Quote of the Day: What are Women?

 

“Words have meaning. And their meaning doesn’t change.” – Antonin Scalia

“Feminists have convinced themselves that any difference between men and women is oppression and that women in the United States are an oppressed minority. This is such a lie. American women are the most fortunate class of people who ever lived on the face of the earth.” – Phyllis Schlafly
“Most retronyms are gleaned from high-technology and scientific advances that bring about a modification of an original item. Think of it as a backward glance that signifies progress (film camera, broadcast network, propeller airplane).” – Lyrysa Smith

“I said ‘when a woman is pregnant,’ which implies that only women can get pregnant and I most sincerely apologize to all of you.” – Professor at a University of California medical school 

It is now difficult to quote Phyllis Schlafly on feminism and the supposed oppression of American women without first establishing the definition of terms. She uses the antiquated terms “men” and “women,” whereas modern enlightened and properly educated English-speaking people use “biological men” and “biological women” to mean what was previously communicated with the use of only one word for each of the two kinds of adult human beings. If feminists once thought that any difference between men and women signified the oppression of American women, what must they think of the complete redefinition of the category? Doesn’t feminism imply the existence of people who are in fact women, as distinct from people who are men? Common sense and the entire history of humanity until the past few years would answer that of course, men and women are inherently different and distinct kinds of people. Nonetheless, the words men and women now convey their previously understood meaning only when preceded by the distinguishing addition of the word biological. The fundamental meaning of “women” may be unchanged, but we find ourselves routinely reading, hearing, or even saying the retronym “biological women.” Is Scalia right that the meaning of words doesn’t change? What else could “women” mean but what it has always meant?

Have we reached a point where scientific advances have brought about a modification of the original item: woman? Without doing anything at all to change our physical beings, women like myself are now relegated to embodying the old-fashioned, primitive version of womanhood. To have not decided on one’s gender, to have been so completely passive in accepting the gender construct of society is now so terribly passé. Some might even call it Neanderthal. If I were truly enlightened, I would probably reconsider my marriage, all my previous relationship choices, my wardrobe, my preference for social interaction over computer and office work, and definitely my decision to have and raise children myself. And hasn’t that been the goal of feminism for quite a long-time? “Let’s not be women because women have it so bad in this backward society,” they essentially have argued.

And yet, as an American woman, daughter, mother, and wife, I think Schlafly’s statement sounds true. In general, American women have been an extremely fortunate class of people. Obviously, some women have tough lives or particularly difficult circumstances, but the unfortunate lives of some do not prove that all American women are an oppressed minority. Examples of women living successful, fulfilling lives are plentiful in our history, our families, and our communities. To what extent will women continue to enjoy the good fortune of being American when Americans become increasingly reluctant to admit that women are distinct from men in body and mind, with lots of room for different personalities and individual preferences?

Personally, I don’t want to be referred to as a “biological woman” and I don’t want my daughters to be referred to as “biological girls.” Unfortunately for me, and for men and women who share my perspective, I am not currently enrolled in a college or graduate school program where I can threaten my professors with charges of bigotry for failing to adhere to my speech code. While some might say that I have little standing in this linguistic war, I offer the following credentials to speak on what women are: I have been pregnant and given birth to three beautiful, smart, funny, and uniquely wonderful girls. As I am grateful for all that my husband does to support our family, he is grateful for my capacity to bring our family into existence. We bring our different skill sets to the joint effort of sustaining our household and its individual members, and neither of us is diminished by those differences.

Furthermore, I do not want to go to the doctor’s office and have the examining physician ask me what gender I identify, as happened to my then 70-year-old mother-in-law a few years ago. She was so astonished by the question that she responded by explaining that she was about to celebrate her 50th wedding anniversary. To that, the doctor replied, “To a woman?” First of all, in what universe could she have been legally wed to another woman for 50 years? Secondly, doesn’t the question imply that the doctor knows she’s looking at a woman, albeit one with short hair and comfortable shoes? My lovely, straightforward mother-in-law attempted to indicate her womanly physical attributes in order to put the issue to rest, as if having breasts and female reproductive organs had anything to do with it.

I have not yet experienced the absurdity of such a visit to the doctor’s office. However, before the pandemic, I noticed a new sign at the obstetrics-gynecology practice where I had been a patient for over a decade. It was welcoming to the practice a new physician who focused on transgender patients. I am not sure whether those patients are women who wish to live as men or the reverse, but I am sorry for anyone practicing medicine in this topsy-turvy world. It’s not a terrible imposition to have to answer a single question about whether I am a woman or a man, but I’d have more confidence in an OB-GYN who recognizes that serving female patients is the point. To me, saying that “only women can get pregnant” is the most basic statement of competence required before I set foot in the doctor’s office. To instead denounce the truth as a lie seems clearly designed to manufacture the oppression that has been so inconveniently missing from feminism and many leftist movements in America.

