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Sex Matters - new briefing on the Minister's Maternity Bill - why doesn't it say "women"

(75 Posts)
MForstater Fri 19-Feb-21 16:45:00

The MOMA Bill is getting debated in the Lords on Monday.

MPs said "woman" 300 times in the debate in the commons, but it doesn't say woman once in the bill.

The explanatory notes say

"The Bill does not refer to biological sex or use gender-specific terms when referring to a Minister’s pregnancy and maternity. This reflects common practice of avoiding gender-specific terms when drafting, further to drafting guidance first introduced in 2007."

More political erasure of sex. I hope the Lords will kick up a fuss.

If you can't talk about biological sex in relation to gestating another human being inside your body for 9 months and all the gory stuff that goes with that when can you??

drive.google.com/file/d/1r6SMDWVXIMIVZGqgimLcSClDePnkURpk/view

OP’s posts: |
littlbrowndog Fri 19-Feb-21 16:52:38

Yes I hope they do maya

It’s erasure of women

When did we become the unmentionables and who decided

Were women asked ?

Barracker Fri 19-Feb-21 17:01:20

How ludicrous an attempt to rationalise that is.
Woman, female and girl are not 'gender' specific. They are SEX specific, exactly like 'pregnancy' and 'maternity'. And this is a bill about sex.

By all means the bill should exclude 'gender' terminology (femininity, identity, non-binary blah)

But it must include sex-based terminology.
Because it is a bill exclusively about a sex-based experience.

The government had better decide pronto what the sex based terms are that are permissable. Which sex does this affect. What is the name of the people of this sex.
Or else they'll find themselves in the embarrassing position of falling foul of their own Equality Act. You can't uphold an obligation to equality based on a protected characteristic of sex, if you are behaving as if it is taboo to reference that sex, ever.

PlanDeRaccordement Fri 19-Feb-21 17:03:19

It’s not erasure of women. Laws have been written gender neutral for centuries. It is always “a person” or “a minister”.

This has nothing to do with trans or gender wars or anything. It’s embarrassing and ridiculous to complain about this.

crsacre Fri 19-Feb-21 17:11:57

The briefing paper is really worth reading for analyzing the law and illuminating the extent of policy capture. It really proves that Penny Mordaunt is either lying or has been deliberately misled by advisers.

334bu Fri 19-Feb-21 17:16:33

*It’s not erasure of women. Laws have been written gender neutral for centuries. It is always “a person” or “a minister”.*

*This has nothing to do with trans or gender wars or anything. It’s embarrassing and ridiculous to complain about this.*

"Removing women's ability to describe themselves as a group is the ultimate act of male oppression" said a wise woman on twitter

PlanDeRaccordement Fri 19-Feb-21 17:25:53

You mean a woman who is supremely ignorant of how legal texts are written....

ConservativesForWomen Fri 19-Feb-21 17:34:11

PlanDeRaccordement

You mean a woman who is supremely ignorant of how legal texts are written....

Suggest you actually read the linked document that includes lots of references to laws that use the words 'woman', 'mother', 'maternity', 'she' and 'her'.

Only one person appears ignorant here.

334bu Fri 19-Feb-21 17:35:28

So you agree that women have no right to name ourselves just like all the enslaved , oppressed groups of the past.

Right side of history for sure.

MForstater Fri 19-Feb-21 17:35:58

It’s not erasure of women. Laws have been written gender neutral for centuries. It is always “a person” or “a minister”.

This has nothing to do with trans or gender wars or anything. It’s embarrassing and ridiculous to complain about this.

No until 2007 laws in the were generally written in masculine terms "he", "man" etc..., and this was taken to also include women. Laws that specifically related to women were written as "she" , "woman" etc...

In 2007 they brought in a policy of gender neutral drafting, replacing "he" as the default human and using terms like "a person" when it could mean either a man or a woman.

They still continued to use the words man and woman when it referred to something sex specific, such as in the Equality Act on maternity and pregnancy, or anything to do with motherhood or fatherhood.

The idea of talking about "pregnant people" is new and is not what they have done before

OP’s posts: |
NiceGerbil Fri 19-Feb-21 17:39:23

I was going to agree with plan - a lot of law uses he/ him throughout even if for both sexes. So it's not actually gender neutral but male as default.

Then I googled the equalities act
'A person (A) discriminates against a woman if A treats her unfavourably because of a pregnancy of hers.
(3)A person (A) discriminates against a woman if, in the period of 26 weeks beginning with the day on which she gives birth, A treats her unfavourably because she has given birth.
(4)The reference in subsection (3) to treating a woman unfavourably because she has given birth includes, in particular, a reference to treating her unfavourably because she is breast-feeding.'

