For the last few weeks I have been trying with increasing desperation to get a leftist — any leftist — to answer one simple question: what is a woman?
You’ll notice that folks on the Left use the word “woman” quite a bit. They make many claims about women. They say that these creatures known as women have something called “women’s rights.” They say that these rights are under attack. They say that women are persecuted and disadvantaged by something called male privilege. They say that women are the victims of a wage gap. They say things like, “We need a woman President.”
They also say that biological males can be women. They say transwomen are women. They say that someone can start out life as a male and transition into a woman. They make many other claims in this vein.
But how can I understand any of these claims and declarations if I do not know what they mean by the word woman? And how can they make any meaningful statements about women if they themselves do not know what they mean by it? So I ask again very simply: what is a woman?
I feel in fairness I should provide my own definition. I tend to agree with Merriam-Webster that woman means “an adult female person.” I agree not only with the dictionary but with the whole history of human civilization, which, collectively, has always understood woman in this way.
But you, leftists, disagree. You say that biology has nothing to do with womanhood. Well, then what does have something to do with womanhood? If we cannot define a woman physically, how can we define her? What is a woman? Your definition must be specific if you make all of these specific statements about what it’s like to be a woman, the trials and tribulations women face, the indignities they suffer, and so on. We were told that Captain Marvel is an important movie because it’s a woman-led superhero film. Okay, so that means Brie Larson is a woman. Now we’re getting somewhere. Brie Larson is an adult human female with all of the biological markers of a female. The picture seems to be coming into focus. Maybe Webster had it right after all.
But wait. You also say that Caitlyn Jenner and Chelsea Manning are women despite the fact that they are adult human males, not females. You say that they are all three equally woman. The picture is suddenly foggy again.
I have been told, by the few that attempted to give an answer, that a woman is anyone who identifies as a woman. But that definition doesn’t work because you can’t use the word you’re defining in the definition. If I ask you for the definition of “tree” and you tell me “a tree is that which is a tree,” you have told me nothing about trees. I need you to explain trees using words that don’t include tree, just as I need you to explain woman using words that don’t include woman. So what is a woman?
You might say that a woman is an adult human female or anyone who identifies as an adult human female. But that is just another way of saying that a woman is an adult human female or not an adult human female. And that’s just another way of saying that a woman is nothing in particular. "Woman" has no definition if that is the definition. And it would be nonsensical to identify as one, given that you’re identifying as something that is not really anything. And it would be also nonsensical to make any statements about women, such as “women deserve equal rights.” We can no more grant equal rights to a woman than to a hoozywhatzit if the word "woman" has as objective a definition as the latter. So then what is a woman?
I will be told that words like “woman” and “man” are on a spectrum. Okay, then tell me about this spectrum. What is on either side of it? Define the people who exist on the extreme end of (what I would call) the woman side of the spectrum. If someone is on the spectrum between man and woman — what does that mean? Between what and what? You can’t escape the definition problem by talking about spectrums. If the spectrum takes us from one undefinable thing to another undefinable thing then it is not a spectrum. It is more like a black hole where all sense and reason and the very laws of science break down into chaos. So what exactly does a man mean when he says “I identify as a woman”? What is a woman?
Is a woman, in the end, just anyone who enjoys feminine things or dresses in a feminine way? Well, that can’t be it because we can’t define “feminine” until we have defined woman. Also this definition would turn a lot of women into non-women and a lot of non-women into women. Besides, the Left has been trying to break down the societal constructs of feminine vs masculine for years. Surely you can’t go from “not all women should be expected to be feminine” to “the only defining characteristic of womanhood is femininity.” Surely you can’t do such a 180 and undermine everything you’ve been saying for the last 60 years. So what is a woman?
It does not seem possible to formulate a definition of woman that eschews biology while still allowing women to be an objective, unique, and discernible category. But I invite any leftist to prove me wrong. What is a woman?