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  1. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Ten thousand likes for this wonderful post!

    ***

    This is the Quote of the Day. August’s sign-up sheet is here (glory be, August already; I knew it was a mistake to take the Christmas tree down),  and there are many dates available. Please sign up today for free shipping and the usual special offer!

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    Another ongoing project to encourage new voices is our Group Writing Project. July’s theme is “We Hold These Truths (or Fictions).”  If you’d like to weigh in, please sign up for Group Writing too!

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Excellent post, Lilly. I was born female, grew into being a girl, teenager and woman. I love being who I am and feel great sadness for those who have to invent categories that conflict with their true selves. 

    • #2
  3. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Unfortunately, the reason why we are here is because we couldn’t define woman and marriage because of the outliers that fell out of the definition. Defining a dog with some particulars and four legs doesn’t mean we suddenly fail to identify dogs with missing legs.

    However, marriage and woman had to be altered to include in definitional form all the versions of it that didn’t fall under the definition of it. Woman is man with a womb? What about women who have had hysterectomies.

    We should have ignored the special pleadings. Women who thought they were less woman because of unfortunate surgeries needed grief counseling. Not a redefined word that already included them but now did so definitionally.

    • #3
  4. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    One thing not often talked about is how technology + capitalism freed stay-at-home women from the drudgery of everyday household chores.  Think of the following: vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, washing machines & driers . . . heck, even the second car made life better.  To be fair, those items made my life easier once I started living on my own, but you get the idea.

    Lilly B: It is now difficult to quote Phyllis Schlafly on feminism and the supposed oppression of American women without first establishing the definition of terms. She uses the antiquated terms “men” and “women,” whereas modern enlightened and properly educated English-speaking people use “biological men” and “biological women” to mean what was previously communicated with the use of only one word for each of the two kinds of adult human beings.

    The only time I use the term “biological” in regard to men and women is when arguing about how the left is trying to destroy it . . .

    • #4
  5. Lilly B Coolidge
    Lilly B
    @LillyB

    Stad (View Comment):

    One thing not often talked about is how technology + capitalism freed stay-at-home women from the drudgery of everyday household chores. Think of the following: vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, washing machines & driers . . . heck, even the second car made life better. To be fair, those items made my life easier once I started living on my own, but you get the idea.

    Lilly B: It is now difficult to quote Phyllis Schlafly on feminism and the supposed oppression of American women without first establishing the definition of terms. She uses the antiquated terms “men” and “women,” whereas modern enlightened and properly educated English-speaking people use “biological men” and “biological women” to mean what was previously communicated with the use of only one word for each of the two kinds of adult human beings.

    The only time I use the term “biological” in regard to men and women is when arguing about how the left is trying to destroy it . . .

    Countless inventions, usually invented by men, have made my life and all our lives much easier and more comfortable. I’m very aware of how many machines I depend on daily and how little I know about how they work. My husband is much more interested in figuring out how the various systems keep our house in working order than I am. I just want them to work, and I’m grateful that they do (most of the time).

    • #5
  6. Kelly B Member
    Kelly B
    @KellyB

    Lilly B: Furthermore, I do not want to go to the doctor’s office and have the examining physician ask me with what gender I identify, as happened to my then 70 year-old mother-in-law a few years ago.

    Thanks for the warning! If that ever happens to me in a doctor’s office, I’m leaving. I want a doctor who knows the difference between men and women.

    • #6
  7. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    Smashing post.

    I hope your M-I-L found a new doctor. 

     

     

    • #7
  8. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Lilly B (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    One thing not often talked about is how technology + capitalism freed stay-at-home women from the drudgery of everyday household chores. Think of the following: vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, washing machines & driers . . . heck, even the second car made life better. To be fair, those items made my life easier once I started living on my own, but you get the idea.

    Lilly B: It is now difficult to quote Phyllis Schlafly on feminism and the supposed oppression of American women without first establishing the definition of terms. She uses the antiquated terms “men” and “women,” whereas modern enlightened and properly educated English-speaking people use “biological men” and “biological women” to mean what was previously communicated with the use of only one word for each of the two kinds of adult human beings.

