I’m every woman (p<0.05)

You don’t have to traverse the highways of the Twitter [debate / argument / slanging match] (delete as applicable) for long before someone with a beard will tell you that most women support trans rights. They might further tell you that women are more supportive than men, undermining the argument that the people who claim to be speaking out for women’s rights are doing so on behalf of women. Just the other day somebody was claiming that those who oppose trans rights trampling all over women’s right were a small minority of bigots.

Sometimes, your new beardy friend will have some stats to back up these claims. Let’s have a look at some statistics.

Mel Gibson in What Women Want (2000, dir. Nancy ‘Russ’ Meyers )

The survey I’m using here is a year old, so well before the current argument about someone who almost everyone agrees is man was in the news for being, to take the minority views, either a woman or a rapist. The figures presented come from the Savanta poll on behalf of BBC Scotland, which was published in February 2022.

I’m using this survey because, for me, it’s pretty close to being the gold standard on how to poll on this issue. The terms are very clearly defined, the survey asks specific questions and then digs into the detail a little more. While it polled only in Scotland, the base size (2,038 respondents) is good, and enough to put the margin of error within ±2%.

Firstly, the headline figure, which was reported by Pink News at the time the survey was published.

The headline is absolutely correct. Asked, “Given this information on the previous pages, to what extent, if at all, would you support or oppose making the process to acquire a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) easier for transgender individuals,” 63% of women expressed support, with only 15% opposing (the remainder said they had no opinion or didn’t know). Further, with 34% of women saying that they strongly supported reform, while only 5% said they strongly opposed it, the case for it only being a small minority of women who complain about trans rights seems to be true.

However, I picked this survey because, as noted, it digs into the detail a bit deeper… and that’s where things become interesting. The plans of the Scottish Government at the time, since introduced in their Gender Recognition Reform Bill, to make it easier to obtain a GRC were based on three key changes:

  1. Removing the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria ( a measure commonly called ‘self ID’)
  2. Reduce the time applicants need to have lived in their acquired gender prior to being granted a GRC, from 2 years to 6 months.
  3. Reducing the minimum age an applicant can apply for a GRC from 18 to 16

The Savanta survey, bless it, asked about all three of these measures in follow-up questions. On the first point, self ID, only a plurality of women (46%) supported the measure, not a majority. Strong support had dropped to fewer than 1 in 5 (19%), while strong opposition had tripled to 15%.

What is truly surprising, given how much debate time is given over to the pitfalls of self ID, is that this was, with women, the most popular of the three reforms.

Reducing the period living as your acquired gender saw more women (42%) opposing than supporting (40%), with only 16% of women strongly supporting the change – only half of those who said they strongly supported reform overall. Reducing the age limit was even less popular, with 48% of female respondents opposing it, 28% of them saying they strongly opposed it (compared to 15% strongly supporting the change).

The Pink News headline, then, seems to have rather overstated the case. While a healthy majority of women did support reforming the gender recognition process, they gave majority support to none of the measures to do so, and for two of the three proposed measures opposition outweighed support.

Following questions asked about transwomen’s access to different areas of female life – toilets/changing rooms, amateur sports, elite sports, and domestic abuse services. The results are shown below, reordered to show from most supported to least.

Again, we only have one area where there is majority support, although more support than oppose everywhere but in elite sports. However, in 4 of the 5 areas we see 20% or more of the female population opposing trans inclusion. This is not a tiny minority that we’re talking about.

Toilets/changing rooms are presented differently in that graph because, while the rest of the questions were asked on a Strongly Support through to Strongly Oppose scale, respondents were only given a should/should not option on whether transwomen should use women’s toilets.

Fortunately, thanks to the fickle gods of questionnaire design, all respondents were asked a follow-up question about the circumstances under which transwomen should be allowed to access women’s toilets and changing rooms, with the options of three levels of transition – roughly, social, legal, and surgical – and a ‘Never’ option.

Only 17% of women said that transwomen should have access to these spaces if they haven’t legally or surgically changed their sex. A similar number, taking the total to a third of all women, were prepared to extend access to those who had legally changed their gender, but hadn’t had any surgery, and another third of women were prepared to let those who had surgically transitioned enter.

Looking just at the women who were prepared to allow transwomen into their toilets, the split between those who would do so without surgery and those who saw it as a prerequisite is almost perfectly 50/50 (354 respondents in favour of access without surgery vs 352 who said it should be a requirement).

