X Close

Why I stopped being a good girl Women can no longer afford to sit out the gender wars


February 22, 2022   14 mins

I was always a good girl, by which I mean a people pleaser, because that is what being a good girl is. I enjoyed the benefits that such a personality brings (straight As at school, a close relationship with my parents, a decent job) and endured the usual downsides (teenage anorexia, frequent bouts of insomnia, lifelong anxiety). I had what a therapist later described as “total conflict avoidance”, which is a therapy way of saying I would rather eat my hair than argue with someone.

For example, when I was 10, I wore a Santa jumper to school. “You can’t wear Santa, you’re Jewish! Do you believe Jesus was born on Christmas?” a girl in my class said to me. I didn’t really know what she was talking about, but I knew what she wanted me to say, so I said it: “Yes, Jesus was born on Christmas.” She walked away, satisfied, and I felt a little like I’d given something away, but I was mainly relieved I’d avoided an argument.

And that’s how things continued for me, until 2014, when everything changed.

I was reading the New Yorker one evening and came across an article with the headline “What is a Woman?”. It was, according to the standfirst, about “the dispute between radical feminism and transgenderism”, a subject about which I knew nothing. I read it, vaguely interested in the social shift that meant being “transgender” no longer refers to someone who has undergone a sex change operation, but is now “how someone sees themselves”, as the writer Michelle Goldberg put it. This meant, Goldberg continued, that women-only spaces were increasingly changing to women-and-transwomen spaces, even if those transwomen still had male bodies — and to query this risked accusations of bigotry.

What really interested me was how quickly institutions were falling into line with this new ideology: venues cancelled talks if a radical feminist was on the bill; all-female bands pulled out of women-only festivals for fear of looking transphobic. How strange, I thought, that those with authority capitulate to the obviously misogynistic demands of a few extreme voices. Oh well, that’s just America — obviously it will never happen in the UK.

Oh, the innocence of eight years ago! Today, gender ideology — the belief that who a person feels they are is more important than the material reality of their body — is firmly in the ascendent. Activists like to claim that the only people who have a problem with this are “Right-wing bigots”, because it keeps things simple to suggest that this is a good (gender ideology) versus bad (Right-wing bigots) issue.

Yet I know a lot of non-Right-wing, non-bigots who are extremely angry at how things have shifted. My friendship group consists mainly of thirty-something to fifty-something progressive women, all, like me, lifelong Labour, or Liberal Democrat, or Green voters, all teachers, or civil servants, or writers, or lawyers. Most are not on Twitter, or TikTok, or any Mumsnet message boards. But when we meet up these days, they talk about Lia Thomas, the Ivy League swimmer who recently transitioned and is allowed to compete against female swimmers and is duly smashing women’s swimming records.

They talk about JK Rowling, vilified for saying that women — not people — menstruate and calling for single-sex spaces to be preserved. They talk about Kathleen Stock, a philosophy professor, who had to leave her job at Sussex University due to ongoing harassment from gender activists. They talk about political parties which explicitly describe women’s sex-based rights as transphobic, including the Green Party and the SNP. They talk about politicians who say things so stupid about gender it’s impossible to believe that they truly believe what they are saying, from Dawn Butler’s claim that “a child is born without a sex”, to Layla Moran’s insistence that she doesn’t care about a person’s sex because she can see “their soul”, to Keir Starmer’s stammering insistence that it’s wrong to say “only women have a cervix”.

You can — and many do — dismiss these angry women as irrelevant middle-aged mums, or just a bunch of Karens, but they do not fit into the “Right-wing bigot” pigeonhole, however much gender ideologues try to squash them in. As a result, many on the Left would prefer that this debate about gender, with older feminists on one side and gender ideologues on the other, was not happening at all, because it doesn’t fit into the good versus bad dichotomy with which the Left frames the world. So they tell themselves that this is a “niche” issue and “normal women” (ie, women not on Twitter or Mumsnet) don’t know or care about it.

Suggested watching
Why I stopped being a good girl

By Sally Chatterton

Let me disabuse them of both of those notions: they do and they do. The threats, the abuse, the no-platforming of gender-critical feminists: despite the activists’ best efforts to make all of this vanish, none of it has worked. This is the issue that readers and friends want most to talk to me about, albeit only, they say, with no small amount of frustration, in private.

It did not – and I cannot stress this enough – have to be this way. In 2016, Maria Miller, then the chair of the women and equalities committee, produced a report that suggested switching gender should just be a matter of “self-identification”. This statutory declaration would replace the previous gender recognition process, which involved living in one’s chosen gender for two years, being diagnosed with gender dysphoria and being questioned by a panel.

Yet it is a pretty basic fact that male bodies are bigger and stronger than female ones, which is why sex-based rights exist in the first place. So how, I wondered, would self-ID work in practice? Would a person born male now be able to compete against women in sport, or be incarcerated with female prisoners? I assumed the government had thought about this. I assumed wrongly.

In a 2017 interview with The Times, Miller was unable to answer the most basic questions about how her proposals would affect women, which seemed weird to me, because surely you’d think about women when massively overhauling women’s rights? If Miller had given this even a moment’s thought, and acknowledged that women and transgender people’s rights needed to be balanced, rather than selling out the former to appease gender ideologues, it seems highly likely to me that the debate would never have become as fraught as it is. Anyway, after four years of anguished discussions, Miller’s reforms got kicked into the long grass in 2020, although they are still scheduled to go forward in Scotland, backed by the SNP and Greens.

Many transgender people have said how much they have hated being the subjects of political and online debate over the past five or so years, and who can blame them? Yet this issue is not just about them. Debates about gender rights are also debates about women’s rights, because activists are asking, essentially, for the abolition of women’s sex-based rights. This made and makes no sense to me, not because I think that trans women are terrible people, but because women’s sex-based rights exist for a reason.

I started having tentative discussions about this with other progressive journalists, but I was invariably the only one at the table who believed (or was willing to say out loud) that there is a clear clash between gender-based rights and women’s rights. When I said to one journalist that women need women-only spaces, he replied, “So you’re defending segregation?” Another time, when I said it was ridiculous to make prisons mixed-sex, someone I consider a friend said, “You sound like a homophobe in the Eighties saying you wouldn’t let your kids have a gay teacher.” Someone else told me I sounded like a “bigoted radical feminist” and I thought, “I used to be a deputy fashion editor, so if I’m now radical then the Left really is in trouble.” Another one said that by arguing for women’s sex-based rights I was beating down on “the most oppressed minority in Britain”, i.e., transgender people.

I have no doubt that transgender people suffer horrific bigotry in this country and everywhere. But when I found the statistics showed one trans person is tragically, killed a year in the UK, but two women are killed a week in England and Wales, I was accused of engaging in “the victim Olympics”. People who claimed to care ever so deeply about women’s physical safety during the MeToo movement now sneered at any woman who expressed doubt about sharing private spaces with male-bodied people. The most obvious example here was JK Rowling, who wrote about how her experiences with domestic violence informed her views, an inconvenient truth her critics conveniently ignored. Women are raised to fear male strength, and with very good reason. And now we’re called bigots for doing so.

For the first time in my 20-plus years of being a liberal journalist, I felt completely isolated. I knew I could make my life easier if I just reverted to being the good girl and shut up. “Be kind,” women were told by gender ideologues: be good girls, don’t ask questions, just nod and say what we tell you to say. You don’t want to be mean, do you? But how can you be a writer and not write your doubts about something so important? How can you be a journalist and not ask questions? Occasionally a professional peer would send a text saying that they agreed with me, but they couldn’t say so publicly because their editor wouldn’t like it, or their teenage kids would shout at them, or it was just too stressful.

So I questioned myself. Of course I did. Would my children be ashamed of me in twenty, ten, five years time? “Am I the baddie here?” I asked myself. But I just couldn’t make it square up: how can feelings (gender identity) always take precedence over material reality (biological sex)? Trying to convince myself that I was wrong and the gender ideologues were right was like trying to convince myself that one plus one equals a unicorn. How can you shut your eyes to your own experience and say something that makes no sense? Apparently some people can, but I could not.

I understand why some people see parallels between the modern transgender movement and the gay rights struggle. Like many gay people, trans people experience terrible marginalisation and discrimination, and some are rejected by their families, and that is tragic. Like gay people, they have been cruelly vilified in the Right-wing press (which is partly why the Left-wing media is then so loathe to raise any questions about the transgender movement. They don’t want to look like the evil Tories, right?). But there are other ways to see this situation, too.

It felt at times like men’s rights activism as a religion. Whenever I or a female colleague dared to voice our doubts about gender ideology, we were pilloried; whenever a male colleague did, he was given a free pass. It was, in the vast, vast main, women who were condemned as bigots, all because they didn’t believe the right things, because they were trying to defend their legal rights. Left-wing men — both in person and online — told me that unless I repeated the mantra “trans women are women”, I was a bigot. It reminded me of that time in school when I was questioned about Jesus to prove my worthiness to wear a jumper.

At the same time as all this was going on, Labour’s seemingly never-ending anti-Semitism scandals were unfolding. Everyone was being urged to listen to those with “lived experience”, and yet non-Jewish people on the Left were telling British Jews that they knew better than them what anti-Semitism was. Now many of those same men were telling me that they knew better than me what a woman was. So this time I didn’t give up a part of myself. Instead, I felt real anger, and I wrote an article in which I told them to get lost. This provoked a huge backlash on Twitter, and no, it wasn’t pleasant. But it was definitely preferable to staying silent just because I was scared.

Other people, however, did not react like that. It was astonishing to me how quickly universities, publishing houses, NHS services, political parties, newspapers and TV networks capitulated to the gender ideologues, who were often not even trans themselves. Mainstream newspapers were suddenly using ideological terms like “cis”, a term which endorses the highly dubious belief that we all have an innate gender identity, and “top surgery”, a tidy euphemism for an elective double mastectomy. NHS services would talk about “cervix havers”, “chest feeding” and “pregnant people” (although prostate-havers were, notably, still men). ITV made a much-publicised drama, Butterfly, about a little boy who decides he’s a girl because he likes to wear make-up and jewellery, because clearly a boy playing with make up needs some kind of medical intervention — and what else is a girl but jewellery and lipstick?

Many of the people demanding these institutional shifts were and are not transgender themselves. They are bullies who set themselves up as moral arbiters, using self-righteous hysteria and factually questionable claims to demand censorship, instilling fear that anyone caught engaging in wrongspeak or even wrongthink will be publicly shamed and professionally destroyed. Bullies who insist they need to reshape women’s rights entirely, and then accuse any woman who even wants to discuss this of being hateful, stupid and dangerous. I have seen some people refer to gender-critical feminists as bullies, but I have never seen a gender-critical feminist call for writers to be no-platformed, words to be banned, books to be pulped, or articles to be deleted from the web. Gender activists do all of that as a matter of routine.

