Discover more from The Mule by Milli Hill
The Word is Woman #5
Documenting the erasure of women in language and life.
Welcome to the Issue #5 of a new section of The Mule, The Word is Woman, where I document examples of the erasure of women from both language and public life.
For the past two years, ever since I spoke out about language changes in maternity such as ‘birthing people’, I have been sent hundreds of examples of convolutions of language in which the word woman is erased and replaced in the name of so-called ‘inclusivity’. Uterus owners, menstruators, non-men, bleeders, birthers, and even bodies with vaginas…the list of names we have been called and continue to be called is a seemingly endless catalogue of offence.
At the same time, we are seeing male people taking the place of women on sporting podiums and in public roles, and also being applauded as the ‘first woman’ to achieve a certain award or accomplishment, or the ‘best female’ or ‘woman of the year’ in their field.
The Word is Woman is a place to keep track.
At the moment all posts on The Mule, including this one, are paywalled after a week after which they are only for my paying members. You can subscribe and get The Word is Woman, along with all my other content (usually another post per week on a variety of topics), access to the full archive, subscriber chats, commenting and giveaways, all for the price of a chocolate bar a week. In doing so you’ll also be supporting me and enabling me to give more of my time to this work. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate each and every subscription!
So here is this week’s The Word is Woman for the week ending 22nd September 2023.
Each week when I send out The Word is Woman I think, well, that must be it now, there can’t be any other examples! But boy oh boy, they keep on coming! I know when I sent out Issue #1 someone suggested to me that I might balance the mind-numbing frustration of it all by featuring good examples of individuals and organisations who are sticking to biological reality. This is a nice idea, but difficult in practice, because I know for a fact that many of those individuals and organisations are trying to stay under the radar. I know this because they tell me. They want to keep using words like women and female but they don’t want the spotlight shone on them, because they fear the abuse and backlash this may bring. So they hold the line, but they do so quietly. If this is you, you have my support and respect.
However, this week someone let me know about a US based company called Garnuu who are selling organic tampons, menstrual cups and period subscription boxes, and who are clearly not bothered about staying under the radar, as you can see from one of their pinned instagram posts.
I wonder if we will begin to see more companies like this - do let me know if you know of any, I will happily feature them.
Meanwhile, my own situation with Always has rumbled on this week. You can read here about how they changed all my quotes for an article about periods to remove any reference to women or females. This story was picked up by The Mail on Sunday.
The Telegraph then also ran the story (archived link here).
I have complained to IPSO about this, and will be on GBNews (I think) on Sunday night, talking about it. In the meantime I’ve made a tiktok with some of my thoughts as well.
Enable 3rd party cookies or use another browser
It’s perhaps worth a mention that Proctor and Gamble, who own Always, also own Gillette, who were also in the news this week for using a trans identifying model with visible mastectomy scars in a shaving advert, leading some to question who or what is driving the agenda at P&G.
Also in the mainstream press, the General Medical Council have apparently updated their maternity guidance, and completely removed the word ‘mother’. Their menopause policy has also been updated to remove the word ‘woman’. One employee has apparently described this as, “a concerted effort to ignore women and biology”.
(The eagle-eyed readers among you will notice that this is reminiscent of DEFRA’s approach, as featured in The Word is Woman #3.)
There is also a petition asking the GMC to reverse this decision, here.
Someone gave me the heads up about period brand Natracare, and yes indeed, I’ve scoured their website for a mention of women or girls and cannot find one anywhere. For example, they state that, ‘most people get their period once a month’.
We’re told that the changes to language by women’s health corporates are to include trans men (natal females), who, if they still have their uterus and are pre-menopause, will obviously menstruate. But according to another period company, Modibodi, trans women (biological males) get periods too.
To repeat for the confused, this is a claim that MALE people who identify as female, get their period.
Having read this article, and a few others that make similar claims, they appear to be saying that taking a daily dose of oestrogen will cause period symptoms such as cramps, bloating and mood swings, and that ‘these symptoms may occur at the same time each month’.
OK. I’ll be brief. Cycles are not ‘cramps and mood swings’. The central event of the cycle is not even the period, it’s ovulation. It is a complex biological process which I’m not going to describe here (good old wikipedia will give you the lowdown), but suffice to say, if you don’t have a uterus, and are not ovulating, but are instead taking the same dose of oestrogen each day, you are not having a menstrual cycle. Even women on the contraceptive pill are not having a menstrual cycle, because they are not ovulating.
The article states, ‘some trans women don’t have a uterus’. Err, absolutely zero trans women have a uterus, because, regardless of how they identify, they are biologically male. Male people don’t have a uterus. Male people don’t have a menstrual cycle. I can’t believe I’m even having to explain this.
Modibodi also suggest that male people who identify as women should use period tracker apps, which are used to collect data on the oft-misunderstood female body. For example, in one piece of research, data collected from period tracking app Clue was used to establish that women don’t synch with the moon during their cycles.
What will happen to data if male people are encouraged to input their ‘cycles’ into women’s apps? Yup, you’ve guessed it, it will lose accuracy. But that’s ok because, the female body is a mystery *shrug*, right, and anyway, they might sell a few more pairs of ‘affirming’ period pants to delusional males.
Thanks to With Woman for tweeting about the obscured data in this chart from Chesterfield hospital which tells us that in August, they served ‘102 first time parents’. But were these mothers, or fathers, or both? In the current linguistic meltdown, we just can’t tell.
And finally this week, Global Rights for Women aim to tackle ‘menstrual inequity’ with this series of slides, shared across their social media channels.
It’s worth sharing each of the other 3 slides with you. I ask you to contemplate the meaning, history and roots of ‘menstrual inequity’ as you read them.
One more time for the people at the back:
You cannot fight for or defend the rights of those you cannot name.
The roots of menstrual inequity are sex based.
Failing to use sex-based language obscures not just data but the reality of this sex-based inequity eg ‘2 in 5 people struggle’
Women find terms like ‘menstruator’ offensive and demeaning, reducing us down to our reproductive body parts
This is not even ‘additive language’, it is plain, simple, outright erasure.
The word you are looking for is woman.
See you next week.
The Mule is a reader-supported publication and I would value your support. To make sure you never miss a post, please consider becoming a free or paid subscriber. You will then get all of my posts direct to your inbox. Paid subscribers support me to spend more time documenting these language changes. Thank you.
If you spot examples of erasure that you’d like to see highlighted, you can send them to me via email (either by replying to one of my substacks or at email@example.com), with the subject line, The Word is Woman.