Periodic fable

More dispatches from the ABC’s correspondent in ClownWorld;

The backlash to inclusivity was real

Last year, Ms Harrison ran a handful of focus groups in her community to hear more about peoples’ experiences with menstrual taboos and stigma.

She wanted to be inclusive of the fact that not everyone who menstruated was a woman.

Wait, what?

“I put a callout asking for anyone who menstruates to come along and I was very surprised by the responses,” she said

As one does.

“People definitely put up a wall and made it very clear that they thought only women can menstruate and that if you don’t menstruate, you’re not a woman; this idea that that’s what defines an individual as a woman.

Your post-menopausal grandmother might have something to say about that. But, as a general rule, it’s a good indicator.

“Considering the spectrum of gender identities, this is a very narrow way of looking at things. Your femininity and your identity is so much more than whether you do or do not bleed.”

I’m starting to wonder whether Ms Harrison is really that interested in helping people with toiletries or just has a weird obsession with periods?

The backlash has not stopped Ms Harrison from working to make her movement more inclusive, starting with the language she uses to describe periods and the people who get them.

Backlash“, or as 99.9% of the world calls it, “biological reality“.

Who is highly likely to experience homelessness?

Generally, I’d take a guess that those with severe mental illness make up a large ratio.

There are currently no reliable figures on the number of trans and non-binary people in Australia, according to Australian Research Centre for Sex Health and Society researcher Jennifer Power.

No shit? Given that, about five minutes ago, we were told self-identification is reality and the alphabet people’s categories expand annually (Q? Plus sign?). Jazz hands up who’s surprised nobody can accurately measure who fits in which demographic?

“We just don’t have that population-level data in Australia for transgender people or for people of different sexual identities.”

Dr Power says this means we cannot know how many trans or non-binary people experience menstruation.

No, that’s wrong, we can solve that numerical question for you; it’s all the trans people who have “female” on their birth certificate who aren’t taking testosterone and haven’t experienced the menopause yet. You’re fucking welcome.

But the most comprehensive available data on trans homelessness rates in the country, in 2016, reported 22 per cent of trans people aged 14-25 had experienced either accommodation issues or homelessness.

See the comment above about mental illness.

Speaking from his lived experience as a trans person who has periods, Mx Blundell said menstruation itself could distress trans and non-binary people.

“Trans people can be really terrified of getting their periods. For me, it meant that puberty had started and that my body was no longer in my control.”

Really terrified“, or in other words, “reminded of biological reality“. Oh, and if you think you are in full control of your body before puberty, you might want to read about a thing called “disease”.

“Even the idea of opening a pad or a tampon packet and that being heard by people [in the men’s toilet], there’s an added anxiety,” Mx Blundell said.

{note to readers: if you’re feeling disoriented at this point, don’t panic, it’s the ABC that’s insane, not you}

“And sanitary bins are often limited to women-only spaces.”

Oh just fuck off.

But there’s more. Christ, there’s always more:

What can we do to erase the gender-based stigma surrounding periods?

Hands up who, until just now, didn’t realise there was a gender-based stigma surrounding periods?

To start, Mx Blundell says we need to get the language around periods right in the first place, whether they are being discussed in schools or on the labels of period products — but not for the reasons you might think.

We need to get the language around periods right“. Oh, we do, do we?

Do we get to express an opinion on this language change, the like of which hasn’t been seen since The Great Vowel Shift?

No? We just have to fall in line, right?

Yes, ma’am sir. What else should we change, pray tell?

“It’s not just about including people, it’s about being factually accurate,” he said.

“If you’re talking about a cervix, call it a cervix, if you’re talking about ovaries, say ovaries rather than ‘the female reproductive system’.

“And if you’re [using the phrase] feminine hygiene products, just call them pads and tampons.”

This may come a surprise, but the number of occasions I’ve found myself speaking about any of those nouns in the last 12 months is about zero. I have spoken about my (female) wife’s periods however, and subsequently picked up a packet of tampons for her whilst I was doing the weekly shopping.

