the fiercest debates centres around reforming the Gender Recognition Act. The GRA, which came into effect in 2005, aimed to redress the legal imbalances and obstacles that those with gender dysphoria faced when going through the process of transitioning. Ultimately, it would allow them to be legally recognised as living as the “gender” they preferred. This involved a somewhat rigorous process of medical questions, psychological evaluations and a two year transition period where the individual lives within the new framework of opposite-sex gender roles.
Running parallel to this is the recognition that sex is a protected characteristic, within this context specifically pertaining to women being able to organise separately from men; for example, offering female-only spaces to survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault. This doesn’t seem to be a particularly contentious issue on the face of it. Women are statistically the overwhelming victims of domestic and sexual violence, meted out overwhelmingly by men. It seems not only sensible to allow spaces where these women can meet, discuss, recover and support each other separately from the perpetrators of the crimes that have pushed them there in the first place, but it would be positively sadistic to not allow this.
Before we fast-forward to 2018 it would be worth acknowledging one of the tensions that arises in a situation where the two demographics described above find themselves at a crossroads. For instance, how should (as opposed to would) a domestic violence shelter approach the situation where a post-operative transwoman needed protection from an abusive partner? If they have lived as a woman for many years and transitioned to the full extent that medicine allows, it seems to present a dilemma. The individual would seemingly not be suited to a male domestic violence shelter if they themselves had been on the receiving end of male violence, or if they were “presenting as a woman”. But the distinction between when you “should or shouldn’t” allow a transwoman into a woman’s shelter seems unclear nonetheless. It also highlights the issue that women’s spaces are being minimised once again as a result of patriarchal actions, in this case systematic male violence.
This will no doubt be considered a cop-out by some, but this type of situation is not what this essay is exploring, for two reasons. Firstly, I am neither a woman, a transwoman, nor have I ever run a domestic violence shelter. In fact, you would be hard pushed to find somebody less qualified than me to answer this question. I could form an opinion based on people I’ve spoken with, but there are many people and organisations infinitely more qualified and appropriate to ask than I for something that is very much a real world issue, and not just a topic for literary exploration. For example, women that run domestic violence shelters. Women that have to use domestic violence shelters. Indeed, what do transwomen in the situation described above require? Never mind how I think they should operate.
The second point is this; the context for that debate has long gone. When the GRA was brought into the public sphere, it was in reference to the approximately 5000 transsexual people (note the specific use of transsexual as opposed to transgender) that saw it as a gateway to legislative and social equality. The debate about who or what constituted a “real woman” was considered to be — by the wider public, at least — grounded in somewhat niche radical feminist theory. This isn’t to disparage or speak pejoratively about the works of Raymond, Bindel et al, quite the opposite in fact, it’s just that nobody would listen. As Bindel herself says:
“In 2003, I had already been thinking about the crazy diagnosis of being ‘born in the wrong body’ for some time. The so-called condition was invented by regressive male psychiatrists that believed in the concept of a ‘real man’ and ‘real woman’, a bit like the 1950s uber sexist ideals. Even though the debate was important then, it wasn’t in the public eye, so to speak. I always thought it eventually would be, but even I could never have imagined just how misogynistic and aggressive it would turn. Look where we are now. Men deciding, as per usual, what a ‘real woman’ is, which today can include a person with a penis and a beard.”
With this shift into the mainstream, the debate has been pushed into a dark void of absurdity. No longer is it focusing on whether a post-operative transsexual with a history of living as their preferred sex should have access to single-sex spaces; it is focusing on the most outlandish, anti-scientific, pseudo-philosophical thought experiments with the end goal, by design or not, of not only increasing the risk of tangible abuses of circumstance at the expense of women — such as rapist Karen White — but of erasing the entire concept of “female” all together. This is not just the “concern trolling” of a privileged white man, although no doubt that accusation will be levelled at me, but this is having, and will continue to have, dire real world consequences for women. We will explore that in more detail later.
So, with that in mind, let’s take stock of where we are now, in the glorious year of our non-denominational Lord; 2018.
The internet has allowed a many great things: instant communication to loved ones on the other side of the world; crowd funding of public interest projects; and of course lots of pictures of dogs.
