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My body will never be erased The oppression of women is based entirely on our biology

On the frontline: Rosie Kay.


December 17, 2021   8 mins

A dancer’s life is physical and challenging. You cannot escape your body. I started training when I was three-years old and have endured scoliosis, lordosis, hypermobility, chronic knee pain as well as multiple injuries. I’ve broken bones and my jaw while dancing; I’ve had steroids injected into my neck, multiple surgeries and pain you would not believe.

But the joy, the pleasure of my embodied reality is worth it. I know exactly when my period is due, the sensation of ovulation and the micro-weight gains pre-period that affect my balance, my flexibility and my confidence. I understand the pressures of aesthetics, the desire to be thin, to be ripped, to be long limbed, to be fast and athletic. It’s never ending what you should or could be as a female body in my artform.

I am a dancer and choreographer and have been making work since graduating from London Contemporary Dance School in 1998. I set up my eponymous dance company in 2004, and would regularly tour the UK, Europe and the USA. My work includes 5 Soldiers and MK Ultra which explored conspiracy theory through the lens of pop stars, music video imagery and Britney Spears. I dance, I teach, I speak, and I collaborate.

The body is at the heart of my work and research. To explore the idea of how we inhabit our bodies, I have joined an all-male infantry battalion to train with soldiers, I have been on the beat with West Midlands Police, I have worked with children and teenagers. I have tried to understand the pain women feel about their identity, their changing body in puberty, their sexuality and their confined role in society. I’ve trowelled through the internet and dived into conspiracy theory.

At times, face-masked in mud, helmet and body armour on, clutching an SA 80, I felt more macho than any man I’d ever met. Leaping out of windows, throwing grenades, I felt as cocky and dangerous as any human could ever be. Dressed for a dinner at a private country estate, dangling earrings and floor length gown, I could not feel more feminine. But these are gender stereotypes. These are roles that say soldier = boy, dancer = girl. I stand on the front line of the gender debate, challenging myself and everyone around me, and it’s easier than it looks. You just have to engage your mind, engage your body and be in time in space in the present.

But the frontline of the gender debate is a dangerous place to be. Which is why today I find myself without a dance company, ostracised by my former executive co-director and my board of trustees.

I was shunned following a party at my house during which I disclosed that my new work would be based on Virginia Woolf’s novel Orlando and I revealed my growing unease around the erasure of the word “women” and the biological denialism associated with Gender Ideology.

I did not intend to cause offence or make this about individuals — my ideas were forming and I wanted to have robust debate to find out what the other side thought. But to even float these thoughts in the privacy of my own home was deemed beyond the pale. I was subsequently accused of transphobia and have been investigated for bigotry by my own company. Last week, I decided that I no longer had any trust in my board, and that they had abused the grievance policy of the company to unfairly investigate me. I had no option but to resign, citing constructive dismissal in the hope that I might take back control of my life and my creativity. They tried to silence and shut me down; the next day they took my phone and personal email accounts that were intertwined with the company I founded. I’ve endured dishonest and gross misrepresentations of my views spoken and written about me, and I have quietly tried to maintain my sense of self, my sense of humour and my sanity.

I believe adult people have the right to be, to feel and to identify any way they want. I do believe, though, that if we erase the word women, if we stop it meaning a biologically based sex class, it becomes a word that can include any male who self-IDs and by doing so we erase women’s rights, the women’s movement and the very basis of attacking and naming sexism and misogyny. The idea that to even state that “a woman is a woman” is extremist or transphobic is deeply chilling and totally false.

The past few years have been dominated by the gender debate online, with the defining moment of the JK Rowling statement, and her eloquent exploration of defending the trans community, defending women, and attempting to explain how domestic violence so affects us as women, and that asking for same sex protections is not in itself transphobic. In fact, in our desperate desire to explain our mistrust of men, so many women have had to re-traumatise themselves, dredging up pain and hurt from the past, as I have done, to help to try to explain just how scared we all really are.

Throughout history it is the artists and the intellectuals who are shut down first — those who dare to question the status quo, or are the first to notice cultural shifts. As artists it is our job to be thinking ahead, following trends, thinking through the eventual outcomes or legacy of new waves of thought. And while my feminism burns bright, I was still feeling uncertain as to what was the right approach to this new way of thinking and talking. I wanted to do the right thing, I wanted to be inclusive, I am a modern progressive artist, I can adapt, change, shift my norms.

So I began looking for a novel or a book that I could hang a lot of my sex and gender questions on, reading, researching, studying Olympe de Gouges who wrote the amazing tenant of Rights for Women, the French Revolution and its betrayal of rights for all (and certainly not for women), sexual politics, and returning to second wave Angela Carter, bell hooks, Germaine Greer and Simone de Beauvoir.

Then I came to Orlando. I saw the film, and then read the book, and I was utterly blown away. I had found Virginia Woolf pretty impenetrable as a young woman; but when I sat down with it this time, I read it in a heightened state over two fabulous days. I knew I’d fallen in love — with Orlando, with Virginia, and then after reading the letters between Virginia and Vita Sackville West (as recommended by the local LGBT reading group), I fell in love with Vita too. I was so inspired byWoolf’s third way of approaching all of this muddled and difficult stuff.

Orlando absolutely is a man at the start of the novel, a privileged, precocious boy, beautiful, charming, rich, aristocratic. He falls in love, he loses in love, he writes dreadful poetry, he is humiliated, he is confronted with real warfare and can not cope with his “manly role” to fight and he goes to sleep. When Orlando awakes, she is a woman. A total sex change. A different-sexed body, a thing that even with modern medicine, hormone treatment and surgery, can never, ever be achieved. But humans have the power of imagination. There isn’t one woman alive who hasn’t imagined what her life would be like had she been born a man, the freedoms, the right to pleasure, the right to self.

The problem, Woolf seems to suggest, is no man has really, deeply, truly thought about this the other way around. Men have still not truly grasped the radical notion that a woman is a fully created, total, embodied human being, worth exactly the same as any man. The fact that then Orlando does have a wonderfully wicked time in Georgian England (a time where at least 20% of all women and girls in London worked in the sex trade), is both delightful, titillating and fun.

Remember, it would take until the Sixties and the contraceptive pill before any woman could have sex with a man and not be concerned about the consequences of pregnancy, and what that meant for her and her baby’s future. Woolf knows that women and men are not so dissimilar. We have wants, needs, and desires, but we do not have equal treatment, in the eyes of society or in the eyes of the law. Interestingly, even the GRA of 2003 made sure that no woman could change gender to be a man in order to inherit aristocratic wealth. Exactly as in Orlando all those years before. Some things don’t change


Unfortunately, because of my attempt to articulate my gender critical beliefs, I now find myself without a company and without an Orlando. I stand accused of transphobia, which is damaging to the trans community, to women and to me and my reputation as an artist. But I must defend myself, defend my views and stand with the other, incredibly brave women and men who are speaking out against this dangerous ideology. The oppression of women is based entirely on our biology and our reproductive rights and vulnerabilities. We embody our oppression and our strength.

I feel this powerfully in my own body. A dancer’s body, but also a woman’s body; a body that has been raped, assaulted, attacked, strangled, knocked out and abused. My body has been in deep pain, physical and mental. My body has been a victim, that has scars running deep — on my scalp and in my soul. But it is also a body that has created, nurtured and given life. A body that coped with pregnancy, that survived an emergency birth, and then breastfed an infant until he was 30 months. A body of beauty, miracle, love and care. A body that sat in local cafes, shamed me with my bursting boobs, leaking nipples and abundant health. A body that was met, even as an infant suckled, with tuts and looks from by passers — the old judging my openness, the young unable to see boobs as anything but sex objects. I sat there, ashamed but not understanding why until I realised that I felt like an an animal. I was an animal. It shocked me. I couldn’t identify out of my life-giving properties. I couldn’t pretend I wasn’t female; I was a woman, a mother, a life giver, yet I wasn’t respected or liked or even tolerated because of it.

Something changed in me. Something deep, and I became braver, fiercer, angry even, about how badly women are treated. And it certainly wasn’t just me — it was all my friends, all those forceps births, split and cut vaginas, c-sections, dangerous births, the refusal to give any kind of painkillers, husbands and partners banned from the birthing room. And then there is the aftermath: the refusal to learn your baby’s name. The infantilising of you and your body and your baby, despite being a grown-up professional woman. I felt like I was 10 years old and being told off. The moment of sheer relief when one midwife treated you and your body with respect and compassion. Often the most overworked and exhausted of women who still hung onto a modicum of love and respect for our bodies and babies.

