After making such a big deal about Ketanji Brown Jackson’s deferral after being asked, “What is a woman?”, you’d think they’d be prepared with a good answer to the question themselves. They aren’t.
“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.”
That is not a workable definition. It’s actually kind of amazing that anyone in the 21st century would still believe that that old fable is literally true.
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?”
Poor slow Josh. He said it didn’t seem complicated, was immediately confronted with a complication. And didn’t know how to answer it. I wonder if there are any women in his district who will notice he just turned them all into “men”?
Some Republicans punted.
“I don’t have anything for you on that,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.).
“I’m not going to indulge you,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) dodged the question three times in a row, citing her policy of not talking to reporters in Senate hallways ― even though it was Blackburn who made this an issue with Jackson in the first place.
I think there must have been some panicky emails swapped around after that so they would get their story straight, because Blackburn hurried back with an answer.
In a follow-up email to HuffPost, a spokesperson for Blackburn said her definition of a woman is “Two X chromosomes.”
Except not all women have two X chromosomes, and relatively few people have actually had their chromosomes directly examined. It’s not a good criterion, you know? You can’t claim that it’s always been obvious what men and women are, and then base that distinction on a cellular property that was completely unknown until about 120 years ago, and is completely invisible now without a microscopic examination. What were the Victorians doing, just stumbling around guessing who men and women were, bumbling about and accidentally impregnating or getting impregnated?
Here come the parrots (sorry, parrots, you don’t deserve that comparison).
In a written statement, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) offered the same definition as Blackburn: “A woman is born with two X-chromosomes.”
Of course, Ted Cruz had to bungle it.
Cruz, when asked, immediately answered that a woman is “an adult female human.”
He denied that he had recently looked it up in a dictionary.
“I just happen to speak English,” Cruz said, adding: “A Homo sapien with two X chromosomes.”
It’s Homo sapiens, you doltish imitation of a human made from a sack full of cockroaches. I’m not surprised that you would get that wrong.
Cue more circular definitions.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) shouted his definition of a woman before slipping into a Senate elevator: “An adult female of the human species.”
Some people didn’t get the memo.
“I have more of a traditional view of what a woman is,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).
What is that?
It’s always nice to give the Ralph Wiggums a chance to speak up.
The prize for the most confused Republican answer has to go to Lindsey Graham, though.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said a woman is simply someone who is “biologically a woman,” adding that he thinks most Americans can figure out who’s a woman and who’s a man.
“The birds and the bees stuff ― it’s been a while, but I think I remember the general gist of the differences,” Graham said. “To have a hard time answering that question is kind of odd to me.”
A woman is someone who is biologically a woman. Got it. That’s helpful. Well, except that word “biologically”, which he just threw in to sound sciencey, inadvertently revealing that he’s got no scientific understanding at all, just like Cruz.
It’s also revealing that he has forgotten the details of that “birds and the bees stuff” and just remembers “the general gist of the differences”. Is it any wonder he doesn’t have any children?
Tabby Lavalamp says
To be fair to Ted Cruz he may have just looked at a TERF’s Twitter bio.
A woman is who she says she is.
When she says who she is.
Matt G says
I wonder if they realize that we are one of many species in the genus Homo. Frankly I’m surprised they even acknowledge we are a species since we are handcrafted by God and so distinct from all other life. They are completely ignorant of the contradictions in their “thinking.”
The repugs war on women – literally an attempt to divide and conquer.
Also Josh Hawley – what a piece of fucking shit he is. Wow. Does he also think his postmenopausal grandmother ain’t a woman? Someone should ask him that.
Marcus Ranum says
Boris Johnson says that the really super important part about the entire question is about making sure people are on the correct sports team.
No, I think he regards women without uteruses as things – and worthless things, at that.
So a woman is born as a single-celled organism?
Even if we did accept the story as literally true, her statement still doesn’t make sense. Women didn’t come from Adam’s rib, Eve did; a specific, individual woman. No other woman is described as having been formed from Adam’s (or anyone’s) rib. It’s just not what the text says.
And what happens to “women” before they’re married? If being your husband’s wife is part of the definition, then any unmarried person can’t be a woman. Which makes you wonder how that interacts with marriage laws. Either “one man, one woman” has to go, or you’ve just banned marriage altogether.