But with this, it has also given rise to political, social and cultural echo chambers. A cyber-balkanisation has developed, where demographics with similar interests and ideas seek each other out, and then the thinking goes that as they find more and more people that agree with them, the ideas and topics that drew them together in the first place become further entrenched in their psyche. This isn’t to say that having lots of people agreeing with you automatically makes your idea or ideology wrong per se; but the internet has made it easier to automatically think your idea has more merit than in might otherwise.
Connecting with others that share your viewpoint isn’t in and of itself a bad thing, but having tens, hundreds or thousands of other people telling you how fantastic your political and social outlook is, with no room for critique unless you specifically seek it out is where problems start to occur. So what does this digital culture have to do with gender?
To wit — there exists a pejorative stereotype amongst millenials (broadly speaking) of the “Tumblr Feminist”, named after the blogging platform that allows individuals to post almost anything they want. While it would be foolish of me to try to sum up the user-demographic of the entire website in one go, it’s usually granted that a lot of the users tend to cultivate a “counter-culture” identity, both in person and online. I will be showing my age by attempting to sum this up, but nonetheless; it can mean rejecting “mainstream” social stereotypes in favour of dressing in an “alternative” way; listening to music that might be considered obscure or again, non-mainstream; or it might mean creating an online persona that critiques mainstream ideologies, and consequently assigning themselves a label such as “An-Cap”, “Tankie” or somebody might say they’re “literally a communist”.
This counter-culture is no longer confined to just Tumblr, it can be seen on any social media platform, with particularly notable communities on Twitter and Facebook. Now, if we draw together everything laid out before, we can start to see where this cyber-balkanisation of those eschewing the gender performance that is expected of them occurs. Finding a platform that allows instant communication with like-minded people (Facebook, Twitter etc) — check; those like-minded people being counter-culture in some way (eschewing expected gender performance)— check; initially not having that ideology challenged because, well, why would it be? You’ve found a group that accepts and nurtures your rejection of things expected of you, it’s what you’ve been searching for — check. Hold this thought.
Concurrently with this, liberal feminism has become increasingly popular, particularly online. It would be too expansive to give a comprehensive overview, suffice to say the concept is rooted in individual empowerment often, intentionally or not, at the expense of recognising the root, structural oppression (while, paradoxically, simultaneously recognising that the structural oppression of patriarchy is a real thing). Diving even deeper, there are links to queer theory, and deeper still it’s rooted in (an almost intolerably misrepresented version of) post-structuralism. So where does all this mesh?
We have a group of counter-culture individuals looking to cultivate a new identity and sense of self, a constant affirmation that what they’re chasing is positively amazing due to online reinforcement, combined with a popular and accessible liberal feminism rooted in the ideas of queering the lines between sex and gender, body and mind. This concoction is basically where we’re at with gender ideology in 2018.
Naturally, a lot of people “coming in” to this ideology are men. This isn’t to say that it’s skewed one way or another in terms of initial exposure, but it’s not contentious to suggest there are some men that are uncomfortable with the masculine expectations demanded of them to which this criteria applies. And this is where we can really get into it.
If, like me, you subscribe to some form of feminist belief structure or even just recognise that patriarchy and male supremacy is a real thing, then it’s usually granted that concepts such as male entitlement and privilege are real and consequently need to be deconstructed. Of course, there are people that don’t believe patriarchy is real, or that male privilege (as a sex-class) exists, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say they’re also not the ones using innumerable pronouns whilst worrying about whether going to Starbucks constitutes a micro-aggression.
Where the roads fork, however, is how, and how easily, this male privilege and masculinity can be deconstructed. Rejecting masculinity is hard. I’m not fishing for compliments here (although that’s always nice, obviously), but it is difficult.
It is a psychology and a social structure that is imposed on us from birth, to the detriment of both men and women. It forces us to behave in certain ways with no regard for our mental health, to repress our emotions and live up to archetypes like ‘strong, silent man’, it teaches us to be entitled to women’s bodies with little to no consequence, if you don’t appear to be confident or outgoing you can be ridiculed for being “beta”, if you aren’t seen to be talking about how much sex you want to have with any number of random women, you might be called a “faggot”, regardless of whether or not you’re actually homosexual.