This body, my body, it’s been through so much. But it is a dancing body, a body with more to give and to learn than ever before.

My body is why I challenge the belief that we are walking meat sacks. How can it be that we are just flesh, blood, fluids, nerves, muscles, bones. That we are nothing alive, we have nothing to feel, nothing to give pleasure. It is this sort of “transhumanistic philosophy”, that we are merely a brain homunculus behind two jiggling eyes, which is the destroyer of women, of our innate power in the universe, of our understanding that we are mammals, we live on a finite planet, we eat and we shit and we make love and we birth babies and we orgasm and we feel pain and we feel hurt and some of it is from outside of us and some it we invent inside ourselves.

We only have this life, this existence and this time on this planet. We cannot invent a new planet, we cannot pretend we do not exist, we cannot pretend our bodies are not ours. We are more than the sum of our parts, we are our bodies, minds and consciousnesses. We are only just now starting to truly understand the connectivity between our minds, bodies, nature and the planet.

So I say no to the new puritans, the sex deniers and the body snatchers. No to erasure of my sex, no to erasure of my boundaries and my safety. You are asking far, far too much and we know it. We must, and always must, state our truth of our own existence.


Rosie Kay is an award-winning British choreographer and dancer.

RosieKayK2CO

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Dan Gleeballs
Dan Gleeballs
2 years ago

Being attacked by spiteful lunatics puts you in the right. I’m very glad Unherd gave you the opportunity to write this – parts of it read like poetry. I’m sorry we won’t see more of Orlando. It sounds interesting.

I suspect we disagree on many things, but I’m with you in this – and against the madness of erasing and endangering women.

Last edited 2 years ago by Dan Gleeballs
JP Martin
JP Martin
2 years ago
Reply to  Dan Gleeballs

This was my reaction too. I can see that we do not agree about everything (which is totally normal) but Rosie Kay and I agree on this and I have deep respect for her. How can anyone deny that womanhood is real and some experiences are uniquely female? The world has gone mad!

tom j
tom j
2 years ago
Reply to  Dan Gleeballs

She’s been horribly treated. I suppose if you’re being harsh, it looks as if Rosie herself participated in the nonsense insistence that there is no diff between men & women, which was a step on this bizarre journey we seem to be on.

Cantab Man
Cantab Man
2 years ago
Reply to  tom j

Indeed, Tom.

In a bizarre twist of fate, Rosie is experiencing exactly what she expresses an interest in experiencing: What it’s like to be a man and, therefore, be subject to immediate scorn and cancellation.

Her dreams have come true. But perhaps being a ‘man’ is not all that she thought it would be.

As an aside, I love her analogy of “macho men” who are in the military. We have set up such things as military glory, honor, sacrifice, hierarchy and praised men for going to battle, because, in the end, if you’re dead in the ditch none of those things really matter. For millennia we’ve played societal shell-games with boys and men to gin them up to die.

For the perpetuation of a society, men have always been more disposable than women due to the gestation period necessary for the next generation to be brought into existence. Which explains why we have twice as many female ancestors as male ancestors. The males who were ‘unworthy’ and disposable (e.g. were sent to battle to die and never had spouses) did not have any children.

Maybe some women dream of being a ‘macho man’ in the army…but no one dreams of being in the ditch.

-cantabman

Last edited 2 years ago by Cantab Man
Emre Emre
Emre Emre
2 years ago
Reply to  Cantab Man

This was very good – it’s something I’ve been trying to put in a coherent form to express, and you’ve done a very good job of that.

Cantab Man
Cantab Man
2 years ago
Reply to  Emre Emre

Thank you.

I’ve not served in the military, but I always give those who serve/served their due with the fullest respect.

I see serving in the military as akin to playing Russian Roulette with a six-chambered revolver and with a stranger deciding how many bullets get placed into those chambers before the game commences.

Will the soldier be ordered by his/her superiors to charge a hill with an enemy on top manning a machine gun pointed at them from a pillbox (id est, five or six chambers of the revolver loaded)? Or is the soldier ordered to stand at post (id est, zero or one chamber of the revolver loaded)? It’s not up to those who play the game. It’s only up to their superiors.

How do you get someone to play Russian Roulette when the rules are that they won’t know how many bullets are chambered before they pull the trigger and there is no negotiation? It makes no sense. In short, the game is FUBAR for the one pulling the trigger with the revolver to his or her head.

So we have duty, honor, tradition, hierarchy and glory to embed the needful sacrifice of the one for the many, even when playing the game makes no sense for the one playing.

This has been the game for so long that it has been built into the general tendencies of boys to dream of putting themselves into harms way for a chance that is masked as ‘glory’ that is really merely a chance to die. It’s quite perverse when I think about it, but it would take the full eradication of war on the planet and thousands-upon-thousands of years to change this tendency, evolutionarily speaking.

Some call this trait ‘macho’. I just call it an evolutionary tendency that has been so successful in the survival of our species that the trait is now embedded within ‘mankind’.

Last edited 2 years ago by Cantab Man
Bret Larson
Bret Larson
2 years ago
Reply to  Cantab Man

Soldiers dont play Russian Roulette. And they dont like officers who treat them as disposable either. They are willing though to put their lives at risk to protect the society they value. Maybe the people making up these new societies should ask themselves, who is going to defend the societies they are making at the cost of their lives?

Cantab Man
Cantab Man
2 years ago
Reply to  Bret Larson

It’s not really up to the soldiers. It’s up to their superiors.

Why did we call US soldiers G.I. Joes once upon a time?

They were (G)eneral (I)ssue. Or (G)overnment (I)ssue. To be used as necessary to keep the country safe. Workplace violence is the norm.

This is not in dispute.

Of course the military manages risks…but there are risks all the same and soldiers follow orders. That’s why it’s the military.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
2 years ago
Reply to  Cantab Man

Yes soldiers make up interesting descriptions for themselves. The deflection proves the point. Any successful military is based on esprit d’corps, you don’t get that from being expendable.

Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
2 years ago
Reply to  Cantab Man

embittered genralisations keep us apart. To be human is to experience pain and difficulty, vairaible and on many levels. I still grieve for the men in my family in earlier generations, lost in wars started by men, mourned by mothers wives and sisters who have left no descendents for me to know and love in my own generation

Last edited 2 years ago by Alison Tyler
David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Alison Tyler

I still grieve for the men in my family in earlier generations, lost in wars started by men

The same men? If your family members were warmongers, I have no sympathy I’m afraid. Which wars did your family actually start?

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

I think you have misunderstood Alison’s comment.

Andrew Holmes
Andrew Holmes
2 years ago
Reply to  Cantab Man

Ghandi spoke for you as France fell. Welcome Nazis into your homes. Live happily with a boot on your neck with the future prospect of you or your children sent to tend an oven, externally or as fuel. But of course, you’d likely live.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

A beautifully written essay. People (women mostly) are having to navigate dangerous territory occupied by increasingly intolerant and ignorant bullies.
At its essence, women are saying that we do not want to lose our identity at the expense of others finding theirs.

Brendan Kenny
Brendan Kenny
2 years ago

Well said.

David Whitaker
David Whitaker
2 years ago

At its essence, women are saying that we do not want to lose our identity at the expense of others finding theirs. Perfectly expressed!

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
2 years ago

Bravo! Your courage and your defiance are an inspiration to us all.
And you are observing Rule One: Do not apologize to the wokies.
Also, Bravo UnHerd for publishing this piece.

Last edited 2 years ago by Christopher Chantrill
Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago

Good to see that you’re NOT APOLOGISING. Now start a new company, hire some non-woke dancers, and stage Orlando. Rub the fascist woke scums’ noses in it.

Last edited 2 years ago by Drahcir Nevarc
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Unfortunately, as is the way of these Puritan movements (such as Mcarthy), you may not receive any recognition for your stand for many years and may not win the same plaudits for your work.
But at least you know you did the right thing.
It’s sad to see others who have said nothing wrong in the woke debates then scrabbling around, desperately trying to find a means of apologising or demonstrating that they’ve ‘learned’.

Glyn Reed
Glyn Reed
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

The self righteous woke lecturing that postures as art these days has driven away people in droves. I believe they would return with pleasure to something that avoids putting them through that dismal misery.

