Whenever you see something this tin-eared, there are really only two possibilities worth considering.
The first is that the Labour Party, and its advisers, live in such a bubble that they genuinely don’t know how weird and odd it seems to normal people to assert that periods and menstruation are a gender-neutral experience.
The second? That they do know, but are so committed to erasing the notion of gender from public discourse that they’re actually willing to take the popularity hit, just to bank some points with the critical gender theorists on the university campuses.
Anyway, here’s Labour Senator Rebecca Moynihan, author of the bill in question, explaining her thinking:
As part of our #bleedinjustice #bleedingdignity we wanted to use an inclusive approach with inclusive language.
We know that girls are the most impacted but so are trans and non binary
The replies under this just create beef where there shouldn’t be https://t.co/Bgm1WJpmPC
— Rebecca Moynihan (@RebeccaMoy) January 29, 2021
For those of you who don’t know exactly what she’s talking about, or what any of this is about, a brief recap: In the Senator’s way of thinking, some girls, during their childhood, realise that they are transgendered, and declare themselves to be actually male. But because they have a female body, they will have periods, like any other woman. However, these people, according to the Senator, are men, on the basis that they say they are men.
As such, “some men have periods” is pretty much official Labour Party policy.
And, therefore, we can’t just say “women have periods”, because that does not include men who have periods. So “people who have periods”, or “people who menstruate” is the most inclusive and politically correct language to use.
Anyway, back to the first two questions above: Why?
Easing poverty for women is obviously a popular and politically sellable objective. In the normal course of events, it would be pretty hard even for those of us who don’t much like new Government spending to raise our voices in objection to helping a young woman purchase tampons or sanitary pads. It’s a basic matter of human dignity, after all. In a decent, modern, western country, we shouldn’t want women to feel ashamed about their periods, or to worry that they can’t access basic sanitation.
Most normal people, you would suspect, wouldn’t have a problem with helping out here. It should be a win/win policy.
But what happens when you introduce weird transgender ideology into it?
Well, naturally enough, it stops being about the issue of access to sanitary items, and starts being about something much more controversial:
The word you are looking for is girls, not people. I used to be a Labour and Green voter, but will not vote for any party that facilitates this dangerous misogynistic ideology that has resulted in rapists being housed in the women's prison in Limerick.
— Brian Judge (@BrianJudge) January 30, 2021
“Everyone” does not need access to free period products.
Girls do though.
— Ellie Scott (@KodaScott1) January 30, 2021
There are many more such replies to the Labour Party, nearly all of them in that vein.
Labour have to know – must know, surely – that this nonsense costs them votes. It’s one thing for some academic in UCD to parade around the country proclaiming that boys have periods. Nobody, after all, has to vote for UCD academics, and we sort of expect them to be oddballs to begin with.
It’s another thing entirely, though, for one of the oldest and proudest political parties in the state to do this kind of thing.
And they’re not doing it from a position of strength, either – the RED C opinion poll published this weekend put Labour on three – yes, you read that right – per cent of the vote amongst the public at large. That’s probably about the level of public support that exists for “boys have periods”, all right.
The explanation cannot, therefore, be political. They can’t think that there are votes to be had in this stuff. It must, to be fair to them, simply be a matter of genuine political belief. If you put Senator Moynihan under a lie detector test and asked her “do boys have periods?”, chances are she could answer “yes” in a heartbeat and pass the test with flying colours.
In most western countries, people who claim that boys have periods are figures of ridicule, and fun.
In Ireland, on the other hand, we make them Senators. Oh well.