Contrary to what these bullies have claimed, gender-critical feminists do not hate trans people. I certainly feel no anger or animosity towards trans people. The only feeling I have towards them is compassion. Not to the point where I’m willing to give up all of women’s sex-based rights, no. But I do know I can only imagine the trauma and pain they have endured in their lives. I also know that so many of the arguments that are happening in their name are not ones that they wish for at all; they are conducted largely by provocateurs who are just burnishing their online brands.

No, my anger is directed at the cowardly institutions that have allowed themselves to be bullied by a tiny misogynistic online minority instead of maintaining even a shadow of a backbone and doing what they know is right. Bristol University, for one, which is currently being sued by a young Dominican woman, Raquel Rosario-Sanchez, on the grounds of sex discrimination and negligence. Rosario-Sanchez came to Bristol to do a PhD on the male exploitation of prostitutes, but because she chaired an event with the feminist group, Woman’s Place UK, trans activists bullied and intimidated her.

She follows in the now extremely established lineage of women like Kathleen Stock, Maya Forstater, Allison Bailey, Rosie Kay — all women who have suffered huge professional setbacks and personal upheaval simply for believing that biological sex is the defining factor in women’s oppression. Do their employers think they’re wrong? Do they really think that something called gender identity, which I’m guessing most of them had never even heard of until six years ago, is the most important quality to a person, and any woman who doubts this must be shunned from society? Or do they just wish to be on The Right Side of History?

That’s a phrase I’ve heard often over the past few years. An editor said it to a friend of mine when she wanted to look at the effect of puberty blockers on gender dysphoric children (“I know, I know, but we want to be on the right side of history
”), and a US magazine editor said it to me when I asked if I could interview Martina Navratilova about her views on trans athletes: “I know what you’re saying, and I’m on your side, really I am. But you have to wonder what the right side of history is,” he said. It’s a concern that’s entirely based on vanity, because it’s about wanting to look good, to be seen as the good guy, polishing one’s future legacy. It’s also a way of abdicating responsibility for one’s choices: I’m not making this decision because it’s what I think – it’s what the future thinks!

And then there’s Twitter. When I wanted to write for a magazine about the vilification of JK Rowling, I was told no, because it would cause “too much of a Twitter storm”. A friend wanted to put together a book of collected gender-critical essays, but an editor told her “the Twitter kickback would be too strong, and it wouldn’t get past the sensitivity readers anyway”. It amazes me how much power some people give to Twitter, because as someone who has been the object of several Twitter storms in my time, I’ll let you in on a little secret: Twitter means nothing, unless you give it the power to mean something. People should really stop giving Twitter so much power, because it’s making them bad at their jobs.

I’m lucky — I haven’t lost my job because I believe something that everyone believed up to five years ago, and most people still believe now. (Gender activists love to produce sweeping surveys which they insist prove most people support trans rights. When people are questioned about the rights of trans people who have not had gender reassignment surgery, or dig into the specifics of sport and prisons, public opinion, unsurprisingly, changes.) I did, however, stop writing my column. I was tired of being seen as the Phyllis Schlafly of The Guardian.

I’m currently writing a book about anorexia. Multiple doctors have confirmed to me what I already suspected, which is that there are obvious parallels between what gender dysphoric teenage girls say today — about their hatred of their body, their fear of sexualisation, their assumptions about what being a woman means — and what I said while in hospital as a teenager.

This is a fact, and an important one about adolescent mental health, and yet when other people have tried to make similar points in print, they have come up against enormous barriers. Abigail Shrier’s book, Irreversible Damage, which looked at the disproportionate rise in numbers of teenage girls seeking gender transition, was ignored by progressive newspapers and magazines, even though it sold well. A US supermarket stopped stocking it after protests by activists. The deputy director for transgender justice at the ACLU, which still claims to be a free speech organisation, said that suppressing Shrier’s book was “100% a hill I would die on”.

Repeatedly, women who write about this tell me they are subjected to impossible edits: pleas for balance, softened language, a more neutral tone, dissenting voices, more equivocation so as to render their original argument into meaningless slurry — everything editors do to a piece when, really, they would rather spike it and save themselves the bother. It doesn’t matter how many facts you have, what matters are the feelings.

I don’t discount feelings. Feelings are important. But it’s interesting whose feelings matter. Andrea Long Chu, a trans woman, wrote in her 2017 memoir that the “barest essentials” of “femaleness” is “an open mouth, an expectant asshole, blank, blank eye”. How did that get past the now ubiquitous sensitivity readers? It certainly didn’t hurt the writer’s career, who continues to get very high-profile commissions, whereas I personally know women who have lost their jobs for saying that the barest essentials of their femaleness was their biology. Or how about this line from a recently published memoir by Grace Lavery: when describing how hormone treatment has affected her body, she writes that her penis felt “as though I were laying my own miscarried foetus across my hand”.

I had a miscarriage. Two, actually. And so has almost every woman I know who has been pregnant. I wonder if anyone at that publishing company thought how we might feel, seeing our failed pregnancies compared to a flaccid penis? I’m guessing none, and fair enough, because I actually don’t think fear of offence is a reasonable excuse not to publish something. The double standards are ludicrous: you can now say any old garbage about women, but anything that even questions gender ideology will be anxiously second-guessed and overly edited into oblivion, no matter how many facts and even genuine feelings are behind it.

Someone described this to me recently as “a period of over-correction”, and I get that. For so long, transgender people were underrepresented, mocked and harassed, and now it’s their moment to have their say, and fair enough. But this should not be an either/or situation: both women and trans people should be able to speak out equally and honestly in progressive spheres. Instead, I see Left-wing feminist writers being funnelled towards Right-wing publications, simply because Left-wing ones are too anxious to stay on The Right Side of History to publish them. This makes it easier for the Left-wing bullies to discredit them, but it does not make what they’re saying any less true.

Recently, Mumsnet hosted a live discussion with Stella Creasy and Caroline Nokes about women and mothers in politics. When the majority of the questions were about gender and what Creasy and Nokes think a woman is, the journalist Marie Le Conte called the Mumsnetters “obsessive” and “radicalised”. There were many problems facing women today, she wrote, but instead of working together on low rape convictions and workplace discrimination, feminists were arguing over this one issue.

Le Conte is right, of course: these are things women should be focusing on, because they affect women. But how can women focus on them if politicians won’t even say what a woman is anymore? If sex and gender are being blurred together, how can we discuss who’s being discriminated against and why? In the workplace, a woman might be sacked because, say, she got pregnant, which is sex discrimination. A trans woman might be sacked because of transphobia. These are very different issues, and while inclusion is a laudable aim, it can’t come at the cost of clarity and efficacy.

It is not bigoted to say these things. And yet, there was a period, about three years ago, when I honestly thought about quitting my job. I felt so hated for saying things — things that are scientifically, biologically and factually true — and so unsupported by people who I know secretly agree with me but are too scared to say so out loud that I nearly left journalism. Well, I didn’t. Instead, I decided to stop being so frustrated by it all, and to stop taking what is going on in the progressive media circles and institutions so personally. For so long, I defined myself as a Left-wing journalist, but political categories are watery these days, and I’m OK with feeling out of step from so many people I once thought of as my side. I know they see things differently from me and I fully support their right to express their views; that feeling, I know all too well, is not mutual.

I don’t feel like I’ve become radicalised, because I don’t think anything I didn’t already think six years ago. I do, however, feel much better about myself for not just thinking it but saying it. I have learned that there is something worse than people telling me I’m a bad person, and that is allowing bullies to reframe the world, to dictate what we can all think and to define my reality. They might have triumphed over some institutions, but they haven’t triumphed over me. It turns out life is much better when you’re no longer the good girl.

***

Order your copy of UnHerd’s first print edition here. 


Hadley Freeman is a staff writer at The Sunday Times. Her latest book, Good Girls: A Story and Study of Anorexia, was published in 2023.

HadleyFreeman

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

274 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
2 years ago

A very well written well constructed argument from a thoughtful and always intelligent writer.

I hope that the increasing public backlash to this utter nonsense will lead to a recognition of the need to maintain women’s sex based rights. But I fear that the universities in particular are too far down the rabbit hole to come back to the real world.

Robert Quark
Robert Quark
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian McKinney

I agree 100%. Hadley is one of our country’s best journalists. I am so glad she has found the strength to speak her mind openly on this issue and, no surprise, it is very well articulated. Now time for the remainder of her colleagues to find some backbone…

Kathryn Allegro
Kathryn Allegro
2 years ago
Reply to  Robert Quark

It has taken courage for Hadley to speak her mind, so let’s give her credit for doing so and acknowledge that (some) people can evolve in their thinking about this issue -and hope that more people do so.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago

They only evolve their thinking when their own interests are under attack.
Vasily Grossman had not problem no problem with Stalin’s atrocities until he turned out to be anti-sematic
They deserve no credit whatsoever

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago

I see that our Herbert Hoover et al conversation has been expunged by the Censor!

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

Not sure that I would have enjoyed it? I like some fun, but this notion that liberal, strong women are the foe, is very tired. There is a vast difference between radical, aggressive feminists and women who just want to be able to live independent lives.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago

I agree entirely with your sentiments, my Chief of Staff would not permit it otherwise.

In this case however the Censor lashed out because I & the splendidly named Ethniciodo Rodenydo had the temerity to go ‘off piste” and started discussing the merits or otherwise of Winston Spencer Churchill, KG.Very naughty indeed.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago

Many thanks!
I see you have earned a down tick, which I have cancelled! Madness!

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

Hi Sulp, do you really get censored here? Does it happen much? Sometimes I get the ‘Awaiting for Approval’ for using Cressida D* ck and the algorithm holds it back – but then it appears. Otherwise I do not think anything I post gets censored. I have been amazed that this place can function without the massed Wumao’s plugging up the discourse – do they delete posts? I have not seen it myself.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Yes, irritatingly they do so. Today for example in the Stalin Debate ‘we’ swerved ‘off piste’ and were censored because of it.

Kat L
Kat L
2 years ago

So right. The fad of trotting them out as being red pilled allies of conservatives is laughable.

Patrick Butler
Patrick Butler
2 years ago
Reply to  Robert Quark

I agree, but it’s too bad Ms. Freeman is relying on words used by promoters of sex-change-by-law. (Any damn fool knows that sex cannot be changed in fact.) Promoters’ words are deliberately ambiguous and confusing to keep the public out of the sex-change debate. But it’s time to use alternative words that are part of everyone’s working vocabulary. We urgently need to bring an informed public into the debate. Here are some suggestions about words: Sex Change Law | Equality4Women

Last edited 2 years ago by Patrick Butler
M Harries
M Harries
2 years ago
Reply to  Patrick Butler

Great common sense memorandum.
I stopped using ‘gender’ in discussions some time ago as it’s contemporary usage by the Trans Agenda is itself ‘non-binary’ and thus non-descript . I have had many TRAs glaringly deny that to the general public gender was simply a genteel synonym for sex. I’ve asked them to show me examples of forms where both Sex and Gender were questions asked, if they were considered different. Of course no examples of forms are to be found. It’s as if the World started in 2015.