What’s interesting (well, to me, at least) is that none of those numbers really align with the 45% figure for women who said that transwomen should be allowed to use such spaces in the earlier question. Making the question more detailed showed that, offered a more nuanced option than all or none, some women who said that transwomen should be allowed in made it clear this was only after surgical transition. We can only guess at how sports, prisons and domestic abuse services would have fared if they’d been asked about in the same level of detail.

What we undoubtedly see is that around 1 in 6 women strongly support trans rights. Figures within the margin of error of that number appear in the ‘Strongly support’ category throughout the survey. Without a breakdown by age within sex it’s impossible to be sure, but the correlation of strong support with the younger age group likely means that these are predominantly young women.

Other than that, women seem resistant to the idea of blanket allow/don’t allow rules in many areas of life, but the more detailed toilets/changing rooms question suggests that this is because they recognise a meaningful difference between those who have undergone a lengthy and difficult process to transition, and those who have simply socially transitioned. This would tie in well with them being less willing to support making the GRC process shorter.

That elite sport is the bridge too far, the point where those opposing trans inclusion shift to being the plurality opinion, is also telling, as this is also the point where even surgical intervention would not level the playing field (see what I did there?)

These two questions between them suggest that it’s a common view not everybody who says they’re a woman should be treated as one, and that there should be limits to the circumstances in which they are treated as such.

Of course, when you ask 1,110 women for their opinion you’re very unlikely to get a single, unified answer, but if there is one here I’d say it’s this…

You’re right, Mr Beard, more women support transwomen’s rights than oppose them.

They just, when you get into the details, don’t agree with you that transwoman are women.

Hogwarts Legacy – A review

Let me start by saying I have no choice but to review this game. I have literally no agency in the decision to write this review. None at all. I’m like one of those soldiers who had to only obey orders. Actually, nobody has even ordered me to write this. That’s how subtle the control the forces of darkness wield are. Even though nobody would notice or care if I didn’t write this review and I could, literally, stop writing at any time, the decision is somehow completely out of my hands. Please don’t blame me for this.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’d like to spend the next 6 paragraphs talking about Lembit Opik. This may puzzle you, as Opik wasn’t involved in any way with the production of this game, but he does look like what would happen if Harry Potter found out at the age of 11 he was really an accountant, and I’ve been nursing a grievance against him for three decades, so here – in this review that you’re reading to find out if the game is any good or not – is the best place to air it. Right, here we go…

[The following paragraphs have been cut on the advice of my, and several other people’s, lawyers]

Four-eyed git.

Straight off the bat I’m giving the game 0/10 for including Harry Potter. That’s right, the game set in Hogwarts does even include Hogwarts’ most famous student. In fact, I think it all happens years before the events of the books. It’s hard to be sure, though, because every time somebody starts explaining something to you a little prompt, reading “Skip”, appears in the corner of the screen, and I thought that was an instruction.

This means that the plot, as far as I can work out, is skip, skip, skip, and then suddenly fighting a statue, alongside an older gentleman. I assume that this is some sort of metaphor that Opik, who didn’t write the plot, has worked in. It’s so obscure I can’t work out what it means, but it’s doubtless racist and probably homophobic. That’ll be 0/10 for plot as well, then.

I should add that not only is Harry Potter not in this game, but you have to do the work of deciding who is. You literally have to think of your own character name, decide what they look like – right down to their hairstyle – and even choose whether they sleep in the wizard or witches’ dormitory. Now, in the last game I purchased (Doom II) the game designers weren’t too busy being hateful to find time to do all of this stuff for you, and that’s how things should be, so 0/10 for design.

On the other hand, I panicked and accidentally gave myself a man-bun and, shortly thereafter, was sorted into Slytherin House, so a reluctant 9/10 for continuity.

Of course, once you actually get sorted, and get to wander around Hogwarts, the problems really start. First off, the place is massive, with all stairs and corridors and secret passageways and rooms and shit. Then you discover there are loads of outside locations as well (Why wasn’t this game called Hogwarts and Environ Legacy, eh – 0/10 for accurate naming!). Honestly, nobody has got time for all this shit.

And you will need a lot of time. It seems that, in their twisted ‘wisdom’, the developers – no doubt guided by Lembit Opik – have decided to move away from the traditional ‘Z’ for left, ‘X’ for right, space-bar to fire controls. Getting around now involves two joysticks and about 16 buttons, often using two of them at the same time! I can only assume this game was designed for the booming market of octopuses suffering from polydactylism. A well deserved 0/10 for controls it is.

Finally, the graphics. I must admit that, in places, they looked quite stunning. Not much good to me, though, because I’ve spent three days walking into a wall, trying to find out which of these damn buttons you press to go left. To take the least charitable interpretation, which I must while Opik is living rent-free inside my skull, they probably just hired good graph people to do a couple of scenes and a bit of wall texture, and the rest is shite. Other games are probably much better. No, I’m not saying which ones. Go on, then, 1/10 for graphics. But only because that wall texture is quite realistic.