This isn’t to say that recognising these things as “bad” is hard; if you sat down with a random man off the street, it’s likely he would agree with you that calling somebody a homophobic slur in any situation is “bad”, but it isn’t just about him there at that specific moment. Masculinity is an imposed culture where you are ridiculed for not engaging with it and conforming to it in the broader social sense. Rejecting it runs counter to the agreed social strata where men can say and do what they want and it’s women that do the complaining. If you oppose it then you’re probably just a “bitch” or a “feminazi”. When men start to reject it, well, what then?
So, when men start to embrace a new counter-culture because they might want to start wearing makeup, putting on high heels, or growing their hair long (basically any “feminine” gender role you care to think of), which is combined with the aforementioned liberal feminist queering of gender and sex, the natural conclusion begins to clarify itself; maybe you’re not actually a man that needs to reject masculinity at all, but a woman. It is a tragic state of affairs that some men see identifying as a woman as a more palatable option than deconstructing and challenging their own masculinity.
This seems to be antithetical to the aims of any feminism — i.e. that gender roles are socially constructed and imposed on us. Instead of saying “You can be a man with long hair that wears lipstick” — rejecting the imposition of gender roles on a specific sex while acknowledging that people, men and women alike, might want to wear lipstick — the argument seems to be that “If you want to wear lipstick, you’re not a man”.
The critique that women are almost always expected to wear makeup is not in and of itself a critique of the literal existence of makeup in a physical form (e.g. powders, lipsticks etc), rather that women are unfairly expected to conform to those standards whereas men aren’t, and the idea behind their creation is rooted in misogyny. Anybody should of course be free to wear whatever makeup they like, but get to the root of the problem — it is seen as something “for women”, and it’s that problem that we should be challenging. Not advocating the idea that if you want to wear makeup that’s fine, but you might not actually be a man.
The issue with this, specifically with regards to the gender debate and modern transactivist ideology, is that simply declaring that you’re no longer a man does nothing to actually challenge masculinity. As a side note, this is ironically why gender non-conforming individuals are often the targets of abuse from men. They have “othered” themselves from society’s default position of masculinity and male. Instead of advocating that it’s okay for men to wear what they like, the argument now is that “I’m no longer a man”. The problem with this is, abusive and misogynist men simply don’t care:
“Fine, you’re no longer a man, and that makes you fair game”.
Wouldn’t it be so much more effective to rid society of those attitudes in the first instance? Anyway, I digress…
The men that declare themselves “no longer men” haven’t challenged their own internal concepts of masculinity, they’ve simply washed their hands of it. “I’m not responsible for male misogyny because I’m not actually a man”. Not only that, but when other gender-eschewing men are reinforcing that belief system (a consequence of cyber-balkanisation), it becomes even more deeply ingrained. After all, masculinity begets masculinity.
There is no self-critique or an attempt to undo the years of social privilege that even liberal feminists agree has been bestowed upon men at the expense of women. This is what makes the ideology so confused. The broad agreement is that men have and hold privilege over women for various reasons. The aim then is to deconstruct this privilege; but in what way does embracing feminine gender expectations and then because of that saying you’re no longer a man do that? This is not to say that transwomen are incapable of deconstructing their masculinity, but it is not an automatic consequence of transition.
There would naturally still be an underlying sense of male entitlement and superiority, this doesn’t just go away overnight. It took me at least 24 years of the 27 I’ve been alive to even really recognise male privilege, both my own and that of other men. To recognise and just start to deconstruct this was, and continues to be, a hard slog. I say this not for sympathy, but to highlight the fact it’s a life’s work, not something that can be achieved by putting on some lipstick and declaring that you are no longer a man.
This is evident in the attitudes many young, male transactivists propagate today; after having been socialised into a society that elevates men while denigrating women, the psychology and attitude remains the same. Men that now “identify” as women expect women to shut up while they’re talking.
How do I know that’s what they expect? Because I expected women to shut up while I was talking.
I recall getting into a discussion about prostitution with my university housemates many moons ago, and the sole woman (poor girl, the only one in a house of 10!) said she didn’t think prostitution should be legalised because then it submits to the idea that it’s inevitable. I didn’t know this at the time, but she was advocating for an abolitionist approach. Whether or not she was a radical feminist is unclear (and surprisingly, she wasn’t clamouring to keep in touch when we graduated to let me know either way), but she was opposed to prostitution on the grounds of it being violence against women. In my infinite wisdom, I very carefully explained to her in the ‘Woke-Bloke-est’ of ways how legalisation was actually better and safer, and would protect the thousands of women that just loved the idea of “empowering sex work”.