Carol Hayden
Carol Hayden
2 years ago
Reply to  Robert Quark

Agree Hadley is a great journalist. It is sad that you now have to be brave to talk in a way that was simply accepted by most people a few years ago. I cannot understand why the so-called progressive political parties and trade unions are uninterested in the rights of over half the population.

peter barker
peter barker
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian McKinney

Yes, Hadley is a good writer. I used to enjoy her pieces in The Guardian before I stopped reading it 3/4 years ago when its unpalatable wokeism was hugely outweighing the pleasure I got from the sports coverage/crosswords / odd bits of good writing.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian McKinney

The problem here cannot be solved by the use of the same fallacies that created it in the first place. “Sex-based rights” is another feminist concept that successfully made obsolete the conventions that had previously applied. The reason there are men in women-only spaces isn’t because we’re trampling on women’s sex-based rights, it’s because we permitted what had until recently been durable social conventions to be replaced with a progressively-defined concept of rights that women should have. It was inevitable that as soon as an intersectional claim could be made upon those rights that ranked higher than women themselves, the ideology upon which those rights were constructed would have to recognise the claim.

Simon Tavanyar
Simon Tavanyar
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian McKinney

 “I fear that the universities in particular are too far down the rabbit hole to come back to the real world.”
Sorry – but that comment is totally spineless!
Human history stands at an inflection point. The notion that biological facts (xx and xy chromosomes) are not facts is straight out of Orwell’s classic ‘1984’. If 2 + 2 = 5. then anything goes and truth is whatever the Party says it is.
In 1939 Britain stood alone against World Fascism. Later the USA was coerced into the war, and thankfully we averted that crisis. In 1989 Ronald Reagan saw the outcome of “Tear down this wall”. Soviet Communism was defeated and slunk off to lick its wounds.
The West faces an existential crisis. There is no gender fluidity, Men cannot become women, nor can women become men, no matter what surgery or chemicals they inject. Get cancelled. Get arrested. Chain yourself to a lamppost. But do not give space to these lies.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 years ago

You do know that this stance of all your colleagues on the left, many very senior indeed, like the leader of the opposition as you have pointed out, is going to lead to the total annihilation of the liberal left in the west, when the majority of everyday people eventually wake up to what the bulk of the left are pushing for here, which they haven’t quite twigged yet. You do know this, right?

H D
H D
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

One can only hope.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  H D

I don’t know, HD. I’m fairly right wing myself, and I miss the liberal left. Although I didn’t agree with them they were at least fundamentally decent people, unlike the pseudo-progressive fascists who have usurped them.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

They haven’t usurped them – They are the same people. They are making the mistake of thinking that they no longer need to pretend.
I am amused that a Guardian journalist (An oxymoron if ever I have come across one) has to resort to Unherd because so few people read The Guardian.
And no, I didn’t read to the end – She is a Guardian staff writer.

Charles Lawton
Charles Lawton
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Sorry totally disagree there Terry, I am a left leaning liberal, who strongly disagrees with what happened to Rowling, Kathleen Stock and others. I know many others of my political hue who think the same. I feel the whole transgenderism issue has slipped under the radar, not sure why, but I suspect that few people in everyday life have realised what Michelle Goldberg was writing about in “What is a woman” There seems to be a mindset to accept this Transgender argument as being a progressive way forward when in fact it is a total betrayal of women to keep the women only spaces. Perhaps part of the problem for many women is the objectors making the most noise on the subject are radical feminists who are not considered mainstream enough to listen to. My late mother a real old school Tory could not stand the likes of Germaine Greer but despite her politics thought Barbara Castle was a brilliant politician because she spoke for the rank and file and did something about it. In essence the Transgender war seems to be exercising the intellectuals and not everyday people.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Lawton

“…but despite her politics thought Barbara Castle was a brilliant politician because she spoke for the rank and file and did something about it.”
Exactly. BC was not a left liberal; Hadley Freeman is and one who, for some reason known only to herself, expects a level of tolerance for her views that as a Guardian staff writer she would not extend to others. I know that I am getting snarkey, but I am fed up with members of the Islington Dinner Party Set coming to Unherd and complaining that they are being unfriended by polite society. Toughtits as my dear old mother would have said.
No personal insult to you, by the way. 

Charles Lawton
Charles Lawton
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Totally agree. I used to read the Guardian 20 years ago and liked it when it was not taking itself too seriously. I think it has turned into the polar opposite of the DT sensational and full of nonsense.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Lawton

Me too.
I think a herd of Guardian readers are lurking here unheard, because I can see upticks for my comments being cancelled out by downticks. Some habits die hard I guess. My rule is that if I disagree with someone I say so.
Re The Telegraph: I have a soft spot for Janet Daley. I don’t automatically agree with her, but a soft spot is a soft spot.

Last edited 2 years ago by Terry Needham
Ri Bradach
Ri Bradach
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

She is a journalistic treasure. There are a few at the DT that I always appreciate their perspective even when I don’t agree with their conclusion.

Bruce Luffman
Bruce Luffman
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Janet Daley is terrific and my wife is a huge fan of Allison Pearson. However, I thought this article was very good and she writes with an honesty which I appreciate and while I am described often as a cynic, I think the author has got it about right.
As a normal bloke, I think that unless women stand up for themselves and their female rights against these ‘nutters’, women will lose their hard won rights in a man’s world. I say this because these transgender fanatics tend to be men wanting to identify as women and not much the other way around.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago
Reply to  Bruce Luffman

I agree about Allison Pearson. Particularly in her podcast with Liam Halligan.

Karl Francis
Karl Francis
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Fair play.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Quislington Sir! Not Islington.*

(* Thanks to the late Fraser Bailey Esq.)

mike otter
mike otter
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Lawton

If only there were intellectuals involved it would come out better for everyone

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago
Reply to  mike otter

I spent many happy years at Universities, Intellectuals just find more interesting ways of being wrong.

Karl Francis
Karl Francis
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Lawton

Well said sir. I’d go even further back to the likes of Attlee and Anuerin Bevan. I’ve never been a Guardian reader, or the Daily Mail (tribal propaganda). Something truly horrible has happened to the left. It’s not good for this country to be without a decent, competent opposition. I’m pretty much blue collar so I take Terry’s point about the ‘Islington set’, but I’m glad that UnHerd have given Hadley a platform.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Lawton

Read Orwell’s essays. The Left have been censoring writers ever since M Muggeridge wrote the truth about the famine in the Ukraine 1930s and was sacked by The Guardian. An American journalist also lied to cover up the famine in the 1930s.
The left have used violence to shout people down since the late 1960s. Left wingers are being attacked by Left wingers which happened under Stalin in the 1930s; so nothing has changed.
The Left is a collective and therefore does not believe in the freedom of the individual to think, speak and act freely.

Bronwen Saunders
Bronwen Saunders
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Indeed. For as this piece, like Kate Clanchy’s essay about her savaging by so-called “sensitivity readers”, makes clear, one of the major misconceptions of the woke left is that only their favoured minorities have feelings.
So if women as a distinct category of human being have to be abolished so that the feelings of just a few deeply troubled men can be spared – well women won’t mind. And if elevating underachieving black pupils means preventing Asian pupils from excelling and securing a place at the university of their choice – well Asians won’t mind. And if, as in Germany, satisfying a small group of narcissistic feminists means rewriting the German language in a way that ordinary German speakers find incomprehensible – well ordinary Germans won’t mind. And if making your mark in academia or in the world of literature means writing a book decrying “whiteness” or imputing innate and immutable “toxicity” to half of all humanity – well white people and men won’t mind.
But we do mind. We mind very much. And since attempts at debate have so far proved fruitless  â€“ either because they don’t take place at all (Kendi et al.) or because they because those defending wokism use insults in lieu of argument (Michael Dyson versus Jordan Peterson) – many of us are now so desperate for an end to this nasty, divisive madness that we would vote for pretty well anyone who promised to put a stop to it.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago

It seems so obvious, why won’t a political party pick up on it?

Stephen Follows
Stephen Follows
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Because they’re all scared sh*tless.

Karl Francis
Karl Francis
2 years ago

Belter!

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago

The reality is there has been a massive decline in the toughness and technical skill of the middle and upper classes in the last 60 years. To those scared of their shadow: a shadow is very scary. The allowing of Putin to exert power over Europe because of inadequate energy supplies is a good example of the ruling class lacking toughness and technical skill.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Leftists, like the author, are unwilling to notice that the left is much more intolerant than the today’s right. As a result, they feel politically homeless. Their identities are to the left, but the only acceptance available for them comes from the right. In the US, Republicans have picked up the anti-trans position. However, stranded liberals, like the author, can’t accept any support from the right.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

Also Bronwen, we often find ourselves in circular arguments, because many conservative men think that ‘women had it coming’. There is no discernment between radical divisive feminists (who have had and still have their place – they after all unlocked the door) and classic liberal women who want a reasonable place in society and want a choice to operate exactly as they wish, which might include a healthy relationship with a man.

Karl Francis
Karl Francis
2 years ago

Fair comment. You can smell the red leather chairs, brandy and cigar smoke eminating from one or two of ‘usual’ posts.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago

True but which group’s views are loudest and more continuous? Often the radical divisive feminists have had their strongest criticism for other women, Mary Whitehouse and Victoria Gillick come to mind.

Roger Inkpen
Roger Inkpen
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Too late mate, it’s already happened. We’re all fascists now.
[regardless of what we really think]

Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
2 years ago

Your mistake is thinking that this all relatively recent and that organisations have folded to the demands of a small number of Twitterers.

It isn’t – this is an outcome of the decades-long march through the institutions of Intersectional Feminism/Cultural Marxism/Postmodernism. This is the work of the self-styled ‘Liberal Progressives’. Including yourself, probably.

Jonathan Ellman
Jonathan Ellman
2 years ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

And if not yourself, then certainly the Guardian, on whose teat you have sucked.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

39 paragraphs……that’s what it takes to say you are not fully onside with the latest hard core, crazy, Lefty agenda…… Because you dare not just say it – one must dance around waving veils of guilt, understanding, persecution, regrets, compassion, sorrow, being misunderstood, the unjustness of everything, wishing everyone well, confusion, doubt, anti-racism, and so on…..

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I think she does say it, and quite explicitly.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I’m glad I’m not the only one who found this article excessively wordy. She must make the point, again and again, how compassionate she it, how isn’t cruel, how she isn’t one of those terrible “right-wingers”, heaven forfend! 😉

Tanya Gold
Tanya Gold
2 years ago

There’s some grim imagery there.

Jonathan Ellman
Jonathan Ellman
2 years ago
Reply to  Tanya Gold

Both literally and metaphorically, it’s pretty grim.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

That was my thought. Nowhere in here was there any consideration of the author’s own contribution to the situation to which she so objects. This was invented by the left, and if you are or have been of the left, it’s partly your fault.

