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by Joan Smith
Wednesday, 16
August 2023
Debate
10:00

Who is Humza Yousaf to talk about ‘toxic masculinity’?

Scotland's First Minister has long turned a blind eye to the abuse of feminists
by Joan Smith
The Scottish press awaits Humza Yousaf’s pronouncements on feminism. Credit: Getty

Scotland’s First Minister, Humza Yousaf, wants to make the world safer for women. He’s said so in a hand-wringing opinion piece this week for the Guardian. He’s horrified by reports of women being stalked, abused, raped and murdered, and he’s going to do something about it. “Men cannot be passive bystanders when it is our actions that are causing such pain, suffering and misery,” he declares.

The pain of being punched in the face for supporting women’s rights, for instance? The suffering that comes from being locked up in a women’s prison with a convicted rapist? Or the misery of being forced to refer to the man who attacked you as “she” in court because he “identifies” as a woman?


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Of course not. Giving a woman a black eye results in nothing worse than a caution in Scotland, it seems, if the woman in question happens to be a “terf”. And Scottish prisons policy allowed even violent male offenders to demand transfers to the female estate until January this year, when a disbelieving public was confronted with photographs of “Isla Bryson” arriving at court in a blond wig.

Bryson, who is a trans-identified double rapist, only managed to spend one night in a women’s prison before being transferred to the male estate. His case exposed the extraordinary extent of institutional capture by gender ideology in Scotland, all of it done apparently without a moment’s thought for the impact on women. Politicians from Yousaf’s own party, the SNP, have appeared at rallies next to signs calling for violence against women, claiming that they didn’t notice messages such as “decapitate terfs”.

This is blatant misogyny, making the public space even more unsafe for women, but Yousaf’s article has nothing to say about it. He goes instead for an easy target, the influencer Andrew Tate, who is currently awaiting trial in Romania on charges of rape and trafficking. 

Yousaf denounces Tate as the type of celebrity misogynist who influences men and boys in Scotland, but he doesn’t even mention the raging gynophobia of trans activists who have enjoyed easy access to the Scottish Government for years. They have influenced everything from the aforementioned prisons policy to legislation, with ministers falling over themselves to introduce self-ID at the end of last year despite the obvious risks it poses to vulnerable women.

“As men, we must listen,” Yousaf says in the Guardian, but there is no evidence that he (or indeed the leader of Scottish Labour, Anas Sarwar) is listening to women who offer a compelling critique of the reckless Gender Recognition Reform Bill. The most minimal safeguards were voted down during the Bill’s passage at Holyrood, with supporters flatly denying that predators would ever take advantage of the legislation to get access to vulnerable women. Or “identify” as women in order to serve their sentence in a less scary environment. 

You don’t make women safer by allowing men into those spaces, even if they claim to be women. Nor can you expect to be taken seriously if you bang on about “toxic masculinity” while refusing to recognise what’s staring you in the face. 

Politicians don’t get to pick and choose which types of misogyny, and which aspects of male violence, are beyond the pale. Trans activism has created a tidal wave of woman-hating — and the targets are the very campaigners for women’s safety that Yousaf should be listening to.

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Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
1 month ago

We must tackle Toxic Masculinity. Must we? Okay, but what is it?
From reading the Guardian and listening to these muppets I think we have to define toxic masculinity as knowing what a man is, recognising that you are one, but not realising you should therefore apologise for that fact.
Those in the public eye who have been bullied into accepting and publicly endorsing this Gender agenda nonsense are going to have a very hard time climbing down, and so instead they double down.
It finished Nicola Sturgeon and will likely do the same for Humza Useless. Oh well, never mind.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 month ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Well said.
“Hoist on their own petard” and serve them right. Off to the ‘pit of eternal stench’ for one and all.

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
1 month ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

I think we have to define toxic masculinity as knowing what a man is, recognising that you are one, but not realising you should therefore apologise for that fact.

That, indeed, seems to be the present-day definition — if it has a definition at all, and doesn’t simply mean, “I hate everything you do and everything you are and will do everything I can to ruin you.”

Benedict Waterson
Benedict Waterson
1 month ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

They see ‘men’ as some kind of seamlessly interrelated social organism, where the actions of one man reflect on all other men, and men all somehow have a massive power to influence each other. This comes from a kind of blank slatist social theory, which just happens to be fashionable on the left.
A more realistic way of understanding male violence and crime is through power laws, where a small minority of men commit a vast majority of the crimes, and part of the root cause is genetic.

Last edited 1 month ago by Benedict Waterson
Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 month ago

Replace men with “black men” or “muslim men” and watch their heads pop.
Or replace with Jew in “why so many male CEOs or board members”

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago

 “Men cannot be passive bystanders when it is our actions that are causing such pain, suffering and misery,” he declares.

Whose actions? Certainly not mine, and gentle reader, surely not yours either. We need to get away from this idea that good men are in some bizarre way responsible for the actions of bad men. They are not “our” actions they are the actions of the perpetrators.

David McKee
David McKee
1 month ago

This is dog-whistling, of the most inept kind. Yousaf thinks (with reason) that he has a ‘woman problem’. (And yes, I know that women are never the problem. I am trying to articulate Yousaf’s thought processes.) He doesn’t want to alienate the trans activists and their Green allies. So he goes for Tate. He wants to make it look to women that he is on their side.
Will it work? No. The SNP has dug itself into a deep hole over gender identification, and it can’t stop digging without rupturing its coalition with the Greens. All it does is make Yousaf look shifty.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
1 month ago
Reply to  David McKee

Spot on piece of analysis.

