Why Some Feminists Hate Calling Women “People”

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A few weeks ago, I published a video about how a Republican representative in Arizona was too grossed out about periods to do his job, which was to enact legislation to protect prisoners who didn’t have access to sufficient sanitary items for menstruation. I figured this was a pretty hard video for a fellow feminist to disagree with, but boy was I wrong! A few days ago, friends let me know that one of the top comments on the video was this one, from “Zurr J”, who wrote:

“”Menstruating person.” I know you want to be inclusive but the fact of the matter is if periods affected men, this wouldn’t be an issue. Men wouldn’t be disgusted by it like this. This is a women’s issue 100% and needs to be acknowledged as such.”

Zurr is upset because instead of saying “woman,” I said menstruating person. That was odd to me, because I was under the impression that women are people. But Zurr says that by saying “menstruating person” instead of women I’m not acknowledging it as a women’s issue (“100%”). That’s a fair point. I went back and looked at my video transcript and sure enough I never even mentioned that this was a problem that affected women . . . oh, hold on. I must have been looking at a different transcript because it looks like I actually mention women in the title of the video and then again three more times throughout the 4.5 minute video.

So clearly Zurr’s problem, despite what they say, isn’t that I’m not acknowledging that it’s a women’s issue because I talk about women directly. And it is a women’s issue, in that mostly women are affected and yes, men see menstruation as completely disgusting and unmentionable in large part because it is something that women go through, and many men are completely unaware of what menstruation even involves. Hell, some men seem to think that you can “hold it in” like urine or that it comes from making poor sexual choices. Yikes.

Then why is Zurr so upset that at one point in the video I referred to the people affected by this as “menstruating people?” I don’t really believe that they think women aren’t people — I believe that their problem is that I’m being, as they say, “inclusive.” By this they mean that I’m including people who don’t identify as women but who still menstruate — trans men, and non-binary individuals. They are correct, in a way — I was being inclusive, and also exclusive. Because at the same time that I’m including trans men, I was also, with the phrase “menstruating people,” excluding some women. Not all women menstruate, whether they are in menopause, or ill, or on birth control, or if they lack a uterus for one reason or another.

Considering, then, that “menstruating people” is actually a far more specific and scientific way to describe those who are affected by the lack of menstrual products in prisons, why is Zurr so angry I used it? You’d think that the people who watch this channel are interested in specific, scientific terms. You’d be wrong, unfortunately.

I’ll be clear: Zurr is angry because they’re a hateful, bigoted idiot. That may sound harsh, but that’s because it is harsh, because that’s what Zurr deserves. DeZurrves even. Imagine being so obsessed with making sure that transgender and nonbinary people are ignored by society that you listen closely to every word of a YouTube video about menstrual products in prisons, just waiting for the person to be inclusive (and correct) about who it affects. Imagine being a little disappointed that the person didn’t specifically say that trans men and nonbinary people would be affected, so you search for the one time when the YouTuber mentions “people” instead of “women” and you jump on that and try to shame them, to make absolutely sure that trans men and nonbinary individuals are specifically left out of any discussion, even when it may directly affect them.

Imagine being that hateful. I suspect that Zurr is a TERF, or a trans-exclusionary radical feminist. TERFs believe that trans women are men, and that trans men are women, and that trans experiences are fantasies. They believe that trans people exist only to muddy the waters and distract people from women’s issues. They do not have biology, or genetics, or sociology on their side but they persist in their opinions.

And TERFs like Zurr are so obsessed that they can’t even claim a “win” when a YouTuber like myself specifically frames an issue like this as a women’s issue, because they require absolute adherence to their doctrine. A simple mention of “people” must be nipped in the bud, because that can lead to recognizing the problems of people who aren’t women, and that can never be done.

For the record, yes, I said “menstruating people” at one point in my video to be more accurate, and yes, I said it to be inclusive of people who are usually left out of these conversations. But I also said it because it’s a revolutionary act to boldly state that women are people. The average “person” that someone pictures in their mind is a man, and men’s problems are seen as humanity’s problems, while women’s problems are relegated to a ghetto where half the population doesn’t see why they should care, as with the case of the Arizona representative. Why should an old man care about women’s problems? Because those problems are happening to human beings who account for half the world’s population. Pointing that out is feminist, regardless of whether you believe the science on transgender people, or whether you believe that transgender people deserve rights and representation in our society.

So no, Zurr, I won’t apologize for saying “menstruation people” one time in my video instead of “women.” And I won’t be pushed around by TERFs falsely claiming that I’m doing anything to obfuscate the fact that a problem clearly stems from the marginalization of women. Take your BS hatred to another channel.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon mstdn.social/@rebeccawatson Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky @rebeccawatson.bsky.social

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  1. I applaud particularly your penultimate paragraph regarding “inclusion of those usually left out” because I was thinking exactly the same the other night while watching Q&A on the ABC where Catherine McGregor was on the panel.

    I thought it was really tragic that after all the angst she undoubtedly went through to get to where she is now, a large number of people would not even recognise her present status as a woman. She was well aware of this and wisely refused to be drawn on questions relating to women’s issues.

    I do not know much about her but though her politics may be conservative clearly she has a razor sharp intellect and was worth listening to on the subjects of geopolitics, Putin and hacking, topical in Australia now as much as in the US.

    (I use “She” above rather than “They” or whatever because she clearly identifies as such and I will not deny her that respect)

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