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Paul Nash
Paul Nash
7 months ago

Hit the nail on the head. Great article.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
7 months ago
Reply to  Paul Nash

Such a pleasure to read someone who has mastered the essay form.

Brooke Walford
Brooke Walford
7 months ago

The tautological exposure of trans issues is good too.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
7 months ago

Kathleen Stock identifies in Stella Creasy a tendency that all too often emerges in the writing of leftist feminist women writing on Unherd.
All too often a subject is examined from a sectarian angle. The sect can be “women like me” which is one of the approaches Kathleen identifies Stella as frequently taking or slightly more broadly “ women in general”. In contrast the great social reformers of the past campaigned on matters that were never going to affect them. William Wilberforce was not and never had been a slave. Similarly David Steel was not gay when he sought to decriminalise homosexuality. The question never was how does this affect me or even people like me but is it right that we treat people unlike me so badly.
It might be said that Stella’s support for trans rights is a support for people not like her but she does so by conflating sex and gender so that the trans women is regarded as someone like her.
It is one of the things Kathleen Stock does not indulge in. Her writing is more universal in slant and all the better for it.

Andrea 0
Andrea 0
7 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Jeremy, you are not advocating for “white saviours”, are you? 😉

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
7 months ago
Reply to  Andrea 0

As you can imagine I don’t care what colour a saviour was born in but I admit to a special admiration to those who are clearsighted enough to see things unwarped by the particular shade of their own skin like Dr Thomas Sowell or Justice Clarence Thomas. Similarly Dr Kathleen Stock does not seem to observe things exclusively through the narrow lens of her own sex and sexual predilections. Very refreshing.

Andrew D
Andrew D
7 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Yes, and a very refreshing contrast to Julie Bindel

Mike Bell
Mike Bell
7 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

All too often a subject is examined from a sectarian angle. “
That’s because her (Creasy’s) thinking is post-modernist: it starts from the premise that society is sexist and racist and that women are victims. It does not need any evidence for this, it’s an article of faith.
Society is examined from a sectarian point of view, because that the way your brain works once you have adopted the ideology.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
7 months ago
Reply to  Mike Bell

An article of faith is something that we believe because evidence to prove or disprove it can’t be obtained. The Apostle’s Creed contains various beliefs that are unverifiable. Sexism and Racism can be measured. Neither are institutionally present in the UK in the sense that no one today is debarred from any position because of some law preventing women or any particular race being appointed or elected. There may be arguments about whether individual prejudices hold women back or whether in those occupations they are underrepresented this occurs through temperamental differences or preferences on the part of women but holding to an article of faith on the subject seems to be a somewhat medieval approach. Is that what post-modernism is – a return to medieval dogma?

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
7 months ago

It’s so good to see a trained philosopher’s mind brought to these issues, blowing apart the inchoate mish mash of social media memes that forms the intellectual foundation of her opponents.

Melissa Martin
Melissa Martin
7 months ago

Superb.

I suspect Creasy has no sense of humour & a limited capacity for imagination.

Thankfully Kathleen Stock has both. In spades.

Richard Parker
Richard Parker
7 months ago

Another excellent piece, thank you, Kathleen. It’s often exhausting negotiating the Charivari of category errors which pass for reasoned discourse in the trans wars, but you pop deserving bubbles with reliable verve and intelligence. Please keep on – it’s always a treat to see one of your essays appear on my feed. (You’ve also inspired me to dust off my copy of Madame Bovary”!)

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
7 months ago
Reply to  Richard Parker

“It’s often exhausting negotiating the Charivari of category errors which pass for reasoned discourse in the trans wars”
What a wonderful sentence!

Peter B
Peter B
7 months ago

Cost of living crisis, war in Ukraine, … . But Stella Creasy thinks this is amongst the top challenges facing the country. If indeed this whole thing isn’t an entirely man-made (or woman-made or whatever one is supposed to call it now) “problem”.
It’s almost as if she only knows how to do gesture politics.
Keep digging Stella. I don’t want another Labour government either.