Kirsten Walstedt
Kirsten Walstedt
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Not if you began to split from the rest of the left as soon as the cultural Marxism was in the ascendant

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago

“Women can no longer afford to sit out the gender wars”
Is a bit like the fuhrer saying he can’t stay on the sidelines of ww2
The concept of treating your own gender like a trade union, proclaiming yourself as a victim based only on your genitals, wasn’t exactly a male thing.

And even now, you don’t realise how hilarious it is to hear a left wing, feminist woman complain about:
“It doesn’t matter how many facts you have, what matters are the feelings”
or
“how quickly universities, etc capitulate’

The grotesque world in which men are allowed to compete in women’s sports, or rapists allowed to enter women’s prisons…
Is the world created by your gender, where you weaponised feelings, where biology doesn’t matter and Damore gets fired for suggesting otherwise but fathers demanding access to their own children are extremists…..where you can have a PhD on “male exploitation of prostitutes’ but cannot find a honest Guardian report on the grooming gangs.

Karl Francis
Karl Francis
2 years ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Excellent.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
2 years ago

‘No, my anger is directed at the cowardly institutions that have allowed themselves to be bullied by a tiny misogynistic online minority instead of maintaining even a shadow of a backbone and doing what they know is right.’

And yet Hadley and her mates are first in line when it comes to cancelling someone like Jordan Peterson when he’s invited to Cambridge. It’s all perfectly fine until they’re banging on your door isn’t it Hadley?

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Excellent observation. I have continually banged on that Hadley and her ilk–many mentioned in the article–are not truly on side, and the best we can hope for is a shaky, temporary alliance against the most extreme radical wing of the woke.
Someone like Hadley, who is merely “woke,” is not a true ally of free thought and free speech, as you point out. Perhaps the clue was that she writes for The Guardian.

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

When did Hadley cancel Jordan Peterson? I consider myself a biology acknowledging feminist and I have no issue with Peterson. Why do you assume Hadley does?

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
2 years ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

A fair point – I really hope Hadley is a free speech absolutist. I guess what I’m trying to say is ‘progressive’ journos like Hadley are quite happy to stay silent when these institutions capitulate to the wokerati and cancel someone they dislike, but when it’s THEY who become the target for this lunacy it suddenly becomes ‘problematic’. Remember people, silence is violence!

Robert Pound
Robert Pound
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Unless Hadley has actually said something on Peterson and Cambridge, you’re just trying to impute guilt by perceived association, like if I were to assume that all rightwingers wanted Ward Churchill sacked.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
2 years ago
Reply to  Robert Pound

Thank you I didn’t know about Wade Churchill. And yes, point taken – I have no evidence that Hadley is not a blanket opponent of cancel culture. She doesn’t however tell us so, despite a lengthy article, and the paper she works for seems quite happy to deny its existence. Maybe she should have a word with Suzanne Moore


Karl Francis
Karl Francis
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Yup, sound observation.

Andrea X
Andrea X
2 years ago

I am only on par. 1, but I need to ask: “I was a people pleaser… but I endured the **usual** downsides (teenage anorexia, frequent bouts of insomnia, lifelong anxiety).

“Usual downsides”? Is it supposed to be irony?

Reading on, the new Yorker link is broken:
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014%5bhttps:/www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/08/04/woman-208/04/woman-2

Reading on she says: “I have no doubt that transgender people suffer horrific bigotry”
Do they? Do we have a reference for that?

“Like many gay people, trans people experience terrible marginalisation and discrimination, and some are rejected by their families, and that is tragic.”
Perhaps, but what has that got to do with changing the law and with what the article is about?

“Like gay people, they have been cruelly vilified in the Right-wing press (which is partly why the Left-wing media is then so loathe to raise any questions about the transgender movement. They don’t want to look like the evil Tories, right?).”
Again, can we have examples of that? I am not sure what papers the writer reads, and perhaps this is proof I only read the Beano, but I am not aware AT ALL of this vilification going on, and certainly not from the Tory benches.

““top surgery”, a tidy euphemism for an elective double mastectomy.” That is so true. Just the other day I read an article on the BBC website recounting a someone’s story and the expression “top surgery” was casually thrown in like an afterthought.

“When people are questioned about the rights of trans people who have not had gender reassignment surgery, or dig into the specifics of sport and prisons, public opinion, unsurprisingly, changes.)”
I had a look at that survey (from 2020) and apart from males entering women’s sports, there was a lot of “positivity”. Using female toilets or refuges wasn’t seen as much of an issue, except from older people. I only glanced at it, though, so I am happy to be corrected.

And again: .
“For so long, transgender people were underrepresented, mocked and harassed”
Reference, please.

Finally got to the end. The article is vaguely interesting, but I find it highly prejudiced. It should have been way shorter and certainly better researched. There are too many “truths universally acknowledged”.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrea X
Penny Rose
Penny Rose
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrea X

Yes that ‘usual downsides’ grated with me as well. It’s amazing how many journalists are unable to see further than their own experience. Or is it just a form of narcissism – this is how I reacted, so anyone who felt similarly will, of course, have reacted in the same way?

Fredrick Urbanelli
Fredrick Urbanelli
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrea X

For sure, “truths universally acknowledged ” is one of the most common pseudo-academic shortcuts that you find today online. It’s an exact synonym for “in my opinion”.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
2 years ago

I think this is what they call being “hoist with your own petard.”
The whole point of “rights” is that “we was robbed,” and if you don’t agree you are the enemy.
Well, this week it’s the trans people saying they was robbed, and if you are a feminist then you are the enemy.
This is, of course, just what we stick-in-the-muds would have predicted all along.
As Curtis Yarvin writes “there is no politics without an enemy.” He gets it from Nazi Carl Schmitt who wrote that the political is the friend – enemy distinction.
Do you see the point? If you believe in “rights” and believe in politics to establish and defend your rights, then anyone opposed to your rights agenda is the enemy.
I believe that “rights” is nonsense on stilts, starting with workers’ rights.
In Britland, the peasants had been dying of starvation ever since “improvement” started about 1500. The industrial revolution was a god-send for the workers.
Same with women. Life was nasty, brutish and short. Then came modern medicine and women outlive men, even when there isn’t a war. So now women can spend their evenings in luxurious therapy worrying about “total conflict avoidance.̈
It’s simple. Politics isn’t the answer.

Last edited 2 years ago by Christopher Chantrill
Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
2 years ago

Cogent and well nailed.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago

“Same with women.”
I agree. The inventors and industrialists who brought us the washing machine have done more for women’s rights than Laurie Penny.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Indeed, what about the almost forgotten Dr Carl Djerassi*
the ‘inventor’ of the Pill, and Mr Frank Cotton its fist ‘manufacturer’.

Where would we (she) be without them?

(* Not working in the Fatherland I hasten to add.)

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago

Exactly. Well said.

Alison Wren
Alison Wren
2 years ago

Possibly not having to shag men who ask us because we dont need to fear pregnancy?? Possibly using methods which protect us from STDs including cervical cancer? Ive watched the sexual revolution from start to finish and it certainly hasn’t all been positive for women….

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Alison Wren

Surely it’s an improvement from the “every sperm is sacred” days?

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  Alison Wren

You don’t have to shag men who ask you.

David B
David B
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

In most men’s experience, the opposite occurs more frequently!

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  David B

Indeed it does.

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Well, to be fair, it would be difficult to find anyone who’s done less for women’s rights than Laurie Penny.

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Laurie Penny has done nothing for women’s rights, so you should support her. She hates women as much as you do, and no longer identifies as a woman.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

What on earth have I said that makes you think I am anti-women?

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Richard, what do you think of women?

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago

I think that men and women* should be treated equally on the whole, but that there need also to be some women-only spaces – most obviously toilets, changing rooms, sports facilities, domestic violence refuges, and prisons.
And I like my adult daughter.
*defined as adult human females.

Last edited 2 years ago by Drahcir Nevarc
Jane Watson
Jane Watson
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Saw the then-oldest person in the country interviewed maybe 20 yrs ago. I think she was 105. The journo asked for her memories and what had the most dramatic effect on her life. ‘The washing machine!’ she replied with glee.

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

“The inventors and industrialists who brought us the washing machine have done more for women’s rights than Laurie Penny.”

My mother made the same point, frequently.

Last edited 2 years ago by Arnold Grutt
Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
2 years ago

lifelong Labour, or Liberal Democrat, or Green voters”
“want to look like the evil Tories”

Why should you expect your Labour, Green or LD party to listen to you when you’re not willing to vote against them? In politics especially, actions speak louder than words. If you want them to change, put your money where you mouth is and vote Tory. If you don’t, women will keep being erased, and your parties will be leading the charge.

Robert Pound
Robert Pound
2 years ago

I can’t speak for Hadley, but I imagine there are at least two reasons. (1) The Tories haven’t even been particularly good on the trans issue. As the article points out, until recently, full self-ID for transpeople was Tory policy and government policy. In the end they backed off before they got round to putting it into law. (2) There are many more political issues at stake besides this one. Perhaps some people will decide that this is the most important one and that the Tories have done enough of a u-turn on it to merit support, but that’s not automatic.

Robert Pay
Robert Pay
2 years ago
Reply to  Robert Pound

I’d like to say that there was something libertarian about the self-identification legislation but the policy was clearly just a desire to keep on the right side of the establishment – BBC/academia/public sector who govern us.

Peter LR
Peter LR
2 years ago

I started reading this supportively, being concerned for women’s sex-based rights and open-hearted honesty. But then it seemed like I was on the periphery watching gang turf war between “progressives”. Despite trying, I can’t find any good reasons to vote Labour, Lib Dem or Greens so maybe that’s why? Who began name calling and shaming to try and discredit other points of view?

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago

Almost all the comments are variations on schafenfreude for a lefty hoisted on her own petard, rehashing of the obvious nonsense of trans ideology, or praise for this woman’s courage in very publicly leaving her tribe. I endorse all, but wonder why there isn’t more discussion about how and why these fanatics wield so much power and what we can do about it.

It does seem that one of the issues is that it is consequence free for them. How can balaclava clad people threaten Kathleen Stock and just walk away? How can these Twitter mobs threaten murder and mayhem without fear?

I’m not enough of a legal expert to comment on the online harms bill but clearly something of that nature is necessary. The school’s initiative is also to be welcomed but appears toothless.

The concern is that, if governments continue to capitulate, balaclava clad ‘units’ from the other side will start turning up. That is a very slippery slope, much as I might like to see some real harm visited on the fanatical vanguard of the hard left.

julie bush
julie bush
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

There feels like there is a religiosity to many of these arguments . . Scapegoating and forms of purity codes (esp with covid arguments), tribalism, regressive thinking. These are the themes we should be thinking about, what drives this, motivates this fear and fervour .