Etc etc

So I would say that it's a reversal of male as default due to the characteristic. But in line with standard protocol this would include transmen/ non binary people as well.

So I've gone a full u turn on this!

PlanDeRaccordement Fri 19-Feb-21 23:24:22

a lot of law uses he/ him throughout even if for both sexes. So it's not actually gender neutral but male as default.

Not for a long time now. Most laws refer to “a person commits an offence if...” “a person can legally....” or at most, distinguish between adults and minors- “an adult who assaults a minor...”

He/him is not gender neutral, nor would she/her or woman. Not used in the UK maternity Bill being discussed at all.

The Maternity Act is written in gender neutral form by referring to “the minister” or “a person”.
publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/58-01/0255/en/200255en.pdf

Gender neutral is standard for most laws.

In addition, research has shown that countries that use gender neutral language in laws have narrower gender gaps in equality than countries that use gendered language in laws:

“Do gendered languages widen the gender gap?

Culture, history, religion, traditional patriarchal societies, and many more factors all contribute to gender equality issues, but language cannot be ruled out as a possible contributing factor.

To see whether or not a pattern would emerge among gendered languages in relation to the global gender gap, we compiled a list of the world’s richest countries, along with their respective languages, and then consulted the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report to see how these languages stacked up. We then took a look at the richest countries in the Americas and Western Europe to see how they ranked in terms of gender equality.”
“60 percent of the richest western countries predominantly speak non-gendered languages. If we also include gendered languages that incorporate a neutral pronoun, this percentage increases to 90 percent. This same 90 percent also represents the most narrow gender gap. Only one out of the 10 richest western countries represents a true gendered language, and this country happens to rank last on this list in terms of the global gender gap.”

www.nimdzi.com/language-and-gender/

PlanDeRaccordement Fri 19-Feb-21 23:27:51

@MForstater
The idea of talking about "pregnant people" is new and is not what they have done before

The term “pregnant people” is not in the maternity bill text or explanatory notes. Perhaps you should read them?

PlanDeRaccordement Fri 19-Feb-21 23:30:23

It actually states:
“...the person is eligible to be designated as Minister on Leave if:
a. they are pregnant and the due date is no more than 12 weeks away;
b. they have given birth within the last 4 weeks.”

PlanDeRaccordement Fri 19-Feb-21 23:33:55

334bu

So you agree that women have no right to name ourselves just like all the enslaved , oppressed groups of the past.

Right side of history for sure.

Actually that is very offensive hyperbole to compare this situation to the condition of enslaved peoples. You’re literally saying that referring to pregnant women in a bill as “they” is akin to enslaving millions of people and tossing the dead bodies of a the few million that died en route to being worked to death in plantations.

MForstater Fri 19-Feb-21 23:59:44

planDeRecordment
.
Yes you use non gendered language in legislation to emphasis that a role can be played by a person of either sex.

Getting pregnant and giving birth is not a role that can be played by either sex. The social and economic impacts of the way that society treats the people that do the gestating (and with the potential to do the gestating) don't impact on both sexes but only on one.

To whose benefit is it to obscure this?

OP’s posts: |
334bu Sat 20-Feb-21 00:08:50

The erasure of women's language goes far beyond this bill and when you get people objecting to a FGM survivor using " women and girls" to describe the victims of this appalling mutilation of female children , then we really see the extent of the "erasure" of women. So removing the right women have to name themselves is a really big deal.!!!

PlanDeRaccordement Sat 20-Feb-21 07:03:29

@334bu
While I agree erasure of women/girls meaning a female sex person is indeed happening, I do not agree this bill is an example of that because the use of gender neutral language predates trans ideology and also was fought for by feminists to increase equality.

I cannot ever agree with your comparison of the language issues we are facing now to the centuries of the slave trade atrocity though. That’s as offensive as Gina Carano trotting out a Holocaust comparison to score points in an online debate about political polarisation. It doesn’t reflect well on you and does the cause more harm than good. We need to pick our battles.

PlanDeRaccordement Sat 20-Feb-21 07:13:12

Getting pregnant and giving birth is not a role that can be played by either sex.

There have been several cases in my lifetime alone of inter-sex individuals who have been raised as men and have both male and female sex organs, who have in fact gone on to get pregnant and birth a baby. Intersex is rare, but what right have we to erase them?

