The deletion of womanhood: Once, it was just noisy protests from a tiny minority. But now a new age of intolerance threatens our very identity, argues BEL MOONEY
- One per cent of the population in Britain identifies as trans or non-binary
- Hospital introduced ‘transfriendly’ language guidelines for dealing with parents
- Civil servants have refused to refer to ‘women’ in a new maternity rights law
- Bel Mooney argues we are witnessing attacks on the identity of women
- She adds a lot of damage caused by wokery is done to trans people themselves
George Orwell must be grinning grimly in his grave. In the terrifying, controlled world of his masterpiece, Nineteen Eighty-Four, ‘Thoughtcrime’ is any belief that goes against accepted political ideology.
And ‘Doublethink’ means simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct — a crime against intelligence that is now mainstream.
A row has been sparked by draft maternity rights legislation that has failed to include a single use of the word ‘woman’ or ‘female’. Instead the draft bill, set to give ministers access to maternity leave, talks only about ‘persons’.
Why are public-sector institutions so willing to erase the lived reality of my sex? How have we reached the point where intelligent people, charities, businesses and governments are forced to accept without question that ‘Trans women are women’?
Bel Mooney argues we are witnessing attacks on both the identity of women and on language itself (file image)
Like any civilised person, I believe in tolerance and kindness, and understand that some people do wish to live as the opposite sex. But there I should stop, because Big Brother is watching my thoughtcrime. You are not allowed to question the orthodoxy — or offend the bullying thought police who wear liberal masks.
To placate a vociferous minority within a minority, doublethink reigns supreme. As a result we are witnessing attacks on both the identity of women and on language itself.
But there is something equally worthy of serious thought. I believe the ‘woke’ obsession with the rights of the trans community — which has now penetrated every level of society (as far as the President of the U.S. and the First Minister of Scotland) — is doing terrible harm to the very people it claims to speak for. People who don’t want to fight. People who aren’t baying for revolution. People who just want to be left alone to live anonymous, peaceful lives.
But reason is challenged by meaningless slogans, and when the thoughts and identities of ordinary men and women are challenged and disallowed, it becomes open season on hate. When precious words such as ‘woman’ and ‘mother’ are threatened, then angry, intolerant voices are raised. And that hurts trans people, too.
Last week, a British hospital became the first in the country to introduce ‘trans-friendly’ language guidelines to follow when dealing with trans people who decide to become parents.
This includes replacing the word ‘woman’ with the phrase ‘woman or person’ and swapping ‘breast milk’ for ‘breast/chest milk’. ‘Maternity care’ should be called ‘perinatal care.’
Just one per cent of the population in Britain is estimated to identify as trans or non-binary (file image)
Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust revealed the new phrases in an attempt to alleviate ‘mainstream transphobia’. Its statement contains gems such as ‘…not only pregnant women, but also pregnant trans, non-binary and agender people’. If you’re confused as to how an ‘agender’ person can get pregnant, then you’re not the only one.
It is easy to dismiss this nonsense and just get on with your life. But note that only an estimated one per cent of the population in Britain identifies as trans or non-binary, and yet precious NHS resources are being used to tell midwives how to address mothers-to-be.
The term ‘pregnant people’ was first used around four years ago, when the United Nations was lobbied to start using it on the grounds that trans people might feel excluded by the term ‘pregnant women’.
Wait! In order to become pregnant, a body has to be fitted out with ovaries and a womb — right? And if you have those perennially useful bits of machinery, you are called a woman.
If a trans man gives birth, their name may have become masculine, but the body is still, in many respects, female. The organs used to conceive, gestate and ultimately give birth are female, ie. they are something only women have.
Likewise, women don’t have prostate surgery and men don’t have hysterectomies. That, I’m afraid, is the driving force of nature, and it’s called biology.
J. K. Rowling (pictured) received abuse last year, after mocking the use of the phrase ‘people who menstruate’ instead of ‘women’
It should be noted, too, that there have been just a few UK cases of trans men who retained their uteruses and have given birth, but that’s enough for a total rethink of the vocabulary used.
