Republicans thought defining a ‘woman’ is easy. Then they tried.

cigaretteman

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By Monica Hesse
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“Yeah. Well, I don’t know, would they?” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said when a reporter asked him if a woman whose uterus was removed via hysterectomy was still a woman. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Before we get to the fact that I spent my lunch hour emailing with an editor of the Oxford English Dictionary to find out whether “tallywhacker” was an officially recognized euphemism for “penis,” a brief recap of how we got here:
Last month Republican lawmakers went fishing for a “gotcha” at Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings, and thought they’d found one when Jackson declined a request from Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) to “provide a definition for the word ‘woman.’” Jackson replied that she was “not a biologist.”
Of course, this wasn’t a biology test, it was a culture-war test, and conservatives were more than willing to inform Jackson she had failed. “The meaning of the word ‘woman’ is so unclear and controversial that you can’t give me a definition?” Blackburn marveled, setting off waves of complaints about woke liberals and activist judges, and presenting Tucker Carlson with Christmas in March.
Blackburn asks Jackson to define 'woman'
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) asked Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for her definition of “woman” at the March 22 confirmation hearing. (Video: The Washington Post, Photo: The Washington Post)
All that set the stage for this week, when several Republican lawmakers who had previously mocked Jackson’s answer set out to show how just how simple and uncontroversial defining “woman” could be.
“I’m going to tell you right now what is a woman,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) informed the audience at a GOP event after namechecking Jackson. “This is an easy answer. We’re a creation of God. We came from Adam’s rib. God created us with his hands. We may be the weaker sex — we are the weaker sex — but we are our partner — we are our husband’s wife.”
Meanwhile Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), already in the news cycle for implying that cocaine and orgies were par for the course on Capitol Hill, decided to extend his moment in the sun by lecturing Nancy Pelosi from the House floor. “Science isn’t Burger King; you can’t just ‘have it your way,’” he said. “Take notes, Madame Speaker. I’m about to define what a woman is for you,” he said. “X chromosomes, no tallywhacker. It’s so simple.”
And this is where I got the poor OED editor involved, just to make sure I understood exactly what Cawthorn was talking about. She explained that “tallywhacker” is likely an Americanism, a variant of the word “tallywag,” which means “the testicles; the male genitals,” though Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “a sea bass of the Atlantic Coast.”
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) was asked by a HuffPost reporter to define “woman,” and replied, “Someone who can give birth to a child, a mother, is a woman. Someone who has a uterus is a woman. It doesn’t seem that complicated to me.” When the reporter asked him whether a woman whose uterus was removed via hysterectomy was still a woman, he appeared uncertain: “Yeah. Well, I don’t know, would they?”
So, to review, here’s the GOP tip sheet: If you want to know whether someone is a woman, you should simply walk up to them and say, “Pardon, are you of Adam’s rib?” Alternatively, you could demand to see either a uterus or a “tallywhacker.”
These attempts at defining womanhood are not only weird (“weaker sex” is retrograde even by the standards of Republican gender politics), they are also unhelpful.
Let’s assume some basic things: that Marjorie Taylor Greene believes that all humans, not just women, are “creations of God”; and that Greene considered herself a woman long before she became her “husband’s wife.” Presumably she is not suggesting that a woman who is unmarried is in fact a man.
Greene is known for her vigorous workouts and her sculpted biceps. Such a strong woman would certainly acknowledge that “weaker sex” often depends on the category in question (mental, physical, emotional) and on the individual specimen. Does Greene believe she is inherently weaker, on any of these dimensions, than, say, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)? How about President Biden?
That leaves us with the “Adam’s rib” bit, an allusion to the biblical origin story of women. Which, fine. But I’m not sure how much closer this gets any of us to a definition of womanhood that we can actually use in The Year of Our Lord 2022. How is a women’s college or women’s athletic team supposed to incorporate the Adam’s rib test into their eligibility policies? Is there a swab for ancestral rib residue?
Again, this definition was the very best that Greene could come up with two full weeks after gloating on Twitter that Judge Jackson, “can’t define ‘woman’ so can’t say for sure whether her own two daughters are women.”
Cawthorn’s definition (XX chromosomes, tallywhacker-free) made me wonder what the congressman would make of former gymnastics champion Melissa Marlowe — or the other millions of women with Turner syndrome, a genetic disorder defined by a missing X chromosome. I wonder how he would determine the gender of an intersex individual who had reproductive characteristics of both sexes. Via a coin flip? A ruler?
As for Josh Hawley, I’ll say only that I can’t wait to inform my mother that since her uterus was removed when she was 35 via a medically necessary hysterectomy, she hasn’t been a woman in 26 years. Perhaps she will be consoled if I add that the senator sounded like he hadn’t really thought very hard about it: In the same exchange reported by HuffPost, he seemed to change his definition of “woman” to require not a uterus but a vagina: “I mean, a woman has a vagina, right?”
(Please note that by Hawley’s new definition he would be forced to accept trans women, post-gender affirming surgery, as women too.)
I’m not trying to pick at Greene, Cawthorn or Hawley for the fun of it. They had suggested that defining “woman” was simple, and I’m here to say that it’s not. Not when you take the question seriously, and look for answers outside your own immediate experiences and intuitions. Which is why when these lawmakers attempted to show how much smarter they were on gender science than a judge who takes things seriously for a living, what came out was gobbledygook.
These lawmakers are known for incendiary rhetoric. (Case in point, Greene is now accusing everyone who votes to confirm Jackson of supporting pedophiles.) But I’m going to give them the benefit of doubt and say that I don’t actually think Greene, Hawley and Cawthorn were trying to be deliberately inflammatory when offering their definitions. I think they were trying their best and falling short. I think they were showing that providing a definition for “woman” isn’t a task that can be determined via checklist, no matter how hard the list maker tries to make it so.
I think what they were expressing was not a knowledge of biology, but rather a fear of living in a world they could not easily categorize based on what they already think they know. One in which women might not look or sound or behave exactly as they believe women should, and so the best way to define “woman” is to ask the woman in question. Does she live as a woman? Does she undergo the trials and tribulations and joys of a woman? Does she believe she is a woman?
“Provide a definition for the word ‘woman,’” Blackburn dared Biden’s Supreme Court nominee.
Ketanji Brown Jackson could not do so. And neither could the people who said it should be easy.