Andrea 0
Andrea 0
7 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

That is not a good argument. You can deal with the effects of the war in Ukraine AND talk about other things at the same time. It is never an either/or scenario.

Peter B
Peter B
7 months ago
Reply to  Andrea 0

Indeed, but I am merely pointing out her priorities (and those of many others). They never learn.
Please reflect for a moment on this quote:
from The Guardian comments 09-Nov-16
When the history is written about the failure of progressive politics in 2015 and 2016 I hope that somebody writes a chapter on the trans / transgender toilets issue.
All it shows is a group fighting for perfection for the hundreds when all around them are the millions fighting — and failing — to survive.
For the avoidance of doubt the Grauniad is one of the biggest culprits in this.
The gap between the lives of the journalists and the opinion formers and the people at the bottom gap rows bigger everyday and the issues that they push become ever more niche and self indulgent.

Ron Bo
Ron Bo
7 months ago
Reply to  Andrea 0

I disagree.
There are far more important things in life.For example shall I have a Big Mac Meal or a MC Flurry?However war in Ukraine currently trump’s most issues real and in Creasy’s case imagined.

Bridget McBruiser
Bridget McBruiser
7 months ago

I queried Stella Creasy’s misogyny hate campaign, mainly on the absence of research to include it in the domestic abuse bill. Research from the pilot study of the misogyny hate crime showed zero crime impact, and deliberate non-recording of violent crimes including domestic abuse went up during the pilot. Her response: the campaign leads send an email full of lies to everyone in their wider network in respect of me, and Creasy reported me to the police for hate speech. I am still waiting for London Met police to investigate an aspect of that, as they admitted fault in part. Creasy is an evil vindictive bit of work.

Last edited 7 months ago by mcbruiserbridget
Richard Craven
Richard Craven
7 months ago

Have you thought of suing her for defamation?

Tom Watson
Tom Watson
7 months ago

“one of the things that happens to trans women is that they are oppressed because the patriarchy goes: ‘Oh well you’re a woman…'”
Not sure I can speak on behalf of all the patriarchy, but I really don’t think we do.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
7 months ago
Reply to  Tom Watson

The patriarchy is, like the hobgoblin a fictional terrifying beast, designed not to frighten naughty children but to encourage solidarity among women. In this case Stella pretends that the wicked patriarchy on seeing a man pretending to be a woman says: “So your a woman let’s take you apart ( with the subtext from the tales of the hobgoblin “… and eat you”). The reaction she wants is we must save our sister from the hobgoblin/patriarchy.
You don’t need to imagine Stella actually believes any man thinks this way it is merely a rhetorical device.

Tom Watson
Tom Watson
7 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Well quite. On any other day of the week the problem is that we *don’t* believe that trans women are women!

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
7 months ago

Thanks Kathleen.
I have never read Flaubert.
You have made me want to read Flaubert.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
7 months ago

Don’t start with Bouvard et Pécuchet, though. Just sayin’….

Howard Clegg
Howard Clegg
7 months ago

Quite challenging.

Last edited 7 months ago by Howard Clegg
ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
7 months ago

Watch out for the “pockmarked young rascal wearing a white turban”, and remember Flaubert died of an industrial size dose of VD.

Mike Fraser
Mike Fraser
7 months ago

Make sure you get the correct Gustave Flaubert, as opposed to the audio podcast pronunciation of Gustave Flaubert and too many other differences in the narration of what is here an excellent essay.

Quiz Zical
Quiz Zical
7 months ago

Lovely article and thanks for the introduction to the hat. I feel that the vigorous attempts for acceptance by the trans community are more masculine than feminine but I guess that’s another incongruous layer to the impossible hat

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
7 months ago
Reply to  Quiz Zical

Or, perhaps the attempts to proselytise on behalf of the trans community are being seen as The Emperor’s New Hat.