Just wait for other hospital trusts to follow Brighton, at heaven knows how much expense. The madness is everywhere.
What possessed my favourite charity Sands (stillbirth and neonatal death) to use the term ‘birthing parent’ instead of ‘mother’ last year? As a founder-patron of this valuable organisation, I was as upset as the many women who protested. Because when you have a stillborn child you are still a grieving mother, and to erase that term becomes a double heartbreak.
I’m pleased that Sands retracted its wording, yet their error (probably a result of over-zealous attention to minority groups) did much damage.
And here I must repeat my vital point — a lot of the damage caused by well-meaning wokery is done to trans people themselves.
The great 17th-century philosopher John Locke, often called the father of liberalism, wrote this about minority views: ‘…if they do not tend to establish domination over others …there can be no reason why they should not be tolerated.’ Exactly. This is ‘live and let live’ — the principle of general consent.
Bel said terms such as ‘birthing parent’ and ‘chest milk’ seek to establish domination (file image)
But it falls down when terms such as ‘birthing parent’ and ‘chest milk’ are used — because those crimes against language and meaning do seek to establish domination.
I believe it is disrespectful and dehumanising to lump all trans people together. It removes sympathy, understanding and respect from those people who choose to undergo painful medical and cosmetic procedures to help their process of change, and who nonetheless accept their own valuable difference.
Those quiet, necessary voices are drowned out by the aggressive self-absorption of militants.
I call myself a feminist and yet I have nothing in common (except biology) with screaming harridans who loathe men.
So it is absolutely vital to underline the distinction between the serious problems and struggles of those with gender dysphoria (a sincere, often desperate, wish to live as the opposite sex) and the aggressive hectoring of the trans brigade. I was horrified to read some of the obscene abuse directed at J. K. Rowling last year, which began when she mocked use of the phrase ‘people who menstruate’ instead of ‘women’.
Bel claims J. K. Rowling (pictured) was vilified by other women who collude in the expression of visceral dislike under the guise of virtue
Rowling identified the double insult to female identity and to accuracy in language — and was vilified by other women (mainly on the Left) who shockingly collude in the expression of visceral dislike under the guise of virtue.
The slippage is everywhere. I received an email from a young publicist for a major publishing house — a girl I first met when she was a child — which ends with: ‘My pronouns are she and her’. What? Of course they are!
Then an older acquaintance attempted to persuade me that this tendency is all about ‘making trans people feel comfortable’.
That leads into the ludicrous neurosis that being ‘misgendered’ (called ‘he’ because you look masculine, even though you are wearing a dress) is akin to ‘violence’. It isn’t. It is a mistake that happens for understandable reasons.
To avoid potential hurt, major charities seem to feel they have no alternative but to bend over backwards to accommodate everybody — everybody, that is, except the quiet majority of men and women which acknowledges sexual differences and rather likes them.
The powerful ideology of ‘inclusion’ excludes our feelings, as well as reason.
For many years, I have supported the relationship charity Relate and often recommend it in my Saturday advice column. So I was delighted, last month, to be asked to flag up a new service called ‘relatehub’ which offers free 30-minute webchats with a relationship and wellbeing adviser.
I followed the link to find out what people in acute distress about their relationships, especially during lockdown, would have to do.
An author argued for broader definitions of sex identification and disparaged the idea of biological sex in a medical journal just over a year ago (file image)
There was a form requiring people to choose a gender from the following: ‘Male, Female, NA, Androgyne, Androgynous, Bigender, Cis, Cisgender, Cis Female, Cis Male, Cis Man, Cis Woman, Cisgender Female, Cisgender Male, Cisgender Man, Cisgender Woman, Female to Male, FTM, Gender Fluid.’
You might ask ‘What’s the difference between “cisgender woman” and “cisgender female”?’ No, me neither.
I’d laugh, if I were not so irritated — because this rubbish detracts from the seriousness of what Relate does.
Who on earth invented all those absurd categories? Why not use common sense and realise that ‘Other’ would allow people to write what gender they want?
The proud identity of womanhood has been under attack for a long time.