Guess what? I managed to buy them without stigma too. Stunning and brave.

The stream of consciousness from the Bedlamite continues;

The companies behind period products have a role to play too, he said.

“The images used of bodies on packaging are often thin, hyper-feminine-looking bodies. Maybe go for some diversity there.”

What, like a builder in a dress waving a box of Tampax around at his colleagues on the construction site? Maybe to a Motörhead soundtrack?

Mx Blundell has a great future career ahead of zher in the advertising industry, clearly.

And then there is the wall of pink packaging in chemists and supermarkets.

“I personally love pink, but we’ve got to stop linking periods so explicitly to womanhood,” he said.

Yes. Quite right. We should probably do more to link periods to crop rotation in the 16th century or the pentatonic musical scale. What were we thinking, with our insensitivity linking periods to womanhood. Madness.

Mx Blundell explained using the right language and having the right imagery was important because calling and depicting things as they are would help break down society’s gendered notions of periods, making menstruation itself less likely to distress trans and non-binary people.

“.…calling and depicting things as they are“.

Yes, I think we can all agree that’s important.

From there, Mx Blundell said talking to trans people about their needs when it came to periods was paramount.

Paramount (adjective): more important than anything else; supreme.

We’ve solved all the other big issues in the world then, phew.

I’m getting bored now. One more quote:

There are some things that should happen regardless of location though, he added, such as ensuring access to specialised bins for period products in all bathrooms.

How many public bathrooms do we think there are in Australia? Maybe somewhere between 1 and 2 million?

Let’s say a quarter of those are gender neutral. Let’s estimate a tampon disposal bin costs $100.

That’s about $75,000,000 we’ll need to find from public coffers to install a new sanitary bin in every male toilet in the country to satisfy the demands of perhaps 1,260 people in Australia.

You read that number correctly. The 2016 census found 1,260 “non binary” people.

Let’s assume that number is too low by a factor of ten. We’re still expected to spend $6,000 (not including labour and administrative costs) on for each “non binary” person to put a new bin in every male toilet, to help them not feel stigma. Probably double that, if we assume only half are women people who menstruate.

Bill’s Opinion

Here’s a thought experiment for you to try:

Imagine you had a time machine and a universal translation device. Go back to various points in human (and even pre-human) natural history and ask the question, “who has periods?”.

When would be the first time someone answered the translated equivalent of anything other than “women“?

Probably about 2012, right?

This is a bizarre social experiment, isn’t it, the aim of which is something like; throw away all language and definitions of everything we rely on to navigate around life without serious daily conflict, and see what happens.

In fact, if you read the works of Rousseau and Foucault, that’s exactly what this is. It’s an attempt to destroy “constructs” to enable the tabula rasa to be re-written upon.

It’s my strong suspicion there are three broad categories of people pushing this crap;

1. Those who know what it is, or at least suspect, and are enjoying the destruction and their new super power to get people to act as they please. Mx Blundell, for example.

2. Those who just want to be kind and haven’t worked out what’s really going on and the likely highly-negative consequences. “Useful idiots”, in other words. Ms. Harrison, most likely.

3. Those who are utterly petrified of expressing an impure thought and having the mob completely destroy them forever. The journalist Yasmin Jeffrey, would seem to fall neatly into this description.

Perhaps there’s a quiet 4th category; the 99.9% of the population who are reading this in utter despair and rage.

Defund the ABC, it’s long past its sell-by date.

Bravely fighting last century’s battles

The alphabet people have been feeling “more distressed” since the law changed to allow same sex marriage.

Spoiler alert; questions not asked in the article include, “measured how?” and “are all LGBTQ+ people equally distressed?“.

Those missing questions do seem somewhat pertinent, however.

How “distress” might be objectively measured would be fascinating to learn. Sadly, the Social Sciences haven’t made this breakthrough yet, and simply fudged the issue with a questionnaire on SurveyMonkey.