Michael Askew
Michael Askew
7 months ago

The Monty Python team saw this coming 43 years ago:
Eric Idle: “I want to be a woman and have babies.”
John Cleese: “Don’t be ridiculous, you haven’t got a womb.”
Eric Idle: “Don’t you oppress me!”

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
7 months ago
Reply to  Michael Askew

It’s the Graun’s anthem every single day for the past decade or so:

“…Help! Help! I’m Being Repressed..”

AC Harper
AC Harper
7 months ago

So… if people believe the fiction that males can literally become women, how do they deal with the situation when a violent man becomes a violent woman? This goes against all the other tropes of ‘Believe Her’, All Women are Angels, etc.
Fiction may well be charmingly incoherent to assert a truth, but it’s no way to run a country.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
7 months ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Logic?
You are expecting logic?

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
7 months ago

Such nonsense:

Do I think some women were born with penises?” the MP for Walthamstow asked herself. “Yes,” came her response. “But they are now women and I respect that.” Warming to her theme, she continued nonsensically: “I am somebody who would say that a transwoman is an adult human female”.

The Labour Party used to represent the interests of working people. The clue was in its name. The kind of nonsense uttered by the honorable member for Walthamstow is helping nobody, working or otherwise. This is not sustainable. Either Labour changes its name or changes its MPs.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
7 months ago

Or it ceases to have any MPs because they lose touch with the people they are supposed to represent. It can happen. Cf Scotland.

Al M
Al M
7 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

Perhaps, but their traditional voting base has already deserted them in many areas. The people who vote their MPs in are a completely different demographic. The SNP obliterated Labour by outflanking them on the loony left, while retaining their core vote of separatist die-hards. Much like Blair’s strategy in the late 90s, which attracted middle class swing voters while shaf ting people who were expected to vote Labour from generational, tribal loyalty.

Dick Stroud
Dick Stroud
7 months ago

It’s a pleasure reading your essays. Our gain is Sussex’s loss.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
7 months ago

I can’t be the only one to have noticed the witty but silent hook-back from Flaubert to Monty Python: the stuffed Parrot.

Andrea 0
Andrea 0
7 months ago

My main takeaway is, stay away from Twitter like the plague!
Given all that she has been saying, I am surprised the author is still in it, after all, no matter what you write on, the sh!t storm will hit you sooner or later (even if you are kind and compassionate…)

Tom Scott
Tom Scott
7 months ago
Reply to  Andrea 0

An interesting point. I have never used social media and don’t miss it.
I do however read the comments of numerous Unherd topics with interest, which usually confirms my original choice.
I have wondered for some time the actual purpose for the existence of some political parties, though another matter.

Richard 0
Richard 0
7 months ago

Superb! More please. (I love the Flaubert take – inspired)

Ian Cooper
Ian Cooper
7 months ago

Aren’t people like Creasey and her views on transexual men just the flat earthers of our time?

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
7 months ago
Reply to  Ian Cooper

IMO, yes and no – if “flat earthers” is a non pejorative descriptor of an attitude to reality.
Creasey is more however, because – apart from her changing what words refer to – her use of language/words is an attempt at also changing the function of language/words. For example: Do I think some women were born with penises?” … “Yes,” … “But they are now women and I respect that.”… “I am somebody who would say that a transwoman is an adult human female”.
So I think Creasy is changing common nouns – as classifiers, into proper nouns – mere labels. As such, her terms have no stable meaning. In my view, this change from classifiers to mere labels is an attempt to be able to move individuals from one class into another, linguistically – and thus avoid the actual meanings of words – so those individuals can access the privileges and accesses of the other class by ignoring the purpose of those privileges and accesses. As Stock said, it is nonsensical.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
7 months ago

I remember my mother’s genuine pleasure when, in her early thirties, she was wolf whistled. She could hardly wait to tell my father, who was very pleased for her. What sensible, down-to-earth parents I had!