HPFA Sat 20-Feb-21 09:25:09

Spot the difference:

A cervical cancer charity talking about the menopause:

www.jostrust.org.uk/information/living-with-cervical-cancer/menopause

and a recently launched campaign against Prostate Cancer involving Sky News

www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/prostate-cancer-uk-teams-sky-media-sport-inspired-campaign/1705577

DaisiesandButtercups Sat 20-Feb-21 09:45:40

This is on AIBU with voting enabled for anyone interested...

gardenbird48 Sat 20-Feb-21 10:27:52

HPFA

Spot the difference:

A cervical cancer charity talking about the menopause:

www.jostrust.org.uk/information/living-with-cervical-cancer/menopause

and a recently launched campaign against Prostate Cancer involving Sky News

www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/prostate-cancer-uk-teams-sky-media-sport-inspired-campaign/1705577

Macmillan website - ‘people’ get cervical cancer but men get prostate or penile cancer.

Why the difference in terminology? Any org that uses statistics in relation to that statement starts making even less sense.

If 4 in 10 people get cervical cancer, is that 40% of our whole population of 70 million? Or 40% of the section of the population with the body type that has a cervix?.

The 4 in 10 figure has been rendered meaningless by a lack of clarity. ‘People’ naturally implies both men and women and should only be used when referring to something that affects both men and women (4 in 10 people watch Netflix for eg).

CharlieParley Sat 20-Feb-21 10:45:27

PlanDeRaccordement

*a lot of law uses he/ him throughout even if for both sexes. So it's not actually gender neutral but male as default.*

Not for a long time now. Most laws refer to “a person commits an offence if...” “a person can legally....” or at most, distinguish between adults and minors- “an adult who assaults a minor...”

He/him is not gender neutral, nor would she/her or woman. Not used in the UK maternity Bill being discussed at all.

The Maternity Act is written in gender neutral form by referring to “the minister” or “a person”.
publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/58-01/0255/en/200255en.pdf

Gender neutral is standard for most laws.

In addition, research has shown that countries that use gender neutral language in laws have narrower gender gaps in equality than countries that use gendered language in laws:

“Do gendered languages widen the gender gap?

Culture, history, religion, traditional patriarchal societies, and many more factors all contribute to gender equality issues, but language cannot be ruled out as a possible contributing factor.

To see whether or not a pattern would emerge among gendered languages in relation to the global gender gap, we compiled a list of the world’s richest countries, along with their respective languages, and then consulted the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report to see how these languages stacked up. We then took a look at the richest countries in the Americas and Western Europe to see how they ranked in terms of gender equality.”
“60 percent of the richest western countries predominantly speak non-gendered languages. If we also include gendered languages that incorporate a neutral pronoun, this percentage increases to 90 percent. This same 90 percent also represents the most narrow gender gap. Only one out of the 10 richest western countries represents a true gendered language, and this country happens to rank last on this list in terms of the global gender gap.”

www.nimdzi.com/language-and-gender/

Here's their conclusion:

"Neither our analyses nor the Global Gender Gap Report can exclusively determine whether or not language affects gender equality, but our shared findings do generate thought and should generate continued discussion."

IOW they are speculating based on a hypothesis* about gendered language that was prevalent in the 90s that held that if we use gender neutral terms this would progress women's equality. They have no evidence to support their claims.

Since then research has found that gender neutral language does not level the playing field, it simply serves to make women invisible. Caroline Criado-Perez explores this in her book.

What's worse from our perspective is that the thinking that gender neutral language progresses women's equality goes together with the idea that gender neutral policy making would be even better.

In theory that might be true. In practice, gender-neutral policy making that does not specifically and especially consider the needs of women and how a policy may impact them, produces policies that in most cases do not remedy the inequality of women and in the worst cases worsens it.

The Nordic countries provide a number of choice examples of how this thinking led to policymaking that has harmed women.

Most importantly, we know why the bill, unlike all other laws concerned with women does not use the words she or women. And it has nothing to do with the issue of gender neutral lawmaking.

CharlieParley Sat 20-Feb-21 11:19:36

PlanDeRaccordement

*Getting pregnant and giving birth is not a role that can be played by either sex.*

There have been several cases in my lifetime alone of inter-sex individuals who have been raised as men and have both male and female sex organs, who have in fact gone on to get pregnant and birth a baby. Intersex is rare, but what right have we to erase them?

The available literature shows only 14 cases of people with DSDs who had both ovarian and testicular tissue becoming pregnant. All of these individuals had a uterus, at least one functioning ovary and a vagina, otherwise pregnancy would not have been possible. All of these individuals were raised as women, including the only one with a predominantly male mosaic karyotype.

(That's worldwide. If you truly know of individuals with DSDs who were raised male, were virilised in puberty and then gave birth that would be sensational and most definitely written up in the literature by their attending obgyns.)

Socrates11 Sat 20-Feb-21 12:15:34

Thank you CharlieParley , lovely clear rebuttals 💐

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