What is a woman? Let’s be clear from the outset, this wasn’t my question. I am simply repeating a question asked by a woman to another woman, and the answer is certainly worthy of discussion.
It was only a few years ago that it was possible to describe what a woman is and indeed, what a man is. We could talk about biology and physiology. We could define men and women according to whether a person had XY chromosomes or XX chromosomes. We could speak of social and emotional differences. Of course, if you dare offer any such explanation in today’s culture, you’ll soon find yourself being shamed and cancelled.
So what happens when a political leader is asked on national radio, “what is a woman?”
British voters are counting down the hours to the election. I am very casual and distant observer of British politics, but my interest here is apolitical. This post relates to the latest showing of the absurd in our Western culture.
The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson, was interviewed on BBC Radio 5 and was taking questions from callers. A woman by the name of Anna phoned in and asked,
“It is really great that your party promotes women’s rights. So please can you tell what is a woman?”
I suspect Swinson’s answer will be disappointing news to many women, and to men, and to men who think they are a woman.
Amidst many ums and pauses, the LDP leader said,
“I know that I am a woman…..we know what we are….all woman have rights and need to be protected…”
Anna wasn’t exactly satisfied by this lack of an answer and so she tried again, “So how can you tell what a woman is?”
The best explanation that Jo Swinson could offer was,
“people can understand their own identity”
There we have it. It is no longer possible to define what a woman is. You know if you are, but don’t count on biology to inform you or anything else for that matter. If that leaves you in a state of uncertainty, unable to base your gender identity on anything clear and certain, that just how things are.
Jo Swinson may believe she is representing transgender Brits and people who are confused about their gender identity, but her answer doesn’t offer them any comfort. They may say that they are a woman, but can they or anyone know? Definition is beyond our grasp. Apparently, we are now unable to even describe what a woman is.
As the American political commentator Ben Shapiro asked a few months ago, is female simply a set of social stereotypes or is it biological? We are told that it cannot be biological because a woman can have a penis just as men can give birth to children. Therefore, femaleness must be definable by social stereotypes, a criteria of observable non-physical differences from males. But of course, the dilemma is that we are not permitted to suggest that men and women have any differences beyond the biological; that would be mansplaining. It is derogatory and sexist to hint there is any difference between men and women.
If this is the case (that we can’t detect a woman according to either biology or social stereotypes) what is the value in even using these categories of sex and gender? Why not eliminate them altogether?
Western culture has quickly turned into the ouroboros. We are slowly destroying ourselves as we deny essential realities about the world and about ourselves. It’s as though some bright spark read Romans 1:18-32 and thought to himself/herself, what a brilliant pathway to progress! But this isn’t progress, it is a dangerous game of identity politics with an undertone of Marxist like authoritarianism, and it is hurting real people who are struggling with real issues.
Jesus once asked a group of intellectuals, “Haven’t you read…that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female…” I suspect Jesus wouldn’t survive on social media for very long. Our inspired progressive leaders would have him cancelled by nightfall for daring make such a suggestion! We don’t need further legislation and social alterations that will define men and women out of existence. If only we would stop listening to the insane and dangerous, and begin listening to the One who came from heaven and who was crucified out of love for us. He doesn’t only explain to us men and women, he offers us greater dignity and love and life than any politician can ever promise. But giving up hubris and putting on humility isn’t an easy path to take, but it is a necessary one if we have any chance of finding redemption.