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
7 months ago

“…she claimed she was being attacked for being a Monty Python fan…”

Yeah, sure she is.
To find out how how much of a Monty Python fan she *really* is, someone should ask her, how enthusiastic she might be, about someone making a sequel to “Life of Brian”, set, say, six centuries later, called “Life of Big Mo”.

Last edited 7 months ago by Prashant Kotak
Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
7 months ago

Whilst not saying that it’s in anyway right for a doctor to give anyone short shrift, in the past many women have had this done unto them by male doctors and sometimes even femaler doctors. Mostly this is to do with training, and the belief that a male and female body reacts in the same way to the same ailment, which often they don’t, but sometimes there was the “female hysteria” trope raised. So, if some female doctors are displaying more concern about addressing female problems I think it that it is past time for the change.

Isabelle Guiard-Ayres
Isabelle Guiard-Ayres
7 months ago

I enjoyed reading this article, but did not understand that:
“But — at the risk of stating the obvious — for the majority of transwomen, the reason they face discrimination is not because society thinks they are women. It’s because, no matter what lip service is paid, it knows they are not.”
I did not have the impression that trans identifying men were facing discrimination and that society was paying lip service to their cause. Everyday we have new advances in women’s spaces by the “people with no power” because precisely society is not paying lip service to their cause. Everyday we hear about women and men being silenced or losing their job for daring to oppose the institutionalisation of transgenderism and its consequences for women, children, lesbians and gays. Is it not what we are fighting against? I do not agree that the majority of trans identifying men are facing discrimination both as men and as trans identifying men. I’m surprised by this statement. Hopefully it can be clarified, maybe I did not interpret it well?
Thank you.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
7 months ago

… for the majority of transwomen, the reason they face discrimination is not because society thinks they are women. It’s because, no matter what lip service is paid, it knows they are not.
Perhaps I can have a go? When the hidden premises society recognises that both a woman is an adult human female and a transwoman is an adult human male identifying as a woman are exposed, then the conclusion is, therefore it (society) knows they (transwomen) are not (women).
I think it rests on what the it knows is – that is, it knows they are not because of the two hidden premises.
I do not agree that the majority of trans identifying men are facing discrimination both as men and as trans identifying men.
Are not trans identifying men ‘transmen’ – female-bodied people who identify as men? If so, I don’t think Kathleen Stock mentions them.

Last edited 7 months ago by michael stanwick
Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
7 months ago

Feminism is dead.

Rob J
Rob J
7 months ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

The wish is the mother of the thought.

Maureen Finucane
Maureen Finucane
7 months ago

As Joan Rivers once commented: behind every successful woman is one who cleans her floors.

Mark Marino
Mark Marino
7 months ago

A deliciously apt essay.

Dominic S
Dominic S
7 months ago

She’s the worst sort of modern hypocrite. Supports the killing of unborn children (which are merely clumps of cells when they’re not wanted, but babies when they’re hers) but campaigns against anyone being allowed to see what abortion actually means in practice.

harry storm
harry storm
7 months ago
Reply to  Dominic S

Lots of people support abortion rights. So what?

William Shaw
William Shaw
7 months ago

Girls will be boys and boys will be girls
It’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world
– Ray Davies, 1970

B Davis
B Davis
7 months ago

But to assert the fundamental truth which is our fundamental reality is not and cannot be ‘oppressive’ or ‘discriminatory’.
If I believe, in my heart of hearts, that I live in YOUR house, and proceed — quite earnestly — to enter ‘my’ home at 2:00 AM, my subsequent arrest and incarceration would not be ‘oppression’. It would not be discrimination. It would be justice. And it would be justice because, in reality, I was trespassing upon property not my own. Despite the sincerity of my delusional belief, that delusion gives me no right to enter your home.
So, too, with Bovary’s Hat.
Yes, Flaubert’s description of that hat is ornately incoherent…but beneath the endless verbal ornamentation (mirroring, perhaps, the ornamentation there upon the hat) there is, still, the hat, which functions exactly as it was created & intended to function. The hat does not change and is not transitioning to anything other than what it is. It does not pretend to be a shoe.
The Progressive Feminist who asserts that women are born with penises, does not describe a superficial ornamentation attached to a creature otherwise female. The ‘hat’ she describes is still a hat, still the man who will remain a man no matter what a surgeon does or does not do to that ‘ornate ornamentation’. Neither is that so-called ‘ornamentation’ incoherent. It is and he is exactly what he was created and intended to be. Nothing less; nothing more.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
7 months ago
Reply to  B Davis