Dawn McD
Dawn McD
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

I took up knitting in May of last year and was immediately exposed to the phenomenon of the cancellation mobs. I took a look at the written or spoken “offenses” of Karen Templer, Nathan Taylor/Sockmatician, Maria Tusken, and most recently Kristy Glass, and not a single one of these people deserved the horrific abuse rained down on them by the Woke Mafia. Taylor and Tusken stood up for themselves, despite the social and economic losses endured (along with a trip to the emergency room for Taylor), but it turned my stomach to see Templer and Glass cave in and issue the “apology,” which at this point has become a standard script I almost have memorized.
It has taken more than a year to see a good number of people, instead of a rare few, refuse to cave and to stand up for themselves. One name I did not mention above was Maree Buscke of Skeinz in New Zealand. When she was attacked she didn’t panic. She did a little research and found out that the mob pretends to be bigger than it is, and when she stood her ground she found that many people, including Skeinz customers, stood with her. What Rosie Kay is doing is important, it’s vital for all women, and I admire her for doing this. See also Jess DeWahls, the embroidery artist, who has become a fighter in the “gender-critical” arena.

Charles Mimoun
Charles Mimoun
2 years ago

“The oppression of women is based entirely on our biology.” It is precisely why we should define who is a woman according to biology.
Great article.

Last edited 2 years ago by Charles Mimoun
Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Mimoun

The problem is, then you also have to accept that women would have different choices, strengths and weaknesses based in biology.

And the women complaining about being stomped by the likes of trans activists were at the forefront of denying biology and claiming any field where men excelled was due entirely to “sexisn”

The author is exactly the kind of person who would gloat at Damore being exiled.

Charles Mimoun
Charles Mimoun
2 years ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

True, but accepting as men that we have not got certain feminine qualities could make it easier.

Last edited 2 years ago by Charles Mimoun
Red Reynard
Red Reynard
2 years ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Do not rest on your historical grievances, for they are yesterday. Fight with the women today. Because the trans lobby will be coming for you tomorrow.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Red Reynard

Because the trans lobby will be coming for you tomorrow.

And if they don’t, the radfems will!
Why exactly will the trans lobby be coming for me? In contrast,the radfems have form in this department.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Not only that, it was radical feminists who radically critiqued biology (and other sciences) as being a patriarchal discourse which supported existing power structures.
A bit late now to decide that biology is simply true.
Or, at least, the bits you want to be true are true. The bits you are less happy with are presumably still part of a dominant male discourse.

Last edited 2 years ago by David Morley
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

“an SA 80, I felt more macho than any man I’d ever met. Leaping out of windows, throwing grenades, I felt as cocky and dangerous as any human could ever be. Dressed for a dinner at a private country estate, dangling earrings and floor length gown, I could not feel more feminine. But these are gender stereotypes.”

No they are not. When you were doing the solider thing you really were doing the masculine thing – and at the party. made up ultra feminine you really were being very feminine.

They were ‘Gender Realities’.

And unless acting we are one or the other pretty much all the time.

I am so sorry for all the gender dysphoria and confusion. I would say watch some Jordan Peterson on youtube. It really is not that difficult. These Trans-Industry Fas* ists will eventually be ignored – it is just a sick phase society is currently going through as it is so full of self loathing it seeks every possible avenue to exhibit self hate, and what could be a more all encompassing self hate than one’s gender?.

Miriam Cotton
Miriam Cotton
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

No, it’s not just a phase. This ideology has woven in itself into every part of the body politic – it is being taught in schools to children that there are 100s of possible genders, that their sexed biology is irrelevant. Rapists declaring themselves women and being put into female prisons. Police intimidating women for saying that Self ID might be dangerous if ANY man regardless of his motives or track record can declare himself a woman and have access to women and children’s safe spaces. All this has been quietly happening while nobody much was looking in the name of ‘inclusivity’. Stonewall is embedded in 800+ organisations – many of them government departments and public bodies. This is way, way more than a mere phase. It’s not being taken nearly seriously enough.

Simon Diggins
Simon Diggins
2 years ago
Reply to  Miriam Cotton

Completely correct; regardless of the rights and wrongs of how we support Trans people, the Trans fascists are there as ‘shock troops’ to smash society as it is. That is why reason does not work in the debate: one person can think that this is a rational conversation about the place of Trans people; the other person, one of the Trans fascists doesn’t care. They are not interested in a rational exchange of views, with the possibility of compromise, as, for them, the debate has an ulterior purpose.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Diggins

Indeed. Nobody negotiated their way out of the gas chambers.

Neil Cheshire
Neil Cheshire
2 years ago

Another victim of deranged, self appointed moral Stasi and craven management. Sad it seems that none of the executive and board of trustees had the moral courage to support Ms.Kay.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
2 years ago
Reply to  Neil Cheshire

It reminds me of the case of the Birmingham charity founder who was kicked out of his own charity for wrongthink about BLM. With the help of the Free Speech Union he had a marvelous victory, returning to his old position whilst his pathetic, craven trustees had to resign. I hope Rosie might get a similar result (if she wants it).

Peter LR
Peter LR
2 years ago

Thanks, Rosie, for giving UnHerd such a poignant personal insight. I’ve followed your story with a certain incredulity: adults feeling “uncomfortable” being shown a child’s bedroom! There is always support for those being bullied on UnHerd however diverse their views.
It’s clear how creative you are as an artist from such a revealing description of what it means to be a woman. Deriving from that wonderful combination of genes, hormones, neurones and physique, you have fleshed out its soul.
Debbie Hayton often writes here as a transwoman and has sought to explain her situation. Reading you both helps give perspective to the pressures those who try to deal rationally with dysphoria face; abuse and intimidation are simply an indulgence of the basest of human instincts: to bully and take pleasure in it.

Christine Hankinson
Christine Hankinson
2 years ago

Stay strong. Sanity will prevail.

& I bet the LibDems didn’t ask for preferred pronouns on the steps of north Shropshire, they know what side their bread is buttered and the voters don’t know what they are voting for: Self ID gender ideology is top of LibDems agenda which is such a shame.
The erasure of woman as a sex class with all the risk and damage and unfairness that will make in law. This is no small issue. I don’t have a right wing cell in my body, but only Liz Truss is outspoken against it! What a time we are in when so called progressives are so dangerous.

Jae
Jae
4 months ago

What is a “right wing bone” and why is it such anathema? I’m genuinely curious.

Margaret Boult
Margaret Boult
2 years ago

Beautiful soliloquy on the body and womanhood. More than ever I think of womanhood as a journey and not a destination. Later your ovaries will shrivel and your oestrogen fail. You will be sleepless and hot and still experiencing womanhood. Identifying as a woman will be part of a different journey but not this journey.

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
2 years ago

Fine- except for the egoistic introspection throughout which is a destructive way to think. The unexamined life may not be worth living but Socrates was on trial for his life when he said this and as a sweeping statement it’s unhealthy. If you develop the habit, common among the comnmentariat and the laptoperati of self analysis and constant emoting you’ll end up being unable to deal with real crises. This means not thinking that you are the same as a notion of absurdly generalised ‘men’ or ‘women’. You are a private individual. Get on with your life with your loved ones. This whole concept of identity politics is laughably contradictory. The more the individual tries to identify with ever splintering groups the more their own sense of private individuality melts away.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  Terence Fitch

Back of hand held limply to forehead “I am an artist, daahling.”

No doubt a female bus driver couldn’t write so beautifully, but might have something more practical and less narcissistic to say.

Dan Croitoru
Dan Croitoru
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Be assured that a female driver can be narcissistic and not pragmatic.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
2 years ago
Reply to  Terence Fitch

When something happens to you as an individual, you are allowed to write about it as an individual, even if you are a woman. It is this, the sexist critiscism, “Fine- except for the egoistic introspection throughout which is a destructive way to think.” that stops people (mainly women) from writing what they feel and ehat they mean.
You are entitled to your opinion, but when it is such that it criticises a woman who has lost her heart, her work and the company she created, maybe you should have thought twice and not responded.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  MJ Reid

Well said. I was wondering when the sensitive men were going to emerge. They see almost everything in this territory as demands and rants by radical feminists – they do not see a fine essay written by a principled woman who has risked her life’s work for the benefit of us all – male and female – including the mothers, wives and daughters in the lives of these most critical commentators.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

I was wondering when the sensitive men were going to emerge.