Clearly, I knew absolutely fuck all about the reality of prostitution and the global sex trade, I didn’t know what radical feminism was, didn’t even understand that legalisation was different from decriminalisation, and I had absolutely no grounds to think my opinion was worth a single thing in that discussion. But Oh! How all my housemates lapped it up, we all agreed that she was wrong, and I revelled in the praise for being truly progressive and a Great Feminist Man.
I expected that young woman to shut up and listen to what I was saying, because I’d been taught that I was smart and capable, and had been brought up in a progressive, liberal family so how could I be wrong? In my arrogance, the thought didn’t even cross my mind.
There is a much more insidious side to this issue as well. It isn’t just about expecting women to shut up, although of course that isn’t acceptable regardless. Men are not only expecting women to remain silent, but some individuals that are “trans identifying” — which can mean anything from somebody who has lived as their preferred sex for years, takes hormones and has had SRS, to simply a man with a penis and a beard who “identifies” as a woman — and their allies are threatening women and expecting them to bend to their will.
For example; if the correct pronouns aren’t used, whether intentionally or not, the accusation that this is “literal violence” is often levelled at women. Despite women being the demographic most at risk of many types of “literal violence”, this accusation is thrown out with no sense of self-awareness. Often those in positions of privilege and power, such as Danielle Muscato, use their platform to publicly shame minimum wage workers and threaten their livelihoods because they used the wrong pronoun. Call me old fashioned, but it seems more regressive to assume that wearing high heels means a bald person with a beard is a woman, compared to assuming they’re just challenging gender stereotypes.
It doesn’t stop there either. Lesbians are particularly at risk of having their thoughts and indeed their very sexuality policed by advocates of this ideology.
I mentioned at the beginning of this piece how the debate has shifted into the absurd, and this is it. A prime example of this is the phrase “girl dick” (seriously). There is an important distinction that should be noted here; this is not referencing a pre-operative transsexual person may still have their penis but is waiting for surgery, or indeed somebody that simply embraces femininity or masculinity to ease their dysphoria without the desire and/or need to pursue further medical changes; this is a specific individual that is expecting and demanding a wholesale rewrite of biology and history to conform to their expectations, at the expense of women as a sex class. Take this video by Riley J. Dennis for instance:
I’ll transcribe the pertinent pieces:
I’m not telling lesbians they can’t be lesbians…
If you’re a woman that only likes women…
So far, so good
Go ahead, identify as a lesbian
But some women have penises
That was some leap. Riley has very carefully argued that lesbian does mean a woman attracted to another women. Had it been a case of trying to explicitly argue that lesbians can be attracted to men, this would have been a much more difficult sell. However, what then happens is a not so subtle redefining of “woman”, to actually include people with penises — i.e. men. Riley bats off accusations of lesbophobia by implying “It’s not lesbophobia because I’m acknowledging lesbians are women attracted to women”, but this comes with the caveat that “Woman can mean a person with a penis”.
This is the crux of the whole issue. What’s happening here is a form of exceedingly misogynist gaslighting.
By forcefully trying to redefine what the social categories of “woman” and “lesbian” (to name just two) means to include a separate, biological category at the expense of said women is misogyny at its core - the erasure of the fundamental definition and reality of “female” and “lesbian” so it also includes those that belong to the category of “male”. It is the starkest example male entitlement. You will believe what I’m saying, even if it goes against the fabric of reality and everything you otherwise know to be true. It is the final frontier for men that want and need to possess women. Controlling your income, relationships, education, political and social status is not enough — there must be an invasion and erasure of the very concept of “woman”, “lesbian” and “female” to make way for men.
To put this in lay terms with regards to female sexuality specifically; lesbianism is often viewed by men as an obstacle, as opposed to a legitimate sexual orientation, and fetishised as something that we could eventually “change” within the woman, if only she could experience the “right dick”. It is an utterly vile and abhorrent mentality that is rooted in entitlement and ownership, while being reinforced by wider rape-culture and the sexualisation of lesbianism within pornography and the media at large. As Ella, a young lesbian I interviewed for this piece says:
I have experienced numerous men just assuming lesbianism is an obstacle that they can “convince” me out of. A lot of men have issues with respecting women’s boundaries, and they seem to have an even bigger issue with it when you reject the entirety of the group. Some men deny the existence of lesbians and believe that they “just haven’t met the right man yet.” Some will acknowledge it but continue with their advances anyway. In some situations, men become visibly angry or threatening, or act as if you have offended them personally. There’s some real misogynistic entitlement there, and I think that entitlement is still very present in transgender cotton ceiling rhetoric. Many trans activists and individuals I’ve spoken to have said; “Nobody is forcing you to engage romantically or sexually with transwomen”, but that really isn’t the point. The point is that lesbians have a right to exist as homosexual females without having to constantly defend their boundaries. The point is that these boundaries shouldn’t be up for debate.
