Political Editors / March 16, 2022

In Brief: What Is a Woman?

It’s a simple question and yet people peddling “transgender” rights cannot begin to answer it.

Celebrating women is supposed to be what our culture is all about, right? Oddly enough, the feminist effort to get out from under the oppression of the patriarchy has turned into an exercise in the bizarre celebration of men “identifying” as women. A male wins female swimming competitions. A male is the “first female” to surpass $1 million on Jeopardy! A male is the “first female” four-star admiral. If we didn’t know different, we’d think the modern leftist creed was this: Anything a woman can do, a man identifying as a woman can do better.

Political analyst Madeleine Kearns has seen enough.

According to its website, International Women’s Day … is a celebration of the global “social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.” The theme for this year’s platitudinal musings — #BreaktheBias — was supposed to be imagining a “diverse, equitable and inclusive” world that’s free from “bias, stereotypes and discrimination.” I have a suggestion for next year’s theme: #WhatIsAWoman?

“What is a woman?” is the question that Anneliese Dodds, the U.K.‘s Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, was unable to answer on BBC Woman’s Hour on International Women’s Day. The presenter, Emma Barnett, gave Dodds multiple chances to answer on behalf of the Labour Party. But after rambling about people who have gone through gender transition “who want to be defined as a woman,” the best Dodds could come up with was, “It does depend what the context is surely.”

Dodds’s confusion did not deter her from writing on Twitter that “Labour will lift women up, not hold them back.” In response, Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling wrote: “This morning you told the British public you literally can’t define what a woman is. What’s the plan, lift up random objects until you find one that rattles?”

This, as Kearns points out, followed commentator Matt Walsh’s epic debate with a “transgender” person on Dr. Phil’s show. His debate opponent could not answer the question, “What is a woman?”

Contrary to the activist claim, what a woman is does not depend on a subjective sense of identity. Quite simply, a woman is an adult human female. A woman belongs to the female sex, which means she has female chromosomes, reproductive organs, and gametes. Sex is observable at birth (and even earlier with ultrasound technology) and detectable long after death by DNA testing. A man may identify as a woman, put on a dress, give himself a female name and pronouns, take estrogen, or even have his penis removed and a pseudo-vagina constructed — but his sex remains unchanged.

She concedes that there are cultural differences and shades of gray within the sexes. “Masculine” and “feminine” are not precise terms, nor does variation define or change sex.

Unfortunately, [the Left’s] incoherence carries real-life consequences. In legislation, policies, and rulebooks throughout the Western world, the objective definition of sex is being replaced with the elusive fiction of gender identity.

Kearns concludes:

Those genuinely interested in celebrating women’s achievements must be able to define, at bare minimum, the group they are celebrating. Anyone who cannot give a straight answer to the question “What is a woman?” is worse than useless to the cause of women’s rights.

National Review subscribers can read the whole thing here.

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