A slight digression and a useful heuristic; if your chosen academic discipline has the word “science” in the title, it probably isn’t. See also, “Centre of Excellence”.

The more interesting unasked question is how this fuzzy “distress” is broken down by the letters and symbols. Are gay men more or less distressed than the plus sign people? And if so, what is the favoured explanatory hypothesis?

The SMH article offers the example of Mitchell (photo below) as an illustration.

Mitchell is so distressed and concerned about the general public’s reaction that he has to hide his true self from the world, and daren’t let others know he’s not a heterosexual man.

Oh, wait.

Bill’s Opinion

This is the year 2020. Why are we still fighting the battles of the 1970s?

Is there really anyone left who seriously gives a shit about who other people choose to have sex with?

In an earlier generation, Mitchell might well have been an extremely repressed man living a daily lie. He may even have been stuck in a passionless marriage of convenience to avoid scrutiny and reduce the risk of imprisonment by the authorities.

In 2020, presumably he doesn’t feel so distressed that he can’t walk the streets of Darlinghurst sporting green hair and lipstick in constant fear of being physically or verbally attacked.

It’s seems to me this is a massive improvement, exponentially so, in fact.

This is not to deny there aren’t places or individuals who are victimising others on the basis on their sexuality, but that’s not the situation where the vast majority of us live and work.

Actually, most residents of those places where homophobic attacks are common, when given a choice and a travel visa, choose to move here, regardless of whether they are gay or straight.

In the real world, the non-Twitter, non-media bubble world, most of us haven’t heard an anti-gay statement or a disparaging joke said with unkind sentiments since disco died.

So why are we still being berated in hand-wringing articles like the one in the Sydney Morning Herald about our falling short as “silent allies“?

One hypothesis, and the one this organ considers most likely is, “projection” on the part of the authors of this fantasy.

The rest of us just don’t care who other people shag. We really don’t.

Important questions of our age

The great news is, we’ve really solved all the biggest issues facing humanity and the human condition.

We must have done, because otherwise there wouldn’t be time to ask why women don’t want to date a woman masquerading as a man.

The only difference between Lee and a man…Is that Lee has one fewer penis than a man.

It’s such a little difference (well, I’m not speaking for myself here – my nickname at the rugby club was “Tripod”, after all), but one that seems to significantly matter to single women with whom Lee would like to have romantic relationships.

Lee’s complaint seems to be that regardless of whether “he” is honest from the start of the online flirting phase or saves the big (non) reveal for later, once he’s excited the potential partner that he might be a possible mate, the reaction is universal; they decline.

Obviously (?) this confuses Lee and, presumably, the commissioning editor of Vice who published this column.

How can it be, in 2019, that women can be so prejudiced and cruel to just a regular trans man seeking romantic partners? Love is love, after all, is it not?

Bill’s Opinion

If the entire world disagrees with you, particularly in the form of revealed preferences, consider the possibility it’s your world view that’s at fault.

Given that we’ve only decided women can be men and men can be women in the last decade or so, one wonders how long we might need to wait for societal norms to overturn the millions of years of biological expediency that has resulted in our arrival at this point?

In the meantime, our golden rule when reading heartfelt articles about matters trans remains true; look at the picture first, if the person provoked an immediate reaction that they are one of the ugliest men/women you’ve seen, it’s because they aren’t.

Only bad people like you can be sexist

It’s unclear precisely when the facts changed but, at some point during the previous decade, the received opinion in the group of people who know these things is that it is not possible to be racist if you are not white.

The “logic” behind this repurposing of language is that racism=power+evil, or some similar daft equation.

So, for example, if you’re a black man shouting abuse at “crackers” you aren’t racist as long as the subject of your opprobrium is richer or more powerful in some other way than you. Actually, even that doesn’t matter; you could be a rich black person abusing a poor white person and still not be racist because four generations ago people who looked like you were enslaved by people who looked like the other person.