No true Scotsman fallacy – seen in the wild. I claim my ÂŁ5.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

Speaking as an Alpha Male member of the Patriarchy, MAGA, WWG1WGA, – I tend to find my self remarkably sensitive, if from a different angle than mainstream. Actually my problem in life is I over empathize…

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

‘Sensitive’ was in this context a euphemism for the men who see all women as radical feminists.

Last edited 2 years ago by Lesley van Reenen
Jae
Jae
4 months ago

Sweeping statements like this do nothing to edify. More nuance please.

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
2 years ago
Reply to  MJ Reid

Only writers do? Of course I’m aware that I’m ‘writing’ here but my point is this: real tragedies- illness, financial and political are happening as we speak- imagine the feelings of the exiled Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya who fled Belarus as her husband is jailed for 18 years. That, I would suggest is ‘losing her heart and her work’. Today some nurse or medic will drag themselves to work to deal with tragedies and some absurdly overworked social worker will feel dread and visceral about a life or death case. I’m truly in awe of such people. My own life and its struggles and progress is as patchy as most but it’s private as is the daily lives of millions. Why would I want to publicise it? I don’t have the ego and I don’t think I’m a special case. The point is being careful to keep a sense of perspective- of course the case against Rosie in the article is ridiculous and good luck to her in the future but the paradox of this identity debate is that its self destructive in the end as we are now seeing?

Jae
Jae
4 months ago
Reply to  MJ Reid

Why can this poster not share his opinion? Surely that’s what we’re here for, differing opinions.

Miriam Cotton
Miriam Cotton
2 years ago
Reply to  Terence Fitch

Missing the point. RK is deliberately describing the feeling of being a woman from the inside – to demonstrate why sexed biology is absolutely real and relevant, that it is not just some fanciful notion in a fetishists head, or whatever, that would entitle him to declare himself a woman just becaue he fancies it, or really, really, really believes he is one. People are not thinking this through – the full ramifications of human beings to be able to declare themselves ANYTHING on their own mere say-so are pretty horrendous. The principle at stake here is huge. Why would it stop at sex? Age, ethnicity, qualifications etc. The whole thing is monumentaly absurd and dangerous.

Last edited 2 years ago by Miriam Cotton
David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Miriam Cotton

The principle at stake here is huge. Why would it stop at sex?

ï»żSlippery slope fallacy.

Miriam Cotton
Miriam Cotton
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

Nope it’s happening already.

Dawn McD
Dawn McD
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

See the case of the (thankfully suspended) academic at a university in Colorado who put out a video claiming that it was time to start saying “minor attracted persons” instead of pedophiles because the term pedophile is “stigmatizing.” That slope is starting to get pretty steep.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Miriam Cotton

Could it not stop until it gets to height? I’m 5’11” but I’d like to be 6′ or perhaps 6’1″. I demand the right to be able to identify as 6’1″.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Clearly you lack ambition.

Jae
Jae
4 months ago
Reply to  Terence Fitch

Thank you. I did think there was a lot of histrionics and hysteria in the article.

Bronwen Saunders
Bronwen Saunders
2 years ago

There isn’t one woman alive who hasn’t imagined what her life would be like had she been born a man, the freedoms, the right to pleasure, the right to self.”
I’m alive and I have never imagined that had I been born a man, I would have had freedoms and rights that I do not have as a woman.
I’m sorry Rosie Kay has been attacked and even sorrier that she has resigned. But she should not presume to speak for all women.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

I have often wondered what my life would have been like as a man
. I identified with that immediately.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
2 years ago

Me too, however wondering what it would be like being born a male and identifying as one is different. I think my experiences would’ve been different and would’ve shaped me into a different person altogether, had I been born male. My brain would work differently for a start. And whilst I hate being described as a menstruator or a person with a cervix (ironic how trans men are still being lumped in with cis gendered women) the fact remains that this aspect of womanhood has a profound impact and effect on the the experiences of women and no trans woman will ever understand or appreciate it. I’m not defined by my genitals but to deny their influence would be naive.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

Yes they are different. I have often wondered what it would like to be born a male and I’ve often said I am coming back as a man. I come from a generation where academically gifted women were still mostly secretaries, nurses or teachers and the males went to university to study medicine, engineering and the like.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
2 years ago

My dad had two daughters and no sons (hence I was given the male spelling of a unisex name), Dad told us to do what we wanted and hoped we’d both become strong women in male dominated industries, i became a housewife and stay at home mum, I was such a disappointment to him however I absolutely loved the choices I made in life and dont regret a thing. I accept my choices don’t suit everyone but they suited me and that’s what matters to me.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago

I think we’re more or less the same generation and I believe men of my generation generally accepted the case for women’s lib, as it then was. Some of the injustices were so glaring it would have been impossible not to.

It seems now that many professions – the law, medicine, teaching, media come immediately to mind, are now completely female dominated. The concept of the patriarchy is well established, despite its absurdity, and much modern feminist discourse is explicitly anti male.

Serious question – do you think it would be a disadvantage in life to be born female today? Obviously I refer only to a modern western state. It is clearly still a disadvantage in much of the world.

Frankly I don’t know the answer. I’ve never given much thought to what it would be like to be female. Listening to the female members of my family, the things that seem to interest women just don’t interest me. I also notice a very considerably greater degree of risk aversion (about everything) which I would find stultifying.

No doubt I’ll be crucified for saying so, but it’s always seemed to me that being female is probably more civilised but considerably less fun, not because of what society forbids, but because of women’s innate likes and dislikes.

Last edited 2 years ago by Martin Bollis
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

In the West females now have the same opportunity I think. In the rest of world not so much, but some areas are catching up.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

Agreed.
I think what irritates some of the men on here is when very privileged, even privately educated, western women portray themselves as currently horrendously oppressed. They use almost metaphysical language to express this. And they do so in spite of the embarrassment of their manifest success in the world.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

David, I’m sure there are certain women like this around, but they are not the majority of women – out and about and commentators on Unherd.
‘Some of the men’ express opinions which definitely appear misogynistic. They address the many as though they are the few.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

but they are not the majority of women

Agreed.
But doesn’t that sum up a number of our contemporary problems. Ideas held by minorities of people have gained leverage, either through social media, or through positions of power, which don’t stand up to the slightest scrutiny – but are nodded through regardless of what the majority think.
Neither the social construction of gender, nor the idea that gender can somehow detach from biological sex, have much going for them. But that doesn’t stop policies being developed on the assumption they are true.
Indeed, we all merrily talk about “gender” as if we are talking about something we understand – while referring to conceptions of it which are opposed, and even mutually exclusive.
Is it something imposed from the outside by society? Or something deep inside which defines who you are regardless of sex?

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 years ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

Yes.
I felt more macho than any man I’d ever met. I suppose canvassing each man one has met is one way to gauge ‘machoness’, and so form some (as in not representative) essentialist idea of what macho is. But feeling macho, as in feeling assertively aggressive, as a human male might (through having access to increased muscle mass, upper body strength and so on), I have my doubts.

Last edited 2 years ago by michael stanwick
David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

Shorter!

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

You’d be less afraid of spiders and driving on the motorway, you’d be able to park more quickly, and you’d feud less viciously within your family. So there’s that.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jon Redman
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

I was terrified of spiders, yet I handled a Chilean Rose Tarantula and conquered my fear to a large extent. I’m not in the slightest bit afraid of driving fast or parking.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
2 years ago

Weird, I dont self identify as a man or a women, or anything in between. I self identify as me. I always have and with age I have started to be better able to state categorically what that is.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Bret Larson

It depends on imagination
 some people are more practical and some people are dreamers.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
2 years ago

Nobody has ever suggested I lack imagination. Its probably the medium and my lack of interest in using a foghorn.

gillian.johnstone
gillian.johnstone
2 years ago

A very interesting article by a talented and intelligent woman; a case for the Free Speech Union without a doubt. However, I am a woman and have never imagined what it might be like to be a boy or a man. I had a wonderful father and two much older brothers but never for a second felt they had more freedoms or rights than I did and because they have loved me as a girl and a woman my sense of self has always been very strong. I agree the writer should not be speaking for all women.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago

Men have still not truly grasped the radical notion that a woman is a fully created, total, embodied human being, worth exactly the same as any man.”
Nor should she presume to speak for all men.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

Yes, I’m wondering about this “right to pleasure” when it’s at home. Let alone “right to self”.
It’s like a lot of this piece: you get carried along by the rhetoric, but when you look closer a lot of it is pretty meaningless.