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Governments encourage and support the units you refer to. If we’re at each other’s throats, we stay away from theirs.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

I have started prefacing my conversations with officialdom and the corporate world with the warning that I have zero tolerance for woke nonsense, and that any attempt on their part to insinuate the woke agenda into proceedings will result in immediate termination of our conversation.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

I had an unsolicited LinkedIn invite from some bloke who had his pronouns on his profile. I declined, advising him I could never do business with anybody subscribing to this nonsense.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

You did absolutely the right thing.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
2 years ago

Journalism seems quite an odd career choice for someone who is desperate to avoid conflict and confrontation.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Which probably explains why I found this article, at heart, comedic. Like with Basil Fawlty, one type of comedy is generated when someone chooses a career that is completely at odds with their temperament.

Last edited 2 years ago by Prashant Kotak
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Are you surrounded by people who have unerringly chosen a perfect fit career? That is ludicrous.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 years ago

No of course not. Although the lot of people working in the IT world is a reasonably happy one from my experience.

Many people are not suited to the career they have chosen, as in not good at what they do, and many more have fallen into work which is dead end and unrewarding but have no easy means of escape – both situations are sad and grim.

The comedy comes when someone who is bright chooses work which they are good at but their temperament goes against the grain of the ethos of the ecosystem they have chosen. An example I can think of from the past when I was involved in Call Center IT. Most people cold calling from outbound centres are hopeless at it, but perhaps one in twenty will excel – they just have a gift for something that is in truth very difficult. Since such work often pays out on an eat what you kill basis, the really good ones can earn twenty times the average. I came across one such guy who was making a ton of money much to the envy of his colleagues, but absolutely hated what he did. So we used to get a lecture at the end of very profitable days for him, pouring forth a mix of disdain for the people he had sold to and guilt, because selling of that type is necessarily somewhat scammy. Although he did not intend them as such, I found his diatrabes very funny. I asked him why he stayed if he hated it all so much, and he said it was a living.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

I was very good at what I did, but my temperament was completely unsuited to it. I was not given the opportunity to pick and choose a career. I was driven by a desire to succeed at what I did, even if it was destroying me. So I understand and relate to Hadley completely. As I do to many others.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

WSC spent much of his life as a ‘journo’ of one form or another.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago

Great!

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago

You just proved his point

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago

Even UhHerd wouldn’t let us go there!

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago

Herbert Hoover had a few interesting things to say in his biography about the roles played by WSC and the consequences for the UK

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago

Did he indeed! I was unaware of that. Perhaps they were none too complimentary? I shall have to search them out. Thank you.

However, as you well know, in the present climate any criticism of the Homicidal Harrovian Pygmy is completely forbidden.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago

“Is the word of Stalin any better than the word of Hitler?”

Thank you for that, we shall have to continue this conversation in due course.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

I think that is a bit harsh, Chris. However, back when I was working in the legal profession, it was said to me numerous times (by other lawyers, unsurprisingly) that the truly clever law students went on to become judges and lawyers, the ones who weren’t bright enough to be successful in law became politicians and the ones who were completely incompetent became journalists. Unfortunately, the standard of journalism in Austria is so awful that I can’t say it’s not true.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

How is the ‘Home of Hitler’ coping with mandatory vaccination, if I may ask?

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

I have one issue only. I think that everyone on UnHerd could become a journalist because they can all write sentences. However, most have chosen better things to do. If there is anybody who can write lucid comments, why not become a journalist?

Obviously, there are some good ones. These are people who don’t write about the same fixed ideas every day, those who can see all sides of an argument and those who try to be fair. Where are they? Why are the so-called ‘left wing’ journalists not writing for Unherd as a balance. Where are the opposite ideas? Where are the journalists who think that vaccination for Covid is good.

Answer. Journalists are not good enough to make a balanced case.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Whilst I have some sympathy with your view when I hear the likes of Mary Ann Bighead* bleating hysterically about the efficacy of Lockdown, I am also cheered to hear people such as Peter Hitchens fight back.
Perhaps you should change your Newspaper?

(* Mary Ann Sieghart.)

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago

I don’t ever read a newspaper but I have in the past. Peter H is another guy who says the same thing every week over and over again. If you agree with him you think he is great. If you disagree with him……

I meet a lot of people; I am self-employed and have to keep up with my customer base. In discussions, over meals or coffees I have never !!! met anyone who is against vaccination for Covid. On this site a couple of hundred people are against vaccination. What does that tell you? Either:

a) I don’t know the right people. Maybe they all lie to me.
b) Only people on UnHerd have the brains to understand the truth.
c) Only the people on UnHerd have the time to watch endless losers on Youtube.
d) UnHerders think that they’re so tough that they have to disagree with everything.

I go with option (d). It is time for proper journalists to come along and dispel the academic fug.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I liked c)

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I am glad to hear you avoid MSM, as do I. I only mention Peter H, as many months ago he was vociferous in his condemnation of mask wearing. I seem to recall him wearing an old Warsaw Pact one, rather as I did with my old NATO one.

I only mentioned Mary AS as I heard her on ‘full throttle’ at a recent social gathering of the ‘good and the great’, and it was not an edifying sight.

I have completely avoided the Vax Controversy, primarily because at my advanced age it doesn’t really matter either way. Dead is dead.

I seem to recall that when you first joined UnHerd in those far off, pre Pay Wall days you suffered an unfortunate “fit of the vapours’ and summarily left the forum.

Fortunately you quickly returned and I am so glad that you have made a full recovery. No doubt the rural tranquility of Wales has helped.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

What do you do if the career seems like the best fit in other respects? She is an excellent writer.

Last edited 2 years ago by Lesley van Reenen
rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

I thought she said that she used to be “desperate to avoid conflict and confrontation”, but not any more

Bex Couper
Bex Couper
2 years ago

Thank you for daring to voice what some of us would like to say but are too worried to do so. The hysteria has to be taken out of the gender-debate, cancelling people who you don’t agree with isn’t progressive.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago

It’s just weird that the head of a rape crisis centre for women is trans, and views it as a priority to deal with rape victims bigotry about trans people.
https://www.spiked-online.com/2022/02/01/the-thought-police-are-here/
And weird that a banker who occasionally dresses up as a woman wins an award at work for women.
And even weirder that a woman swimmer who competed as a man 2 years ago is now breaking women’s swimming records in the USA.
What next?

Last edited 2 years ago by Ian Stewart
Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson
2 years ago

So a fully paid-up intersectionalist Guardianista, who has spent much of her career indulging in identity politics to further her own far-leftist wokiest and misandrist agenda and cancel those engaging in “wrongthink” is now being hoisted by her own intolerant petard.
Oh cry me a river.
PS: “Like gay people, they have been cruelly vilified in the Right-wing press”
As a regular reader of DT and the Speccie (yes, Hadley I’m a bigoted fascist, of course), I have yet to encounter such vilification.
And I’d react allergically if I ever did.
Perhaps you could specify where and when you did.

Last edited 2 years ago by Eddie Johnson
Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
2 years ago
Reply to  Eddie Johnson

I think you could accuse Hadley Freeman of a lot of things, but you couldn’t accuse her of being an intersectionalist, far leftist, wokist, or misandrist. She’s definitely none of those things and it’s a bit unfair to tar her with that brush just because of the paper she works for. In fact, she’s taken an awful lot of abuse from readers of that paper (and I daresay some of its journalists too) because of her non-leftist, non-wokist, stance on a number of issues.

Jim Nichols
Jim Nichols
2 years ago

The following encapsulates the author’s problem. “My friendship group consists mainly of thirty-something to fifty-something progressive women, all, like me, lifelong Labour, or Liberal Democrat, or Green voters, all teachers, or civil servants, or writers, or lawyers.”

We need to get out of these kind of self imposed silos, and find common ground to oppose cancel culture and stand up for free speech.

The author seems to be frustrated by the response on the left, but unwilling to make common cause with others on the right. Only by working together across the (old) political spectrum can we find the kind of broad based coalition to preserve what used to be regarded as liberal values of free speech, reasoned argument, equality before the law, etc…

Jane Watson
Jane Watson
2 years ago
Reply to  Jim Nichols

“progressive women, all, like me, lifelong Labour, or Liberal Democrat, or Green voters, all teachers, or civil servants, or writers, or lawyers.”

Yikes, I’ve always wondered what ‘progressive’ means, is it this??? God help us.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Jane Watson

Yes it is. Consummatum est, as the Ancient would say.

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
2 years ago
Reply to  Jane Watson

They’re free to fix drains or do pest control or industrial boiler cleaning anytime they like. Pretty good money. Strangely they don’t seem to want to.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
2 years ago

I commend your courage, Hadley. Part of the problem, I suspect, is that women are over represented in the publishing industry and, dare I say it, many of them are slaves to fashion (which they call ‘the right side of history’) and terrified of causing offence. So some of your friends need to grow a pair.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

Nothing illustrates the complete nonsense that left progressivism entails buying into, as the idea that history has a ‘side’, much less a ‘right side’.

Kathleen Stern
Kathleen Stern
2 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

“The right side of history’ is a ludicrous statement. You would have to live a hell of a lot longer to know what that might be. Don’t they allege that history is written by the victors anyway? Don’t let these people win!

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

I saw what you did there 🙂

Fredrick Urbanelli
Fredrick Urbanelli
2 years ago

…”I have never seen a gender-critical feminist call for writers to be no-platformed, words to be banned, books to be pulped, or articles to be deleted from the web”…
Are you serious? These tactics were invented and perfected by feminists. As were the self-absorption and victimhood schtick that the trans activists have adopted.
Please don’t misread my intentions or beliefs here; apart from this sentence, I’m in near- total agreement with your thoughtful and heartfelt piece. Women-only spaces are essential, and only women are women. No doubt. But feminists are largely responsible for this dystopia they now lament so bitterly. The trans movement has stolen a page from the feminist political handbook. As ye sow, so shall ye reap.

William Shaw
William Shaw
2 years ago

“My friendship group consists mainly of thirty-something to fifty-something progressive women, all, like me, lifelong Labour, or Liberal Democrat, or Green voters, all teachers, or civil servants, or writers, or lawyers.”
A bubble of like minded people. An echo chamber.
Not a bricklayer or lorry driver among them.

Last edited 2 years ago by William Shaw
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 years ago
Reply to  William Shaw

It highlights how timidly conformist indeed “conservative” these progressive people are. All good girls who go along obediently with the approved left groupthink and check each other’s thinking in case they step out of line.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  William Shaw

I thought she was going for the sympathy vote. Imagine what a life with friends like that must be like.

Francisco Menezes
Francisco Menezes
2 years ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Imagine all the fun they are missing.

Last edited 2 years ago by Francisco Menezes
Rachel Davie
Rachel Davie
2 years ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Probably not a black friend amongst them either. It’s amazing how racist some of these Leftie types can be, surrounding themselves not only with like-minded people but lookalike people, with no thought for how their “progressive” Liberal ideas carry Neo-colonialism as well as showing no regard for intersectionality.