Just over a year ago the medical journal, The Lancet, published an article called The Misuses of ‘Biological Sex’. The author argued for broader definitions of sex identification and disparaged the idea of biological sex.
It told the medical establishment they should accept that a person’s biological sex is what they proclaim it to be — even if the apparent physical evidence (such as XY male chromosomes and a penis) indicates that the opposite is true.
Of course, doctors should treat any patient with courtesy and respect. But to expect those with years of medical training to deny the evidence of their own eyes is surely a step too far.
Why have so many politicians capitulated to the demands of the trans minority that insists they can become fully male or female just by saying so?
One of Joe Biden’s first executive acts was to silence the rightful concerns of women in sport who believe it unfair that trans women should be allowed to compete against biological females.
Effectively, male-born athletes who identify as female are allowed to compete in — and often win — women’s sports, while proclaiming they have no biological advantage. Doublethink lays waste to all in its way.
Bel argues it isn’t petty to reject the idea of gender-neutral public lavatories, if you are an older woman or a young girl having her first period (file image)
We are losing this war of words. If the abuse of language and concerted effort to ‘cancel’ womanhood continues at the current rate, and if the establishment panders to notions such as menstruation not being the unique preserve of women, we will see a fatal undermining of the precious freedoms women have achieved.
It may seem petty to reject the idea of gender-neutral public lavatories, but it isn’t if you are an older woman or a young girl having her first period. The right to privacy and safety is trampled on in the name of ‘trans rights’. Have women achieved so much we have to start giving it away?
All over the world, women are subjected to real discrimination — and worse. Rape is a war crime, trafficking a modern norm. Women are made stateless by terrible conflicts — always started by men.
Mothers struggle to bring up their children in refugee camps, or in regions devastated by fire, flood, earthquake, or other natural (or man-made) disasters. Yet here in the privileged West we are asked to see the requirement to put ‘F’ or ‘M’ on a passport as a violation of ‘human rights’.
There’s even a trans slogan which proclaims: ‘Men who say they are women are the most oppressed women on the planet.’ How dare they, when violence against women is a global health problem of epidemic proportions.
You may think this has strayed far from the suggestion that ‘motherhood’ and ‘mothering’ should be replaced by ‘parenthood’ and ‘parenting’ — but it’s all part of the same thought-curve.
This new orthodoxy rejects the idea that there’s something special about being a woman.
Following its own twisted ‘logic’, the gender-neutral view denies that growing up as a girl, feeling your body change, getting your first period and so on, until the moment when you may experience the miracle of pregnancy and the wonder of holding your first child, all matters. They insist the unique experience of womanhood adds up to nothing. We are all neutral now.
Bel said ‘no politician, no health authority, no civil servant, or virtue-signaller’ can be allowed to tell her that she’s not a woman, a mother and a grandmother (file image)
How can we fight the propaganda? By proclaiming that the idea of womanhood has meaning. Not that it’s superior, just that it exists.
The fundamental experiences and understandings we learn from childhood will not be erased. If we allow a man to call himself ‘woman’ for as long as it suits him, whenever he likes, the meaning of the word is negated. And all the struggle and pride inherent in that definition is cancelled.
Of course not all women want to be mothers, or can become mothers, or are good mothers. What’s more, some men display wonderfully ‘motherly’ qualities, and homosexual men and women can become marvellous parents.
But the words ‘woman’ and ‘mother’ contain identity. Something indescribably precious within human consciousness — a nurturing, a caring, a sense of self-sacrifice, a profound joy, an unconditional love. Yes, of course there are exceptions — but they only prove the rule.
I have known many women who, after having a first child, feel their lives transformed. Yes, they may become tired, ratty and disappointed, yet in embracing motherhood they step up to join a long line of miraculous women.
They inhabit a glorious bundle of timeless ideas, from the Great Goddess, the essential feminine, the mother ship, the motherland, the matriarchy, the grandmother, the mother. So it was — and so it will always be.
No politician, no health authority, no civil servant, no kneejerk virtue-signaller can be allowed to tell me that I am not a woman, a mother and a grandmother. When what we cherish as sacred truth is seen by others as a heresy, it is time to stand up and say ‘No’.
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