So the other person is the racist by genetics or, if they aren’t related to a slave owner and you aren’t the descendant of slaves, osmosis.

I think I’ve got that about right. Please correct me in the comments if not.

Similarly, being sexist is a crime exclusively committed by people who are bad people. Put another way, if you are a good person, you cannot be sexist.

Sounds a bit of a circular argument? Let me offer a worked example:

Let’s say your name is Arwa and you are a good person. You write a column in the Guardian, a newspaper that only publishes the thoughts of good people. Let’s say the article is full of opinions that, if written by a man who isn’t a good person (but I repeat myself) would be considered highly sexist because it explicitly states a woman’s worth is directly proportional to her beauty and appearance.

Therefore the completely objective assessment of the article is that it can’t be sexist and YOU are the sexist for thinking it might be sexist.

I hope that clears things up for you all.

In completely unrelated news, here’s an excellent article by Arwa Mahdarwi that doesn’t at all malign another woman as a completely brainless bimbo who is manipulated like a rag doll by those around her.

It is possible Trump just felt like cutting her hair. But if the Trumps care about anything, it is image; I wouldn’t dismiss the idea that Trump’s new cut is an attempt to get us to take her politicking more seriously. Women’s hair, after all, is tangled up in traditional ideas of femininity. There is a reason so many female politicians sport a short style known as the political bob (pob): it is less “feminine”, which makes them seem more powerful. So be afraid, be very afraid: Trump’s new do may well signify that she has ramped up her political ambitions. God help us all if she goes brunette.

Bill’s Opinion

If it wasn’t for double standards, the woke brigade would have no standards at all.

Imagine if anyone else had written that Guardian article explaining why Ivanka Trump has no personal agency and is, in fact, a tabula rasa to be written on by the men in her life.

The war is won, go back to your farms and families

Let’s pick an arbitrary moment in history; the OJ Simpson car chase, perhaps. People who are old enough to remember that event are of an age where they will have also witnessed a huge change in society from that time to the present day.

If you were old enough to be aware of the OJ Simpson case in 1994, you’ll also remember how it was still considered a massive problem to be openly gay in many areas of public life.

Some obvious examples:

Freddie Mercury – it wasn’t until just before his death of AIDS in 1992 that his sexuality was publicly acknowledged. 

Liberace – also not publicly acknowledged as being gay until after his death in 1987, despite some fairly obvious clues.

Rock Hudson – same story, died in 1984.

It seems ridiculous now to think that homosexuality would be in any way a bar to career success, particularly in the entertainment industry, in 2019. In addition, most western countries have laws explicitly banning discrimination against someone based on their sexual orientation and recognising same sex marriage as equal in law as that between men and women.

 

Similarly, someone who grew up in  the 1970s and 80s would have seen a large change in the attitudes of the media and the general public towards the acceptability of racism.

Examples from the UK:

The Black and White Minstrel Show – a “light entertainment” show on the BBC featuring singers and dancers in blackface that ran for 20 years until 1978…. and continued on stage in London until 1988.

The Goodies – the Pythonesque comedy show regularly used offensive racial terms in the show, including at least one reference of the “N word”.

Jim Davidson, Bernard Manning, most mainstream TV stand-up comics – many relied heavily on racial stereotypes in their humour. Even the black comedian, Lenny Henry, had a rasta character of which he is probably somewhat embarrassed these days.

 

The same is true with the western societies’ attitudes to women in the workplace. At the highest level of office, many countries have elected female leaders, with New Zealand and the UK having had two (albeit with mixed results). There have been huge shifts in the numbers of women having successful corporate and governmental careers.

On a personal note, the majority of my corporate bosses over the 2nd half of my career have been female, completely the opposite of the previous half.

 

When one considers where we’ve come from to where we have arrived today, the improvements have been overwhelmingly positive. Someone uttering a racist, sexist or homophobic comment in society today would be, rightly, quickly criticised.