It is obvious that there is no difference between the performative progressiveness of saying “I now have a female penis, so I can sleep with lesbians and if they reject me it’s because they’re bigoted”, and saying “This lesbian just doesn’t want to have sex with somebody with a penis because they’ve not found the ‘right somebody’ with a penis”. It ignores and erases the necessary boundaries for somebody to be lesbian. Suggesting otherwise is unbelievably lesbophobic and misogynistic, and cannot be waved away by simply saying “women have penises”, relying solely on the internal logic of “woman can mean somebody with a penis”. The similarities that this attitude has to conversion therapy is harrowing. Ann, a lesbian that has been through conversion therapy, had this to say:
I put myself through conversion therapy for about a year, and there’s no difference at all. What distinction is there between “You should ignore the man’s dick and learn to love him as a person, it’s sinful not to” and “You should ignore a transwoman’s dick and learn to love them as a person, it’s bigoted not to”?
People say there’s a difference — but I don’t see one. The undercurrent seems to be that nobody either side of the political spectrum truly believes there exists women who are simply just not interested in male bodies or the almighty dick . I’ve very often seen posts that take me back to those days and at first it caused me a great deal of emotional trauma, but I speak out about this because I don’t want other lesbians to go through what I went through.
At the beginning of this piece, I mentioned that I would mainly be focusing on male transactivists and their ideology, and this is why. I have never seen an example of a transman demanding gay men do away with their sexuality and start “sucking man-pussy”. This doesn’t happen arguably for two reasons. Firstly, the psychology of sexual entitlement simply does not exist in that direction (on a class level). Men are conditioned to be entitled to women on a class scale; the same cannot be said to be true for women to men. Regardless of whether a man transitions or not, he most likely will expect, in some capacity, a woman to conform to his sexual desires. This may be in the form of engaging in something the woman doesn’t want to, or it simply being a one-sided act. Why would this be any different if the person in question started to “identify” as a lesbian and wanted to engage in a sexual relationship with a lesbian?
Similarly, there is something extremely telling about which demographic this psychology is applied to. Firstly, transmen aren’t demanding natal men engage in sexual intercourse with them, whether those natal men are homosexual or not. Secondly, it’s worth noting that people like Riley seem generally to only be demanding that women (specifically lesbians) engage in sexual intercourse with self-identified lesbians, and notably not natal men.
This is perhaps because modern transactivist ideology recognises its place in the “pecking order” of society behind masculinity. To steal a little from Hobbes, masculinity is nasty, brutish and short. Most (heterosexual) men would likely react violently and adversely to having their sexual boundaries violated, or being forced to believe they were engaging in intercourse with a “lady dick” and not just engaging in homosexual intercourse.
This does not just exist in the ether. The demand for the external world to be complicit in this unreality bridges the gap between thought and consequence. It forces those who otherwise have no recourse to defend a chimera, and if they object, they’re labelled as bigots. Real situations such as women’s protections as a sex-class being rolled back; men “identifying” as women to gain access to the most vulnerable; the reasons for which women suffer under patriarchy being erased in favour of a more abstract explanation focusing on “gender identity”, in contrast to the reality, which is specifically male violence against specifically females of all ages.
Even as I write this I can barely keep up — the Girl Guides have recently expelled two volunteers for objecting to the decision to allow transgender members and leaders. An organisation dedicated to organising private events for a protected sex-class have fired two members because they objected to said organisation…not doing what they explicitly exist to do.
This is the tangible impact of this moral pontification on gender. I got into this recently with a friend. He asked me: “Why do you care about this so much?”.