It’s one thing that they don’t even bother reading their own holy books, but even if I mindlessly accept their premises with no critique, they still end up contradicting themselves within two minutes.
It’s really quite impressive, in a way.
Can I just say at this point I really don’t miss captain comma, Davidc1.
So birds, if memory serves, have cloacas and also pretty weird corkscrew deals for drakes a sort of gendered ducks among other variable traits with male soften being more colourful and smaller (?) than females on average..
Bees have ..caste=y thingamagijigs with Queens and Workers and short-lived otherwise useless (?) male drones almost all being infertile in a given communal colony where the Queen is actually kinda a “slave” that just lays eggs. Maybe Ish?
Its been a while for me too.
Also not all bees since a lot of Aussie native bee species ( https://www.aussiebee.com.au/ ) have blue and other colour bands and are solitary and then there are the parasitic cukooo type bees and ..its complicated. Anyhow.
I don’t think birds and bees are quite what Lindsey Graham thinks they are nor do I think he remotely paid attention in biology class nor is willing tolearn or think now.
Stupid people never think anything is complicated. They reach for easy analogies, and when confronted with exceptions, toss out what little bit of science they may remember hearing. And then argue in circles.
Like chromosomes. Watch any TV show with forensics and you’ve probably heard of those, probably heard of XX and XY. What’s a chromosome, you might ask? Well, that’s what determines your sex, of course!
Madison Cawthorn probably thinks the Y-chromosome is the one with the tallywacker.
The bit I don’t get about all these people is the utter lack of curiosity or engagement. I mean, there was a time when I, too, didn’t really give the complexities of gender much thought. Indeed, when I didn’t realise there actually were complexities and nuances to the whole business.
Then I found out that it wasn’t quite as simple as pre-GCSE biology made it out to be, and I didn’t feel compelled to pretend that the new information wasn’t a thing. In fact, it was actually quite interesting to realise that there was more to it than I had previously thought. It made me feel much more intelligent and grown-up to be aware of another facet of the vast, interconnected tapestry of influences that make up the world.
Perhaps these people haven’t got to GCSE biology yet?
On Cuckoo bees at least one species of : :
I think, quite a few incl and endangered European one Bombus Bombus inexspectatus :
Do yoyu think Lindsey Graham even knows there’s more than one species of bee? ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bee )
Or am I bee-ing too wasp-ish. Nah. Actually does he even know there’s species of birds?
I detest it thoroughly when nitwits use Latin or Greek when they know zilch about its grammar. “A criteria”, “the data shows”, “a phenomena”.
The much lauded Yuval Noah Harari also seems to use sapien as a singular noun. BTW, I can’t wait to see a thorough debunking of the man’s ideas somewhere here on FTB.
Hawley is the junior senator from the state that I live in. I’m not responsible for that, I promise.
And as many before me have pointed out, it’s amazing that Republicans are so obsessed with sex.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one:
Q: How do you tell the difference between a male and a female chromosome?
A: You look in their genes.
Following the link to cuckoo bees I came across this unusual location (except for certain senators) for the tallywacker:
“Fully grown ghost sharks have venomous spines near their dorsal (top) fins, and in most known species, the males have a retractable sex organ, called a tenaculum, on their foreheads, used for mating.”
Marcus Ranum says
I can’t wait to see a thorough debunking of the man’s ideas somewhere here on FTB.
I tried reading his book and it’s like deconstructing Jordan Peterson – the ideas that are there are wrong, unsupported, nonsensical – trying to argue with them entails reformulating them into something tangible, and then “you misinterpret me” is the defense.
I remember thinking “where is global climate change?” in Homo Deus it just sort of … disappears? Honestly, it’s so hard to make sense of that I just didn’t bother. It’s still on my shelf next to Madison Grant.
Why the hell is Marjorie Taylor Greene even IN Congress? Shouldn’t she be at home cooking a pot roast for her hubby?
#14 “[I]t’s amazing that Republicans are so obsessed with sex.”
That’s because they are terrified of it.
So they’re dickheads?
Seems to be a lot of Republican “ghost sharks” in congress these days.
How does god take a bit of a man, who has fewer chromosomes than a woman, and use it to create woman. Surely it should be the other way round?
Maybe he was just ribbing us?
(Sorry, couldn’t resist the bad pun.)
