THE week began with grim news.

A woman, man and seven-year-old girl found dead in their home in what police called an "isolated incident" for which they were not looking for anyone else.

Few would have been surprised to subsequently learn that Emma Pattison and her daughter Lettie had been murdered by their husband and father, who then killed himself.

This was an isolated incident in police terminology but far from an isolated incident in societal terms.

It is early February and so far this year, according to Counting Dead Women, eight women and girls have already been killed where a man is the primary or only suspect.

There were 108 in 2022. Outwith police-speak, this is not an isolated incident.

I saw a woman tweet: "Of course it was the husband. Are any of us surprised any more?" Another replied: "It's a sad state of affairs that I couldn't keep track of which missing or dead woman this was referring to." Indeed.

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In the media we still have a poor habit of using hyperbolic language to describe the perpetrators of particular crimes. It's salacious, a way of making the events titillating in their unusualness.

Men who carry out these acts are not quite human, is what's there between the lines.

No. Men who commit crimes against women are not monsters or bogeymen or beasts. They are boringly commonplace, fatally so. Violence against women is committed by ordinary men. Dehumanising them, making them outliers, undermines the fact that this is an ingrained, society-wide issue.

This brings me, uncomfortably, to the debate about whether the convicted rapist known as Isla Bryson, formerly Adam Graham, is a man or a woman ... or something else.

SNP politicians have clearly been briefed to refer to "this individual" or "the rapist", dodging even the use of Graham or Bryson.

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Nicola Sturgeon says she "doesn't have enough information" to know if Bryson is truly trans or not – although in apparent contradiction of that statement she has agreed with Douglas Ross's assessment that "the individual" is probably lying.

This undermines the SNP's own defence of gender self-ID. The problem that critics of the law have been pointing out for years is that it's impossible to say whether someone is really trans or not when you can't define any of your terms. It is, in technical terms, an utter guddle.

Asked about the subject on Question Time last week, the SNP's Jenny Gilruth gave a fluent and confident performance. But her confidence in repeating the party line on the Bryson issue was no strength; following Sturgeon's example, she refused to be drawn on whether Bryson is a man or a woman and said "rapist" instead.

A repeated non sequitur, no matter how firmly repeated, does not somehow become relevant and sensible the more you say it.

Part of the issue is a desperate desire not to cause offence and so stir the pot, with those on either side of the gender recognition debate holding firm positions. It's not difficult to make one misstep, one slip of a word, and no-one can focus on the central, reasonable issues because everyone's offended.

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To side-step this, the point Sturgeon and her colleagues are trying to focus on is that a person's sex and gender identity are less important than the crime. The crime maketh the man. Or woman. Individual. Who knows.

But the prison population are not their crimes. There's an acceptance of calling Bryson "the rapist" because rape is a heinous crime and society feels no sympathy for sex offenders in the way, say, we might understand that a person is compelled to steal due to material need or take drugs in response to adverse life events.

We do not, then, refer solely to "the thief" or "the addict". Acknowledging Bryson purely by crime committed is a dehumanising approach.

I'm not concerned with dehumanising Bryson for Bryson's sake. Far – desperately far – from it. I am concerned about the wider narrative around male violence against women and how, even now, even with feminist groups plugging away for decades trying to tackle the issue, we still "other" the men who terrorise us.

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Discussion of male violence inevitably leads to indignant calls of "not all men".

Violence against women is committed by ordinary men. Dehumanising them, making them outliers, undermines the fact that this is an ingrained, society-wide issue.

Scotland's justice system works on the basis of sentencing with a view to punishment, yes, but also for rehabilitation. Rehabilitation works only if we treat imprisoned people with dignity and humanity.

How is a person rehabilitated when no one can acknowledge who they are?

In a press conference, the First Minister said: "There is no other group in society where we accept that the actions of an individual somehow forms a justification for taking away rights from the whole group, or not according rights to that group."

That's just incorrect. The Equality Act allows for the restriction of access to certain spaces and services, including to exclude men.

Whether you agree with the premise of that or the way it is applied is entirely separate from the fact of its accuracy.

What Sturgeon presumably means is that we shouldn't penalise the decent majority for the actions of a small number of bad actors, but this can't be an absolute statement or it undermines the purpose of legislation in other areas.

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All adults, say, must apply to Disclosure Scotland to work with children but there's no suggestion that all adults are unsafe around young people.

Gun control legislation was significantly tightened following the massacre in Dunblane in 1996, mass restrictions following the actions of one person.

Dismay has been expressed that Emma Pattison's husband was able to own a weapon when the family lived in the grounds of a school but it's easy to be wise after the fact, to be outraged that a killer had a gun.

Of course he wasn't a killer until he turned that gun on his family. Until then, he was just a man.