David B
David B
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

Lots of contemporary rights are in fact privileges, in that they impose obligations upon often unspecified others. Their being signified by the same term muddies the waters, ofttimes to the selective advantage of a claimant.

George Glashan
George Glashan
2 years ago

I take your point David, I don’t have any objection to Rosie Kay, but no particular sympathy either. This reminds me of why I stop reading Quileute many months ago. Every other day they ran an article along the lines of :
I am a leader from “insert creative industry here” I have always voted for the correct left wing parties, I firmly denounce “ insert bad orange man / Bojo the clown , all right wingers are deplorable rednecks / gammons here” but now that im on the receiving end of cancel culture rather than dishing it out; it is real. i have never supported any of your causes and i am only here as an ally of convenience and will denounce you deplorables again at the first opportunity that i get to be back on the right side of history but you need to support me now!
Rosie ran her organisation in a way that allowed it to fill with people who successfully launched a coup against her. She sounds very talented and driven so maybe she needs to start a new dance company and this time not fill it with conformist woke weirdos.

Last edited 2 years ago by George Glashan
Jane Robertson
Jane Robertson
2 years ago
Reply to  George Glashan

Her counter coup has been a work of art!

David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago
Reply to  George Glashan

Spot on George.
And what is Unherd about it? The Times, Mail and Telegraph are full of similarly selective rubbish.

Paul Smithson
Paul Smithson
2 years ago

The past few years have been dominated by the gender debate online, with the defining moment of the JK Rowling statement, and her eloquent exploration of defending the trans community, defending women, and attempting to explain how domestic violence so affects us as women, and that asking for same sex protections is not in itself transphobic. In fact, in our desperate desire to explain our mistrust of men, so many women have had to re-traumatise themselves, dredging up pain and hurt from the past, as I have done, to help to try to explain just how scared we all really are.

Are women genuinely that scared and traumatised by men?

I ask this as a serious question.

As a man it worries me to think that this might be the case. It isn’t the impression I get, but maybe women are good at covering this fear up. I also struggle to imagine the men I know as being scary or capable of traumatising any women.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

As a young woman I was always over confident that if any man attempted hurt me, there would always be another man willing to defend me. Other women, on the other hand terrified me as men couldn’t defend me from them, i would be on my own. Now we come to today where Trans women are women. Now men can “self identify” as women
. Those public displays that were to show the publics attitude towards the domestic violence gender debate? The guy publicly abusing his girlfriend and the public weighs in, the girl publicly abusing the boyfriend and everyone laughs and jeers! We need a new one the trans woman b***h fighting with a woman. Will people turn away out of fear of for their own safety? Can a man defend her without being accused himself of hitting women? Shouldn’t we all be a little terrified of what is coming?

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

That wouldn’t deter me in the slightest, because transwomen are men.

Jane Robertson
Jane Robertson
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

I think we’re more scared of the ease with which this redefinition labelled “inclusion” has excluded us from our own ability to have boundaries and has been so virulently taken up by people ready to abuse women for speaking out.

The natural and, as we thought, well understood need for safeguarding and privacy and dignity has been recast as bigotry and beyond the pale.

There are now two fears combining, the natural fear of the sex difference vulnerability and now this added fear that this is so easily and pervasively flung aside by and for a particular cohort of men with an identity.

Miriam Cotton
Miriam Cotton
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

Women always have to be worried for their safety. Every time I get in a lift with a man, I may not be consciousy worried depending on the vibe he gives off but I will always feel relieved when those few seconds are over, even so. Alone on a tube carriage, walking in the street, the potential danger is always in the back of your mind and often much more than that. Most women are sexually assaulted during the lives.

Josie Bowen
Josie Bowen
2 years ago
Reply to  Miriam Cotton

It’s also true that men, young men are scared when out walking alone. I know of girlfriends who walk their boyfriends home for this reason.

Michael Johnston
Michael Johnston
2 years ago
Reply to  Josie Bowen

A young man walking alone is objectively at greater peril than a young woman walking alone. Sexual assault by strangers certainly occurs, but pack attacks on lone young men are a lot more common.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

Not me. I am grateful to the men who have protected me and my family and do all the dirty, necessary, hard jobs – most especially my husband. (I’m not a professional dancer, but I can’t escape my body, either).

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

An empty feel is a man bringing home a very hard worked paycheck year after year and not having a woman to hand it over to – as men are biologically disposed to desire to provide for a woman and family.

The pack of men coming back from the successful hunt dragging the bloody Elk carcass, as the women stand at the entrance to the camp Ululating in a happy welcome, and the children charging about, – us men miss all that….

Hosias Kermode
Hosias Kermode
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

No! The thing left out in all these debates is the role of men in our 21st century society. As a mother and grandmother of boys that omission disturbs me greatly. None of this should be about whether you are a man or a woman but only about your character as an individual, whether you are of good character or not. We need to be bringing young men up (as Jordan Peterson most powerfully writes) to be proud of who and what they are and their role in life. If we tell people men generally are “monsters” we cannot be surprised when they turn out to be exactly that. And frankly I don’t agree with all this sentimentalising of being a woman. Periods, menopause etc – apart from the agony of childbirth, frankly none of the rest of it is a big deal for most people. And horrendous though rape is, the overwhelming majority of men are not rapists and most women do not suffer rape. Nor do I believe in the nonsense of gender. Apart from some shared basics that have to do with pregnancy, childbirth and childcare (the biological facts of womanhood0, the women I know have little or nothing in common. Why should this be surprising? Our sex is determined by a single chromosome out of 23 pairs. Why should we expect a single chromosome to determine our identity? There is no personality trait that puts me and Kim Kardashian in the same camp, only the fact we both have female bodies. The whole purpose of the division into sexes is the biological one of pro-creation. While I wish no one ill and pity the suffering of those who say they have “gender dysphoria”, I personally believe them to be suffering from a mental disorder, not some misaligned identity.

Michelle Johnston
Michelle Johnston
2 years ago
Reply to  Hosias Kermode

This is interesting. You’re reducing the difference between men and women down to a chromosome and three activities and as an aside make the point that you have little in common with the woman you know implying that socialisation is gender-neutral.
If that were indeed the way to define the difference then you would be entirely right to make the point that people that make a fuss about their gender given these distinctions are misguided in a search for their true identity.
My life experience suggests something different that men and women are gloriously different in many subtle and wonderful ways and it is not about learned behaviour it is about fundamental differences that go right back to mankind’s beginnings. Social interaction, physical interaction, a cooperative spirit versus a naturally competitive one. The closer I have come to men the more I have enjoyed those distinctions and men who recognise those distinctions have been the very best to be around. We are fabulously different BUT equal.

Last edited 2 years ago by Michelle Johnston
David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

I’m not sure she is saying that.
Feminists, such as the author, tend to foreground female experience, but deny genetic determination. Hence they make much of distinctly female experiences such as menstruation.
I think Hosias is saying that these experiences are not that important in defining who she is. Compared, for example, to differences in personality. She doesn’t thing that such experiences define her, or unite her especially with other women.
That is not, necessarily, to say that women are just like men. Genes, not “experiences” may be what makes the difference.
Hope I have understood Hosias aright.

Kirsten Walstedt
Kirsten Walstedt
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

It’s only a small percentage of men who are a threat, but many of them manage to threaten multiple women, so it’s an outsized impact. These are probably not the kind of men someone thoughtful like you would be drawn to or get along with.
Men are always saying “not all men,” but women already know that. It only takes a small minority of men to give women that never-ending bit of fear in the pits of our stomachs. Most of the time it’s in the background and we aren’t consciously aware of it. But it can pop up as full blown panic when we walk at night or alone in a creepy area, or even in our homes when there’s been a bunch of break-ins.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

Men are always saying “not all men,” but women already know that.

Then they should stop saying “yes, all men” and making us collectively accountable for the actions of a few.
We don’t like bad men either. And we especially don’t like violent men. They’re a menace to all of us.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago

Which is why chivalry developed from about 1000AD, possibly adopted from the beduin. Chivalry is not found within China or much of the World.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

“Are women genuinely that scared and traumatised by men?”
Most male violence is directed at other men, but I haven’t seen any male “scared and traumatised” by other men.

It is ironically a reflection on how women use violence – not physical, but using lies, slander, pretend to be “hurt”, in order to get ahead

To give an example – women have used this tactics to suppress the fact that 1/3rd of domestic violence victims are men, most violence is started or co initiated by women and women are more likely to use emotional abuse to attack men, which is a large reason why most suicides are male.