 

BlackNGoldBleeder

HR Legend
Jun 23, 2017
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By Monica Hesse
Columnist
Today at 3:06 p.m. EDT
Listen to article
6 min
“Yeah. Well, I don’t know, would they?” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said when a reporter asked him if a woman whose uterus was removed via hysterectomy was still a woman. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Before we get to the fact that I spent my lunch hour emailing with an editor of the Oxford English Dictionary to find out whether “tallywhacker” was an officially recognized euphemism for “penis,” a brief recap of how we got here:
Last month Republican lawmakers went fishing for a “gotcha” at Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings, and thought they’d found one when Jackson declined a request from Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) to “provide a definition for the word ‘woman.’” Jackson replied that she was “not a biologist.”
Of course, this wasn’t a biology test, it was a culture-war test, and conservatives were more than willing to inform Jackson she had failed. “The meaning of the word ‘woman’ is so unclear and controversial that you can’t give me a definition?” Blackburn marveled, setting off waves of complaints about woke liberals and activist judges, and presenting Tucker Carlson with Christmas in March.
Blackburn asks Jackson to define 'woman'
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) asked Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for her definition of “woman” at the March 22 confirmation hearing. (Video: The Washington Post, Photo: The Washington Post)
All that set the stage for this week, when several Republican lawmakers who had previously mocked Jackson’s answer set out to show how just how simple and uncontroversial defining “woman” could be.
“I’m going to tell you right now what is a woman,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) informed the audience at a GOP event after namechecking Jackson. “This is an easy answer. We’re a creation of God. We came from Adam’s rib. God created us with his hands. We may be the weaker sex — we are the weaker sex — but we are our partner — we are our husband’s wife.”
Meanwhile Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), already in the news cycle for implying that cocaine and orgies were par for the course on Capitol Hill, decided to extend his moment in the sun by lecturing Nancy Pelosi from the House floor. “Science isn’t Burger King; you can’t just ‘have it your way,’” he said. “Take notes, Madame Speaker. I’m about to define what a woman is for you,” he said. “X chromosomes, no tallywhacker. It’s so simple.”
And this is where I got the poor OED editor involved, just to make sure I understood exactly what Cawthorn was talking about. She explained that “tallywhacker” is likely an Americanism, a variant of the word “tallywag,” which means “the testicles; the male genitals,” though Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “a sea bass of the Atlantic Coast.”
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) was asked by a HuffPost reporter to define “woman,” and replied, “Someone who can give birth to a child, a mother, is a woman. Someone who has a uterus is a woman. It doesn’t seem that complicated to me.” When the reporter asked him whether a woman whose uterus was removed via hysterectomy was still a woman, he appeared uncertain: “Yeah. Well, I don’t know, would they?”
So, to review, here’s the GOP tip sheet: If you want to know whether someone is a woman, you should simply walk up to them and say, “Pardon, are you of Adam’s rib?” Alternatively, you could demand to see either a uterus or a “tallywhacker.”
These attempts at defining womanhood are not only weird (“weaker sex” is retrograde even by the standards of Republican gender politics), they are also unhelpful.