Nice – particularly the point about verbal ornamentation.
A person can identify however they wish – for example, we can allocate the label motorcycle to a vehicle known as car and so call the car a motorcycle – fair enough, but only linguistically. We can name or label or call the car a motorcycle but that does not mean the car is a motorcycle – in actuality.
This is why social constructionists engage in attempts to collapse categories through their manipulation. In the case above, the primacy of the actual means it is not dependent on the linguistics used to describe it.

Last edited 7 months ago by michael stanwick
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
7 months ago

One blindingly obvious example of the superiority of females in investment banking senior management, that one will, of course, never read about, is the … err… ” changel in certain forms of capital markets ” deal/client sales origination”….. Women tend not to endorse the ” entertaining” of clients via a drunken day at Twickenham rugby, unlimited cost dinner and drinks in the evening followed by free hookers and coke…. i

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
7 months ago

Those were the days!

Elena Rodríguez
Elena Rodríguez
7 months ago

I don’t think it is unreasonable of people to start to campaign on issues when they personally come to experience problems themselves in their own lives, as this article argues that Stella Creasy does. The problem comes when some voices are louder than others in society and people with different experiences aren’t listened to.
In terms of feminism, the changes to our technologies over the past decade have made young women’s voices much louder in the media than older women’s voices. As women age, they begin to notice that their experiences of their treatment in society change. Too many older women’s experiences are currently ignored by a younger generation of women who haven’t yet experienced what happens to a woman as she ages. And not listening to the voices of experience can end up causing harm for women, as might happen in Spain from some recent laws that have just been brought in.
The Spanish government has just brought in laws allowing women to have time off every month for period pains. In theory these laws are there to help women, however they have largely been brought in through the campaigns of young women from parties on the left who are in their 30s and have never worked in small businesses or even in large public sector organisations. These women argue at other times that they are trying to help women locked in abusive relationships. What they have failed to notice is that for a woman to be able to escape an abusive relationship, she needs economic security – something a job can provide. A small business is now less likely to employ a woman under 45 because there is always a chance she will take advantage of this new law, giving her the right to three days off a month for painful periods. Even though the State will cover the financial aspects of this leave, there are other factors involved in taking time off – a manager would need to cover someone’s job role, for example, which can be difficult to do for a small business. By assuming that they know best, young women in the Spanish government have, effectively, brought in laws that will actually harm women.
Stella Creasy is right, I think, to speak out on issues that she believes in. However, it is narcissistic for any individual to believe their views are the whole story. That is why society needs to return to understanding that democracy isn’t just about people voting every five or so years; it is essential that in between elections people are debating with each other, including with people with very different life experiences to their own, so that when people get to the ballot box, they have deeply thought about the issues that the people they are voting for will be deciding on on their behalf.

Tony Sandy
Tony Sandy
7 months ago

Have we become a neutered society, where tom cats don’t know what to do with their new found freedom and female cats can’t give birth to kittens for fear of being cat-called? Is this attempt to be ‘fair’ creating an identity crisis in the young itself? Men have watsits and women can give birth to young, except for those born hermaphrodites already (personally knew of one in my home town) or have lost their capacity to carry out the roles nature imbued them with, through injury, illness or as I say being genetically or physically born with out this capability. This really is about having the right to be who you are without being bullied into conforming to societies standards, whatever the ‘acceptable’ fashion is at the time. Personally I am fed up with these clone wars: Individuals of the world unite! Err no, leave me alone to be myself you conformist lot (I follow myself).