Jane Watson
Jane Watson
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

I held off replying to this earlier to see how the discussion developed. I had 6 brothers (2 down now) loved them all dearly and have never been scared of men. I’m pretty certain most women can’t be as they/we would never have hitch hiked up and down the country, got into strangers’ cars and generally been young and carefree.

My dad was a ‘macho’ male, bomber pilot and light heavyweight champion of the RAF. He was a wonderful son, brother, husband and father. My brothers would variously hunt, shoot, fish, ride motorbikes and fix things. They too have been exemplary family men. My mum always said her girls were more aggressive than the boys.

It is very depressing and miserable to hear talk of men being dangerous and women being scared of them. It is insulting and I cannot believe it is true. Certainly none of my 3 sisters or myself are abused or subjugated women.

Men and women are different and society has different expectations of them. Most of these expectations are driven by biology and evolution and are inescapable. Both sexes have strengths and corresponding weaknesses. Some men are not especially manly and some women not especially feminine.

I think it likely that a woman who uses her body in dance is a tad more feminine than me. All fine and dandy, but she can never know how it feels to be a man (or macho) and nor can I. I don’t know what is going on in the mind of a trans person, but they can never know what it feels like to be the opposite sex either.

I think some of the hostility in the ‘gender wars’ is because everyone knows that sex and biology are fixed realities and accepting the real need of some individuals to role play the opposite sex is not the same as accepting that illusion.

We all have illusions about ourselves and perhaps stand a better chance of holding onto them if we don’t ask others’ opinions as to how reflective of reality our illusions are. It is well known in psychology that people can be pretty good judges of other people but are generally very poor judges of themselves.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Jane Watson

Live where I live and you would take a few days to develop a healthy fear of men.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

Where exactly is that Lesley? Europe, US, Japan? What kind of men are these that instil such fear?

Jane Watson
Jane Watson
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

I think she’s in S Africa
 so we’re not really talking men v women?

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago
Reply to  Jane Watson

I doubt your Father was Macho, this is a Latin American term for men who brag, boast and strut because they have no achievement. Your Father would have been an extremely skilled tough leader of men in combat and chivalrous towards ladies. As a RAF pilot your father would have been aware of the exploits of Gibson VC, Cheshire VC, Yeo- Thomas GC , Inayat Khan GC and would have been modest about about his achievements ” Shooting a line ” was never done by RAF personnel.
Part of the problem since the 1960s is that we have adopted the crude, coarse, vulgar, boasting and bragging which is frequent in much common American culture. I have heard a highly experienced WW2 pilot asked what he did in the RAF , he replied ” I flew a desk” which was strictly true towards the end of his career. During WW2 he flew bombers at tree top level, survived being tortured by SS, death marches and then afterwards he was a test pilot.
The cultural marxists/post modernists/woke lust after power because they have achieved nothing of merit and therefore lack charismos. Or perhaps they lack charismos and therefore achieve nothing of merit.

Jane Watson
Jane Watson
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

You are quite correct. He was a kind and principled man, strong and capable but a man of Faith and not remotely grandiose. Not even especially ‘proud’ of his achievements either, never boasted. Great sense of humour too. Thanks for the correction.

Dawn McD
Dawn McD
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

I’m trying to figure out how to respond to this without going on too long. I spent my twenties in San Francisco and was accosted, verbally and physically, several times, in broad daylight in front of the world. Words, water thrown, rocks thrown, breast grabbed (noon on a Sunday, with traffic driving by). I was always struck by the predatory feel of being out on my own and felt that I was living in two different cities, depending on whether or not I was out alone or with my husband. I’ll never forget how powerful I felt walking along a sidewalk with my husband and seeing the “sea part” because of his physical presence. In the Tenderloin I once saw a man leap up from his bar stool and lunge toward the door when he saw me, with a vicious look on his face, only to shrink back when he saw my husband (the guy’s view had been partially obstructed by a pillar at the corner of the building).
I once read a quote in a magazine, from a young woman who said “I restrict my own freedom on a daily basis in order to ensure my safety.” I recognized that reality as my own. So yes, men have freedom, as a group, that women do not have. I have never understood why a woman would allow herself to become drunk or otherwise vulnerable, then go to a private space with a man she does not know. I do not understand why the law is allowing “women” with penises to share spaces with actual biological women. Bad things are going to happen, have already happened (see Loudon County, see women inmates impregnated by other “women” inmates).

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago
Reply to  Dawn McD

Is not part of the problem San Fancisco ? ? Also is part of the problem Latin men ? A friend said when she travelled in Italy her bottom was continually being pinched.
Generally, women in North West Europe / Protestant Europe have more freedom. During the Viking Period women looked after farms when the men were raiding so they had to be competent and there was trust between husband and wife.
The women in beduin society could move freely as witnessed by Wilfredf Thessiger in the 1940s. If men offended women from another tribe there would be war.
Tacitus remarks on the equality between the sexes in Germanic territories which was also a feature of Sparta.
In societies where men are warriors and/or sailors there appears to be far greater trust and respect between the sexes.

JP Martin
JP Martin
2 years ago

A woman who has looked over the edge and seen into the abyss, warning others not to follow the extremists over the cliff. She did this at great personal cost and deserves some credit and sympathy. I don’t presume to share her politics, but I recognise the human experiences she describes and she has my full support.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago

Genuine question, as I have never had a Twitter or FB account, do the accusers suffer any consequences?

I’m sure there are as many right wing nutters as SJWs, do they “pile on?”

When reading these stories it always seems that the accusers act with complete impunity. In the case of Kathleen Stock, where masked people were threatening violence, I’m at a loss to understand why no prosecutions result. In this case there must be recourse under employment law but a natural sense of justice makes one want them to feel some of the hatred and bile they inflict.

I thought parts of the article were beautifully written, admire her commitment to her art, and support her fight against the trans fanatics. At the same time I formed a really strong impression of the kind of narcissistic, humourless, shallow, lovey I would keep well clear of at a party.

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

At the same time I formed a really strong impression of the kind of narcissistic, humourless, shallow, lovey I would keep well clear of at a party.

Exactly my thoughts. I vigorously support her right to free speech, and find it outrageous that these spiteful people have managed to expel her from her own company for nothing more injurious than expressing an opinion.

But I am struggling to recall ever having read anything more self-absorbed, more self-obsessed, more self-regarding, more self-important than … well you get the picture.

Karl Francis
Karl Francis
2 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

‘Totes’. (flounce, flounce)

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

I come across way, way more SJW than right wing nutters on Twitter. In fact I haven’t seen right wing nutters, though I’m sure they are there somewhere.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

Youtube

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

Guess I’m not looking at their videos!

Karl Francis
Karl Francis
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Beautiful response, just gorgeous!
Gush, gush, mwah, mwah, I wouldn’t go to parties like that in the first place.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago

Obviously I am aligned with the author on the subject of trans ideology. However the whole argument suffers from the same problem as do all feminist defences of femininity in the face of the trans-rights juggernaut: it relies upon the concepts of intersectional class-based victimhood as a means of defining the rights of women as a whole.

Nobody disputes that trans ideology is a threat to women in general: it has to be obvious that any plan to make it illegal for women to object to sharing women-only spaces with humans in possession of a male member is absurd, sinister and wholly indefensible. But it is worth remarking that this perverse outcome is the direct result of a successful bid by some architects of intersectional grievance to outbid the automatic rights of the female sex, and the ability to do this is in part because feminists, among other members of the progressive political agenda, created this weapon in the first place.

This does not of course mean that I’m happy to let women fight this one out themselves, and not just because most women aren’t feminists anyway. It is up to all of us to reject this poisonous attack upon the foundations of liberty, not just the few high-profile people who have become victims of the agenda. This isn’t just one of the regular internecine spats within the political Left that the rest of us can just laugh at like we usually do, it’s not just about feminists, and it is not even something that only women need to worry about.

Not even if men like me were going to be callous about it and say not-my-problem – which I’m not.

Last edited 2 years ago by John Riordan
michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 years ago
Reply to  John Riordan

… it relies upon the intersectional concepts of class-based victimhood as a means of defining the rights of women as a whole.
I think the argument suffers from not tackling Judith Butler’s postmodern notion regarding categories. It would be a deep dive into very turgid philosophical territory regarding postmodern concepts such as knowledge, power etc. and its attack on science and reality.
This is best described in an excerpt from https://newdiscourses.com/tftw-queer-theory/
Butler is perhaps most famous and influential via her concept of gender performativity, [
] that all of gender (and sexuality), and maybe all of (biological) sex, even, is attributable to a kind of learned and enforced performance of socially constructed roles that society inscribes via socialization so that these then re-inscribe themselves as people take them up and continue to perform them. 

julia findlater
julia findlater
2 years ago

Thank you, a beautiful exploration of what it is to be a woman. An immutable, biological beautiful thing.