Last edited 2 years ago by Rachel Davie
Kate Kenny
Kate Kenny
2 years ago

Thanks, Hadley. This is great.

Last edited 2 years ago by Kate Kenny
Kevin Casey
Kevin Casey
2 years ago

This was a rather lengthy but well written article. As someone in his 60’s I can never recall meeting or knowing anyone in my circle of friends who has ever met a trans person. Ignoring of course that unshaved bloke down at the local mall who likes to wear sundresses and red lipstick. For all the “noise” from Twitter and the MSM I just wonder what percentage of the population are truely transgender.

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
2 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Casey

You mean you live in a tolerant community which tends to stick to ‘each to their own’ in their own private lives as long as no harm’s done? In other words don’t stick your nose in? Can’t have that! Everyone must proclaim their own intimacy in everyone’s faces surely!

Alison Wren
Alison Wren
2 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Casey

Most are now the ones who liked to wear womens clothes, at private functions at the weekends. In other words transvestites, who are now emboldened to describe themselves as women, and have NO intention of removing their wedding tackle. The ones who have surgery are very much in a minority but of course, and especially in person and in personality, still identifiable as male.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
2 years ago
Reply to  Alison Wren

Tbf the Trans men are getting increasingly vocal. I’ve read an article where a trans man who had given birth described it as the most masculine thing they’d ever done and another who declared themselves 100% male now they’d had their t!ts removed! So the bare essentials of being male is now having a vag!na and giving birth with it!
I fully support the concept that many young trans people today are confused.

D Ward
D Ward
2 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Casey

Strange, given the worse is now seemingly awash with them. Maybe you don’t get out much?

I get out a lot and haven’t met any transgender types either (plenty of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transvestites, mind). Still I am a far right extreme etc etc bigot (aka: normal)

Kevin Casey
Kevin Casey
2 years ago
Reply to  D Ward

I get out a lot as you do, I’ve definitely seen them too

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

Wow, gives a whole new meaning to the word sesquipedalian, not the vocabulary, but the, well, anti-brevity style of the article. Never say something once, if you can say it a dozen times with a slightly different wording or context, was the main thing I took away.

Because the concept is so simple it can be said in one paragraph. That there are two sexes, and this insanity of ‘legal’ transgenderism being pandered to in the way it is is very destructive to society and children.

And so to illustrate it I post a 6 minute link to the Comedian JP Sears, the one time Vegan, spiritual, Lifestyle Coach, who has been mugged by reality enough to now be conservative. JP gives a modern lesson on what a school Science class in 2022 is like – and for anyone wondering, well here it is, Biology class in 2022.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFzDye5yGp0

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Thanks for posting the video. That was absolutely hilarious, and I have rectified my inexplicable failure hitherto to subscribe to J.P.Sears.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

It is just the science. If Hadly Freidman would just watch it I think she would understand why the transgender side feels the way they do…

Alison Wren
Alison Wren
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I absolutely love JP despite disagreeing with him on some issues!! That clip is really worth a watch (former, now SO happily retired, biology teacher….)

Kathleen Stern
Kathleen Stern
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

JP is brilliant at using straight faced woke nonsense to satirise the craziness. Real comedy and so much fun.

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

anti brevity: The lovely words you want are prolix or loquacious. Love to roll them round my tongue.

Deborah Harris
Deborah Harris
2 years ago

Very thoughtful piece – dreadful that such bravery is needed to state the blindingly obvious

David Batlle
David Batlle
2 years ago

Congratulations, Ms. Freeman. You are officially a rightwing bigot. Welcome to the club.

Matthew Grainger
Matthew Grainger
2 years ago
Reply to  David Batlle

brilliant.

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
2 years ago

Thank You so much for your courage! The progressive Left insisted they were on the “right side of history” in the early 20th century when they promoted Eugenics (this was almost exclusively a “progressive” cause, and the conservative religious people who opposed it were accused of being “backward”).
This erasure of biology and violation of genetic women’s rights has already triggered a backlash against trans people, which the “woke” jouranlists will merely shrug off as they rush toward being on the next “right side of history.” Meanwhile, actual trans people (those who actually transition) will pay the price.of continued discrimination in employment and healthcare.
Also, concern for trans rights when it comes to prisons seems to focus almost exclusively on trans women: can you imagine the horror of being a trans man in a men’s prison?
All trans men have vaginas, and a vagina in a men’s prison is NOT safe.
No one talks about this. No one.
My son is a trans man who transitioned as an adult, and all I want is for him to be happy. I don’t care why he’s trans, I only care that he is happier living in a phenotypically male body. He kept the female gender marker on his medical insurance because he wants proper medical care, which he cannot get if medical professionals assume he is genetically male.
Trans activists do not love my son, and their insanely misogynistic behavior do nothing to help him or any other trans person (especially trans men). They make trans people seem petty and insane, and they prevent any real progress toward protection against real anti-trans discrimination.
Again, Thank You for your courage.
I know that you genuinely care about trans people, and that this in no way should contradict your caring about genetic women.
GENETIC WOMEN MATTER, just as much as trans people!

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

Good post. The lack of coverage of this aspect makes it seem almost as if trans men don’t exist.
I’m also perplexed that poorly considered transitioning of gender, especially given the clinically unexplained explosion in the numbers of women transitioning to men, isn’t being explored as a type of conversion therapy.
I wasn’t a masculine boy (think Frasier here) and often got bullied by boys for it, and if this option had been available I wonder if I would have explored it – convinced by the bullies that I was odd as opposed to them just being bullies.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

This is a subject that is discussed fairly often, but not enough. Douglas Murray, many years ago introduced me to a intersectionality and exactly why it would fail. And so it is coming to pass. There are so many victims in this, as the unthinking and vitriolic wade in.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

Thank you Penny. You bring a voice of logic, intelligence (and experience) to this discussion.

Bronwen Saunders
Bronwen Saunders
2 years ago

I’m glad that Hadley Freeman has – at last – come to this realisation. But if she couldn’t publish this piece in the Guardian, what on earth is she doing there at all? 

David Batlle
David Batlle
2 years ago

The left is in Civil War, so the losing faction has come to the rightwing for aid and comfort. The same rightwing that such as Miss Freeman have been condemning as a “rightwing bigots” for all these years.

Matthew Grainger
Matthew Grainger
2 years ago

It is starting to become of a bit of a well worn path this.
Yet another high profile, progressive journalist who has seen the light and finally discovered that an ideology they have played their part in championing over the last few decades, is coming back to devour them. Seemingly the progressive left eating itself. I wonder if this article will also appear in The Guardian? I think not.
“Activists like to claim that the only people who have a problem with this are “Right-wing bigots”, because it keeps things simple to suggest that this is a good (gender ideology) versus bad (Right-wing bigots) issue.”
Welcome to the world of quite a few people who I suspect follow articles on this website and who also seemingly don’t conveniently fit the ‘Right-wing bigot’ catch all, that those on the other side of many debates currently use to try and force the narrative with so many issues. Live examples include what is going on in Canada to name just one.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matthew Grainger
Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
2 years ago

I suppose I would have slightly more respect and compassion for this lady if she didn’t insert the obligatory “right-wing bad” into her article. She falls all over herself trying to express and make very plain how “nice” she is, how sympathetic. Please.

Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

Well said.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago

“Activists like to claim that the only people who have a problem with this are “Right-wing bigots”, because it keeps things simple to suggest that this is a good (gender ideology) versus bad (Right-wing bigots) issue.”
I wonder where they learned that sleight of hand. You sowed it…..

Michael K
Michael K
2 years ago

Frankly, the trans ideology backfiring on feminists (and women’s rights and freedoms) was as predictable as it is well-deserved. The only ones I do feel for are the women who never cared about this kind of nonsense, and who are disadvantaged by the cultural battles that are now raging.
All the man-hating, female-supremacy type of women, who all too readily jumped on the bandwagon of moral superiority, truly deserve what they get. What did they think would happen if they allied themselves with, and gave in to, rabid sexist hatred? Did they really think that an end of “female suppression” could ever be achieved? Of course not – it was a red herring from the get-go. What fervent feminists see as patriarchal suppression is just the normal occurrence of life hitting you in the face. It happens to everyone. But instead of uniting over the fact that we all have to fight our individual battles, they chose to judge people by their body parts, and to decide by that metric alone whether somebody is to be seen as guilty and contemptible, or holy and worthy of worship.
Hatred, sexism and arrogance never lead to good outcomes. That has always been the case, and that very old lesson is contained in various children’s stories, as well as in the Bible. But wisdom has become sparse in the West. Now, at last, women get to experience what men had to put up with for the last two decades. Note that, other than women, men in general don’t complain about their problems – they rather suffer in silence or find balance in working even harder. Women of the West: you will be surprised what you have – some of you actively, some passively – leveraged on men these last years. Maybe thusly you can achieve a grand realization, and we can re-unite in cooperation.
I am by no means happy about other people’s suffering. I am just fed up with shallow, materialistic women who think that careers, material crap and casual flings are the meaning of life.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago

Hi there Hadley, and welcome to a group that you still seem to think are on the ‘dark side’.
“Like gay people, they have been cruelly vilified in the Right-wing press”
I can’t recall any cruel vilification of trans people in what you label the right wing press. So I think you’re still wearing your puritanical woke blinkers, but you’re shocked to find out the nature of ‘your side’, the left.
But this is the essence of the left now – to prescribe; to cancel; to ban anything with which they disagree with. It’s not just about trans people as you clearly think – it’s the very fundamental nature of left politics. Until you realise that, you’re wasting your time here.
Oh and why has it taken you so long to become aware of this issue and active? I’m a white, male, pensioner and I became aware of this left extremism before 2014.

jill dowling
jill dowling
2 years ago

If the elite band of friends (no Tory voters amongst them obviously) are very angry, then things must be bad. And to be pushed to be published in a “right wing” publication – outrageous! Well done for dipping your toe in the water for some free thinking, but you’ve got a long way to go. Make some friends who don’t think like you do and challenge yourself would be my advice – throw offThe Guardian shackles.

Last edited 2 years ago by jill dowling
Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  jill dowling

Hence the endless succession of ex-Guardianistas (Suzanne Moore, Ms Bindel et al) now plying their wares on UnHerd, Spiked, the Telegraph and over at the Speccie.
But not a word of critical self-reflection passes their lips.

julie bush
julie bush
2 years ago

Shutting down any discussion, from any side on this is always unhelpful. When progressive/postmodern ideas go to their extreme, they actually just become regressive. And here we are. We need a post progressive discussion, to hear and account for a more integrated view on these and other matters. Just shouting at eachother on twitter and choosing a side in history is getting us nowhere

Ken Charman
Ken Charman
2 years ago

Totally reasonable point of view, but couldn’t help wondering how liberal left “activists” and “campaigners”, who honed the methods of moral intimidation on so many issues where their opponents also had valid concerns, feel about their own behaviour, now the boot is flying towards themselves? Any regrets? Apologies perhaps?