I did let my 13 year-old son play the game and he thought it was brilliant, but he was doing stuff like casting spells, riding a broomstick, and defeating 30-foot tall monsters, none of which I saw, so the little shit had probably sold my copy (which I hadn’t paid for, honestly) and bought a different game instead.

In summary, then…

Including Harry Potter0/10
Accurate Naming0/10
Lembit Opik0/10
Honesty of 13 year old son0/10
Enabling me to deal with differences of opinion in an adult fashion0/10

Final Verdict: I hope that I have satisfied you that I am properly in your cult, even though I have played this game. Please don’t hate me for running into a wall for 3 days, I HAD NO CHOICE!

At the Edinbru GRC office

Scotland, pictured tomorrow

Officer: Good morning, sir, how can I help you?

Visitor: Miss, actually. I’m a woman.

Officer: Sorry, si…miss, of course you are. Please forgive my slip of the tongue. Your beard threw me off recognising your true femininity.

Visitor: Aye, smashing.

Officer: Anyway, miss, how can I help you?

Visitor: I’m here to register for a gender recognition certificate.

Officer: Excellent. A brave and stunning choice, if I may say so. Now, you are aware that you have to provide evidence that you’ve been living as a woman for three months or longer?

Visitor: Yes. I’ve been doing that.

Officer: Excellent. Can you give me some examples? For the form.

Visitor: Well, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the women’s changing rooms at the gym.

Officer: Ah, I guessed that you worked out a lot, from the way you so completely fill that charming XXXL “Show me your tits” t-shirt. Now, do you always use female pronouns?

Visitor: Yes, I call everyone ‘Babe’, ‘Sweetie’, or ‘Sugar-tits’

Officer: Good, good. And how about things like your driving licence and bank account? Have you informed them that you’re female?

Visitor: Not yet, because I’m not ‘out’ to my wife. She’s had a lot of problems accepting that I’m just trying to find lesbian love, and she says she’s taking the kids if she catches me at it again.

Officer: Tsk, women, eh?

Visitor: Ahem!

Officer: Oh, not you, sir. I mean those other women. The bad kind.

Visitor: Um, when I get me GRC I’ll be able to call them bigots and have them hounded out of their jobs, right?

Officer: Absolutely, sir and miss, all part of the service. Right, now you have to make a solemn declaration. I need to warn you that it’s a criminal offence to make a false or fraudulent declaration.

Visitor: There’s not a lie-detector test or nothing, is there?

Officer: Hahaha, of course not, smiss, you just sign here, to indicate that you understand it’s an offence to lie to us, and that you really, truly are a woman, and then we believe you.

Visitor: And I don’t have to get me knob cut off, or anything like that?

Officer: No, that would be barbaric. It’s no indication that you’re not a woman.

Visitor: So… what kind of thing would make you think I was lying to you?

Officer: I’ve no idea, missir it’s never come up.

Visitor: OK, well that’s not a problem, then.

Officer: Thank you. Lovely signature. Very girly the way you’ve drawn hearts over your X

Visitor: When do I get my certificate, then?

Officer: Hold your horses, young lady, I need to ask if you’ve been convicted of any sexual offences.

Visitor: Well, you know, one or two… but not for weeks now.

Officer: Sorry, but that means I have to make enhanced checks. Now, are you really, really sure you’re a woman?

Visitor: Yes

Officer: Good, good, that all seems to be in order, then.

Visitor: Hang on, if I want to change back to being a bloke I can, right?

Officer: Yes, of course, you just have to make another solemn declaration that you plan to live the rest of your life as a man.

Visitor: And I wouldn’t get done for that fraudulent declaration thing?

Officer: No, no, because gender is a fluid and evolving inner sense, which can change for many reasons over a person’s lifetime, and as long as you are being truthful at each declaration then you’ve nothing to fear.

Visitor: And it wouldn’t matter how long there was between these solemn declaration?

Officer: I don’t think so, but how long are we talking about?

Visitor: Well, next week… if I get acquitted.

Mammoth Migration

With the more-reported-than-so-far-happening death of Twitter, Mastodon has emerged as the destination of choice for those seeking a Twitter-like experience. There have been many tweets and articles describing how Mastodon is different to Twitter, but in a nutshell…

…shared data protocol.

Sorry, I waffled on for a bit there, didn’t I? I don’t blame you if you zoned out. The key point is that Twitter is one big thing, Mastodon is lots of small things joined together.

