In a critically acclaimed new book, Brendan O’Neill issues a rallying cry against the politically correct zealots who are trying to purge the world of values that have held for centuries.
In the opening extract from our serialisation in yesterday’s Daily Mail, he explained how a ruling cultural elite is terrified of entrusting democratic rights to ordinary people. Here, he eviscerates another tenet of the new woke orthodoxy.
We need to talk about her penis.
Not about any specific individual’s private parts. That would be weird. No, we need to talk about the union of those two words. The smashing together of the female pronoun and the noun for the male genital organ. Her penis.
If anyone tries to tell you the culture war is a myth, show them her penis. Her penis is everywhere. It regularly pops up in news reports. You’ll see it in The Times and on the BBC. It’s inescapable.
BRENDAN O’NEILL: Is anyone else confused? The media are meant to report facts, clearly and pithily, but that Mirror piece left me bewildered. A woman with a penis who has sex with other women? You mean a straight man? (pictured: Rapist Isla Bryson, who changed gender while awaiting trial)
‘Ex-soldier exposed her penis and used wheelie bin as sex toy in public’, said a headline in Metro in April 2022.
‘A Glasgow-born sex offender has admitted exposing her penis’, said the Daily Record on that same story.
Teesside Live, which covers Middlesbrough, the part of the UK in which this mammalistic anomaly reportedly whipped out her phallus, went all out. ‘Teesside woman accused of exposing penis’, its headline declared.
‘She is charged with committing a public nuisance by indecently exposing her penis to other members of the public, while masturbating from a property window,’ readers were informed.
Readers, I’m sure, who will have been more startled by the news that there exists a woman with a penis than by the claims that she flashed it at unsuspecting passers-by.
This is a failure of reason. It’s a failure of rationalism
In 2018, the Daily Mirror published a hagiographic piece about a ‘woman who spent thousands of pounds transforming her body’, but decided to ‘keep her penis’. She then ‘realis[ed] she is a lesbian’.
Is anyone else confused? The media are meant to report facts, clearly and pithily, but that Mirror piece left me bewildered. A woman with a penis who has sex with other women? You mean a straight man?
Her penis even makes an appearance in institutions of longstanding repute. The British Film Institute published a review of the 2018 Belgian film, Girl, in which it said one of the characters ‘tucks her penis between her legs with tape during strenuous ballet rehearsals’.
A few years back, the BBC reported on the ‘transgender woman [who] says she was held at an airport because her penis showed up as an ‘anomaly’ when she was going through security’. I bet it did.
Even The Times occasionally features her penis. Its review of trans activist Grace Lavery’s memoir, Please Miss: A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Penis, referred to ‘her penis’.
The author of that review at least had enough of a grip on reality, however feeble, to say ‘her penis’ is ‘a phrase I pray I never get used to writing’.
Though this does raise the question of why it was written in the first place.
At times, the appearance of her penis isn’t just strange or spurious – it’s sinister. Consider the trial of Karen White.
Readers, I’m sure, who will have been more startled by the news that there exists a woman with a penis than by the claims that she flashed it at unsuspecting passers-by
White is a man, and a rapist, and a paedophile. Despite this, he was sent, following his conviction for his grim crimes, to a women’s prison: HMP New Hall in West Yorkshire. He says he’s a woman and the prison estate believes him.
There, he sexually assaulted two inmates. At his trial for those assaults, the prosecuting lawyer described White’s approach of one of the female inmates as follows: ‘Her penis was erect and sticking out the top of her trousers.’
Her penis. Her trousers. Even the violent, rapacious tormentors of women are afforded the titles ‘she’ and ‘her’ if that is what they desire. Even the assaulters of females are addressed in feminine terms, as they please. They rape you and they get your pronouns.
Her penis is all the rage with the police, too. At the end of 2021, Police Scotland said rapes would be recorded as having been committed by women ‘where a person, born male but who identifies as a female… commits [the] rape’.
In 2019, Freedom of Information requests were submitted to UK police forces regarding their attitude towards men who identify as women.
Sixteen forces said they recorded data according to the accused’s self-declared gender rather than his or her birth sex, and eight of those forces said they do this even when the crime is rape.
Britain’s National Police Chiefs’ Council likewise advised that people should be referred to by their self-identified gender rather than their natal sex.
So there will be cops in the UK who say her penis. Who say that an individual used her penis to rape a woman. Who lie even as they seek the truth.
Her penis. Say those two words to yourself. They are a falsehood, aren’t they? Certainly all the examples cited above were lies masquerading as news.
That ‘woman’ in Teesside who exposed ‘her penis’ – that was a man called Andrew McNab who now goes by the name Chloe Thompson.
That prisoner, Karen White, who approached a fellow inmate with ‘her penis’ sticking out of the top of ‘her trousers’ – that is a man called Stephen Terence Wood whose crimes include indecently assaulting two boys aged nine and 12 and raping a pregnant woman.
