How the word ‘woman’ became taboo

When I was a little girl, my mum told me that I shouldn’t use the word ‘woman’ – but rather ‘lady.’ ‘Woman’ was just too visceral to her, whereas a ‘lady’ might well be a doll. But by adolescence my shoplifted copy of The Female Eunuch and Helen Reddy bawling ‘I am strong, I am invincible, I am woman!’ had reinforced by belief that my mother was wrong. I never dreamt that the w-word would be taboo again. How could the word woman become so contentious that the stating of the dictionary definition – ‘Adult Human Female’ – could become a matter for the police? It started with Posie Parker,

New Zealand’s transgender debate is turning nasty

New Zealand was the first country in the world to give women the right to vote in parliamentary elections. But now, 120 years on from that landmark moment for female equality, Kiwi women are fighting a rear-guard campaign to defend the meaning of the word ‘woman’. As well as dealing with the fallout from the pandemic, Jacinda Ardern’s Labour government has been busy prioritising a bill that would effectively allow anyone to become a woman just because they wanted to. While Ardern is being cheered on by the transgender lobby, it has fallen to Speak Up for Women, a grassroots campaign group, to speak truth to power. Rather predictably, politicians seem unwilling to listen;