In some ways, having one big thing is bad. Some idiot could buy it and run it into the ground, for example. With the lots-of-small-things model the same idiot could pay around twenty bucks a month to run his own small-thing, and do what he liked with it, making a saving of $43,999,999,980.00 in the process. Except he couldn’t. For the small things to work in a way that emulates the one-big-thing all the small-things have to agree to talk to each other and Mastodon has an explicit “Be nice” spirit, which seems to place it one Kerplunk! stick away from descending into a purity-spiral so deep that it might bore a hole to the centre of the Earth.

For example, lots of people have been gleefully sharing this conversation with Eugen Rochko, the founder of Mastodon, as a great example of how the platform will be better than Twitter, seemingly without pausing to ask themselves, “Who’s deciding who is a Nazi?”

The lots-of-little-things model means everything is in the hands of lots-of-little-moderators. If one of moderators on the little-thing your account is attached to decides you’re a Nazi – perhaps for saying that women are real – then that can be it; your whole account, all your posts, all your follows and followers, gone. And your ban might not even be for saying anything. Maybe you just posted some links to news stories that suggest you’re guilty of wrongthink, or retweet someone who’s saying the wrong thing, or just have already upset enough people that they badger your local moderators to not even give you a chance, as was the case with Telegraph journalist, Suzanne Moore.

The lots-of-little-things model means its lots-of-little-moderators are all weak links, even ones not swigging the gender ideology Kool-aid, likely to be easily swayed by mass reporting, or hearsay about who’s too dangerous to let on to Mastodon.

Nor is there a loophole in getting a few people together and setting up your own little-thing. When a group of gender-critical people tried that in in 2019, with Spinster, the moderators of other little-things were pressured into not talking to it, which has a special Mastodon name that’s too boring to repeat. In other words, you’re free to moderate your own little-thing, so long as you don’t mind only talking to other people who use that little-thing and having nothing to do with the lots-of-little-things-joined-up-to-look-like-a-big-thing thing.

All of this happens with no oversight and no recourse. The moderators are the lords of their own little-things, and can ban users and silence other little-things on their whim. The one-big-thing’s moderation system was arcane, heavily skewed towards the tech-bro mentality, and was a complete black-box, but at least there was a box.

By now a load of Mastodon fans have skipped to the comments section, to tell me that this is all a feature, not a bug, and that they like it this way. I’ve even seen a few people say that the Mastodon experience reminds them of the web forums of the 90s and early 2000s, and say that as if it’s a good thing.

We seem to have collectively forgotten what horrible, insular, clique-driven, boys’ clubs they were. Women were welcome, of course, so long as they were gamer chicks, or biker chicks, or nerd chicks, or cool chicks, who’d laugh off (or oblige) the ubiquitous ‘TOGTFO’ comments, and be the kind of chick who wouldn’t complain she’d just been called ‘chick’ five times in quick succession. And so many of those forums were convinced they were “nice” places, because they were run on ‘Just be nice’ rules, where the people enforcing the rules decided what was nice.

Mastodon, though, really seems to go the extra mile in adding a layer of earnest humourlessness on to the top. There’s a “We’re all mad here, us,” energy to the humour that does slip through, followed by a reminder that some neurodivergent people can’t immediately recognise humour, so all jokes should have embedded humour tags, so as not to exclude them, and should link to an essay explaining the joke.

What the last few years on Twitter have taught me is that for the men’s-rights movement that hides behind the trans colours to succeed it needs people not to talk about it. It needs women with strong voices silenced. It needs po-faced acceptance of the absurdities it insists are truths. In Mastodon it seems to have found its perfect partner.

I think Musk is an idiot, but with Twitter on life-support, I find myself hoping that he’ll back away from his huge, unforced errors, and let it recover. The alternative is [Account Suspended].

War identifies as hell

The 1970s film from Doris Wishman (not a transman suffering from nominative determinism, but a pioneer of titillating nudist films), which features graphic scenes of a man undergoing sex change surgery, begs in its title Let Me Die A Woman!

The US Selective Service System – the draft board, to you and I – has considered this and decided, “Fine. Die how you like. It’s the dying that’s the important bit,” and has announced that those born male must register for potential selection, even if they now identify as female. In a single decision they have managed to upset both trans activists, annoyed that pretending that identity is real thing stops abruptly when war looms, and the gender critical, annoyed that the pretending identity is a real thing was allowed to sweep over women’s rights and spaces and only stopped at the edge of the traditionally male-dominated arena of blowing the living shit out of each other.