Perhaps we have an altogether different problem now……

If I had to give the problem a name, I’d offer something like, “the asymmetry of lobbyists and issues“.

To understand what I mean by this, consider the following thought experiment; 

If you could plot two lines on a graph over time, where one line measures the organisation size (by staff or perhaps revenue) of a campaign group against racism, sexism or homophobia and the other line measures the size of the problem they are campaigning to solve, which directions would each line be traveling?

That is, do you think homophobia is getting better or worse and do you think, say, Stonewall, has become larger or smaller (not to particularly pick on Stonewall)?

Bill’s Opinion

There comes a moment in every war where the combatants must decide whether the fight has been won or lost and what their plans will be as a consequence.

In the example of a “real” war, one fought with bullets and bombs, once it has been won the armies generally begin the process of de-mobilisation, go home to their loved ones and continue with their lives, “turning swords into ploughshares”, as the phrase has it.

It doesn’t seem obvious that anything similar is likely to happen with culture wars such as the ones described above as, obviously, the organisations have been created and are not motivated to dismantle themselves under a banner saying “Mission Accomplished”. 

The alternative is what we see today; scope creep. People who make their salaries from finding a problem and solving a problem will continue to find problems, regardless of whether those problems are material or even real.

 

Rights without responsibilities

If you’ve been living under a rock, been busy, aren’t interested in Australian politics or, frankly (and ironically), have a life, you might not have heard there’s an abortion debate going on in New South Wales.

Obviously, the first casualty in this type of debate is the truth. For the record, the legal status quo looks like this (where New South Wales is in green):

Keep that in mind before we look at the reporting on this issue.

In summary, a pregnant woman can have an abortion in NSW for several reasons, often quoted by pro-abortion lobbyists as the most valid arguments for terminating an unborn child’s life.

The one reason for an abortion not allowed in NSW is as a method of contraception. There’s a couple of big howevers to that; the woman could drive across the state border to the Australian Capital Territory and access abortion on demand there or find a doctor who is willing to prescribe abortion for reasons of mental health.

In other words, abortion in NSW is safe, legal, rare and, wink wink, not to be allowed for contraception.

That isn’t acceptable in these modern times though. Abortion on demand is a woman’s “right”, according to, well, the usual people we find ourselves regularly observing with incredulity here.

As the NSW government tears itself inside out trying to change the law whilst not losing the slim parliamentary majority it has, cue hand-wringing articles in our favourite woke organs of record.

This one, for example, which lists lots of terrible events which might lead to the agonising decision of a woman to kill her unborn child…. all of which are legal already and aren’t under threat of being criminalised.

Then there’s this article, which also describes an agonising choice made by a pregnant woman that is, wait for it, also not under threat of being made illegal.

What I’ve yet to find (please correct me in the comments if you’ve seen it) is an article explaining the current legislation and what impact the proposed changes will have if passed. i.e. will the categories of valid reasons be increased or decreased, will the time limit be decreased or increased, will abortion be available to be used as a form of contraception?

Bill’s Opinion

As I’ve stated earlier, my opinion on abortion has hardened the further away in time I have become from being likely to benefit from it.

The reporting on the current debate is actually activism not journalism. Cases on the margins are being cited as arguments for the change in legislation without explanation that these are already allowed.

If you are pro-abortion, I would suggest that, if your view is without nuance that it is completely the right of the pregnant woman to decide whether or not to continue the pregnancy, you are practicing a form of self-delusion.

If you believe the media reporting on the issue is balanced and impartial, I’d further suggest you may have a form of cognitive or mental deficiency. Perhaps I’ve only seen the worst examples though, so do post links to balanced reporting if you know of any.

