FOR quite some time, the feminist movement has moved away from equal rights and opportunities and focused instead on equality. There is a difference between the two. Equal rights means that a woman has economic and social rights undifferentiated from a man. Firms can no longer expect a woman to leave her job once she gets married. Equality means that it is seen that there is no difference between a man and a woman. The term is also misused to mean ‘identical’.
Promoting equality rather than equal rights and opportunities has had for some time an element of hubris associated with it. Those who disagree are easily denounced as bigots even when they point to objective reality. The fiction of a ‘gender pay gap’ has been created, where the lifetime earnings of a woman are compared with a man and a supposition of inequality has been determined. The demolition of the argument takes longer than its articulation and in the soundbite world we inhabit it is largely ignored, mainly for reasons of the aforementioned hubris.
However we are witnessing the arrival of the nemesis to women’s equality, which is that transwomen, male transsexuals, are being widely regarded in the liberal media as identical to women. In the medium to long term, the consequences for biological women could be dire.
There have already been sports competitions where transwomen have triumphed. Rachel McKinnon won the UCI Masters Track Cycling World Championships in 2018, beating biological women into second and third place. Certainly in sports, being a biological woman may soon be a disability. In fact, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has already put rules in place for transwomen competitors. They state three conditions for participation:
– Surgical anatomical changes have been completed, including external genitalia changes and gonadectomy;
– Legal recognition of their assigned sex has been conferred by the appropriate official authorities;
– Hormonal therapy appropriate for the assigned sex has been administered in a verifiable manner and for a sufficient length of time to minimise gender-related advantages in sport competitions.
It is the third which may be the most contentious. The rules for hormonal therapy have already been adjusted once. This has to be the first time in sporting history that athletes are allowed to be doped, but to reduce their performance. So far, no transwoman has won an Olympic competition. But men are provably more competitive than women and despite the IOC’s efforts, it may be possible for a male athlete to see professional advantage in transitioning and do so. And once prohibition has been replaced by rules, these rules can be challenged, altered, or bypassed on a case-by-case basis.
It is possible that, with the wider acceptance of transwomen in the workplace, biological women will be marginalised. The equality agenda states that ‘transwomen are women’, thus if a raft of transwomen are promoted in a job, the biological women left behind will not be able to complain of discrimination. Transwomen cannot have babies and thus do not require maternity leave, and so employers might find it advantageous to hire them in preference to a biological women. Again, a woman who lost out on a job could not object as the equality agenda would see no difference between the two.
It could be that in time heterosexual men might increasingly form relationships with transwomen when this becomes more socially acceptable if not encouraged by an equality agenda, as they might be more eager to satisfy a man’s sexual desires and will possess some inherent knowledge about what those desires are. How biological women will compete with transwomen is not clear, except by being willing to have babies. Women could become confined in large numbers to being breeders and housewives. Being regarded as no different to transwomen will actually expose the differences.
This is quite a long look into the future. But surgical techniques and medical science are always on the advance and sex-change surgery and aftercare is a growth industry that seems quite lucrative at present, suggesting it is a more viable career move for medical professionals than previously. The media prominence of transsexualism approaches the intensity of an advertising campaign. Children and adolescents with intimate issues will find it culturally easier to transition especially with the current climate of encouragement, and authorities seem to be quite willing to use drugs and surgery to address these intimate issues rather than non-invasive therapies.
The nemesis of equality is also seen in the reaction to women’s groups and feminist academics who express concern that the notion of equality they have always championed is being stretched. Women are being prevented from meeting and discussing the issues through a combination of official sanction and unofficial violence and intimidation. Women who have made careers out of denouncing men for what they call ‘toxic masculinity’ are now on the receiving end of denunciation themselves for being reactionary and intolerant by those even more extreme than they were. There is a form of natural justice here.
The flip side of the coin is rarely considered. Most men would not have a problem with a woman undressing in a changing-room, transitioning or otherwise. Similarly if a woman wants to transition to a man and compete with other men in a workplace, good luck so long as the transition is not regarded as a reason for advancement. If a transman wants to have a go at sports, there might be few objections. There is no equality in controversy between transmen and transwomen.
For women in general, the outlook could be bleak. By diluting what it means to be a woman, there has to be disadvantage. Unfortunately for the self-righteous cheerleaders of women’s equality, this is a disadvantage over which their previous absolutist stances prevents protest. What goes around comes around. The Ancient Greeks knew this. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.