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Playing the ace card

9 July 2022

9:00 AM

9 July 2022

9:00 AM

The radical feminist publishing house Verso has begun, in its tweets, to refer to a section of the population as ‘womb-carriers’. This conjures up for me a number of distressing images. The first is of a rather sinisterly cheerful woman in late middle age dispensing wombs, which she keeps in a large and battered holdall, to passers-by. ‘Here you are love,’ she says, ‘have a womb.’ People would like to say no, no, I don’t really want one, but they are oppressed by her forceful, jovial demeanour. When they get the womb they don’t know what to do with it, although some end up using it as an umbrella stand, masking the gamey scent with a lime and ginger diffuser placed nearby. Others leave them out at night for the foxes.

The second image I have involves test driving a new car, perhaps a Renault Captur, and asking the salesman seated beside me what is the purpose of the large, pear-shaped plastic compartment built into the car just behind the gear stick, where normally there would be a circular space for a hot drink container. ‘It’s a womb carrier,’ he replies, over-eagerly. ‘The Captur is the only car in the range to have one. They’re usually only provided in much higher-spec vehicles.’

I wonder if there is a different term we might use to refer to those people we used to call women, which is less psychologically disturbing than ‘womb-carrier’? I favour ‘rib-thieves’, although I suppose the feminists would cavil and the young fail to understand the allusion. How about ‘persons possessing many more shoes than they actually need’? Meanwhile, ‘bleeders’ sounds both unpleasant and pejorative. I shall think further on the matter and let you know.


Nomenclature changes so rapidly these days that it is almost impossible to keep up. Every week a new group raises its head above the parapet demanding redress and a revision of current terminologies for their imagined victimhoods, and this redress is very rapidly forthcoming. You may have noticed that the famous rainbow flag representing LGBT people has been altered to incorporate a yellow triangle with a purple circle representing ‘intersex’ people. At first, when I heard about this derogation, I thought it meant people who are very fond of sex – i.e. ‘into sex’. But no, it refers to those born with troubling genitalia which is neither fish nor fowl.

There is also, on this newish flag, two diagonal lines, one black and one brown, to represent people who are not white – all of them, presumably. This means that, technically, the great medieval Islamic scholar Ibn al-Qayyim, from southern Syria, who advised that all homosexuals should be executed because homosexuality was a crime worse than any other, is also represented on the rainbow flag. It may prove to be a somewhat fractious and problematic coalition, then. I do wonder if people of colour were properly consulted before being co-opted into a common cause with people whom some might – wholly wrongly and through some grave misapprehension – consider to be a convocation of querulous, chippy pervs.

Still – as yet – unrepresented on that flag are the ‘aces’. I had not heard of them at all until this week – I am slipping dangerously behind the curve. This is the hip new term for asexual people, those who are not about to have sexual intercourse with anybody whatsoever. Or as Stonewall (still trousering vast amounts of your money, by the way, to disseminate its specious rubbish) put it: ‘“Ace” is an umbrella term used specifically to describe a lack of, varying, or occasional experiences of sexual attraction. This encompasses asexual people as well as those who identify as demisexual, grey ace, and other ace-spec identities.’ Incidentally, ‘grey-ace’, sometimes shortened to ‘grace’, refers to people who usually don’t want to have sexual intercourse but then suddenly are afflicted by a rare urge to do so – a little like me if I have stared too long at Carlos Sobrino Buhigas’s magnificent portrait of General Franco, which hangs in our hall.

One of the UK’s most prominent aces is a black womb-carrier called Yasmin Benoit, who attended the recent Pride march and tweeted that we must all ‘stay mad because we’re not going away’. OK, Yaz, got you. Stonewall advises people who wish to be allies of the ace community to ‘call out ace-erasure and acephobia where you see it and educate others along the way’. Have you been doing that? Have you noticed instances of ‘ace-erasure’ and become suitably incandescent with fury? Have you rung the police? I’m betting you haven’t. Shame on you.

Here’s the point. There is no such thing as acephobia, or ace-erasure. You cannot call it out because it never happens. They are complete and utter fictions. The supposed hate these people claim to be directed against them simply doesn’t exist: there is none. Nobody, anywhere, discriminates against people because they haven’t had sex for a while or don’t fancy it at all ever. Nobody. No firm, no media organisation, no comedian, no politician, no individual, has got it in for people who don’t have sex very often. People who do not have sex very often probably comprise about 50 per cent of the population, but virtually none of those people would be so deranged as to define themselves in such a manner. People who do not have sex very often are not put in prison for this behaviour or prevented from marrying. There is no debate about what hospital wards they are allowed into nor arguments over their suitability to compete against womb-carriers in exciting sporting events.

In short, a tiny handful of lunatics have constructed a new victimhood and confected a hatred supposedly directed at it. This imaginary hatred is vital because it serves to define them, even though it doesn’t remotely exist. It is the logical progression from all of those hunkered down under that rainbow flag, determined to be defined and victimised by what they do with their genitals.

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