@ 18. moarscienceplz :
Terrified and repressed and yet drawn too and fascinated by and compelled by and hypocritical about and projection. So very mcuh projection and so ver much neurosis.
Puritans have so much to answer for.
But after so much time and cultural change in the USA, I’d expected and hoped for so much improvement yet ..
The Regression.. The Regession..
W apologies to Apocalypse Now
Akira MacKenzie says
Because millions upon millions of paranoid, anti-intellectual, Bible-humping, racist, shitkickers voted for her and all the other fascist goons quoted in this article. Our outdated constitution doesn’t make sanity or even open-mindedness to be prerequisite for holding office.
Maybe it’s time for the Left to realize that the true foes to the progress they seek isn’t coming so much from the “1-percent” of wealthy assholes but from the 99% of “working class” mouth-breathers the Left wants to defend and shelter from criticism. These people are not “brainwashed” by the rich to be Republicans and “vote against their interests.” They have always been bigots and would be so even if their material needs were being met or if capitalism never existed.
@ ^ Akira MacKenzie : So what do you suggest we do about that? How can we remedy it?
Akira MacKenzie @ #23
Not “millions upon millions.” She led the primary for the Republican nomination in her district (the Georgia 13th) with 43,892 and won the runoff with 43,813…interesting how close those two numbers are. She won the general election for the seat from her district with 229,827 votes over the Democrat candidate with 77,798. The district only has 732,000 people in it. I think your analyze of “the Left” and “the rich” and the “working class” also has some flaws. And yes, bigotry is age old and pretty much universal…like lumping people under labels you can easily take potshots at and claim some form of superiority.
PZ Myers says
#13: To do that, I’d have to read Harari, and what I’ve seen of it is pretty awfully distasteful.
Is it any wonder TERFs are aligning themselves with these clowns? Many TERFs take the “no longer a woman” attitude towards cis women who are infertile.
We should start calling him Heehawley.
@ ^ Intransitive : Lord Hee haw?
Akira MacKenzie says
Nothing you’d approve of.
I was including ALL the knuckle-draggers who voted for right-wing politicians, not just those in MTG’s district. Remember, Trump got over 74 million votes last election. That, by my reckoning, counts as “millions upon millions.”
Joe Haldyr says
Could you recommend an article/video that discusses the question (or more generic, the differences between the sexes, their development etc.) on the basis of the current biological knowledge for a non-biologist audience?
SC (Salty Current) says
A description of one current member of congress: former CrossFit trainer and gym owner who enjoys posting videos of themself working out and holding guns, who is also a hyper-aggressive loudmouth and internet shitposter prone to calls for violence and death threats.
Traditional woman, Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Always fun when bigots can’t even describe the thing they hate
Walter Solomon says
Careful. By mentioning BJ’s name, you risk summoning Davidc1.
Of course, the repugnantcants are led by such sophisticated, civilized individuals as EmpTy head Greene, who on the floor of congress, when J. Raskin was making thoughtful comments, interrupted him like a rabid baboon, shrieking ignorant pointless drivel. So, of course we need to give these imbeciles a big voice in public. SARCASM MUCH!.
As Prof. Myers and other highly qualified scientists point out, sex and gender are not binary and not a choice. There is a whole range of genetically and hormonally driven nuances to them. There is evidence that 1.75% of the population is not clearly, strictly ‘male’ or famale’.
But, the bottom line is: — We don’t care about sex and gender. We are primarily concerned with the honesty and decency of people.
The “what” was never the point. It was just the excuse.
Joe Haldyr @30
Did you check Wikipedia? They have, what looks to me (a non-biologist) to be, a pretty good article on the biology. However, as PZ noted in an earlier blog post, you need more than just biology to answer the question. From that post: “…and it’s going to involve biology, genetics, endocrinology, psychology, sociology, and history to give an adequate answer.”
Pierce R. Butler says
cartomancer @ # 11: Perhaps these people haven’t got to GCSE biology yet?
I doubt they’ve gotten to “shades of gray” or “false dichotomy” yet.
Can’t totally blame them for that: very few schools teach such things on this side of the puddle, either.
Joe Haldyr says
Thank you for your remarks.
When I read the post I realized I could no easily refute some of the answers given by the senators based on my own biological knowledge.