His penis, his penis, his penis. That’s the phrase you’re looking for. ‘His’ is the only possessive pronoun that should ever appear before the word penis.
But of course we are dealing with more than a failure of grammar here. A refresher course on English will not be enough to fix the strange 21st Century tendency of both the mainstream media and the judicial system to say ‘her penis’.
No, this is a failure of reason. It’s a failure of rationalism.
A refresher course on English will not be enough to fix the strange 21st Century tendency of both the mainstream media and the judicial system to say ‘her penis’ (pictured: a children’s book on gender diversity)
Often, the people who are most zealous about purging the old, reason-based ways of understanding the world, and replacing them with new forms of correct-think that insist, among other things, that women can have penises, will flat-out deny that they are doing any such thing. Talk about gaslighting.
Political correctness is a ‘toxic myth’ put about by ‘wealthy conservatives’, says one very politically correct writer. ‘The truth about ‘political correctness’ is that it doesn’t actually exist,’ claims Vox magazine.
But if PC doesn’t actually exist, if wokeness is a crusade taking place only in the fever dreams of paranoid conservatives, then why is her penis everywhere? How have those two words become part of common parlance?
Her penis matters because that tiny phrase and huge falsehood confirms just how insidious the overhaul of speech and thought has become in our era. How, by stealth, mainstream society has come to be convinced that sex is irrelevant, language can be altered at will and truth is subordinate to feeling.
Compelled to have sex, then to flatter the fantasies of her attacker
‘Her penis’, the press and authorities say, as if it’s nothing, as if it’s normal, as if those two words, when put side by side, are not an abomination against nature and truth.
Even the political class has succumbed to the cult of her penis. ‘[Some] women were born with penises,’ says Labour’s Stella Creasy.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer no doubt thinks himself a saner, more in-touch voice than Creasy when he says ‘the vast majority of women… don’t have a penis’, but of course that is indistinguishable from what Creasy said. Starmer clearly also believes that some women have penises.
There is now a palpable if sometimes imperceptible pressure not only to say things like ‘her penis’, but also to believe them; to believe that this biological male before you, with his XY chromosomes, his broken voice, his penis, is in fact a woman.
‘Some women have penises – get over it,’ as the favoured slogan of some trans activists puts it. Get over biology, in other words. Get over reality.
‘Submit, instead, to the post-truth ideology subscribed to by police forces, politicians, governments and the media which holds that a person with a penis can be a woman and that biological truth, science itself, is passé.
Consider the Orwellian consequences of her penis. With its twisting of language, its disdain for biological fact, and its inculcating of a new generation with the lie that one’s sex is a matter of choice, transgender ideology feels like a real-life version of Big Brother.
In Nineteen Eighty-Four, one of Winston Smith’s jobs at the Ministry of Truth is to revise old newspaper articles so that their content better accords with party propaganda.
News itself is made subservient to the ideological outlook of the ruling elite. This is happening for real, right now.
The cult of her penis interferes not only with media reporting on crimes, but also with the official recording of crimes.
As we have seen, some police forces in the UK log even rapes as having been committed by women if the male culprit identifies as female.
‘Police forces let rapists record their gender as female,’ as a report in The Sunday Times said.
‘This undoes the very meaning of rape, which in English and Welsh law is defined as an offence in which a person ‘intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person with his penis’, where that other person ‘does not consent to the penetration’.
His penis. It’s there in the democratically made law. And yet in practice – in courtrooms, in police stations – her penis is substituted where the rapist is under the delusion that he is a woman.
To those who say political correctness is a myth, whipped up by aggrieved old white men, kindly explain how we have arrived at a situation where a victim of sexual assault might be compelled to say ‘her penis’ about the man who assaulted her?
First she’s forced by a man to engage in sexual activity, then she’s forced by cultural diktat to respect that man’s gender delusions.
Compelled to have sex, then compelled to lie in order to flatter the fantasies of her attacker. Political correctness now enjoys dominion not only over truth and law, but also over human decency itself.
Compulsion – that’s the key thing here. We are all compelled, by various means, to use preferred pronouns, to refer to men as ‘she’, to accept that sex can be changed, to use post-sex terms like ‘individuals with a cervix’ and ‘chestfeeding’.
One of the great heresies of our time is to say that men are men and women are women. Biology is heresy now. The compulsion to use correct speak, and to have correct thought, in relation to sex and gender, takes many forms.
The BBC ‘encourages’ staff to put their pronouns in their email signatures. Capitalist monoliths such as Goldman Sachs, Virgin Management and Lloyds likewise ‘encourage’ ideologically on-message pronoun-use.
‘Encourage’ is euphemistic here. Compulsion is at play in these cases, too. As the Wall Street Journal reports, some employees bow down to the cult of the preferred pronoun ‘at their company’s urging’.
Urge – to try persistently to persuade. It’s a polite way of saying compel. Social or economic ostracism frequently awaits those who refuse to genuflect to the religion of genderfluidity.