The army, making a man of men, against their will, since forever

Given that getting those two groups to (sort of) agree on anything is nigh on impossible it seems that doing so should qualify for a Nobel Peace Prize, which is rarely awarded to those trying to staff up a shooting war.

The issue that the Selective Service people have is that they fear that, when asked to go and face a hail of Russian bullets, a large number of men may suddenly decide that they are, in fact, ladies… for truly it is said that there are no gender atheists in a folx hole.

The follow up question, that everyone on the government side is now desperately trying to avoid, is whether it can possibly be the case that men would only pretend to be women for this one specific reason. Given men’s long history of being willing to risk ridicule, social exclusion, prison, actual death, and injuries that would make a grizzled SAS soldier throw-up, just to get sexual thrills, especially from women who don’t want to grant them said thrills, it seems unlikely that only the theatre of war is a stage they won’t tread on.

Furthermore, if we won’t take men’s word for it that they’re women when it comes to drawing a rifle, why are we willing to do so when they’re rifling through drawers in a Primark changing room? One of the foundational lies, which has been taken at womanface value by so many governments, is that nobody would ever pretend to be transgender, yet here’s the admission that, yes, they clearly would. And not just for something trivial, like voyeuristic thrills in communal changing areas, or having unlimited access to women who can’t leave in prison, but actually for something as base as not wanting to act as temporary lead storage facilities for their country. After that, how does a government go back to claiming that transwomen are women with a straight face?

To further confuse matters, trans-rights activists have recently taken to accusing those who are gender critical of being aligned with Putin, because they agree with him that men cannot become women. If the service providing the American infantry is also pulling back from acknowledging gender fantasy does that mean both sides are aligned with Putin? I’m no military expert, but I think one of the fundamental prerequisites for a war is that some of the players must be fighting for the other side.

It certainly couldn’t be something like agreeing on absolute literal reality not being a reliable indicator of agreement on all issues, because that’s too complicated to fit into a simple chant.

While we wait to see what happens to the transwomen – who are women – who are forced to sign up, because they’re not women, and the transmen – who are men – who aren’t allowed to sign up, because they’re not men, and also whether the world will end in nuclear fire, we can at least amuse ourselves at this sudden and unexpected rally against inclusion, this draft excluder.

Line of fire

Does fire spread? That seems like a strange question to ask, given that most of us probably have some anecdotal evidence that it does. But, as we’re often reminded, the plural of ‘anecdote’ isn’t ‘data’. Let’s look at some real data. In 2017 there were, in the UK, 399 fire fatalities, but by 2019 that number had fallen to 289, a fall of nearly 28%.

Surely, if fire does spread then it should keep on spreading. All should be consumed by fire. Is this not the case?

That’s the problem with data, it’s not responsible for the conclusions we draw from it.

Speaking of which, here’s notable trans activist, Jack Turban, MD.

Before we even look at the data in question, it’s perhaps worth pointing out that his tweet doesn’t quite cover the same ground as his research claims to:

The methodology for this study is simple; either 15 (according to Jack’s tweets) or 16 (according to his report) states collect information from youths about their sexuality and whether or not they identify as transgender. Jack’s study is comparing data for two of these years, 2017 and 2019,

The first finding that Jack tweets about is that the percentage of the sample identifying themselves as transgender fell from 2.4% in 2017 to 1.6% in 2019. This is, Jack claims, “arguing against ‘social contagion.'”

This is the “Does fire spread?” problem, using state-level data to draw conclusions about a phenomena that is, by its nature, localised. Indeed, we could turn Jack’s figures on their head and say that with an incidence rate of 1.6% it should be unusual to find friendship groups where more than one person comes out as trans. We do, of course, get clustering in statistical data, but if we were to see multiple groups of friends who come out within a short space of time from each other, against a low occurrence in the overall population, then that would be evidence for social contagion. It would be interesting, therefore, to cross reference these data against data from individual schools. Jack doesn’t do this.

Dr Turban’s next line of assault is against clinic reporting that they are seeing more female than male adolescents.

This, you will recall, was cited as the objective of the study, and appears in the results section of the available material (sorry, but I’m not paying $25 to read nonsense).

Again, this is statistical nonsense, akin to saying that Ferrari dealerships report that 90% of their customers are men, but that this is a very small sample group, and the much larger sample of the whole population shows that there are more women than men, so the dealerships must be wrong.

Dr Jack is so caught up in the ideology that he doesn’t see its central lie – that it’s the same for males and females; that the 16 year old girl considering an elective double mastectomy and the 50 year old man, dressed in fishnets and a red leather miniskirt, taking photos of himself masturbating in a ladies lavatory, are just different facets of the same wandering gendered soul phenomena. It’s only if you believe this can you make Jack’s underlying assumption that trans identifying males and females will visit gender clinics in the same proportions as they appear in the general population.