I searched some sources online. I think I should have realized that I am looking for something that cannot exit: a simple answer to a complex problem.
I suppose on the Republican side this question was not meant to expose the lack of knowledge for most people (including myself) about these topics and hence the need to improve the education.
It’s the same tactics as with CRT: you can stir up people in a frenzy about a topic which needs considerable effort to educate oneself about but get very emotional reactions. With CRT it is kind of: “they want to make our kids hate America because they claim we are racists”, with this topic it is like: “they want to make our kids into perverts by thinking about the role of sex” – and unfortunately it has the desired effect: it became much harder to discuss race and sex in civic discourse with rational arguments.
Listen to that Taylor Greene asshole. She literally identifies as this thing that means nothing. This sacred, immutable, mythical category of “woman”. What is left unsaid is that without that cheap, discount category that was so easily made available to her (with NO effort from her personally), she’d be nobody. Just another asshole, like the rest of us.
Simpletons need simple, rigid categories that imbue them with identity–with inherent, immutable, indisputable worth–because otherwise their worth would be in question.
This is what lies at the heart of fascism, in my opinion. Easy, iron-clad paths to self-worth and belonging. “You’re a warrior. You’re a soldier. You’re a mother. You are valuable because you are immutably X. Your uniform looks good.”
People love to be told who they are. Otherwise, they’d have to–god forbid–introspect and figure out who they are on their own. And that sounds hard, yo.
Which is why they feel so attacked by the very notion of LGBTQIA+ people being equally valid. Because that would entail that their unearned identities actually don’t mean much, if anything. They didn’t work for them. Never even examined them. Gender and sexual attraction (or lack thereof) is just another thing about them, barely enough to begin to describe them as a person.
It’s like hardcore meat-eaters getting frothy at the mouth at the very idea of veganism. It’s an attack on their their potemkin cardboard-cutouts of a purely nominal personality.
In other words, fuck these incurious, intellectually barren, utterly boring Impossible People™. (And maybe stop taking them them at their word. These chucklefucks don’t give a fiddling fart about biology. It’s all just virtue signalling. Advertisement for their fellow fashos.)
As a cis-woman, I find it amusing how many of the Republicans’ definitions of ‘woman’ exclude me.
I am menopausal, so no more babies will come out of my uterus, which makes me not a woman in Hawley’s eyes. (And since they insist that there are only two sexes, I guess that makes me a man. I knew menopause would bring changes, but that was not one I expected. Oh, well.)
I am not married, so I can’t be a woman per Greene. I’m just going to ignore the bit about women being made from men’s ribs because it’s so not even wrong that I don’t know what to say about it except that I’m pretty sure I came from fusion of two gametes initially, not some bizarre primitive cloning experiment, so that’s another strike against me from Greene’s point of view.
I’m certainly not married to Tillis (yuch!) so per him I’m not a woman either.
As for Graham, I note that he invoked the “birds and the bees”. In birds, IIRC, the male is typically XX and the female XY (I think they call the chromosomes W and Z or something goofy, but they’re X and Y.) I’ve been karyotyped for completely irrelevant reasons. I am XX. So, by the “birds” argument, I’m male once again.
I’m afraid that I’m going to have to add my sex and gender to the long list of things that the Republicans are wrong about.
Per Josh Hawley I haven’t been a woman since 2005 when I had to have a hysterectomy. Idiot.
Then there are animals that change roles such as clownfish (imagine a Finding Nemo sequel where Marlin, Nemo’s father, finds a new mate and, as the larger fish, Marlin is the one who lays the eggs for a new family).
Sen. Thom Tillis is very badly confused, either every woman on the planet is his wife or his wife is the only woman on the planet.
I wonder if he’d give that same description for women in front of a jealous, armed male constituent?
@ 29. Akira MacKenzie
How do you know what I will or won’t approve of if you don’t tell me what you suggest? What specifically is your suggestion here?
Walter Solomon @ 33
Or Candyman (why did people think that film was good, anyway?).
There are fellow vertebrates (fish) that switch gender from male to female as they grow.
And the males of anglerfish permanently fuse with the female, after which they shrink .
Force the eejits to watch a documentary and their heads will explode.
I just realised, the weirdos think trans people are like the hybrid in Species or some similar horror film. And a woman without an uterus must be just like those sterile worker ants (especially the big ones in “Them”).