Two Merseyside councils flew flags bearing the legend ‘adult human female’ this week, in celebration of International Women’s Day. Predictably, the flags didn’t stay up long, after several blokes claimed the message hurt their feelings.
Of course, they used bigger words than that, in an attempt to be taken seriously. If the phrases ‘esoteric dog whistle’ and ‘hostile transphobic dog whistle’ sound like meaningless woowoo to you, there’s probably a very good reason for it.
Councillor Leo Evans assured the Liverpool Echo that Sefton council was “not one that seeks to exclude anyone.” Chief executive Dwayne Johnson was given immediate orders to remove the flags and obediently complied.
Perish the thought that men should be excluded from the definition of ‘woman’, eh?
A BBC report tells us, “The flags were given to the council to use as part of its celebrations for International Women’s Day on Sunday 8 March. The authority would not confirm who provided them or say what checks were made.”
The BBC went on to refer to the flag and definition as “a recognised symbol of a “transphobic hate group”.
Sefton council released the statement on the left via Twitter:
“We have been made aware of a potential issue regarding the messaging on a flag flown at Bootle and Southport Town Halls and have taken them down. We have a proud history of supporting LGBTQ+ rights across the borough, we continue to support members of all our communities.”
The council’s statement caused ‘Dr Em’ to ask:
“Your statement that you support all members of your community when combined with your actions would suggest that you don’t think women are members of the community. Why are you offended by the existence of women? That seems misogynistic.“ In a second tweet, she added, “Furthermore, how do you ensure that the rights enshrined in the Equality Act 2010 are protected in Council buildings & for council employees if you find the legal definition of a woman offensive? Your action today suggests you are failing in your public sector equality duty.“
Another woman tweeted, “Lesbian here. Don’t use the acronym LGBT as an excuse to ignore reality. Women are adult human females.”
“Did you seriously just find a male-approved flag for International Women’s Day?“ asked another, while a fourth pointed out,” What does the definition of a woman displayed or International Women’s Day have to do with LGBTQ++++++ ?”
A fifth enquired, ” I need to know which one is officially approved by the penis-havers so I don’t accidentally fly the wrong one.”
Counter responses on Twitter included, “very sad to see someone disrespectfully using International Women’s Day as a pretext to harass trans people.” Another tweet read “I have realised the hatred behind the request to fly the flag that hung briefly today.” A third suggested that young LGBT people might need access to a ‘safe space’ after seeing the flag.
Adrian Harrop called the flag-flying ‘a transphobic hate incident’ but transactivist Katy Montgomerie perhaps wins the prize for hyperbole with this comment:
“I’m so confused,” posted one man. “I can’t tell whether the replys (sic) are legit or just parody.”
Indeed. Harassment? Hatred? Horror?
Amidst all the hoohah, I keep coming back to this bit of their statement.
Pardonnez mon français, but what the very fuck is going on here?
What potential issue might that be? What could possibly justify the removal of a flag with a dictionary definition of woman on it? Well, if you don’t know, I can enlighten you.
Describing a woman as an ‘adult human female’ has become grossly offensive.
“But how?” I hear some of you cry. Those of you who already know, put your eyeballs back in their sockets, scoop your brains back up off the floor & enjoy the recap.
The answer is fairly simple and hugely complex at the same time. There’s a very small group of men who don’t like the fact that adult human females use the word ‘woman’ to describe ourselves. Because of this, we are no longer allowed to say that women is a biological fact. We must now accept that ‘woman’ is a feeling in the head. Now we are all aware of this inner essence of womanhood then women, know this, you are either ‘trans’, (an umbrella embracing both non-binary and gender fluid) or ‘cis’.
You DO fit into one of those groups. Whether you like it or not. To deny it is transphobic.
Women, if you ‘feel like a woman’, that’s because you’re ‘cis‘. You got the correct brain in the correct body.
If you don’t ‘feel like a woman’, but you just know you are a woman, then that’s also because you’re ‘cis’.
‘Cis’ women, you have privilege over transwomen, hence the phrase ‘check your cis privilege’.
And ‘cis’ is definitely ‘a thing’. Cos it’s Latin, innit.
In addition, know this.
If you don’t ‘feel like a woman’ and believe that means you’re neither a woman or a man, then you’re something inbetween: you’re non-binary.
If you don’t ‘feel like a woman’ and believe that means you’re a man, then you’re trans. And a man. A trans man.
But basically, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, nobody’s that bothered about how actual women feel.
Men aren’t flying flags bearing the legend ‘adult human male’ (though you can get the slogan on a T shirt if you want one) and if they were you can bet they wouldn’t be being ordered by women to take them down. Because that would be ridiculous – wouldn’t it?
