The monstering

Sarah Ditum on Labour’s inability to say what the word “woman” means:

Clearly, asking a Labour MP to define “woman” is a reliable way to get them to look silly. And so interviewers are going to keep on doing it. Which means that Labour should, at some point in the past two years, have come up with a one-line answer, if only to get them through media appearances.

Because, despite Cooper’s dismissive attitude, the definition of “woman” does matter. It matters for single-sex spaces. It matters for sport. It matters for the language we use to talk about female health. It matters for measuring the income gap, and for monitoring who’s doing more than their fair share of unpaid work in the home. It matters for understanding violence against women. It matters because the law depends on language, and people who pretend to strategic idiocy about the natural and ordinary meanings of words really have no business being lawmakers.

Especially when the word in question names more than half the population those lawmakers are supposed to be making laws for and about. It’s as if MPs and Members of Congress couldn’t say what “people” are.

The Cass report, published this week, vindicated whistleblowers from the Tavistock clinic in London who believed that NHS gender services were offering treatment dominated by dogma about gender identity, and that this was failing children and young people. Cooper is not a stupid woman. (If, indeed, anyone can say what a woman is.) She cannot have missed these stories in the news. She has surely noticed the monstering her colleague Rosie Duffield received for daring to take a different line from trans activists.

That monstering is probably why Cooper was so evasive, but the thing is, it ought to work the other way around. These monsterings should outrage everyone, and prompt a renewed and fierce determination to defend women’s rights in defiance of all monsterings.

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