The inequality of sex

As we all shroud ourselves in grief at being unable to watch Russell Brand any more on terrestrial television stations, a few thoughts occur. The first and most obvious is (once again) the presumption of guilt on the part of the entertainment industry, a business entirely devoid of morals and managed largely by coked-up hypocrites. Obviously, for most human beings our repulsion at the immediacy with which Brand has been cancelled by these dreadful people is challenged by our collective detestation of the man himself – yet another of those ‘comedians’ who never ever said anything funny and whose shtick was simply to reflect the zeitgeist of the age by

Stop misgendering my dog

It happens a couple of times a week: in parks, usually; sometimes outside shops, on Tube trains or in pubs. ‘What kind of dog is he?’ they’ll ask. I answer: ‘Bearded collie crossed with a greyhound which comes out looking like a deerhound but is actually a lurcher.’ But this is pointedly preceded by: ‘She’s a…’ I don’t like to be rude when strangers are being interested and congenial, but I feel compelled to quietly make the point that the dog they’re expressing interest in is not a he but a she.  News emerged this month that God might be becoming gender neutral. Or at least, certain factions of the

Will the Scottish trans row go to court?

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Westminster and Holyrood are going head to head on Scotland’s newly passed Gender Recognition Bill. Last night, the UK government blocked the legislation from Edinburgh, citing that the powers it gives – requiring those identifying as a different gender to only live in that gender for three months, and reducing the age of self-identification to 16 – would contravene the UK’s Equality Act. In the end, it may be the courts that decide. Cindy Yu talks to Katy Balls and Kate Andrews. Produced by Cindy Yu.

Are Holyrood and Westminster heading for another Supreme Court showdown?

The UK government’s threat to block Nicola Sturgeon’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill took many by surprise. The powers, under Section 35 of the Scotland Act, have never been used before. The assumption from some observers, this one included, was that this was a negotiating tactic ahead of inter-governmental discussions on the Bill’s implementation and cross-border issues that might arise. That assumption appears to be wrong. I understand that raising the spectre of Section 35 is not a negotiating tactic: ministers are seriously contemplating it and legal advice is being sought. Among ministers’ concerns are questions over passports, driving licences and public safety. Michael Foran, a lecturer in public law at

Philip Patrick

Scotland’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill is an open goal for unionists

Having just squandered a quarter of a million pounds on her fruitless Supreme Court independence challenge, Nicola Sturgeon’s government could be headed back to Little George Street sooner than they might have expected. If the UK government deems the hugely controversial Gender Recognition Reform Bill unlawful, a Section 35 order blocking the legislation from going to royal assent could be invoked by Scottish Secretary Alastair Jack. This would oblige Sturgeon’s government to take the matter to court. Is this what the First Minister wants? Many have been perplexed at her stubbornness in pursuing this contentious legislation, warts and all. (She wouldn’t even countenance a few common-sense safeguarding amendments, such as

What Sturgeon’s Gender Recognition Act could mean for England

One of the fundamental flaws in the Scottish devolution settlement set up by Labour and radically expanded by the Tories is the ability for policy divergence in Scotland to impact on the rest of the UK. The Gender Recognition Reform Bill, on the cusp of being passed by the Scottish parliament, might prove an object lesson. The Bill overhauls the process by which a person obtains a gender recognition certificate (GRC). This is the document which recognises an applicant’s gender identity in place of their biological sex. For example, a male who identifies as female and acquires a GRC becomes female in the eyes of the law.  The Bill being

The myth of the career woman

The image of the single, childless ‘career woman’ is drawn so sharply in our minds, so deeply ingrained in culture and overused in media, it obfuscates the real story. Contrary to popular belief, most working women are not putting their careers ahead of love, marriage and motherhood. Never mind that there are no ‘career men’ – no one accuses a single, childless man of prioritising career over love and family just because he’s single and can pay the rent. But women are made to wear this label – though I have yet to meet a woman who has declined a date with a guy she’s interested in because she’d rather

Rhapsodic banalities: I, Joan, at the Globe, reviewed

‘Trans people are sacred. We are divine.’ The first line of I, Joan at the Globe establishes the tone of the play as a public rally for non-binary folk. The writer, Charlie Josephine, seems wary of bringing divinity into the story too much, and he gives Joan a get-out clause to appease the agnostics. ‘Setting aside religiosity we’ll settle for more of a street god, a god for the queers and drunks… a god for the godless.’ What can ‘a god for the godless’ mean? No idea. Joan throws in a few more hipster platitudes about ‘elevating our humanity, finding the unity hidden inside community, remembering our collective connectivity fuels

Why shouldn’t men date younger women?

Toyboys are back, apparently. Over the past few months there has been a flurry of middle-aged women crowing about the joy of dating younger men. One author in her mid-forties extolled the virtues of having not one but three lovers half her age. In a piece explaining that ‘younger men are having a cultural moment’, a thirty-something writer described a first date apologising for his scruffy appearance because he’d ‘cycled straight from school’. These women claim it’s liberating, empowering, confidence-boosting and a lot of fun, and even brag about younger men being far better in bed than their older counterparts. And presumably all of this works both ways – so why are

The rise of the ‘Denis dad’

Pity the ad man of 2022. Jokes about men and women and the differences between them are so very tempting, but can easily get a brand into trouble. Until not so long ago, the safest way to poke fun at family dynamics was through the figure of the incompetent dad. A 2012 American ad for Huggies nappies challenged five dads to ‘the toughest test imaginable’: looking after their babies solo. It must have seemed like a good idea at the time, given that the useless dad appears in almost every sitcom of the past half century. But Huggies was forced to pull the campaign after complaints from insulted fathers and,

Good riddance to the Tavistock

Most push notifications that pop up on my tablet concern impending catastrophe. But last week, one newsflash made my day. Glory hallelujah, the NHS is closing the Tavistock. A clatter of tattletales have warned since 2005 that the UK’s only clinic for minors confused about which sex they are – having been encouraged to be confused by British media and their own teachers – was fast-tracking children into often irreversible treatments in the service of ideologically driven ‘gender affirmation’. At last the Cass report has determined that the clinic’s practices are unsafe. The Tavistock will close by the spring, which by my calculation is seven months too late – if

Rod Liddle

When did we give up on the truth?

