The only wrong way to be a woman these days is to stand up for women’s rights Suzanne Moore in The Telegraph 09.02.21

The original article is here.

I was a bit worried, I must admit, that I was doing this womanhood thing all wrong. For my whole life I haven’t really got the hang of it. There are many things that women are meant to be interested in: shopping, baking programmes, thrillers in which other women get tortured that leave me cold. Ditto: weddings, dating, baby showers, celebrity gossip about torsos with pouts. And that’s just to start with.

But I shouldn’t have worried because the United Nations has come up with a new slogan and tweeted “There is no wrong way to be a woman. There is no wrong way to be a woman.” They actually said it seven times, but I don’t want you to pass out with boredom. Maybe if you chant it you reach nirvana or maybe women are just so thick they need telling over and over.


The right way to react to this ridiculous mantra is surely to feel murderous. What is this slogan for? Who is it for? These endless attempts at inclusivity mean that being a woman can now even be a feeling in a man’s head. Eddie Izzard, I saw the other day, had been voted the best female comedian. Sorry, but I am not laughing.

There is no wrong way to be a woman. Are they serious? Let me list the ways. I and many women live with them every single day.

One of them is to live in fear. One woman is killed every three days in this country – a figure which has become much higher in lockdown. Being old is also seen by many as the wrong way to be a woman. Another is wanting sex. Or not wanting it at all. Both of these things can be regarded as “problematic”. Also it is wrong to moan about having children because you didn’t have to have them, although getting an abortion would also have made you very wrong too.

Another wrong way to be a woman is to refuse to stop talking about what it is like living in a female body: periods, endometriosis, childbirth, miscarriage, infertility, menopause and that icky stuff. Speaking of this apparently excludes those women whose bodies don’t do those things.

You see, in recent years, it has been mostly wrong to be a woman in public life who stands up for the sex-based rights of other women. Standing up for trans people is decent and right, but standing up for the rights of women apparently makes one a transphobe. If you start talking about the female experience and think it’s not just different to men’s but different for women of different ethnicities and classes, you will be called a bigot. Your job as a woman, unlike a man’s, is to include everyone, all the time.

Self-sacrifice always. Don’t speak for oneself ladies! Even if you are thick-skinned enough to go into politics, questioning the idea that women should maintain legal right based on biological sex is a no-no. This is most definitely the wrong way to be a woman, and it is apparently not welcome in the Green Party, the SNP or the Labour Party. Joanna Cherry, a lesbian who has fought for women’s rights all her life has been pushed out of the SNP for “unacceptable behaviour”.

Another very wrong way to be a woman is to think of yourself as more than a collection of body parts: lactators, menstruators, birthers, cervix havers. You do have to wonder what the word “woman” even means now that some organisations have banned us from saying it altogether.

One thing is clear though – if you are a woman the message you receive from birth is that you are pretty much always doing it wrong. That you will never be good enough.

Of course we can unite around all kinds of differences, and let them flourish. But these are differences that need to be acknowledged and talked about. Not brushed away in a simple ‘inclusive’ virtue signalling slogan. Otherwise we are left with a regurgitation of patent nonsense and the denial of women’s embodied experience. Womanhood becomes reduced to just an individual choice.

I sure as hell don’t need the UN telling me that I am doing OK. I will keep challenging this utter gibberish because doing womanhood “wrong” is my absolute right.

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