Rosie DiManno is wondering why we can’t say ‘woman’ anymore, which is a rather self-contradictory thing to declare in a big bold headline that got published in a major metropolitan newspaper. It’s also counter to common sense and every day experience, since I don’t seem to know anyone who is actually opposed to calling women women, except maybe TERFs, who are generally extraordinarily confused about just about everything to do with sex and gender. It’s a really simple concept, though!
Here’s the rule: you should address people by the identities they prefer and declare themselves. Rosie DiManno bills herself as a woman, and I am perfectly comfortable with addressing her as a woman. If I were to call her a man, I would either be hopelessly addled about who she is, or I’d be trying to insult her with a gendered insult, which is bad. So, hi Rosie, Woman, Human, Bipedal Vetebrate, etc. Strive to be respectful and accurate, is all.
Most/all of my interactions with Ms DiManno, if I were to have them, would be genderless, and there are only a few circumstances when I would have to call her a woman. “The boat is sinking, Ms DiManno — women and children to the lifeboats, you first,” perhaps, or “The ladies room is to the left, ma’am”. There are occasions when sex and gender are relevant, and you do not want to mix them up, lest you seem addled, insulting, etc.
Then there are the situations where some nuance is required, because the world isn’t the simple binary she thinks it is. She seems a bit incensed about a scientific article.
“The Lancet,” the prestigious and highly influential British medical journal, put “Bodies with Vaginas” on the cover of its latest issue, referring to an article inside, entitled “Periods on Display,” a review of an exhibit about the history of menstruation at the Vagina Museum in London.
Maybe the editors, who tweeted the piece, were just looking for clickbait, with a pullquote on the cover teasing that “Historically, the anatomy and physiology of such bodies have been neglected” — this although the author had used the phrase “bodies with vaginas,” only once and “women” four times.
But…but…there are trans men who menstruate and have vaginas. There are trans women who do not have them, and do not belong in an article about menstruation. There are cis women who do not have vaginas, and large numbers of both cis and trans women who do not menstruate. Acknowledging their existence and medical relevance is not erasing cis women at all. But Ms DiManno seems determined to erase trans men (who we call “men”, to keep it simple) and trans women (called “women”, that forbidden word in the minds of TERFs), all by inventing a totally non-existent imaginary problem.
It seems to be a common disease among right-leaning people who need imagined persecution to help them keep up their own sense of identity, so they have to create grievances. Without them, their concerns do seem to be rather petty and indefensible.