Let’s assume some basic things: that Marjorie Taylor Greene believes that all humans, not just women, are “creations of God”; and that Greene considered herself a woman long before she became her “husband’s wife.” Presumably she is not suggesting that a woman who is unmarried is in fact a man.
Greene is known for her vigorous workouts and her sculpted biceps. Such a strong woman would certainly acknowledge that “weaker sex” often depends on the category in question (mental, physical, emotional) and on the individual specimen. Does Greene believe she is inherently weaker, on any of these dimensions, than, say, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)? How about President Biden?
That leaves us with the “Adam’s rib” bit, an allusion to the biblical origin story of women. Which, fine. But I’m not sure how much closer this gets any of us to a definition of womanhood that we can actually use in The Year of Our Lord 2022. How is a women’s college or women’s athletic team supposed to incorporate the Adam’s rib test into their eligibility policies? Is there a swab for ancestral rib residue?
Again, this definition was the very best that Greene could come up with two full weeks after gloating on Twitter that Judge Jackson, “can’t define ‘woman’ so can’t say for sure whether her own two daughters are women.”
Cawthorn’s definition (XX chromosomes, tallywhacker-free) made me wonder what the congressman would make of former gymnastics champion Melissa Marlowe — or the other millions of women with Turner syndrome, a genetic disorder defined by a missing X chromosome. I wonder how he would determine the gender of an intersex individual who had reproductive characteristics of both sexes. Via a coin flip? A ruler?
As for Josh Hawley, I’ll say only that I can’t wait to inform my mother that since her uterus was removed when she was 35 via a medically necessary hysterectomy, she hasn’t been a woman in 26 years. Perhaps she will be consoled if I add that the senator sounded like he hadn’t really thought very hard about it: In the same exchange reported by HuffPost, he seemed to change his definition of “woman” to require not a uterus but a vagina: “I mean, a woman has a vagina, right?”
(Please note that by Hawley’s new definition he would be forced to accept trans women, post-gender affirming surgery, as women too.)
I’m not trying to pick at Greene, Cawthorn or Hawley for the fun of it. They had suggested that defining “woman” was simple, and I’m here to say that it’s not. Not when you take the question seriously, and look for answers outside your own immediate experiences and intuitions. Which is why when these lawmakers attempted to show how much smarter they were on gender science than a judge who takes things seriously for a living, what came out was gobbledygook.
These lawmakers are known for incendiary rhetoric. (Case in point, Greene is now accusing everyone who votes to confirm Jackson of supporting pedophiles.) But I’m going to give them the benefit of doubt and say that I don’t actually think Greene, Hawley and Cawthorn were trying to be deliberately inflammatory when offering their definitions. I think they were trying their best and falling short. I think they were showing that providing a definition for “woman” isn’t a task that can be determined via checklist, no matter how hard the list maker tries to make it so.
I think what they were expressing was not a knowledge of biology, but rather a fear of living in a world they could not easily categorize based on what they already think they know. One in which women might not look or sound or behave exactly as they believe women should, and so the best way to define “woman” is to ask the woman in question. Does she live as a woman? Does she undergo the trials and tribulations and joys of a woman? Does she believe she is a woman?
“Provide a definition for the word ‘woman,’” Blackburn dared Biden’s Supreme Court nominee.
Ketanji Brown Jackson could not do so. And neither could the people who said it should be easy.

