Can you see it yet?
The price of saying 'birthing people'
Can you see it yet? Can you see the price of saying 'birthing people'?
First this week we had Alexis, billed to both open and close a poetry festival entitled 'Herstory' and subtitled 'What a Woman', sharing a composition on 'the experience of womanhood'.
There’s been online speculation about Alexis’s character and some tweets shared of evidence of their threats and aggression etc. I’m not going to share those here, because I don’t think they should be needed. This is not about character. No male should be allowed to take a woman’s place at a ‘herstory’ festival and talk about the ‘experience of womanhood’, no matter how nice or well behaved that male is.
Then we've had female swimmers being beaten into second place or denied their place in the next rounds by leads that would be impossible for them to beat. By a person who, as is clear from the photos alone (but more links on this below), has all the physical advantage of being male.
And last night in the House of Lords a story broke about a rape within an NHS hospital that went unchallenged for a year because the victim and all involved were gaslit by a policy dictating staff must say ‘there was no male there’.
When you say 'birthing people' or 'menstruators' or 'bleeders' or 'vagina owners', because 'not all people who birth or have periods are women', and 'not all women have a uterus' etc you are playing along with this. You are paving the way for this whole ideological reframe that insists how a person feels inside overrides their physical, material reality. They may look like a man and have the body of a man but they are a woman because they say they are. They can therefore speak about the experience of womanhood or take a woman's place on a sports team or be placed on a female only ward. “Some women have a penis - get over it”.
Can you see it yet, Birthrights and all the doulas and hypnobirthing teachers etc who tried to bully me out of my livelihood, publicly discredit me, and portray me as nothing more than a 'vile piece of s**t'?
Can you see it yet, all the 'be kind' folk who stood by and watched me get chucked under the bus and said nothing to help me because 'not only women give birth' and we must be 'inclusive'?
What will it take for you to see it? Women are losing out to males. Losing sports team places. Losing panel places. Losing a voice on our own experiences. Losing safe spaces our grandmothers built and fought for. Losing the right to say, ‘He’s a man'‘, even about their rapist. Those who protest are called bigots and lose their jobs. Can you see it yet?
CAN YOU SEE IT YET?
Save Women’s Sports
If you are new to this and would like to consider more about the sports issue, here are some resources.
Podcast: Researcher in sports policy and equality Cathy Devine talks to FiLiA. This is a great overview of the issues and answers a lot of the questions you may have about ‘inclusion’, ‘fairness’ and biology.
A report from Mother of Swimmer, an anonymous mother of a daughter who swims for an Ivy League swim team speaks out about the experience. This is worth a listen because she is very articulate and insightful and it becomes clear that this situation is about much more than the hopes of young female swimmers (not that they are not important but there’s a bigger picture here too).
Another young woman speaks out:
And many former athletes, Olympians and sports experts are speaking out, or calling for others to do so.
And if anyone ever asks you for an example of ‘gaslighting’, I recommend you show them this article, in which Lia Thomas is presented as part of a long history of policing how female athletes can sometimes be accused of looking a bit masculine. I think Helen Joyce probably had the best take:
Thanks to everyone for sending me a steady stream of examples of language that erases women and is complicit with the idea that ‘it’s not just women who have periods’ etc and therefore male = female. Here’s this week’s winner!
Thanks for reading. This substack is free but if you want to support me, I have 3 books which you can buy from any good book seller!
My Period is for girls age 9 to 13 and is filled with information and positivity about periods and puberty.
Give Birth like a Feminist is for anyone interested in why birth is a feminist issue. You don’t have to be pregnant.
The Positive Birth Book is a comprehensive guide to getting ready for birth with lots of humour and a dash of feminism thrown in.
Links to a few ways to purchase via my linktree - or just search the title name via your usual book shop.
Or you can buy me a coffee. :-)