Some men have always wanted to oppress and silence women – from historic witch burnings, to today’s child brides and FGM, not to mention what is happening to women and girls in Afghanistan. We need powerful voices like you to make us all braver to speak out. Thank you UnHerd.

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago

A beautifully written article.
To my mind there are several strands which have led us to this unfortunate situation in the UK. The three main ones are:
. Misguided law-making, the Human Rights Act, the Equality Act 2010 and the Hate Crime laws, all of which pitch people of different identities against each other. They are discriminatory and encourage people to see themselves as victims.
. Post-war Liberalism leading to Progressivism (which includes Feminism – there is no escaping this uncomfortable fact for feminists)..
. Social media with it’s potential for online mobs to form in a flash and act.
How to unravel this unholy mess ?
Campaign to repeal the bad laws. Avoid blaming one sex or the other for perceived unfairness. Avoid playing the victim. Avoid fussing over people claiming victimhood. And steer clear of abusing others online.

Last edited 2 years ago by Claire D
Karl Francis
Karl Francis
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Constructive and intelligent. Although I thought Rosie’s article was gushing and self-indulgent rather than a thing of beauty.

Last edited 2 years ago by Karl Francis
Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  Karl Francis

Thanks.
I literally meant the way the article was written rather than the content (if that makes sense), I like to be generous if possible.

Karl Francis
Karl Francis
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Fair play.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

I would add the Butlerian angle. The deconstruction of categories – as in ‘women’ – as envisaged by the postmodernist Judith Butler lies near the root of this problem.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

I hate to be contrary but I thought the article was ignorant, solipsistic, abject ba11s.
The first big belly laugh was

My work includes 5 Soldiers and MK Ultra which explored conspiracy theory through the lens of pop stars, music video imagery and Britney Spears”

and I doubt I’m the only one who guffawed. The real idiocy had set in by the time we got to

Men have still not truly grasped the radical notion that a woman is a fully created, total, embodied human being, worth exactly the same as any man.

which frankly is too stupid to engage with.

Tim Knight
Tim Knight
2 years ago

What a beautiful, powerful piece of writing. Thank you for it.
What ever my support can mean in this, you have it.

C Quinn
C Quinn
2 years ago

Rosie May’s courage to express her dissent is so inspiring to me personally. The very confused phenomenon that is “social justice” has indeed eaten the arts and given me some unpleasant first-hand experiences. I am very grateful to Rosie for writing this and for Unherd for publishing it.
I would just caution Rosie to think about what she is saying when she claims to believe “adult people have the right… to identify any way they want”. One can’t stick up for the meaning of the word “woman” and believe in the magic powers of self-identity. This is a weak moment in the essay and doesn’t align with the author’s argument. This incongruity highlights something I can definitely relate to. I am always looking for ways to mitigate the impact of my distasteful opinions surrounding the trans issue, but the the heart of the disagreement over trans ideology is that self-identity is a hollow thing, shouldn’t be written into law, and should openly be questioned as a meaningful foundation for one’s life generally. At some point, those of us who believe “woman” refers to women only, and never men, will have to be OK with sounding distasteful to those on the opposing side of the debate. After all, the muddy logic of trans ideology is, in my opinion, pretty distasteful.

William Shaw
William Shaw
2 years ago

“Men have still not truly grasped the radical notion that a woman is a fully created, total, embodied human being, worth exactly the same as any man.”
Such a sweeping generalisation by a person blinded by her own sense of victimhood.

William Shaw
William Shaw
2 years ago
Reply to  William Shaw

You have totally misunderstood my comment. I’ll help you.
She refers to “men.”
Given there are 3.5 billion men on the Earth and she lumps them all together her statement can properly, fairly and legitimately be classified as sexist.
That she feels comfortable making sexist remarks is the point of my comment.

Last edited 2 years ago by William Shaw
Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago

Rosie, had you considered that the board resents your ability? Your creative ability and drive created them. The board are your followers who want your status and salary but lack your spirit and resent you accordingly.
Someone once said never do someone a favour they cannot pay back as they will begrudge being beholden to you.
J K Rowling is a genius and has the same problem. Rowling has created three film stars who are not the traditional beautiful athletes Those three film stars could only have found fame and fortune in J K Rowlings creation and therefore will ever be in her debt, which can never be repaid back. Therefore those three actors resent Rowling: she who created them.

Heggs Mleggs
Heggs Mleggs
2 years ago

An incredible piece of writing. Thank you does not cut it, nor does I’m sorry this is happening to you. This is a call to arms, a rallying cry to be brave. Not in the macho gun wielding way. Be brave as a human female. We all know what we can achieve when we stand together. In solidarity.

Cantab Man
Cantab Man
2 years ago

Beautifully written and, to a large degree, I understand.

As man, I’ve seen the behaviors that we once identified as “manly” within society be degraded and redefined to now exist merely as “toxic masculinity” within the chattering class.

In the social circles you describe, it is nigh impossible to discuss manhood and “what I am” without expressing constant caveats and self-denunciation and a general loathing of manhood.

As Homer Simpson has educated the masses for generations, we men are deeply-flawed second-class citizens who are only tolerated because of the atoning love of an attending mother or spouse or child who can’t help themselves but to love the deplorable among us.

You are feeling separation anxiety because you are now on the receiving end of what I have seen and experienced for 30 years, and those who are dishing it out on you are the same friends that you perhaps made common cause with against men.

For “all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.”

Also known as karma.

I prefer to live and let live. Man, woman, whatever. To celebrate what we are as a species. To denounce the puritanism of the past 50 years that is trying to redefine what evolution has graciously given us to survive as a species, whatever our sex or preferences.

– cantabman

Last edited 2 years ago by Cantab Man
Cantab Man
Cantab Man
2 years ago
Reply to  Cantab Man

What a sadly vapid and wasteful reply.

You can do better.

Tell me what you disagree with.

Be precise and we can start to have an adult conversation.

Last edited 2 years ago by Cantab Man
Cantab Man
Cantab Man
2 years ago
Reply to  Cantab Man

Oh, Julie, don’t let reverse snobbery get to you. It’s unbecoming.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago

Of course I completely agree with the substantive comments in the article. To be a bit uncharitable, it’s a bit long and rambly, and I suspect that the statement ‘at least one 20% of women and girls worked in the sex trade in Georgian London’ is a factoid.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Perhaps I’m being picky but it’s certainly not true that every woman has wondered what her life would be like if she had been born a man. I never have because I’ve always been comfortable as a non-gender conforming woman. By this I don’t mean I’m trans. I mean I often haven’t conformed to the female stereotype whilst remaining content with my biological sex.

Last edited 2 years ago by Judy Englander
Magg
Magg
2 years ago

Form another dance company. I understand how a dancer is so in tune with their body that even small changes are noticed and noted.
I look forward to seeing your next creative work.

ramswych
ramswych
2 years ago

A truly moving piece. I am in awe of your determination not to be destroyed. I totally agree with and support your statement thatThe idea that to even state that “a woman is a woman” is extremist or transphobic is deeply chilling and totally false.”

Andy Griffiths
Andy Griffiths
2 years ago

Blimey, if Rosie is your idea of an “extremist feminiser” you must REALLY not like women standing up for themselves…

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Andy Griffiths

There are a number amongst us who immediately use the label ‘radical feminist’ when a woman speaks out – and in this case bravely so.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
2 years ago

Brilliant article, Rosie. Although I am neither a dancer nor a mother, as a woman, all this makes perfect sense to me. May you move forward with dignity and may you challenge your Board with power. And hopefully you will win and come out the other side so much stronger.

R MS
R MS
2 years ago

Powerful and beautiful writing. Thanks to Rosie for this and thanks for UnHerd for publishing.
I think the tide is turning. Good luck with the legal battles ahead and I hope Orlando comes to fruition. Heaven knows it would be a timely piece of work.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago

Everyone has a line in the sand.
Mine was homosexual “marriage”, which obliterated the 5,000 year old definition.
The author’s was transgenderism.
There will be future articles written about how horrific the new bestiality laws are, where one could legally marry their cat or parakeet. Or marry 3 or 13 other people at the same time. Or the ability of a Finnish born citizen of Finland to identify as an Afghan refugee.
When anything is allowed to go, everything will go until every vestige of civilization is torn asunder. Then the revival will take place.

