Outcry as report says women are "emotional" and "concerned with their appearances"

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Anna Brech
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A report on gender identity from one of Britain’s leading counselling bodies has sparked anger on Twitter

Activists have hit out at a report from one of Britain’s leading counselling bodies that defines women as “emotional” and “concerned with appearance”.

Guidelines from The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) also notes that northern women have a tendency towards “strength and aggression”.

Men, meanwhile, are described as being “rational”, “confident” and “sexual”. 

The document was meant to give its counsellor members guidance on modern-day gender identity but instead provoked anger online.

It was shared by activist Karen Smith, who works for an organisation that employs BACP-accredited counsellors. She branded the excerpt “sexist bullshit”: 

“Being a woman in a British cultural context often means adhering to social norms of femininity, such as being nurturing, caring, social, emotional, vulnerable, and concerned with appearance,” the document reads.

However, it notes, “not all women adhere to all these things” and gives the example that “in some northern working-class contexts, femininity is associated with strength and aggression”.

Meanwhile “being a man”, says the document, is associated with a raft of attributes such as “being competitive, ambitious, independent, rational, tough”.

 BACP’s definition of gender identity was also criticised by Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party.

Walker’s daughter is autistic and she slammed the outlines as “ludicrous and dangerous”.

BACP said it was currently amending the document.

“We, of course, apologise if anyone is offended by the content in this guide,” a spokesman told the Daily Mail.

“We are currently in the process of revising this guidance and are in contact with a range of different specialists, who are looking to add their expertise.”

Images: Getty


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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.