Historically there were only very small numbers of men who felt the need to be assured that they were actually women. Women, feeling sorry for them and recognising them as a vulnerable group, were willing to go along with the pretense to a certain extent. To be kind. We’re trained to be good at that. But we always knew the truth, and now there seem to be loads of you, on our shortlists, in our sports, our changing rooms, telling us how to ‘woman’ and calling us transphobic if we want single-sex spaces. And to be honest no, most of you really don’t ‘pass’, even if some of us are kind enough to tell you you do. I’ve done it myself, in the past. But your hands… your feet… shoulders… your Adam’s apple. And you know what?
Even if you do, it really doesn’t make any difference. You still aren’t women.
Acknowledging this truth doesn’t mean we hate you. It doesn’t mean we want to ‘erase’ you or hurt you, or deny you basic human rights. We just don’t want to give you the word ‘woman’. We need it. We’re using it. It means something already. If you take it away, how do we define ourselves?
Some would say it’s cruel of me to point this out, but when we can’t even fly a bloody flag for International Women’s Day without being accused of hatred, it’s gloves off as far as words are concerned. The only way out of this maze of insanity is if we all start speaking the truth.
And let’s not forget that women aren’t the ones sending hateful emails, waving barbed wire covered baseball bats and threatening people with violence.
There is no one collective hive mind of womanhood, no one experience that we all share beyond our XX chromosomes. From whatever corner of the globe we hail, able-bodied or not, large-breasted or flat-chested, fertile or barren, living in a mud hut or residing in a glorious chateau: there is just one thing which unites all women, the root of all female oppression- our biology.
We all KNOW that a woman is an adult human female. We all came out of a woman; we all grew inside a woman & the seed that enabled such growth was provided by a man. This isn’t transphobic propaganda, or right-wing hate speech: this is basic biology and anyone who disputes it is, quite frankly, a bloody idiot.
These flags are EXACTLY the sort of flag that should be flown in the week leading up to International Women’s Day, because we are discriminated against because of our biology, not because we like long hair and lipstick.
If it seems like I’m repeating myself here, it’s probably because I am. And I’ll continue to do so for as long as is necessary.
Woman is not a feeling inside a bloke’s head. International Women’s Day does not exist to celebrate our pink brains or our love of pretty adornments, and it certainly doesn’t exist to validate the inner feelings of men.
This whole thing has got so absurdly, predictably ridiculous, with politicians, public servants and councils desperately pretending they don’t know what a woman is and digging themselves a deeper and deeper hole, that I’m put in mind of Macbeth’s lament, “I am in blood steeped in so far that returning were as tedious as go on”. Or something like that.
“No going back now, boys! Dwayne? Take down that flag!”
On the evening of 2nd March 2020, Standing for Women released a statement on their website.
“Today at noon ‘Standing For Women’ was absolutely delighted to see tweets showing support for women for International Women’s Day with Adult Human Female flags flying at Sefton and Bootle Town Halls. Our supporters had asked their council and police forces to fly flags as a sign of support of women across their regions and the world. Like so many areas of the UK Liverpool has very high rates of violence against women, it is estimated that in 2015 there were approximately 14,500 female victims aged between 16 and 59.”
The statement went on to say that the group was “neither shocked at the outcry from Trans activists… nor at the instant capitulation from the councils to remove the flags… Standing For Women will keep shouting that woman means adult human female until we have no voice, we will not accept this pernicious and vicious erasure of what it means to be a woman.”
Posie Parker vlogged about the action in a video called ‘Illegal Women’ on her YouTube channel, observing that Sefton council seemed to find the definition ‘adult human female’ to be ‘anti-gay and transphobic’ and that it appeared to believe that LGBT rights were somehow in opposition to women’s rights. She observed that putting up an ‘adult human female’ flag was a completely legal act and wondered why nobody from the press had contacted her asking for comment.
“At no point did anybody say this was ‘the’ International Women’s Day flag,” stated Parker, referring to IWD as “a day that people celebrate however they damn well please.” She went on to add, “this one day throughout the year is supposed to represent the injustices against women and girls throughout the globe… what sort of society considers the word ‘woman’ offensive?”
On the morning of 3rd of March, Sefton Council greeted Twitter with a happy face and a picture of some daffodils. “Our Contact Centre is open and ready to answer any queries,“ it trilled to a waiting world.
By midnight, there were eighty comments on the post. A rough count suggests that 90% of these were concerns about how Sefton Council would define the word woman, why they found the dictionary definition of ‘woman’ so offensive, why they had removed the flag, and who had asked them to do so.
Three others stood out. One was about where to get a green bin, another alerted the council that three washing machines had been flytipped outside their offices.
Of these eighty questions, Sefton council had answered just one. Which one?
An inquiry about who was going to clean up local dog mess.
And that’s a bloody good question. Who is going to clear this shit up? Certainly not Sefton council.