In a sexist society, sex matters

Judith Green argues in Socialist​Feminist​.​network that we can’t accurately identify inequality, injustice and violence if we are unable to name the sources of inequality. If we don’t identify sex we can’t identify sexism. And we live in a sexist society – sex matters.

Gender is the sexist society’s mechanism. Sex is the discriminator on which it acts.

Judith, a midwife, writes that she doesn’t “assign sex” as parents are capable of observing the sex of their babies. Once in a blue moon, a child’s sex is not immediately observable and requires medical examination for accurate determination – all babies are either male or female, even if their genitals may be unusual in appearance.

She does, however, record the sex and remarks:

“Recording sex at birth, and various life junctures, is vital to the social and political health of us all.

“Every single claim that feminists and socialists have ever made about the representation and treatment of women is dependent upon this data. This includes that 100 million women were missing due to sex-selective abortion, infanticide and unequal treatment of girls first published in 1990. Our efforts for a more just, equal and peaceful world start with being able to accurately identify inequality, injustice and violence. Without recording sex we would not know that even more women (estimated 117 million) are missing today.”

Changing the legal definition of sex changes sex equality

In a sexist society, sex matters -
In the terminology of the Gender Recognition Act, gender identity becomes and defines legal sex – “Paradigm Shifts in ‘Sex’ and ‘Gender’ Following the Gender Recognition Act“, Stephen Whittle & Lewis Turner.

There are specific exceptions to the Equality Act 2010

Single-sex provisions are permitted where necessary.

In a sexist society, sex matters -
Government guidelines on the Equality Act 2010: Business Quick Start (PDF)

If gender identity changes sex, these careful provisions become redundant

Women – and, indeed, men – need single-sex provisions at certain times for safety, dignity and privacy.

It’s surprising that those in favour of these changes avoid full discussion of their impact on sex equality.

Read Judith Green’s full statement here.

Readers may like to consider the impact of “disappearing” sex when looking at persistent inequalities in our sexist society. Women-only spaces are crucial for our safety & wellbeing, as so many authors have described here. Just as crucially, we need to identify the social, economic and legal barriers to our equality.

We can’t tackle discrimination if we cannot name the discriminators

I hope this experiment will help to make the point: I’ve removed the sex data from some of our previous graphics.