During that rather strange summer of 2020 I used the phrase ‘the gentle armed robber George Floyd’ in several articles for various publications, but the phrase was often taken out. I had thought it a mild corrective to the seeming beatification of a man who, while having been wrongly killed, was not, to my mind, quite worthy of the retrospective adoration being poured upon him. Nope, there would be no corrective – not about George. Indeed in that summer of lockdowns, hand sanitiser and existential angst it was pretty much impossible to challenge the programme of Black Lives Matter, full stop. Hence it was swallowed whole by the establishment and

Why the Tavistock clinic had to be shut down

There are many reasons why what is sometimes crudely called ‘the trans issue’ is important. One is the political failure that left the legitimate views of many women (and men) ignored by decision-making individuals and bodies, who instead prioritised the views of interest groups and campaigners. Another is the multiple failures of governance that have seen numerous public bodies fail to deal properly and responsibly with questions of real public interest, because of their enthusiasm to follow the subjective agenda of interest groups rather than amass and act on objective evidence. Simply put, organisations that are supposed to make decisions on the basis of facts have sometimes chosen to proceed

What’s the matter with Disney?

If there’s one thing that gives a bad name to gender stereotyping it’s the Disney princess: a combination of hideous synthetic fabric and a noisomely winsome concept. And yet the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutiques at Disney Parks are popular with families as a place where their offspring can get dressed and styled as their favourite Disney characters, i.e. princesses or, in the case of a smaller number, knights. Now, the Streaming the Magic blog – which posts on Disney Parks – reports that: Disney Parks’s website itself now refers to ‘Godmother’s Apprentices’. I’d say the whole exercise is an exercise in cold-blooded cynical commercialism, whether it’s provided by a Fairy Godmother’s

The ever-shifting language of ‘culture wars’

‘Come on, old girl,’ said my husband as though encouraging a cow stuck in a ditch, ‘you must know.’ It was because I’d asked him in the far-off days of last week what woman meant, just after Rishi Sunak had said: ‘We must be able to call a mother a mother.’ Penny Mordaunt, Liz Truss and Kemi Badenoch then tussled in a hate-crime triangle on television over who said what, when about people self-identifying in a gender. Such matters are said to belong to culture wars, which we had thought an American phenomenon. Culture wars acquired their name only in the 1980s. Since then we have grown used to language

Why it has to be Kemi

Have you considered a career in whoring? It can be very rewarding, apparently – especially financially. World’s oldest profession and all that, a job which offers the potential for travel but which can also be done without leaving one’s bed. A chap who teaches children about sex, Justin Hancock, thinks the kids should not write off prostitution as a viable career option. Justin’s various modules and Q&As on a whole array of vices and foul perversions, most of which he seems to like, are published under the name ‘Bish’. On whoring, ‘Bish’ advises one young woman who had a, er, negative experience as a prostitute: ‘There are many, many people

Mary Wakefield

Parents must resist Stonewall’s gospel

I think by now it’s becoming horribly apparent to parents of every political persuasion that we can’t sit out the culture wars. You might call yourself progressive, loathe the Tories, but still… the ideological tide is rising, and when it laps at your own child’s feet, everything changes. It becomes impossible to ignore the fact that gender activism these days isn’t about gay rights or even trans rights, it’s not about being inclusive, it’s about presenting utter nonsense as plain fact. A generation of children are being fed a distorted version of reality. In particular they’re told that there’s no such thing as biological sex, that there are no born

What took you so long, Seb Coe?

There’s a left-wing internet advocacy group called 38 Degrees which suggests to its followers that all they have to do is click a button and all the bad things in the world will be outlawed. It is a pleasant conceit. Its name derives from the angle at which snowflakes come together to form an avalanche, which is nicely self-deprecating of it. The problem is that so few people believe in its drivel that the closest it gets is about six degrees, which is the angle at which snowflakes remain exactly where they are until it thaws and they melt. Still, it is a useful simile and I think we may

The toxic concept of toxic masculinity

Anyone who has passed through an education in the past decade will have encountered the term ‘toxic masculinity’. It is one of the many charming phrases that our age has come up with to pathologise ordinary people. Brewing for some decades, the concept of ‘toxic masculinity’ was brought into the mainstream in the last ten years by fourth-wave feminists intent on portraying half of our species as ‘problematic’, to use another of the delightful watchwords of our era. The simple assertion of the ‘toxic masculinity’ crowd is that specifically male behaviours are a problem. The most extreme aspects of male misbehaviour are portrayed as though they are routine. So young

Why is dance so butch these days?

For an art form that once boldly set out to question conventional divisions of gender, ballet now seems to be retreating towards the butch – ironically, just as the rest of the world is moving obsessively to the femme. Scroll back a century or so and Nijinsky cross-dressed at masked balls, danced on pointe and covered himself in petals as le spectre de la rose; in Les Biches, his sister Nijinska shamelessly choreographed all manner of sexual indeterminacy and suggested that girls could also be boys. Then came the Carry On stereotype of limp-wristed ephebes in pink tights with an ominous bulge – every mother’s nightmare in the homophobic post-war