Last edited 2 years ago by Ken Charman
Stephen Magee
Stephen Magee
2 years ago

You reap what you sow. In the 70s, the left was falling over itself to appease feminists.The feminists won, and reaped the rewards- job quotas, new courses (and professorships), etc. Now another bunch of leftist careerists is using the same playbook – and doesn’t the feminist establishment just hate it when someone tries to muscle in on THEIR turf.

Last edited 2 years ago by Stephen Magee
Margaret Bluman
Margaret Bluman
2 years ago

Good to read you, Hadley, free of the Guardian thought police.

You will find quite a few misygonists in this space, I’m afraid, people who have their own reasons for denying biological reality.

Stephen Follows
Stephen Follows
2 years ago

I wonder if anyone at that publishing company thought how we might feel, seeing our failed pregnancies compared to a flaccid p***s?’

Well, imagine what it feels like as a man, seeing a p***s compared to a dead baby.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago

It’s always fascinating and delicious when a proud “progressive” suddenly wakes up and decides that the issue du jour is now their Mendoza line. Conservatives have lamented a dozen or so infractions over the last several decades, to the amusement of the “progressive” marchers, where nothing is held sacred
..until the parade reaches their street.
Welcome, madam, to the losing side. I’ve found it helpful to simply accept the change in word definitions. Otherwise, life could be challenging. I await the time when things comes full circle and CLD, “conservative lamenting disease” becomes one of the celebrated mental issues, complete with special treatment and the castigating of those who mock us.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

there are obvious parallels between what gender dysphoric teenage girls say today — about their hatred of their body, their fear of sexualisation, their assumptions about what being a woman means — and what I said while in hospital as a teenager.

Yes – and which, along with the adoption of male forms of dress, shapeless clothes, continuing to wear childish desexualised garments, exaggerated anxieties about men, the male gaze etc and adoption of the more radical forms of feminism – are signs of a failure of some girls to make the transition to womanhood.
Feminism has been particularly damaging in that it provides an ideology which paints this failure as a kind of political virtue – so that adolescent neuroticism becomes resistance to patriarchy. Trans ideology seems to be taking us down a similar blind alley.

Last edited 2 years ago by David Morley
James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago

A long, meandering article, ultimately signifying nothing.
And this non-man did little to address my issue: I was born a white American male but since early childhood have identified as a black African woman. Can you imagine the discrimination I face on a daily basis? This is made much, much worse in that I’m closeted. My inner African tells me to dress in the manner of the spirit and gender (or is it sex, I always get that one wrong?) that I was born with (mentally, not physically), but fearful of “blacking up” and cultural appropriation I am not able to live my life as my true self.
What to do?

Janko M
Janko M
2 years ago

As many commentators suggest, there is great courage in one day admitting that conservatism is a necessary force in society in the face of change which is not for the better. Progress is the excuse through which such changes are forced. Progress, if it indeed exists, cannot simply be defined as a bludgeon to silence opposition (20th century has plenty examples).

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
2 years ago

I never tire of listening to the angry blare of horns that marks the traffic jam at the ‘intersection’ of feminism, #metoo-ism, transgendered wokeism and victim identit-ism.
We used to call it Schadenfreude. Perhaps “Ismusstaufreude” would be more up-to-date.

Christine Ilesley
Christine Ilesley
2 years ago

As ever a very thoughtful article by Hadley. I’m an older woman who feels isolated by the trans debate. If I stand up for my beliefs that being female is more than self identification I’m a transphobe white middle aged middle class who’s views are irrelevant. It’s like I’m invisible and nothing I say or feel matters. Women by birth sex definition are at least 50% of the population those who identify as trans non binary etc make up perhaps 5% yet I’m expected to defer to this. Predatory men can define themselves as female and prey on women in prison. How did this happen? I’m seriously angry at how being a woman and feminist is now seen as unacceptable.

Sarah
Sarah
2 years ago

In local government circles (Norfolk, UK), I have seen authorities bend over backwards to provide people who have been attacked by dogs with canine-free parks, people who have strong religious beliefs spaces free of things that offend them, vegans with separate eating spaces so they don’t have to see people consume animal products – but when I, a woman who has been raped by a man, brought up the issue of having female spaces for only ‘biological females’, I was told that I was bigoted & my request was ‘hugely offensive’ to transwomen.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago

Ha.
What was almost as funny, in an unintentional way, was the 15 second advertisement YouTube subjected me to, before I could watch it.
Some random tagline like “grab your freedom” with a black girl soaring to the skies, another boy (black, of course) cheering her on and some appropriately stereotypical oldish white men trying to hold her back (unsuccessfully)

Can’t even recall the product, could have been any product really.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

“Two for the price of one”, as we used to say!

Rupert Carnegie
Rupert Carnegie
2 years ago

If one is an optimist then the current unpleasantness will pass just as McCarthyism did. Both the current trans vs TERF clash and the anti-communism of the 1950s combine(d) an entirely sensible original objective with increasingly abhorrent tactics: widespread reliance on intimidation, indiscriminate attacks on those making even the mildest criticism of the champions of intolerance, loss of employment for the unorthodox and those guilty by association, etc etc.
I suspect that I am like many people: all for tolerance of trans people and making their lives easier, slightly baffled by some of the issues thrown up – and happy for a Royal Commission or some other neutral body to produce solomonic decisions on e.g. what precise age individuals can make irreversible decisions about their gender and bodies – but utterly repelled by the bullying tactics of many trans activists and disquieted by the institutionalisation of this aggressive intolerance in academia and in many corporate HR departments.
In America in 1954 there were many parallels to the current situation. A small minority of McCarthyites had intimidated most corporate and official institutions over the preceding four years. 100,000+ had lost their jobs after loyalty purges organised by HR departments following the lead of Congressional committees, etc etc. The details were different but the overall shape remarkable similar.
The good news is that this climate of fear disintegrated in a few months. In January 1954 50% of Americans had a favourable opinion of McCarthy and 29% an unfavourable opinion. By May, there had been a decisive shift with only 35% favourable and 49% unfavourable. There had been earlier brave opponents but the decisive public attacks came from CBS in March 1954 and from the Army (whose lawyer famously asked McCArthy whether he had no shame) in May. The spell was broken. Institutions stopped acting in as cowardly a fashion. Decency was restored – more or less.
Currently the BBC seems to be playing the part of CBS with Jon Ronson and Stephen Nolan replacing Edward Murrow. Now we just need an equivalent of the US Army to publicly shame those trans activists whose tactics have become abhorrent to most normal people.
It is a pity there is not a single figure comparable to Senator McCarthy who can be discredited. It is always easier when an issue can be personalised. But Stonewall makes an effective alternative focus for debate.
I think one should be an optimist. This too will pass – and surprisingly fast.

Kat L
Kat L
2 years ago

I wasn’t alive during the McCarthy era however I have read that he was right about communism. And even now as the current culture wars rage with CRT and the like, it’s rather apparent imo that communism never really went away.

mike otter
mike otter
2 years ago

Well done Ms Freeman – i have often found her Graun writing to be a cut above the usual Rick in the Young Ones types that infect that rag. This piece proves there is hope for some of these yoghurt knitters yet, qv Suzanne Moore. Its hard to stay calm when confronted by fake trans activism but calm is needed to ensure those with gender disphoria and other gender based problems still get the help they need and their rights remain in tact. As for the “trans activists” they are no more genuine than the last bunch of privaleged whiners who borrowed someone elses’ experience to fake their virtue signals. How long would the rich fake leftists of the 70s last marching with Guevara or the Sandinistas? The current Keffiyeh wearing Palestine fakers would fair no better when Hizbollah’s courts discover their enthusiasm for cannabis, alcohol and sex outside marriage!

Last edited 2 years ago by mike otter
Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  mike otter

Firstly, kudos for drawing the under-acknowledged distinction between actual trans people and the so-called activists purporting to speak for them.
Secondly, your concluding two sentences recalled to mind the antics of the Baader-Meinhof gang which so repelled their PLO hosts during their sojourn in Jordan.

Mike Bell
Mike Bell
2 years ago

No need to feel isolated, Hadley. The views you express here are held by an overwhelming majority of UK citizens. However, nearly everything we hear comes through the media – who, as you point out, have been infected by this curious brain-virus.(the vaccine for which is brave articles like this which allow the infected reader to heal themselves.)

Rachel Davie
Rachel Davie
2 years ago

She’s not really saying anything that hasn’t been said before, you can read the same sort of argument in The Times or on Medium. As for “My friendship group consists mainly of thirty-something to fifty-something progressive women, all, like me, lifelong Labour, or Liberal Democrat, or Green voters, all teachers, or civil servants, or writers, or lawyers “, nothing wrong with having such wonderful friends but it smacks of her own Liberal bubble of privilege. For me, Hadley exposed herself as a selectively “woke” advocate as well as a very poor journalist when she actively participated in the witchhunt against Michael Jackson, a dead black man who was proven innocent in both lifetime and death, since that shameful documentary that journalists of Hadley’s breed love. She also posted dreadful tweets about his family that perpetuated racist stereotypes, which she then quietly deleted.

Francisco Menezes
Francisco Menezes
2 years ago
Reply to  Rachel Davie

….and I thought, “I used to be a deputy fashion editor, so if I’m now radical then the Left really is in trouble.” That was a trigger warning for me. I scanned the rest of the way too long article and all I could see was endless whining. A mysogynist would say typical female behaviour. Alhough that becomes a matter of debate as well once there are no longer any women around. Indeed, women are the first victims of identity politics, but if they could just keep an aspirin for a week between their knees, all the real men would come to their rescue. Choose your battles and carefully select your allies.. Victory assured.

Rachel Davie
Rachel Davie
2 years ago

She is an example of how anyone can fall victim if they find themselves on the wrong side of the narrative. But like all journalists she is fond of the sound of her own voice, is of the view that her experiences are unique and relevant and thus she has found solace in the arms of a platform that would be willing to give her some spotlight now that she can soak up all the adulation and praise for her “bravery”. She’s already stated that she “has by no means left the Guardian”, so it will be interesting to see how she juggles her new life! Personally I can’t support her white women privileged feminist agenda because she has already proven that her personal biases drive how she applies the facts to any particular case.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

Well written, intelligent essay written by a thoughtful, logical and reasonable person.
I feel I should point out that ‘conservatism’, not in its true essence but in its association with ‘right wing’, is not necessarily always a good thing and not is/was ‘liberal’ bad. Many readers here seem to think this, as though concepts are fixed and firm. They are not and it depends on where you are in history and where you are on the planet.
Growing up in the old South Africa I can assure you that ‘conservative’ was a very ugly word and concept and to enjoy living under that regime really called your values and even what kind of life you enjoyed living into question.