Philip Stott
Philip Stott
1 month ago

Humza would be out of his depth in a puddle.
Despite Sturgeon’s obvious failings, at least she was fairly bright and articulate.

Charlie Two
Charlie Two
1 month ago
Reply to  Philip Stott

i agree re Bumbag Useless, but Nicola was merely a very loud bully. check out Andrew Neil’s interviews with her. She’s awful, third rate and way way out of her depth.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 month ago

These people lack even a speck of self awareness. I’m always shocked at the sheer stupidity of progressive boot lickers like Yousaf. Guess we all have blind spots.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Though most of their opponents are cut from exactly the same cloth.

Douglas H
Douglas H
1 month ago

Thanks, great article. Insightful and succinct.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Douglas H

Could you point to the insight, please. I’m just not seeing any.

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

Oh dear. Must try harder, along with quite a few other readers.

Andrew H
Andrew H
1 month ago

This hits the nail on the head.Naked hipocrisy from Mr Useless.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 month ago

“…all of it done apparently without a moment’s thought for the impact on women.”
Or on the other half of the population. When you insist on seeing life as little more than an eternal and unresolvable conflict between men and women, don’t be surprised at the consequence. Contrary to what you may believe, not all men are by nature misogynistic: Some have mothers, wives, sisters and daughters and quite like them.

Last edited 1 month ago by polidori redux
Harry Phillips
Harry Phillips
1 month ago

Did he have anything to say about the myriad grooming scandals such as Rotherham?

Thought not.

Lesley Keay
Lesley Keay
1 month ago

I would suggest that if Yousaf wants to understand about “toxic” masculinity then he should start by reading Prey by Aayan Hirsi-Ali.

David Pogge
David Pogge
1 month ago

You say “Politicians don’t get to pick and choose which types of misogyny, and which aspects of male violence, are beyond the pale.” But of course, they do. That seems to be the whole point of your essay. Noisy ‘activists’ tell them what they will be lauded for and what they will be punished for, and politicians then do what they think is in their political interest. It is up to the electorate to identify their real values and fire those politicians who pander to values they do not agree with. Failing to do so, they get the political decisions that suit the strident representatives of the most extreme and absurd values.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  David Pogge

And to be fair to Humza he’s doing his best to keep all sides happy. He’s siding with trans activists to keep them on board, then having a good swipe at men to keep the rest of the feminists on board.

It’s scarcely his fault if the people he needs as supporters are merrily slogging it out between each other.

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

Actually he’s doing his best to talk a complete contradiction in terms. You can’t claim to stand up for women against male violence and then push through a law which enables it. Which is the insight you seem to have missed.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 month ago

Yet another article that ticks all the checkboxes – or rather, checkbox – “horrible men, all their fault.”
Without mentioning the elephant in the room, the only reason the trans lobby is getting away with such ridiculous stuff: high support from college educated women. As a simple Google search shows, it’s women who are bulk of the supporters for this exciting cause.

So we have two groups of women
A. Those who support trans mainly because they are delusional enough to believe women are exactly the same as men, except when it’s convenient (conscription, alimony…)
B. These other women who also believe women are exactly the same as men, equity quotas, diversity etc but expect to retain privileges such as separate women’s spaces, sports etc. They of course don’t consider these as a privilege but a right, while refusing men the right to have their own space. And blame men instead of the women above, while having no gratitude towards men for granting women these exclusive, special privileges to begin with.

Last edited 1 month ago by Samir Iker
Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
1 month ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Who hurt you, Samir?

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 month ago

Why are socialists so hurt by the truth?

John Tyler
John Tyler
1 month ago

Nothing so effective at making one blind as a confused, self-confirming ideology.

Mark McConnell
Mark McConnell
1 month ago

Toxic masculinity is, like gender, straight off the social construct conveyer belt in academia. That is to say, inaccurate. Of course, testosterone makes men angry and brutal and likely has more of an impact than wolf whistles on a building site, but you can’t point that out because these same abused women could actually be men inside.

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
23 days ago

Must have been a typo in the headline, which should have read, ‘Who Is Humza Yousef to Talk About Masculinity?’

Cris Porper
Cris Porper
1 day ago

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David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am

Not sure why this piece is on Unherd. I’m really none the wiser for reading it. We already know there is a bun fight going on between different shades of activist – why is Unherd publishing low quality rants from one side.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

Are you, personally, subject to threats of violence? If not, i’d think more carefully before denouncing others who are, even if you disagree with them. That’s precisely why Unherd is publishing these articles, and Joan Smith has very good qualities as a writer, being succinct in a way that many other so-called writers could learn from.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Are you, personally, subject to threats of violence?

Yes, of course. And not just threats.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

There’s no “of course” about it.
Yet if you are, being disrespectful to the writer is not a remedy.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

Have you ever faced dailt threats of violence simply for being a man from other men? If not, you will not realise what toxic masculinity looks like. When I stopped working with homeless men, I thought much of the behaviour I had to put up with from male staff would stop.it sldid to some extent, but I found that male bad behaviour is tolerated in ways that women behaving badly never is. I also found that I was subject to it from men who I didn’t know who worked in the same building but not for the same firm. Then we went online… A free for all from men all over the world to tell women to get back to the kitchen/bedroom in nastier ways every day. Well, guess what… Some women ain’t for turning in their suits for pinnies. Men need to take responsibility for other men’s behaviour as well as their own.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 month ago
Reply to  MJ Reid

How do we realistically go about doing that? I don’t think homeless men are in a position to dwell very often on their toxic masculinity.