This was actually an enjoyable piece to read on the subject. Great use of satire.

It’s amazing we’ve elected so many Republicans who are that fugging stupid.
 

BlackNGoldBleeder

HR Legend
Jun 23, 2017
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Yes, more Tranny discussions. Just what everyone in America wants to talk about.
This article wasn’t about “trannies.” It was about the egregious stupidity of three elected officials who serve dishonorably in the United States Congress.

But, yeah, let’s focus on chicks with dicks instead of the halfwit mouth breathers who represent Team Red. Yay tribalism!
 

abby97

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Sep 16, 2010
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Let this Republican give it a try, a women has a uterus, ovary, vagina and other sexual organs that a man does not. Any questions?
 

BlackNGoldBleeder

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Jun 23, 2017
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I don’t know why the tallywackers on the right keep bringing them up.
Here’s the deal, Flick. I’m actually on the side that there is a biological basis for classifying humans male and female. Just because there are rare variants and anomalies, doesn’t mean those terms are now ambiguous. While I don’t believe the topic is appropriate for political theater and polemics, which conservatives have tried to make it about, recognizing a normal baseline that biologically distinguishes male and female humans should not be a subject of rigorous debate in our political discourses and pissing matches. It’s just silly. Yes, we can respect nuance and the expanding of the term “woman” to include variance in gender identity and expression, but to argue vociferously there is no biological basis for classifying humans as male or female upon birth is ridiculous.

With all of that said, I am absolutely astounded, although recent history should have led me not to be, how an “issue” that should cast conservatives in a more favorable light actually became an ignominious stumbling block for them to completely trip over their own “tallywhackers” and reveal just how empty and vacuous the inside of their thick skulls really are. It is seriously unbelievable how fugging stupid some of these “morans” can be. I guess that’s what happens when your primary motivation—cloaked or not—is bigotry.
 

ping72

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Jan 14, 2009
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Let this Republican give it a try, a women has a uterus, ovary, vagina and other sexual organs that a man does not. Any questions?

Do they need all three?

What if they’ve had their uterus or ovaries removed? No longer a woman?

What if they’re born with ovaries and a penis? How about testes and a vagina? Male or female?
 

your_master5

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Do they need all three?

What if they’ve had their uterus or ovaries removed? No longer a woman?

What if they’re born with ovaries and a penis? How about testes and a vagina? Male or female?
Over 99% of women have all 3 when born

Those had them removed, had them when they were born

Extremely rare outliers. Let the intersex person decide what they want. The other 99% can be what god gave them.

This topic is so stupidly out of hand. Because then we get idiots like the below that "need attention"

 
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abby97

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Do they need all three?

What if they’ve had their uterus or ovaries removed? No longer a woman?

What if they’re born with ovaries and a penis? How about testes and a vagina? Male or female?
What if you had a brain that wasn't solidly located in your anus?
 

onlyTheObvious

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Jan 3, 2021
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Born a female and taken no male hormones you get to compete as a girl/woman.

everybody else Man up.

outside competitive athletics you can call yourself a Klingon for all I care.
 

ping72

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Over 99% of women have all 3 when born

Those had them removed, had them when they were born

Extremely rare outliers. Let the intersex person decide what they want. The other 99% can be what god gave them.

This topic is so stupidly out of hand. Because then we get idiots like the below that "need attention"


Now you’re conflating woman with female.
 
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abby97

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So just like the politicians in the OP... you struggle as well. Got it.
I have no problem with it at all but it appears you have an agenda. Let's go with this, if a women was born a women (with the aforementioned parts) then she is a women, if she was born with male parts, then she is a man who wants to be a women. It is really not difficult.