There is a moral choice to be made with regards to abortion, but it is not the one many lobbyists might think. The choice to take an otherwise viable human life by abortion is actually the final choice in a long series of choices. In chronological order, those are:

  1. Abstain from having sex.
  2. Abstain from having sex with someone you know you don’t want to be be with for the rest of your life.
  3. If you wish to have sex with someone who isn’t an obvious life partner, diligently and responsibly use contraception. Be aware that there will still be a residual risk of pregnancy.
  4. If an “accident” happens, carry the baby to term and decide whether you can cope with parenthood after it’s born.
  5. Offer the child up for adoption to one of the desperate couples who can’t conceive naturally.
  6. Kill the damn thing like a virus.

The Tower of LGBTQ+ Babel

It’s not often I quote the bible on here, particularly as I’m not a believer, but this just seems too appropriate not to:

And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.
So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.

Consider this headline:

At first blush, one might be wondering whether there’s been some sort of breakthrough at a genetic level that enables conception without sperm.

But then, bear in mind the advice we gave on how to get to the truth of these mendacious transgender journalistic attempts at confusion; look at the picture.

a woman wearing glasses and smiling at the camera: Rebecca and Isabelle Sutherland's son, Bailey, has DNA from both his mums. (ABC News: David Sciasci)

If, instinctively, you thought “Christ, the woman in red looks really unshaggable and pathetic but, fuck me, the one holding the bottle looks like she fell out of the Ugly Tree and hit every branch face-first on the way down“, you’d be right. It’s a man.

Let’s fisk the various and several language-mangling crimes the ABC’s David Sciasci commits, shall we?

Rebecca and Isabelle Sutherland have known each other since they were children.

The couple, now in their late 20s, married and experienced the wonder of being new parents to their four-month-old son, Bailey.

Now would be a good time to tell us how two women conceived a baby, given the headline suggested it’s a medical breakthrough.

Isabelle had been increasingly troubled by information she was reluctant to share with her partner, causing Rebecca to fear the worst.

“I was worried because it was not long after we got engaged,” Rebecca said.

She was convinced Isabelle was having second thoughts about their engagement. She guessed her fiance could be about to leave her for someone else.

“I just cornered her on the couch and was like, ‘You’re going to tell me whatever’s going on’,” Rebecca said.

Isabelle explained: “We just kind of broke down and I said, ‘Look, I’m trans,’ and Bec said, ‘Oh, is that all?'”

Oh, ok. So Isabelle is a woman now but was a bloke and therefore baby Bailey was conceived via her female penis?

As you were, medical students; it’s the miracle of life but not a significant moment in scientific history.

There’s a punchline though:

Rebecca said her fiance’s revelation prompted her to make her own. “Oh, I guess I have to tell her I’m bi now. I was keeping it a secret.”

Boom tish!

Of course, the previous definition of bi (as in “bisexual”) was that a person found people of either gender sexually-attractive.

Rebecca’s new proposed definition seems to be, “I find men attractive, even the one sitting next to me, wearing my Mum’s dress”. The article is silent on whether or not she finds women with vaginas sexually attractive or not.

Let’s learn about the process to make a baby in 2019, shall we?

“We were never quite sure if we were going to try for a child before I started medically transitioning, or use in vitro fertilisation after the fact,” Isabelle said.

She began freezing her sperm in case she went ahead with a gender transition.

“Her sperm”.

“Ultimately, we decided, ‘You know what, we’ll just give it a try for a couple of months to see how it goes before I start hormones. Maybe something will happen, maybe it won’t, we’ll play it by ear’,” Isabelle said.

Rebecca was pregnant two weeks later.

Man and woman have sex. They fall pregnant. It’s a miracle!

The rest of the article goes on to describe, with a few complications, a process everyone on the planet has been through already. There is this unintentionally-hilarious quote though (emphasis mine):

The Sutherlands said there were times during the pregnancy, before they changed hospitals, when some medical staff seemed judgmental and “hung up” on Bailey having two biological mothers.

I think we can read between the lines that the two “mothers” met someone who didn’t go along with their demand to pander to their shared mental illness.

Finally, here’s a lie for our age:

They say the most common question they are asked is: “Who’s mum?” They answer: both of them.