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
2 years ago

Bloody glad I’m not this introspective. Reminds me of George Eliot’s Dorothea Brooke. The unexamined life might not be worth living but at least you’re not exhausted by overthinking.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Terence Fitch

If she stopped being a ‘Good Girl’ it has not made her much of a rebel and wild one.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
2 years ago

The smug left, a group to which this writer belongs, have brought this on all of us. It’s just that now, some of it hurts them.

The smug left have dominated the narrative for a decade or two and their lack of humility has always bothered me. They really think they are kinder than those who identify with the conservative right or the free market right.

The smug left believe that, somehow, had they regulated the banks better the financial crisis would have been avoided.

The smug left think that ignoring “minorities ” (aren’t we all a minority of one) means contempt.

I’m bored with posh lefties moaning and achieving llarygub (I hope you like the Dylan Thomas reference) save a contempt for those with less education and rougher manners.

I’ll stop now

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago

I think you must mean ‘llareggub’.

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
2 years ago

Off topic maybe but have you noticed how little mothers are talked about these days? Apart from keeping the species going what use are they?

T Doyle
T Doyle
2 years ago

Maybe the biggest struggle for this writer and a lot of people of the left is that they now know the left are the baddies. The baddies never think they are the baddies.

james ub
james ub
2 years ago
Reply to  T Doyle

Possibly the deepest truth in this strange business!

Peter Branagan
Peter Branagan
2 years ago

For the past 40+ years, feminists have being pushing for equality – as in equal, same as, males. They wanted equality in all aspects -norms, opportunities, ambitions, roles. They wanted to eliminate the very concept of, biological or otherwise, complementarity between the sexes.

Essentially, they wanted to neuter humanity by eliminating any and all tendencies to gendered roles. Just maybe transgenderism is the last step before their wish for a neutered humanity is finally achieved!

Mirax Path
Mirax Path
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Branagan

Which is why no mainstream feminist organisation is gender critical.

James Jenkin
James Jenkin
2 years ago

Brilliant article, thanks!

But

“Like gay people, (trans people) have been cruelly vilified in the Right-wing press”

Really? When? In the 80s maybe?

M Harries
M Harries
2 years ago

“…so if I’m now radical then the Left really is in trouble”
> The trouble is that the Left should have been considereed to be in trouble much sooner. They have had utter dominance in the media and education. It’s been mighty comfortable for many decades. And now, this transgender nonsense. You seem to live in a Left bubble that has burst a bit too quickly for comfort.
It is *the Left* that have accepted the APPG defnition of ‘Islamophobia’ which effectively considers being Muslim an innate quality, which immediately undermines all apostates – just like promoting ‘Trans Rights’ without thinking about the consequences. It’s a tragedy that your self-righteous ilk are seemingly incapable of realising that referring to your yourselves as ‘progressives’ may be embarrassing.

“It is not bigoted to say these things.”
> Who says it’s not? It IS bigoted because ‘We’ say it’s bigoted. Ergo, it’s bigoted. When a man is a woman, then up can mean down …then meanings of words held by people without power are of very little importance.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago

“Left-wing men — both in person and online — told me that unless I repeated the mantra “trans women are women”, I was a bigot.”
Transwomen are men.
“Andrea Long Chu, a trans woman, wrote in her 2017 memoir that the “barest essentials” of “femaleness” is “an open mouth, an expectant asshole, blank, blank eye”.”
*Andrea Long Chu, a trans woman, wrote in his 2017 memoir that the “barest essentials” of “femaleness” is “an open mouth, an expectant asshole, blank, blank eye”.
“For so long, transgender people were underrepresented, mocked and harassed”
Now they’re being misrepresented.

Last edited 2 years ago by Drahcir Nevarc
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
2 years ago

Hadley Freeman is writing for Unherd?!?!? H ll has truly frozen over.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago

You have got it wrong
Someone expressing unpopular political views in right wing company is pretty normal.
Try seeing a non feminist, pro Brexit, male white writer in the Guardian though.

Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
2 years ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Larry Elliott the economics editor is exactly that – although to be fair he gets short shrift from the loons that read and comment.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago

“…all-female bands pulled out of women-only festivals for fear of looking transphobic…”

But were entirely happy to be involved up to that point even though it was sexist?

I recall that one of the women-only festivals was originally justified on the grounds that female-exclusive events should continue until ALL men treated women with respect. What if, instead, we started saying that festivals would exclude muslims until ALL of them renounced terrorism?

This sort of thing really does emphasise the fact that feminism’s dangerous gamble with intersectional politics is what has caused the present difficulties women now face. I am outraged, of course, that we have ended up in a situation where sexually mature males are allowed to be naked in a women’s changing room for no better reason than they were wearing a dress when they walked into it. But we cannot simply ignore the progressive stages of ever-greater officially-tolerated absurdity that led to the insanity of this position. This is what happens when political correctness outranks factual correctness, and there is no point denying it.

None of this, mind you, is intended to detract from what is a very good article generally. Hadley Freeman is clearly smart, brave, and committed, and to harness a phrase that appears multiple times in the article, in my view quite certainly on the right side of history, as and when sanity makes a belated return to public life. There is one thing she mentions that needs further thought though, and it’s the part about how men, when they advance views that are deemed transphobic by these demented standards, seem to get a free pass, while women cannot do the same without denunciation. Perhaps it’s time to recognise that men are women’s allies in this fight?

Last edited 2 years ago by John Riordan
Sarah
Sarah
2 years ago

In the v.early 2000s, as a cashier in my first week in my first job, a customer was handed over to me to complete their order. The customer was obviously male (beard, body hair, build, deep voice) but was wearing high heeled pumps, a string of pearls and a rather chic dress.
The sales advisor who had served this customer had just put their surname on the sales-docket, but the till system required a title.
Being unsure, but not wanting to offend by getting it wrong, I asked said customer ‘what title would you like on your receipt?’.

The customer was delighted at being asked – they told me that usually people were afraid or embarrassed to do so. They became a regular customer but would only ever deal with me.

If that initial interaction were to be moved to the present day, I’d likely be attacked for asking the question.
Not by the customer themselves, but by people offended on their behalf.

How is it we have gone backwards?

David Batlle
David Batlle
2 years ago
Reply to  Sarah

5 years ago I would have happily gendered a man as a woman if that’s what he wants. But I would only do that in order to be polite, not because I believe it. And he certainly doesn’t have the right to compel me to do so. It’s my choice to make. See the diff? 
Fiver years ago I would have indulged him, but no longer. I’m not playing that game anymore.

Last edited 2 years ago by David Batlle
Harry Child
Harry Child
2 years ago

Thank you – even the up tick is out of synch as it redlined your comment that I approved .
I paid a subscription to Unherd because of their proclaimed mission statement “ UnHerd aims to do two things: to push back against the herd mentality with new and bold thinking, and to provide a platform for otherwise unheard ideas, people and places.” Sadly it seems to be obsessed with feminist issues which maybe exciting to a few but is becoming boring with constant repetition. There are far more important areas to explore- is the legal system in this country out of control?

AC Harper
AC Harper
2 years ago

An interesting essay.
Of all the ways there are to divide the world into two ‘types’ there’s the ‘me, me, me’ people and the ‘go along to get along people’. So you could argue that ‘stopping being a good girl’ is a switch to a different ‘type’ fraught with tension and contradiction.
The Western world is being driven by excessively ‘me, me, me’ types into many different groups. It is deliberate, or at least the result of such narcissism.
It may have diluted the article too much to mention that there are plenty of other socially identifiable groups who are, or have been, herded into a segregated mode of living or working that results from bias or stereotyping.
It can be brave to stand up for your own socially identifiable group, but there’s always the risk of narcissism creeping in, whipped on by activists. May of whom are in it for their own status, not the group’s.

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Agree. Not just ‘me me me’ but ‘LOOK AT/LISTEN TO ME ME ME EVERYONE!’. Shouty narcissistic egotism abounds. Reticence and self effacement- once considered a stereotypical British trait seen fuddy duddy.

Karl Francis
Karl Francis
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Good point.

Tom Lewis
Tom Lewis
2 years ago

As in the words of Alanis Morissette “Isn’t it ironic”, that my words should go unheard on ‘Unheard.
Evidently my mistake, men who have babies are actually men, who would have thunk it ! And there was me thinking it was just people taking the piss and having a bit of a laugh seeing how far they could take an insane joke.
I suppose what I would really like to know is what I said that was so ‘unmentionable’. I certainly don’t pretend that I am right or that I can’t say stupid things, but if I’m going to have to ‘check’ my thinking then I need, if need be, robust, responses so that I can ‘educate’ myself. It’s not as if my comments were so reprehensible that there was violent disagreement or furious down voting, just “puff” thin air.

Last edited 2 years ago by Tom Lewis
Anton van der Merwe
Anton van der Merwe
2 years ago

It takes a lot of courage for a woman on the left to write what she has written, especially a journalist susceptible to being cancelled. Well done Hadley Freeman. The left has disgraced itself yet again by insisting on dividing the world into good and bad people. This ‘common enemy’ approach to social justice is a fairly recent development and has been a complete disaster. Unlike the highly successful ‘common humanity’ that preceded it, this new approach creates fear, suspicion and hatred. Very sad.

Last edited 2 years ago by Anton van der Merwe
Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago

Or do they just wish to be on The Right Side of History?

So many evil movements and tyrants thought they were on the Right Side of History and now their monuments have long since crumbled to dust. In years to come the transgender movement will be cast in the same light we view lobotomies and female genital mutilation today. The villains will be the hapless fools who applauded and encouraged their children’s transition.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.- Edmund Burke

Now that feminism has made irrelevant the mores and behavioral codes of good men, bad men garbed in women’s clothing are gaining access to female spaces. By effectively neutralizing their patriarchal guardians, women have left themselves exposed to evil men with unnatural lusts.

A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this. – Deuteronomy 22:5

The Old Testament writers had obviously seen a thing or two. Turns out they knew what they were talking about all along.

Last edited 2 years ago by Julian Farrows
David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

It also shows that the practice has been going on for a long long time. Long enough for it to be considered a pretty normal part of the human picture.

Francisco Menezes
Francisco Menezes
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

So are theft and murder, but that does not make them acceptable forms of behaviour.

R S Foster
R S Foster
2 years ago

…I think of myself as a liberal, with some predisposition to social conservatism in some areas, and communalism in others…Red Tory/Blue Labour if you will…and I pretty much agree with everything in this essay…but I do feel obliged to say…”We did try to tell you…but you called us bigots, or worse”. Sorry…but it has to be said…

Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
2 years ago

Agree with pretty much everything you say, except to say that Hadley never produced the type of writing you are referring to.

Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
2 years ago

Thanks for this Hadley. My heart goes out to you. But I think the most pressing issue is what is happening to young girls. Please read this story: https://lacroicsz.substack.com/p/by-any-other-name?utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web

JĂŒrg Gassmann
JĂŒrg Gassmann
2 years ago

Thank you for this – I wish you strength and courage

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago