Republican Congresspeople Can’t Define ‘Woman’ Either
Hoisted by their own petard.
WaPo columnist Monica Hesse has some good fun at the expense of grandstanding idiots trying to score cheap points during Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearings.
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.
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.”
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.”
Hesse goes on to note that, even aside from the transgender issue that sparked this “debate,” there are all manner of people who don’t meet these simple, anatomical definitions. And that, hysterically, “by Hawley’s new definition he would be forced to accept trans women, post-gender affirming surgery, as women too.”