Four immovable words have become emblematic of a welcomed cultural reset taking place in the West – namely, what is a woman?
Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson’s inability to answer this question set tongues wagging several weeks back.
The dominance of Lia Thomas over female competitors in the NCAA national championship 500-yard freestyle event sparked further debate about the boundaries of gender.
USA Today’s decision to decorate Rachel Levine with a ‘Woman of the Year’ award only added fuel to the fire – as did Twitter’s decision to lock The Babylon Bee’s account for seeing the funny side and dubbing Levine ‘The Babylon Bee’s Man of the Year’.
Britain has had its own ‘What is a woman?’ moment in the recent debate over Emily Bridges’ place – or lack thereof – in female cycling.
And it is from Britain that Hadley Freeman, writing for UnHerd, has declared that the wheels have finally begun falling off the bandwagon of trans ideology. She writes:
‘Not very long ago, the fear of being denounced as a transphobe meant that doubts about extreme gender ideology were confined to private WhatsApp groups and quiet conversations among friends. This is very much no longer the case.’
Citing a string of events similar to that above which led even Prime Minister Boris Johnson to decry the presence of ‘biological men’ in women’s sports, prisons, and change rooms, Freeman heralds the dawn of a new day:
‘Gender ideologues complain that this shift in public tolerance is merely a conservative backlash against trans rights, but they are wrong. What we are seeing is the inevitable result of trans activists … pushing far beyond civil rights for trans people and insisting instead on unpopular and unworkable policies, such as trans women in sport, child transition, and any open acknowledgement of female biology.’
‘This was the week the spell began to break,’ she writes, adding that she sensed all along that sport would be the catalyst for our collective return to sanity:
‘When historians write about that relatively brief but extremely toxic time when gender extremism gripped Western countries, and they describe the moment when that grip loosened, they will start with the photos of Lia Thomas, the Ivy League trans swimmer, towering over her teammates.’
This is Lia Thomas’ start when she won the 500 yard Championship. I wonder what she has that other women do not? pic.twitter.com/h9MgYy2YMJ
— David Atherton (@DaveAtherton20) March 26, 2022
‘Toxic’ is an apt descriptor. The TERF wars have been short-lived but brutal, for feminists especially. For those unaware of the acronym, TERF stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist – a rather opaque way of describing those who believe women are women, and men are not.
Astute cultural observers foresaw the events of recent weeks. In 2020, Christian historian Carl Trueman noted in The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self that the LGBTQ+ movement is not as coherent as it appears at first glance.
The union of these assorted letters, he argues, ‘Is not the result of any intrinsic affinities shared by its component parties but an alliance of historical and political convenience rooted in a shared sexual iconoclasm.’ So while the L and G assume the fixed nature of gender, the T and Q reject biology altogether.
This is no small thing. Trans ideologues will not rest until gender categories are effectively erased and gender identity is seen merely as software that can be uploaded into any human body. Team reality, on the other hand – and traditional feminists in particular – see the female body as central to the female experience and identity.
Both teams cannot win. Like it or not, this one is a zero-sum game.
And while the war rages on, truth now has the upper hand, thanks in large measure to four simple words. Liberal Senator for South Australia Alex Antic discovered the power of those words this week, and the results were, as you might expect, glorious.
This is – absolutely – hilarious.
It’s not only the awkward *cough* when the Department of Health are asked to define ‘a #woman‘ – but the follow up, ‘we’ll have to take that question on notice’.
Seriously. How is this a thing?pic.twitter.com/KdE0GfHTCo
— Alexandra Marshall (@ellymelly) April 6, 2022
Sanity, welcome back. It’s been a while.
Kurt Mahlburg is a teacher and freelance writer. He blogs at kurtmahlburg.blog.
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