Bill’s Opinion

Anyone who has ever met adult humans before and takes one look at the pair of them knows which one gave birth.

I’m willing to bet there are more people alive who have set foot on the surface of planet Mars than have ever been genuinely unsure which of this pair physically gave birth to Bailey.

Rebecca, who is writing a memoir, hopes telling her family’s story will help transgender parents be accepted and better understood, to the point where, one day, “no one bats an eyelid”.

Sorry Rebecca, it doesn’t matter how much you or anyone else force other people to pretend, “Isabelle” is always going to have facial features defined by the rather inconvenient biological fact that he is a man.

Granted, a man suffering what was previously defined under DSM5 as a mental illness, but still and always a man.

That Sam I are, that Sam I are

Someone called Sam Smith has announced to the world a requirement for everyone to stop using the pronouns he/him but to now use they/them when referring to them.  

I’d previously not heard of this Sam Smith. Apparently, he isn’t the brewery that produces some of Yorkshire’s finest ale.

Sorry, they isn’t the brewery….. 

No, wait. That doesn’t sound right. 

They aren’t the brewery? But aren’t suggests plural, does that mean they have just been cloned?

This transgender stuff is very hard to follow without completely breaking every grammatical rule we previously held to be correct.

Bill’s Opinion

Imagine poor old Sam’s dilemma; if they were fifteen years older, they would have been able to claim victim status simply by being homosexual. In 2019 though, being gay isn’t enough, especially in the entertainment industry.

Now, to stand out from the crowd, one must make claim to being a footsoldier fighting on the frontline of gender politics and announce to the world one’s transgender bona fides.

Of course, this is the epitome of crybullying; “Call me by whatever pronoun I tell you to or you are a hateful bigot

Because nothing says mentally-stable than a claim that a pronoun is the key to your happiness and personal well-being…..

Compare and contrast with this classic response from Olympian legend, Chris Hoy:

Hoy meets some Scottish journalists. One puts it to him that: ‘In the last 24 hours everyone has been offering an opinion on Chris Hoy. But what does Chris Hoy think of Chris Hoy?’

Hoy doesn’t miss a beat: ‘Chris Hoy thinks that the day Chris Hoy refers to Chris Hoy in the third person is the day that Chris Hoy disappears up his own arse.’

To a woman with a hammer

….the whole world looks like a nail.

For those who haven’t been exposed to the views and, such that it is, the career, of Caroline Criado-Perez before it might be worth a quick read of her Wikipedia page or a similar biography to form a view on her motivation. I won’t lead the witness by offering an opinion at this stage.

Caroline has written a book, Invisible Women, in which she details the myriad ways the world we find ourselves living in has been designed, not for women, but for men.

In an interview with Wired, she lays out some of the more egregious examples.

If we assumed she started the interview with the worst example, we will be unsurprised to learn it is in the serious area of medical treatment. Apparently, medical research has been traditionally performed on males far more frequently than females.

Around that same time I also found out that we don’t tend to involve female humans or animals or cells in medical trials, and the result of that is women have less effective treatment and more side effects.

I don’t have access to the data to confirm the underlying assertion of that paragraph but, for the purposes of today’s blog post, I don’t need to. I will accept it as fact; medical research has been performed far more frequently on males.

The question leaping to the front of curious minds then is, why?

Perhaps there are three categories of answer to that question;

  1. Mendacity by the medical profession including, one assumes, the many female research professionals, and/or
  2. Negligent or sloppy thinking by the researchers, and/or
  3. Some other more defensible reason.

We can all agree that, if category (1) and (2) were the most significant reasons medical research was carried out on males rather than females, there is a major scientific issue to be resolved.

However, before we start condemning as bad actors the thousands of medical researchers responsible for the huge positive health advances we have all benefited from over the last hundred years or so, let’s check whether there might not be some significant reasons behind Caroline’s discovery.