On the face of it, it seems a fair question for the uninitiated. It seems somewhat niche, so why am I, a man, sticking my oar in. My response was this — As a man that recognises the endemic nature of male supremacy and violence against women, this issue is no longer just an abstract thought experiment. I do not have skin in this game so to speak, at least not compared to the women it does and will continue to affect, but I abhor male violence and entitlement, and wish to see an end to it. This whole issue might seem niche, but that is simply not the case. It has been misrepresented as such to avoid drawing attention to the fact it has become a topic dominated by misogyny and typical male lecturing, and if women are engaging with it then it’s just because they’re being “emotional” or “nagging”.
The elevation into deflective philosophical back and forth is so typically male, and using the cover of wanting to protect trans rights is often just a thin veil for misogyny. I recently journeyed down to the House of Lords to discuss the issue with a Lord who shall remain nameless, but suffice to say, he did not see things from my point of view and has since exercised his democratic right to block me on Twitter. I asked for the meeting because it’s important for men to engage other men on these issues, as unfortunately women are usually not listened to. As we were sitting there rigorously - intellectually, obviously — masturbating (sorry, mum), I was struck by just how far removed from reality this situation was.
There are women who are potentially having their right to single-sex spaces such as domestic violence shelters taken away, and there I was sitting with an actual, literal lord discussing whether mind/brain duality was a concept worthy of intellectual merit, what constitutes the concept of a female mind, and having a good old willy waving contest about who got which degree from which university. I left feeling exceptionally grubby. I had gone to try and engage another man, and to talk about male entitlement in real terms, when I think I probably would have had more luck trying to fold hot gravy.
But this is it, for men. We can elevate these discussions to pseudo-philosophical onanism, because it doesn’t tangibly impact us. There is no consequence if we erase the social category of “woman” — and consequently of “female” — to mean whatever we want, because once again, it’s at our behest. This is why there has been a volatile shift towards trying to debate these issues in an arena of uncertainty and absurdity. How do you respond to somebody arguing that “Not just females give birth”? It’s no longer good enough to simply say “Don’t be ridiculous, literally no male-bodied person has ever birthed a child in the entirety of human existence”. But why not?
A regular go-to for modern transactivist ideology is to ham-fistedly mash together philosophy and biology, and argue that “Sex is a spectrum” in an effort to justify the ludicrous hoops that have to be jumped through to defend their position. This is as asinine as it is plain wrong. As developmental biologist Dr Emma Hilton explains:
Males and females do not represent opposing ends of a spectrum; males and females are qualitatively, not quantitatively, different, from early embryonic development. Advocates of “sex is a spectrum” (very few of whom are biologists) argue that intersex conditions represent a “middle ground” between male and female states and thus, an intrinsically ordered spectrum is formed. There is no such intrinsic ordering. Except for the vanishingly rare and clinically traumatic few, intersex conditions affect either males or females and are categorised within the relevant sex. For example, an intersex female with an enlarged clitoris is not somehow “more male”, nor does she “have a penis”. This is a utterly regressive and male-centred view of biological sex.
Regarding the assertion that biological sex is a social construction, the words “male” and “female” have a very clear biological meaning, not up for postmodern deconstruction. They do not refer to social categories, but to the meat, gristle and bones of human anatomy and scientific study. Trying to change what “male” and “female” describe scientifically not only erases female sexed reality but also the tools we use to study that reality. The words I use in my job aren’t assigned “meaning” beyond physical understanding, and they are key to conveying that understanding.
Men are now granted the opportunity to barely disguise their misogyny by propagating the absurd idea that male and female might not mean anything, and then slapping themselves with the label “trans-ally” to appear progressive. For instance, you have people running for public office using it as fodder to get heaped with praise about how “progressive” they are.
Anderson went on to state:
“[the council were] united against the behaviour of the ReSisters in defacing public art in what I believe to be, and I am proud to state, that was done in a hateful way".
Darling of rabid leftists Owen Jones regularly deploys the phrase “anti-trans” to immediately tar women that are concerned about the issue with his brush of bigotry. The below tweet was a response to columnist Janice Turner, who recently had the absolute audacity to write a piece suggesting male-born sex offenders and serial rapists that still had their reproductive organs intact should perhaps not be placed in prison with women, lest they, y’know, sexually assault and rape them.
Dr Adrian Harrop, an actual qualified doctor that recently said live on TV that “A woman is a person who identifies as a woman” has developed a reputation for aggressively hounding, bullying and interrogating women online that dare to disagree with him.