If you wanted to be an intelligent person, you could claim yourself such a person, however everyone would know that just because you "identify" as an intelligent person doesn't make it so, got it?
 

Pheidippides

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Do they need all three?

What if they’ve had their uterus or ovaries removed? No longer a woman?

What if they’re born with ovaries and a penis? How about testes and a vagina? Male or female?
A female has large, sessile gametes (eggs). A male has small, motile gametes (sperm)period, end of discussion. If KBJ had simply said this she would have silenced and humiliated those asking the question. But she had to pretend like she doesn't know the definition in deference to a small minority of confused people and thus we're stuck with this idiotic discussion.
 
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Flie

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Yes, more Tranny discussions. Just what everyone in America wants to talk about.

It's part of the GOP agenda. Big threats to america are gay/trans topics being discussed in grades K-3 so it comes up often. They also wanted to play gotcha with the definition of a woman.
 

ihhawk

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It's part of the GOP agenda. Big threats to america are gay/trans topics being discussed in grades K-3 so it comes up often. They also wanted to play gotcha with the definition of a woman.
It’s an issue the at the GOP will crush democrats on. Be prepared for what’s coming in November
 

kc78

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In probably over 95% if not more of the cases it's very simple to define whether someone is a male or a female. The problem is that it isn't true for all. Almost every definition I've heard still leaves a larger enough sample size to matter as indeterminate. And it's not like there are millions of people begging to be trans. The numbers are fairly small. Again, large enough to come up and cause some issue with how we handle those situations but still small. I know 2 people who are trans. I've known a ton, but those 2 people's lives matter. And one of them wants to play pro sports as a female. It's a conversation that needs to be had, but the nonsense theater is just nonsense.
 
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your_master5

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Now you’re conflating woman with female.
Nope they are the same to me and probably over 50% of the population thinks the same way. I don't follow stupid rules that were made up by that community.
 

BelemNole

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A female has large, sessile gametes (eggs). A male has small, motile gametes (sperm)period, end of discussion. If KBJ had simply said this she would have silenced and humiliated those asking the question. But she had to pretend like she doesn't know the definition in deference to a small minority of confused people and thus we're stuck with this idiotic discussion.
She wasn't asked what a female was, she was asked what a woman was.
 

ping72

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Nope they are the same to me and probably over 50% of the population thinks the same way. I don't follow stupid rules that were made up by that community.

You might be right that it’s currently over 50%... but if you graphed that by age you would realize that will change very soon.

I’m sure when you were a kid the old timers said over 50% of people thought drinking fountains should be segregated...or women belong in the kitchen. Now we mock such things.
 

claykenny

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A female has large, sessile gametes (eggs). A male has small, motile gametes (sperm)period, end of discussion. If KBJ had simply said this she would have silenced and humiliated those asking the question. But she had to pretend like she doesn't know the definition in deference to a small minority of confused people and thus we're stuck with this idiotic discussion.

What is an XXY individual with azospermia?
 

your_master5

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You might be right that it’s currently over 50%... but if you graphed that by age you would realize that will change very soon.

I’m sure when you were a kid the old timers said over 50% of people thought drinking fountains should be segregated...or women belong in the kitchen. Now we mock such things.
Fountains and biology are light years apart. Not everything changed from when I was a kid, so that seems to be a stretch. I tend to not put too much stock into younger people who don't have fully developed brains until around 28. Which is why libs target the group because they are so easily swayed.
 

claykenny

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Fountains and biology are light years apart. Not everything changed from when I was a kid, so that seems to be a stretch. I tend to not put too much stock into younger people who don't have fully developed brains until around 28. Which is why libs target the group because they are so easily swayed.

The entire male genome hasn’t been sequenced yet. The female genome was completed in 2022. We still know so little about genetics but yet light years more than we did when you were a kid. We know next to nothing about how genetics impact behavior and brain development, including sexual orientation and gender identity. We don’t even understand variations in phenotypic sexual organ development.