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
2 years ago

A wonderful article, challenging and erudite. I wonder if Rosie has considered setting up a new dance company: one with better Trustees.

Andy Martin
Andy Martin
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

She’ll need both trustees and dancers with more robust, heterodox and diverse opinions and attitudes. Moreover a willingness to accept other people’s opinions.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago

Being a woman (or a man) isn’t a costume you can put on and take off at will. Trying to convince us that it is is like trying to convince us that 2+2=5 and that we love Big Brother.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
2 years ago

We all have the choice. We can choose to embrace life and love or follow the false promises of those who seek power, domination, and control. The transhumanists promises are hollow. It is why they use lies and force to compel

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

Throughout history it is the artists and the intellectuals who are shut down first — those who dare to question the status quo, or are the first to notice cultural shifts.

Which is all very well, except that it is precisely the trans activists who feel they are questioning the status quo, and are on the receiving end of a backlash as a result. And presumably there are artists and intellectuals amongst them.
Isn’t the problem here that too many people oppose the trans movement, but don’t want to give up on their status as avant garde.

Karl Francis
Karl Francis
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

Absolutely. It’s amazing how many cowards there are among the chic, the radical and the ‘cutting edge’ They all know exactly which side their bread is buttered on. How many people would be willing to stand on principle and watch their careers go down the toilet?? Sadly, not many. I applaud anyone who kicks back. Thank God for Helen Joyce and Helen Pluckrose!

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
2 years ago

This is a bit high falutin for my taste. I think you should give a short Anglo-Saxon response to anybody who accuses you of bigotry – no need for more than that really.

Hilary Easton
Hilary Easton
2 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

Fine, except she has been expelled from her own company so it needs a little more than a couple of four letter words to mend the situation.

GA Woolley
GA Woolley
2 years ago

The problem for women isn’t ‘men’, it’s women. Advertisers spend billions every year identifying their target audience, and researching what they want. The results are clear in the ads; the target audience is women, and what they crave is the approval of women – not least themselves with ‘indulgences’ and ‘guilty pleasures’. And who tells them what this week’s ‘must haves’ are, what ‘everyone is wearing’, ‘how to wear a cardigan’, how, in fact, to conform and do as they are told? Other women, denying them their identity and individuality.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  GA Woolley

Add social media and stir!
Even when it comes to body shape and exercise regimes it’s the same. Suddenly everything is about butts! Why? Kardashians.
There’s a whole female industry based on influencers. It’s massive

Josie Bowen
Josie Bowen
2 years ago
Reply to  GA Woolley

You’ve nailed it. Spot on GA.

Terry Davies
Terry Davies
2 years ago

A wonderful read….

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

Reading between the lines, and checking some of the news sources, this seems to be an ideological spat between two rival, and equally dogmatic, camps. It is perhaps disingenuous to talk about “exploring” trans issues, if you are taking one side and your mind is made up.
I doubt we’ll ever know what really happened at the party. One side sees it as a free speech issue, the other as bullying. Perhaps everyone had had too much to drink and tact and decorum went out of the window.
Like most people on here I want a free and open debate on the issue. On that I’m clear. But I’m not sure I want attempts at recruitment by one side or the other.

Julie Blinde
Julie Blinde
2 years ago

“But the frontline of the gender debate is a dangerous place to be.”
.
I don’t see any debate. Just emotional incontinence and opportunity to win attention at any cost.
.
Look at people less fortuntate than yourself and get on with your life.

Last edited 2 years ago by Julie Blinde
MJ Reid
MJ Reid
2 years ago
Reply to  Julie Blinde

It is bad enough when men come out with this crap, but it is worse when it is a woman about another woman. Maybe think twice in the future before you take to the keyboard to criticise. Walk in someone else’s shoes first… She lost more than just a job! There will always be people less fortunate,M. This is a factual account of what losing a huge part of u our life means to the woman who did.

Julie Blinde
Julie Blinde
2 years ago
Reply to  MJ Reid

Why didn’t she keep it to herself ?

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  MJ Reid

I have never considered ‘Julie’ to be a woman. He is a man mocking Julie Bindel and seldom, if ever, contributes to a meaningful discussion.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 years ago
Reply to  MJ Reid

It is bad enough when men come out with this crap, but it is worse when it is a woman about another woman.
Language is interesting. I suspect the 1st sentiment means, if I am being charitable, ‘particular men’. But on its face it is lazy IMO, because the statement when men come out with this crap on its face incriminates all men in this negative behaviour, when there is no compelling evidence most do. Hence it can be regarded as a negative generalisation about an entire group based on an immutable characteristic (prejudice). This is reinforced by the fact that when individuals from the category ‘women’ are mentioned, the language slips to the particular – as in, a woman.

Michael Askew
Michael Askew
2 years ago

Bravo Rosie Kay! You inspire nothing but admiration and respect for your courage and humanity.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

I stand on the front line of the gender debate, challenging myself and everyone around me, and it’s easier than it looks.

Which is because, the trans stuff aside, this really isn’t a front line any more. Women play football, women play rugby, they kayak, they rock climb, they come home cut and bruised and covered in mud. They fight, they box. Nobody is shocked.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

Those women play football, rugby, climb in nice, safe, women only zones created for them by men.

They then accuse and attack men for being massively inferior at those activities, while demanding equal status despite being third rate.

All that under the pretext of “equality” and claiming there are no gender differences.

That is the root of the trans issue and much else

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

I confess to loving articles like this for the way they separate the Unherd sheep from the Unherd goats.
Yes it’s a bizarre, rambling, incoherent piece: Julie Bindel in a tutu.

Last edited 2 years ago by David Morley
Julie Blinde
Julie Blinde
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

… aqualung and stiletto heels

Diane Tasker
Diane Tasker
2 years ago

Thankyou for this beautifully eloquent essay. It’s hard to believe that people you thought you knew and could call friends were so bigoted, narrow-minded, judgemental and,frankly, shameful in their response. Now at least you ‘know who your friends are’.

Mikey Mike
Mikey Mike
2 years ago

This piece is oozing with narcissism, delusions of grandeur, and unhealthy body obsession. I feel worse about her untreated issues than I do about her excommunication from a world of weirdos.

Last edited 2 years ago by Mikey Mike
John Urwin
John Urwin
2 years ago

This kind of article is why I enjoy Unherd.
Rosie has been treated appallingly and her anger is understandable. Regarding her other points, we can only hope that over time our society changes so that she has less need for anger. How do we achieve this?

Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
2 years ago

I wept.Thank you for sharing your joy and pain in such depth.

Ludwig van Earwig
Ludwig van Earwig
2 years ago

“The oppression of women is based entirely on our biology”
If you think women as a group are oppressed in the west, I’m not sure how much you’ve learned from your painful experiences. If you play identity politics (treating entire demographics as either “oppressed” or “oppressors”), you can’t very well complain if your identity (women) is trumped by another identity fashionably deemed to be more oppressed (trans).
Radical identity politics is the problem, and your own feminism is part of that problem.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
2 years ago

A very good summary illustrating the problems with expressive individualism – no boundaries where there is no clear definition.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
2 years ago

A very good summary illustrating the problems with expressive individualism – no boundaries where there is no clear definition.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

For anyone who is interested in seeing some of the opposing arguments cogently expressed, the following is worth a read:
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2158244020927029
I was impressed with the following, which parallels the argument for excluding all trans women from female toilets etc:

Consider jobs in which workers come into contact with children. We know that, statistically, men are much more likely to be sexually predatory toward children. We also know that it is difficult to tell in advance which men will offend (at least if they do not yet have relevant convictions). Finally, we know that some men who come into contact with children in their work will offend against them. Yet we do not exclude all men from working with children, even if using gender as a watershed would prevent those offenses.

Last edited 2 years ago by David Morley
Jae
Jae
4 months ago

“We are more than the sum of our parts, we are our bodies, minds and consciousnesses.”

Bring yourself to say we are our bodies, minds and souls, Ms Kay, and your world will change for the better for sure. Try it.

Julie Blinde
Julie Blinde
2 years ago

Quite so

Chris Eaton
Chris Eaton
2 years ago

“the new Puritans” Really? This article was barely worth reading.