Why Words and their meanings really matter


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THE PHONE RANG. “Hello”, I said.

“Ey-up Alex”.

“Hi John” I answered.

“I ain’t John no more, I’m Samantha”.

“No, you’re not”, I replied.

“Aye, I am”, he insisted.

“No, you’re not”.

After a little more to-and-fro’ing, I asked: “what are you saying? Are you gay?”

John then added: “No, that’s the funny thing, like, I’m a lesbian.”

“What?” I asked perplexed.

“I’m a she-he-it,” John answered.

“A she-e-it? Indeed”. After a little silence, we both laughed.

This conversation actually took place close to a decade ago. A few years later, while promoting his “Does anyone remember laughter?” tour, Bill Burr could jest with Conan, the popular American chat-show host about Bruce Jenner becoming Caitlyn Jenner (pictured).  “The guy walked out a dude and came back a woman and you’re just supposed to go “oh yes! So, um, Caitlyn, as I was saying… this housing crisis”.

The audience laughed. Would they dare now?

Another facet of this relatively new area of human experimentation came in the shape of a notorious Mixed Martial Art’s fight which took place in March 2013.

It pitted Tamikka Brents and Fallon Fox. The fight was over in 39 seconds.  According to sources, Tammika suffered a concussion, an orbital bone fracture, and required seven staples to the head. In a post-fight interview, she told Whoa TV that “I’ve fought a lot of women and have never felt so overpowered ever in my life”. Indeed, having lived her first 35 years as a man, her opponent had only relatively recently started to identify as a woman.

Unrepentant, and with officialdom on side, Fallon said “women could chose not to fight” him/her because they “might be a hate-filled person” or “have a bias.” He/she added, “I don’t want to fight those people, anyways, because they’re scared.” From her bed in hospital, recovering from a severe head-injury, Tammika probably was.

At the time, this story made little waves, either because it was inconvenient or because it took place in the darker avenues of combat sports.  Be that as it may, it did however catch the attention of some. For me, the reason was simply that, from my uneducated and ill-informed 2013 perspective on the subject, it seemed at the time the crowd had cheered on as a man beat a member of the fairer-sex – all this in broad daylight: The gravest of all crimes in the old world.

Across the Western world, such stories are multiplying. Girls and women are losing out. In fact, feminist standard bearers of the calibre of Germaine Greer, J.K. Rowling and tennis legend Martina Navratilova  have seen flag, honour and cause ruthlessly trampled underfoot. The mud they once threw at the old, patriarchy, they have seen returned tenfold from its ugly reincarnation.

The public space for female athletes is melting like snow in the spring sunshine. In a sign of intent, on January 1st 2021, Pelosi and McGovern unveiled details of rules package for the 117th congress. The rules will promote “inclusion and diversity” and will therefore “honour all gender identities by changing pronouns and familial relationships in the House rules to be gender neutral”.

This means that while offensive terms such “father, mother, sister, brother, uncle, aunt” will not be actively banned from the floor of the house, clause 8 (c) (3) will actively replace them with “parent, child, sibling, sibling-in-law”. Further, the rules will switch “himself or herself” to “themself” – making the Ivy League Congressional bureaucrats sound like latter-day Del-Boys from BBC’s much missed Only Fools and Horses.

Hoping not to be left behind, Joe Biden signed two executive orders and a memorandum since his inauguration on the topic. The documents will “combat discrimination on the basis of … gender identity”, will repeal “a ban on transgender people serving openly in the United States military” and “expand the  protection of LGBTQ people around the world”. On the latter, one can expect caveats, depending on market access. For instance it is to be supposed that China will be given a free hand in the persecution of whomever it wants, as she currently is.

Having recently announced sanctions on 28 high-ranking US officials who served under Trump,  accusing them of “hatred against China”, Beijing is sounding the bell, marking the official shift of power from the Old People’s Home in Washington to the Middle Kingdom.

With China banning any companies and institutions associated with officials who served under Trump we can expect the Western World’s media and corporations to hear, speak and see no evil.

In the latest gearshift in casting aside the building blocks of our millennia-old world-order, Congress passed The Equality Act, protecting people from being discriminated against based on gender identity in employment, housing and other services as well as access to public accommodations. David Cicilline, a Democrat and co-sponsor of the bill, said: “it will once and for all ensure that LGBTQ Americans can live lives free of discrimination.”

Some, to use the new approved language, might feel a little upset at the prospects of their parents, relatives or siblings sharing their privacy with members of an as-of-yet unspecified sex. Indeed, many point  to a provision in the legislation saying individuals could not be denied access to a restroom, locker room or dressing room based on their gender identity. (Do they realise Donald Trump can now just breeze in to chat to the ‘girls’?) They add the bill could facilitate men participating in women’s sports if they identify as female – not recognising that horse bolted a long time ago.

Of interest, however, is there is a total absence of popular support for this gender revolution alongside a near total complicity of silence by all in the sphere of public discourse. Such media nonchalance is so last year, like Democrat supporters are rioting but nobody is reporting it.

The latest Pew survey on government priorities in the US shows gender politics is nowhere near touching distance of the top twenty.  The findings are borne out by other surveys, such as the one compiled by Piper Jaffray in 2019, showing that even with the section of the population most likely to be force fed the narrative, only 2% of US teenagers think of LGTBQ+ Rights being a priority. Incidentally, much like their  parents, climate change doesn’t attract much attention either. And yet, gender and climate are this administration’s priority.

Why then are the authorities, not just in the US, but across the West, on the basis of no popular support, throwing the gauntlet to the broad majority by forcing their peoples to accept a reduced place in the world for their mothers, sisters, aunts, grannies and nieces? Is it a cruel distraction?

If so, a distraction from what? House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the Equality Act is an “onslaught  against freedom”. He adds “if you’re a member of Congress, it is interesting to me how far they have gone and how much further they want to go.” With that kind of momentum, the answer is: much further. The next question is: why? …and after that: how long before America’s cough becomes Britain’s sneeze and such language bans arrive in Holyrood and the House of Commons?

In the meantime, as Bill Burr suggested, let us remember to laugh.

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Alex Story is a senior manager at a city brokerage, where he works closely with hedge funds and other financial institutions. He represented Great Britain at the Olympic Games and won the Boat Race for Cambridge on two occasions. His team still holds the course record. He can be found on Twitter at @alexpstory  

Photo of Caitlyn Jenner from Web Summit – DF2_7268, CC BY 2.0,


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