Language matters, we do not need a whole new vocabulary in gender debate - Kenny MacAskill

I was never a “Clockwork Orange” fan, the cult movie glorifying violence in my view and finding Anthony Burgess’s novel infuriating to read. Whilst welcoming an index in non-fiction books detailing acronyms or providing other information, I disliked continually having to check what was written in his new vocabulary.

Maya Forstater won her appeal last week
Maya Forstater won her appeal last week

It’s one thing to look up a new word you come across in the dictionary which can often be fascinating and it’s fine when if reading in a foreign language but not in an English language novel. I know it’s an integral part of the book, but I just found it irritating. Language matters and being clear and readable is important to me.

But I’m becoming increasingly minded of Burgess’s “Clockwork Orange” as the fall-out from the new Gender Debate continues. A whole new language is being created for everyday life, as it was in his book. When I see reference to “Birth Parent” rather than “mother” I wonder just what’s going on. That’s one of the easiest surrogates to follow, no pun intended. Others are even more hard to follow. It might be easier than flicking back through Burgess’s novel, but it doesn’t make it either right or any less infuriating.

What’s even more concerning and deeply insidious though redolent in some ways of Burgess’s novel’s are the authoritarian aspects overarching it all. When people are facing dismissal from employment let alone prosecution for speaking out about all this, you can’t help wonder how fiction is becoming fact.

Maya Forstater was dismissed for tweeting about sex-based rights and gender recognition, no doubt arguing against some of this new nomenclature. To be fair her tweeting did seem excessive but that was undoubtedly due to her passionate views. She shouldn’t have faced the loss of her employment as a consequence and I therefore very much welcome the Court decision that vindicates her under the Equalities Act.

We all have rights including women as well as those who are transgender. But defending them shouldn’t make you transphobic and the law must recognise that. Moreover, language matters and we don’t need a whole new vocabulary.