Further, if Jack’s conclusion is to be believed then what does that suggest about the gender clinics themselves? That they’re lying about receiving more female patients? That only those with more females report their numbers?

It’s also worth noting that the survey on which Jack’s work is based asks only for sex, and does not distinguish between natal and acquired sex, so there is an element of uncertainty about what trans-identifying youths reported as their sex, despite the large sample size.

In brief, then, this is a nonsense study, devised and conducted by somebody whose worldview relies upon believing that being trans is a fundamental and innate quality, such that identifying as trans cannot mean anything other than one is truly so. To shore up his own belief he has conducted a very poor quality study, which has errors that can be spotted from space.

However, looking at the quote-tweets of his announcement it seems that it’s already done what it was intended to do, which is please his like-minded audience and give them another stick with which to flail against reality.

Contradiction by Proof

Mathematician G. H. Hardy called proof by contradiction, or reductio ad absurdum, one of a mathematician’s finest weapons.

G. H. Hardy, pictured yesteryear.

Without getting all technical, it’s the technique of assuming the opposite of what you’re attempting to prove and then using logical steps to show that assumption leads to an absurd conclusion.

The classic example of the technique is the proof that the square-root of 2 is irrational (that is, it cannot be exactly expressed as a fraction). The proof rests on a piece of maths that we all learned in primary school; simplifying fractions. If we have a fraction such as 4/8 we can see that both the numerator and the denominator (the fancy book-larnin’ words for the top and bottom of the fraction) can be divided by 2, to give us 2/4, we can then divide by 2 again, to get 1/2, and that is the fraction in its simplest form.

I won’t work through the proof that the square-root of 2 is irrational (there are many worked examples a Google away) but it starts by assuming that it can be written as a fraction, a/b. Then, through some sub-GCSE algebraic juggling, we can show that both a and b can be simplified, to give c/d. So far so good, but then we can run through the exact same process again, to give an even simpler representation of root 2, e/f. Then again, to give g/h, and so on, forever, never arriving at a simplest form.

A fraction that can be simplified forever is an absurdity, but every step in the logic is mathematically correct, so the only possible conclusion is that our initial premise was wrong, and that the square-root of 2 cannot be represented as a/b and is, therefore, irrational.

Pythagoras, legend has it, believed that every number could be represented by simple fraction, so when his student, Hippasus, proved that the square-root of 2 was irrational, Pythagoras ordered him drowned at sea.

Hippasus being drowned at sea

I guess that’s a timely warning about what can happen if you completely wrap yourself up in an unfounded belief, and then find the absurdity at the end of it. Especially if it’s so absurd that comedians can get a laugh just by repeating it out loud.

Malinois Days

I took my dog, Luna, to the pub the other day. A couple with a daughter, probably about 7, asked if they could say “Hello” to her, because they were thinking of getting a Malinois (a type of Belgian Shepherd), after seeing the film Dog. I did tell them that they’re a lot of work, that they’ll need to find a good dog trainer, and that, although they learn very quickly, they also learn bad habits very quickly. All the usual coded warnings. I guess this blog is what I’d have said if I had time to string together 1,000 words in my head.

Luna, keeping an eye on things

A lot of the rehoming ads for Belgian Shepherds mention that they’re being rehomed because the family that bought them as puppies didn’t research the breed. I’m very pleased to say that I can’t be accused of that. No, indeed, I went and Googled ‘Belgian Shepherd’, and what I took away from that extensive research was, ‘Sort of a slightly smaller German Shepherd’.

This, it turns out, is a bit like describing a Scotch bonnet chilli as sort of a small version of a bell pepper – the description isn’t wrong, as far as it goes, but it omits a lot of information that you really should have before deciding to take a bite.


If you can’t be bothered to Google ‘Belgian Shepherd’ (perhaps because you aren’t considering buying one) then, briefly, they’re a herding dog (you probably didn’t need Google for that) which comes in 4 types – the long-haired Groenendael and Tervuren, the rough-coated Laekenois, and the short-haired Malinois (which is what Luna is, and which is generally regarded as the least suitable of the 4 for domestication). They’re all working dogs, which is to say that they have the energy and hardiness to spend all day, every day, on the side of whatever passes for a hill in Belgium, rounding up animals that don’t have the brains to neatly round up themselves.

The other thing you’ll see in the many, many rehoming posts for Malinois is that they’re looking for a home “with breed experience.” In case you’re not up on your dog-adoption lingo, this one means, “We’re looking for people who absolutely, definitely know what they’re letting themselves in for.”