Without thinking too hard or long on the subject, I can think of the following possible reasons why males featured more frequently in medical research;

  1. From its commencement as a subject of study, medical research was performed on the cadavers of executed prisoners. Throughout human history, men have been executed at an incredibly greater rate than women. It’s still true today in countries where the death penalty exists, as this hilarious HuffPo article confirms (hilarious because it’s desperately trying to say women are less likely to be executed because of duh patriarchy).
  2. It’s an uncomfortable fact but we currently benefit from the findings of medical research of coerced and involuntary subjects. This includes prisoners who have agreed to the research but also awful and torturous research such as that on victims of the Holocaust. In the case of prisoners, as with the cadavers of executed prisoners, the demographics skew massively towards men.
  3. Until the 1960s, women could not control their menstruation cycle and had less reliable pregnancy testing facilities than today. They were therefore at far greater risk of being unknowingly pregnant during the early stages after conception. Unless the medical research is to be specifically on the effects on unborn children, many women would be excluded from participating.

Bill’s Opinion

Let’s assume Caroline is a good faith actor. She’s made a wonderful career from finding reasons to suggest women are victims in almost every aspect of modern life, generally to the benefit of men. 

Incentives matter though. There is currently very little reason for Caroline to search for logical and sensible reasons for the outcomes she documents but, instead, leaps to the far easier conclusion of duh patriarchy.

As Upton Sinclair famously put it;

It is difficult to get a man woman to understand something, when his her salary depends on his her not understanding it.

Finally, just to confirm to us that the issues Caroline raises are grave and important, let her describe the awful problems women have experienced, by design, in the area of technology:

The category of smartphones is a massive bugbear of mine because I actually got RSI [repetitive strain injury] from an iPhone 6. And I now am stuck with an iPhone SE which I can’t upgrade. The only small phone they had, they discontinued, and it’s the only one that fits my hand. It’s incredibly frustrating. And then later when [Apple] introduced Siri, you could use it to find a viagra supplier but not an abortion clinic. So there’s all sorts of examples like that, where there’s not as much thought being put into, you know—female customers exist.

Caroline Criado-Perez truly is our generation’s Rosa Parks or Emily Davidson.

The battle of Tor’s

The Liverpool Echo is one of my favourite sources of comedy. This is not because the stereotype of the city of Liverpool, England being populated by hilarious pranksters and jokers is at all correct. In fact, as Stewart Lee once pointed out, Liverpool is a place unique in its ability to confuse cloying sentimentality for humour.

No, the amusement and delight is found in reading news articles targeted at people who are united in their ability to find victim status in the most unusual and innocuous situations. There must be a disproportionate number of florists and shops selling black arm bands in Liverpool than any other location.

Today’s chuckle can be had at the expense of “Tor” Smith, a “transgender person” who is stoically and quietly struggling through their mental health issues erm body dysphoria as categorised in DSM-5 erm transgenderism.

There is much to comment on in the article but we’ll focus on just two main points, for the sake of brevity.

Firstly, the mangling and wrestling of the English language by Kate McMullin, Senior General News Reporter; clearly, it has been explained to her that pronouns are a critical part of Tor’s gender identity and, therefore, Kate has thrown the usual grammatical rules out of the window and performed a search/replace on every “her” and “she” in the article, replacing these perfectly functional pronouns with they/their.

Secondly, because this is Liverpool, we are somehow meant to feel sympathy for Tor because zhe has broken a rib trying to strap down zher breasts.

Bill’s Opinion

As we’ve stated before, when we read articles about transgender people in the media, the first and easiest clue to what is going on is the picture. It turns out, instincts learned over millions of years of evolution are pretty hard to fool on matters as basic and fundamental to genetic survival as reproduction.

Ok, so Tor is a girl with mental health issues.

Here’s a question Tor may never get round to asking zherself; if you were born 15 years earlier, what’s the chances you’d have been satisfied with being lesbian?

As for broken ribs. Nothing screams “perfectly sane and reasonable” as physically abusing yourself and then claiming victim status.