When I asked Dr Harrop whether it was just a coincidence that hundreds of women all thought he was a misogynist bully, he had this to say:
In terms of me being described as a misogynist… I think that is highly unfair and disingenuous. I am not a misogynist (…) In terms of being labelled as a bully, I would say this is a subjective definition (…) I do not attempt to single individual people out and target them.
Dr Harrop’s denial of what is evident to anybody that has ever read his Twitter profile is rooted in abusive masculinity. He denies the experience of the very women he has bullied to convince himself that he’s in the right, and these women are wrong. In our exchange he was actually unnervingly pleasant, I’m sure in part because I’m a man. That being said, there are panes of glass less transparent than him and his justifications for his actions. He spoke of simply being “outspoken” and “opinionated”, and how sometimes this can come across as being brash or intrusive. There was no attempt to take responsibility for his behaviour. He doubled down on his attempt to paint himself as the victim of all this; poor old Adrian, simply defending progressive rights and fighting bigotry. This might wash with a 12 year old Adrian, but I and hundreds of other men and women recognise it for what it is; classic gaslighting and psychologically manipulative drivel.
These men often capitalise and misappropriate the struggles of other marginalised demographics, such as intersex people, to advance their own agenda with seemingly no regard for how the individuals they’re “defending” actually feel about it. For instance, intersex advocate Claire told me:
It’s really hard to put into words what it feels like to have your complex and quite traumatic medical history paraded to validate someone else’s identity. The questions I see being asked; “Which toilets should intersex people use then?”, “If we accept women without wombs as women, then surely someone born male can be?”, “Where do intersex people fit into your regressive binary?”, “How do we know this child molester, with a beard, isn’t intersex?”.
The implication being that we’re not real women and that our medical histories can be used like a prize in a game show. It’s like being back in the Victorian era where intersex people were exhibited like freaks in a side show for the edification of others. In answer to those questions; we use the toilet that corresponds with our birth sex; yes, a woman without a womb is female and; no, she isn’t just like a man that was born with a fully functioning male reproductive system.
We fit into the binary fine, we’re male or female like everyone else, and to answer the last one; why is it so hard for people to believe that male pattern abuse and criminality exists that they’d rather blame women with a medical condition? To say this is offensive is an understatement. My inbox is full of intersex people talking about how the current debate, and our unwilling place in it, has reopened trauma they have spent years repairing and coming to terms with. The social stigma we have always avoided and feared is now a fun talking point for people that have never met us, never talked to us, never taken the time to learn about us and our conditions. It’s abusive and nasty. Apparently the womanhood of transwomen isn’t up for debate but mine is being put up for sale by people that do not care about me and apparently do not care to learn.
As to the question of why it’s no longer acceptable to oppose these ludicrous behaviours, I know the answer of course — misogyny. The idea is that if you just shout, threaten and scream loud enough, the stupid fucking women that oppose you will finally shut the fuck up. Men grow up knowing they’ll be listened to over women, so why would this situation be any different? Then, pushing the debate into realms where women then have to moralise about the ontological nature of “womanhood” and the underlying metaphysical questions of whether a penis can ever be female intentionally distracts from the real impact this is having on their everyday lives. It’s a technique used to destabilise and cloud the discussion; “If you can’t engage with me on an intellectual and philosophical level about why men can’t give birth, then I’m not going to listen”. But who is listening and engaging? The very men that agree with them in the first place. It’s cyclical reinforcement of pre-existing masculine entitlement and misogyny.
For those of us that wish to see an end to male supremacy and male violence, this new strand of gender ideology has to be opposed. We cannot argue that we want to see an end to patriarchy and the abuse of women and children all across the world, while simultaneously arguing that “woman” doesn’t have a distinct meaning or that “somebody with a penis can be female”. It fundamentally erases the class of humans that need to be recognised as distinct from the other class of humans so you can see exactly who is suffering at the hands of the other. It serves no purpose to say you oppose male violence against women, but then completely do away with the definable parameters of “women” and “female” (and consequently “male”) as well.
If men truly care about recognising and ending violence against women, then it’s time we publicly acknowledge and oppose this new version of misogyny disguised as progressiveness. It is nothing more than an erosion of women and their rights, in an effort to expand and cement male entitlement and supremacy in the last possible place it could be; the very definition of woman.