We did not have breed experience.

Admittedly, Luna wasn’t our first dog, or even our first working dog, which might explain some of our reckless abandon. We went to get her during the pandemic (she wasn’t a pandemic pup, one of our dogs had just died). Restrictions meant that only two of us could go inside at a time. My wife & daughter went first and came out unsure, wondering if she was going to be too energetic for us. I went in and the damn dog got into my arms and went to sleep. This, it turns out, was a one-time-only offer.

Following on from that never-to-be-repeated doze, here’s what I’ve learned in the past 10 months:

  • They are a working dog, they need work. It doesn’t have to be rounding up sheep. To a dog, finding and retrieving a ball for you is no more or less work than gathering a flock of idiot bovines together, but if your Malinois doesn’t have a job then it will come to you to be given one, and if you don’t supply one it will go and find its own work to do… this may be expensive.
  • Dear god, you need to find a good trainer, who knows the breed. Mechelle of Curlabull training, who we use, has focussed almost exclusively on telling me what an idiot I am – from the very first session, where I laughed about puppy Luna lying down and not wanting to walk across the room… “You do NOT laugh at this breed!”, through to, “You cannot just say <weedy voice> ‘No’ to this dog! Armies use these dogs. You can literally shoot her and she will come back for more!” – and it’s been worth every single penny. You need to invest the time and effort in training, because…
  • Owning a dog that’s perceived as aggressive is a lot of worry. There is a heartbeat between the development stage where people you meet in public react, “Aw, the cute little puppy is running at me”, and them moving to, “Arg! This vicious attack dog is running at me! I am going to be mauled!”. I have apologised to a lot of strangers in the past 10 months.
  • No, really, you never fully relax on a walk. The best way I can describe it is that I have been a motorcyclist for more than 25 years now, but every time you get kitted-up to go out on the bike there’s always a little voice asking, “Will this be the time it goes disastrously wrong?” Well, it’s the same every time I take Luna for a walk. I know she’s not aggressive to people or other dogs. I know her recall is good. I know what distractions work well with her… but, still, there’s always the worry that she is an incredibly strong, and strong-willed, dog with a keenly honed ‘prey’ instinct and, to make matters worse, people or dogs who act afraid of her are the most likely to wind her up.
  • It’s not an accident that these dogs get used by police forces. The breed’s default excited behaviour is to ‘mouth’ – to gently clamp their jaws on your wrist, ankle or loose piece of clothing. It takes a lot to train this out of them, but once you’ve sat and watched them destroy a bone you’ll almost certainly want to make the effort. You’ll also want to think very, very carefully about whether your children will understand that it’s fine to run and play with the dog but they have to know when to stop.

Don’t get me wrong, if you put in the time then you end up with a wonderful dog, but if you want just a family pet, that’s going to lounge in front of the fire all day then you’re better off elsewhere. I’m glad we did it, and I’d have another Mali in a heartbeat, but would I feel brave enough to adopt one of the dozens and dozens that are 6-18 months old… no, I’ve got just the wrong amount of breed experience for that.

Oh, and don’t make your decision based on a Hollywood film and a chance encounter with a bloke in the pub. They are a serious dog and deserve a serious commitment and complete self-honesty about what you’re looking for in a pet, and what you’re willing to invest in them.

Really, fantastic dogs, but serious

A modester proposal

Here’s what the left-wing press don’t want you to know – last year slightly over 625,000 people arrived in Britain. Let me put that number in perspective for you, that’s more than the population of Bristol. Bristol is a nice place, but if it doubled in size in a single year then it would be a shit-hole. Do you want Bristol to become a shanty town? No, of course not. Even if you don’t actually visit there, it’s still nice to know it’s there, being all picturesque and what-not. Let’s save Bristol!

Those 625,000 new people invariably arrived not speaking a word of English, without a penny to their name, without a trade, without any paperwork. Even by rocking up here they’d already cost the UK tax-payer money, in some cases tens of thousands of pounds, and tied up valuable resources that were sorely needed by the people already living in this country. Let’s save money! Let’s save British lives!

We can be statistically sure that some of those 625,000 will become criminals, even murderers. Some will contribute nothing useful to British society. Mark my words, in a few years time plenty of those 625,000 will be acting like they’re somehow morally superior to those who were on these islands long before they arrived. And, yet, if even one of them dies trying to make Britain their home we will throw more money into working out how that happened and how it can be prevented from happening again. Let’s end this madness!