Tax expert Maya Forstater was dismissed from her job for refusing to believe that men can become women. Barrister Allison Bailey was discriminated against at work for her belief that sex cannot be changed – that is, for her correct understanding of biology.
Children’s author Gillian Philip was unceremoniously dumped by both her literary agent and her publisher for the speech crime of expressing solidarity with J. K. Rowling.
Ostracism awaits those who refuse to genuflect to gender fluidity
For that – for adding the hashtag #IStandWithJKRowling to her Twitter handle – Ms Philip received ‘messages threatening to kill and rape’ her.
Emails were sent to her publishers demanding her sacking. It all ‘ended, a day later, with me losing my livelihood’, she said.
Twenty-four hours is all it takes to be threatened with violence, demonised as evil and sacked. And still they say political correctness is a myth.
Such ‘encouraged’ conversion runs entirely counter to the Enlightenment itself and to the freedom of conscience it promised humankind. We should never be ‘compelled by fire and sword to profess certain doctrines’, said John Locke.
And yet we are now. We’re compelled by the threat of social leprosy to profess the doctrine of ‘her penis’. This is where we can glimpse the most pernicious element of political correctness – its assault on our inner life.
As one pro-trans writer says, pronoun use is not just about ‘conveying respect’ for others – it is also about changing one’s own nature: ‘Mastering correct pronoun usage is a great first step to understanding more about gender identity.’
A writer for Wired spells it out more starkly. ‘Gender-neutral pronouns can change a culture,’ he says. ‘New language… can become a useful tool for changing how people deal with each other.’ Through the policing of words, we can ‘nudge in the direction of change’.
Orwell understood very well the relationship between language and thought, and how control of the former permits control of the latter: ‘If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.’
He devoted much of Nineteen Eighty-Four to exploring how the exercise of power over what may be said makes it easier to enjoy dominion over what can be thought, over how individuals understand themselves and their place in society.
‘Don’t you see’, says Syme, a lexicographer at the Ministry of Truth, ‘that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.’
The real-world version of that fictional effort to overhaul man’s inner life through controlling the language he is allowed to use in society is expressed more softly, though no less sinisterly. ‘New language… can become a useful tool for changing how people deal with each other,’ say the Symes of today.
The new elites have accomplished an extraordinary and terrifying amount of social overhaul through their manipulation of the language of sex and gender.
From birth itself to parenthood to the very ability of our societies to use reason to understand and measure themselves – all have been disrupted by the elites’ crusade to change how we speak and think about sex.
The phrase ‘sex assigned at birth’ radically transforms how we view the very creation of human life. In short, the belief of human society since its very beginnings – that sex can be observed upon birth – was wrong.
It was bigoted, in fact. In truth, we cannot truly know the sex of a child, and we shouldn’t seek to ‘assign’ one, because sex and gender are things we feel, not things we are.
Boys and girls are no longer born; rather, gender-neutral creatures come into existence and we must allow them to discover their gender as they mature. Such thinking is an offence against reason.
Our understanding of parenthood is being transformed, too. Phrases such as ‘birthing parent’ in place of mother, and ‘chestfeeding’ in place of breastfeeding ‘encourage’ us to doubt the distinctive, sex-based qualities of mothering and fathering.
Even the NHS uses post-sex terminology when referring to mothers. The NHS Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust has used the phrase ‘birthing people’.
In some educational institutions, students of midwifery are encouraged to use gender-neutral language, such as ‘pregnant people’.
Words that have extraordinary meaning in community life – specifically, ‘mother’ – are slowly being erased to avoid offending against the cult of post-sex relativism.
Motherhood downgraded. Biology reimagined as bigotry. News propagandised. A new generation encouraged to feel so unsure about sex and gender that growing numbers of them profess to be gender neutral and some even submit themselves to the bodily mortification of puberty-blocking drugs and hormonal correction.
In this brave new world, what they say is the truth, is the truth
These are the consequences of the religion of gendered souls.
And all of it is an achievement of language. Of compelling us to speak in a certain way, and thus to think in a certain way, too.
Through ‘encouraging’ compliance with new linguistic rules, and punishing as ‘transphobia’ any deviation from the rules, the elites have managed to disrupt millennia of human belief and to transform how we think about sex, society, ourselves and our relationships with others.
Let us call the cult of her penis what it is – a chilling act of cultural reprogramming through which we are being wrenched from tradition and organic knowledge and forced into a brave new world where what they say is the truth, is the truth.
That is the first task of the heretic, then: to resist compulsion. To speak as he sees. To never fear to express the truth.
To refuse, at all costs, to say anything as abominable as ‘her penis’.
- This is an edited extract from A Heretic’s Manifesto: Essays On The Unsayable, by Brendan O’Neill, to be published by Spiked tomorrow at £12.99. To order a copy for £11.69 (offer valid to June 17; UK p&p free on orders over £25, visit: mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3176 2937.
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