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
7 months ago
Reply to  Tony Sandy

… except for those born hermaphrodites already (personally knew of one in my home town)…
I know of no true human hermaphrodites. If there were such a person, they would, in utero, have fully developed down *both* male and female pathways to both reproductive roles. That means they would have *both* internal physiological and anatomical and skeletal structures to develop, and support large immotile gametes and small motile gametes, plus *both* endocrine systems for reproductive roles plus *both* sets of external genitalia etc etc.
Humans are ‘gonochoritic’ not hermaphroditic because in humans – as in mammals – sex development is mutually antagonistic. That means that as one pathway begins for sex development the other pathway is inhibited.
Does the person mentioned appear in the literature because such a case would be an extreme exception?

Dominic Mckeever
Dominic Mckeever
7 months ago

Your intellectual confidence is inspiring. This is not a debate about differing opinions; it’s a fight to preserve established conclusions about our objective reality.

Last edited 7 months ago by dommckeever3
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
7 months ago

Some years ago I wrote, in aThe Financial Times, as a man, obviously, that from insect to mammal, the female of the species was superior to the male, in most areas if endevour, with the exception in homo sapiens, of physical strength. Since then the rise of females in commerce, finance and business has rather borne this out…… and the most dangerous dam to this progress is the type of ill informed mantra doctrine ” feminism” as expoused by this MP

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
7 months ago

H*mo Sapiens is both male & female! Surely they taught you that in F block?
OK : D block!

Last edited 7 months ago by ARNAUD ALMARIC
Melissa Martin
Melissa Martin
7 months ago

Are all religions an unholy alliance between men who hate women & women who love power?

Andrew Barton
Andrew Barton
7 months ago
Reply to  Melissa Martin

No

John Howes
John Howes
7 months ago

Brilliant a mature argument that politicians fail to match.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
7 months ago

“she is pro-breastfeeding in public”
#MeToo

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
7 months ago

On the contrary, sex and gender are exactly the same thing, and that is why transwomen are men.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
7 months ago

I agree with most of this article, but also completely understand women not wanting perverts photographing them while they’re breastfeeding.

Thomas Rickarby
Thomas Rickarby
5 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

I think the point is that Stella Creasy only cares about feminist issues that affect her personally – I doubt she would care about “brest pests” if nobody bothered to photograph her. I don’t think the author is claiming that taking photos of women breastfeeding against their consent is a good idea.

Last edited 5 months ago by Thomas Rickarby
Rob J
Rob J
7 months ago

“Criminalising catcalling won’t stop men hitting their wives.” That’s very true. It’s also almost entirely unrelated to this article which seems to be tailor-made — and the comments confirm the point — to elicit a thread of unthinking, self-satisfied, don’t-like-the-target-so-it’s-a-great-essay replies. “Very refreshing”, a.k.a. I agree and so don’t have to think at all.

Chris Eaton
Chris Eaton
7 months ago

Sex and gender are not two different things.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
7 months ago
Reply to  Chris Eaton

I agree. I think the mistake arises from the conflation of gender with traditional gender roles.
No idea why you got so many downvotes.

Thomas Rickarby
Thomas Rickarby
5 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Gender non-conforming people can’t exist unless gender is a distinct category from sex.

Thomas Rickarby
Thomas Rickarby
5 months ago
Reply to  Chris Eaton

You’re right, they’re not distinct things – they’re distinct, but related concepts. Gender is a useful concept. When Betty Friedan attacked gender roles in the Feminine mystique, she was directly attacking the idea that sex should determine a person’s social role i.e. that a woman could not only be more than a mother and a house-wife, but in fact, this possibility was essential to her being fully human.

This is a book I’m fairly certain Kathleen Stock agrees with wholeheartedly, given that her work was partly responsible for allowing women to become philosophy professors. If there’s any brand of feminism I subscribe to its the feminism of people like Betty Freidan.

Last edited 5 months ago by Thomas Rickarby