I hope that, by now, you’re fully on-board with the urgency with which we must stop babies being born in this country. A Bristolsworth of new babies, with their stupid chubby little faces, being born every year in this country is completely unsustainable, and I say that as a Christian.

This is why I’m proposing a plan to off-shore all new babies to Afghanistan. Afghanistan has proven itself far better than us at picking which are the toughest babies, with 10% not passing their first year. It has recently proved that it can cut education by 50%, and it has a notable human rights record. At this time, when other, short-sighted, governments are isolating Afghanistan, we have the opportunity to make a deal that will save the British public millions.

The babies that we off-shore there will also benefit, of course. Housing is cheaper, for a start, and, given the recent end to its lengthy period of unrest, Afghanistan is surely poised for an economic boom and the creation of thousands of new high-tech jobs.

Not only is this policy good for Britain, it will be popular with the voters as well. Not just with the childless, the elderly, and those with a pick & mix approach to Christianity. No, ask anybody who’s actually had to look after a baby for any length of time and they will happily send them halfway across the world, to be somebody else’s problem.

Babies to Afghanistan makes Britain better. It makes Britain sustainable. It is humanitarian. It is Christian. It is amazing that it isn’t already Conservative policy. For the good of us all we must send the babies to Afghanistan!

Not all men

Over the weekend, in amongst the many tweets about J K Rowling, somebody posted a link to this blog, which examines whether the gender critical movement is being led by men.

While the blog is a lot of handwaving and ‘that isn’t the part I want to focus on’…

No, I bet it isn’t

…it does also use survey data to ‘prove’ its central thesis, and that’s of interest to me. Hence me valiantly overcoming the crippling irony of a gender critical man arguing that men don’t run the gender critical movement to write this short piece.

The author’s first data source is YouGov’s survey into UK attitudes to transgender rights, which shows that women are more likely than men to agree with statements such as ‘A transgender woman is a woman’.

The same survey also shows that men are less likely than women to support transgender people using the facilities of their chosen gender, or competing in sports against natal members of that gender. However, the golden rule of surveys is that you only get answers to the questions you’ve asked, and once you start making assumptions based on those answers you quickly get into the thicket of wild speculation, as our blogger does…

If I told you, correctly, that multiple surveys show that women are more likely than men to believe in god, and concluded therefore that most religions are run by women, then you’d clearly see the issue of assuming that the answer to one question is also the answer to another. Personally, I think that there’s some fascinating research to be done into why women are more likely than men to support trans rights – is it a socialisation thing, is it men patriarchally feeling they have to defend women, is it that men understand better what men are like – but it’s clearly a mistake to jump to the conclusion that because more men than women hold these views that it follows men are the driving forces behind then gender critical movement.

As it happens, the BBC survey into gender issues in Scotland, which came out 6 months after this blog was written, shows that men and women closely follow the debate in about equal numbers, suggesting at least that the difference in opinions isn’t down to how much attention they’re paying to the topic.

Our blogger, though, is very much off on one by this point.

She looks at data from a couple of other surveys, which also show that men are more likely to hold gender critical views – which is what you’d expect, if the results of the first survey were a real effect – and takes this as undeniable proof that men are leading the GC movement. How, then, to account for all of the women who are very vocal in the same movement? In one of the most genuinely remarkable paragraphs I have ever seen in a blog, that must also be the high-water mark of denying women agency, all these remarkable women are written off because they work with men!

Why, you may ask, are all of these shadow-lingering men running the gender critical movement. There is an answer, of course.

Leaving aside the level of projection, which is enough to display the widescreen version of Ben Hur on the moon, the only self-consistent interpretation of this argument is, The men who say transwomen are men are only saying that because they know transwomen are women and want to misogynistically bully them. It assumes it is literally impossible for any man to hold the honest, good faith view that not every man who says he’s a woman is one. This is your brain on gender ideology.

The corollary of that would then be that either women can believe that transwomen are men – which would mean that there was a genuine difference between the sexes – or that women are so in thrall to men that they can be persuaded by them to lie in fairly sizeable numbers. The author doesn’t make clear which option she favours.

What she does favour, apparently, is women coming together to fight male dominance, in a paragraph that reads like it’s talking about exactly the opposite movement to the one she’s rallying against.

And, just to add to that effect, she closes with a line which she probably thought was clever irony, but which only actually makes sense if you accept that women’s role is fighting against trans rights.

I’m hoping that someone is going to get in touch and tell me that the blogger is actually a gender critical satirist. If she is then I take my hat off to her, because the blog did make me laugh a lot. If, however, this was a serious piece then that’s not funny. Not funny at all.

This is Gender Critical Uber-commander Andrew R signing off.