    The only time I use the term “biological” in regard to men and women is when arguing about how the left is trying to destroy it . . .

    Countless inventions, usually invented by men, have made my life and all our lives much easier and more comfortable. I’m very aware of how many machines I depend on daily and how little I know about how they work. My husband is much more interested in figuring out how the various systems keep our house in working order than I am. I just want them to work, and I’m grateful that they do (most of the time).

    And I’m grateful too.  I left out the blender, which makes making mixed drinks easier . . .

    • #8
  9. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Kelly B (View Comment):

    Lilly B: Furthermore, I do not want to go to the doctor’s office and have the examining physician ask me with what gender I identify, as happened to my then 70 year-old mother-in-law a few years ago.

    Thanks for the warning! If that ever happens to me in a doctor’s office, I’m leaving. I want a doctor who knows the difference between men and women.

    I stopped following a medical history and information podcast when the host MD started using language affirming transgenderism.

    • #9
  10. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Kelly B (View Comment):

    Lilly B: Furthermore, I do not want to go to the doctor’s office and have the examining physician ask me with what gender I identify, as happened to my then 70 year-old mother-in-law a few years ago.

    Thanks for the warning! If that ever happens to me in a doctor’s office, I’m leaving. I want a doctor who knows the difference between men and women.

    It’s time for us to ask the questions. :-) :-) We should create our own forms. “Please tell me if the picture below is of a man or a woman.” :-) :-)

     

    • #10
  11. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Kelly B (View Comment):

    Lilly B: Furthermore, I do not want to go to the doctor’s office and have the examining physician ask me with what gender I identify, as happened to my then 70 year-old mother-in-law a few years ago.

    Thanks for the warning! If that ever happens to me in a doctor’s office, I’m leaving. I want a doctor who knows the difference between men and women.

    I completely agree.  However, much of what goes on in a doctor’s office, especially WRT information gathering is done for compliance reasons, either the state or the feds, or as a requirement by the insurance companies in order to get paid.  Usually, it’s the registration clerks, or the med techs, aides, or nurses who asks those questions (at least in the hospitals I’ve worked in and been in) and they’re just doing their job.  I’ve only been asked it once, and since I’d already filled out the paperwork when I got to the office, indicating “F” in the “sex” selection box, I just said “I identify as the sex I was born,” and left it at that. (One thing I do refuse to do is talk about “gender” as if it is something distinct from “sex.”) I certainly would be flummoxed if an actual doctor asked me that in the middle of an exam.  Hope that doesn’t happen. (I get very annoyed on general principles, when, every time a different person comes into the exam room, I have to start the explanations and answers all over again, and if it starts happening on that particular question, I’ll probably end up on the eleven o’clock news.)

    • #11
  12. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    Stad (View Comment):
    One thing not often talked about is how technology + capitalism freed stay-at-home women from the drudgery of everyday household chores.  Think of the following: vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, washing machines & driers . . . heck, even the second car made life better. 

    When gas stoves came into use…but were still expensive…the term ‘gas stove wife’ was applied to women who had such appliances and were thus liberated to do other things in the time previously necessary to tend a wood or coal stove.

    Owen Young was a farm boy who grew up to become chairman of General Electric.  To his biographer, he provided a vivid word-picture of what life had been like for a farm wife back in the slightly earlier times. Here, he remembers Monday–wash day:

    He drew from his memory a vivid picture of its miseries: the milk coming into the house from the barn; the skimming to be done; the pans and buckets to be washed; the churn waiting attention; the wash boiler on the stove while the wash tub and its back-breaking device, the washboard, stood by; the kitchen full of steam; hungry men at the door anxious to get at the day’s work and one pale, tired, and discouraged woman in the midst of this confusion.

    See my post Of Energy and Slavery.

    • #12
  13. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    My oldest daughter just graduated from one of the top 10 colleges in America.  Elite of the elite.

    For 4 years, on the first day of the semester, in every class, the professor would introduce itself, and then give its preferred pronouns.  It would then go around the classroom and ask each student what their name was, and what pronouns they preferred.  Every class for 4 years.

    I asked her if anyone ever gave pronouns that were not what she expected.  She said, “Of course not” and rolled her eyes.

    She’s right.  That was a stupid question.

    Because this whole charade is stupid and everyone knows it.  But no one has the guts to stand up against it.  Because they would lose, and they know it.

    This is surreal…

    • #13
  14. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    Lilly B: Furthermore, I do not want to go to the doctor’s office and have the examining physician ask me what gender I identify

    If it is an OB-GYN exam, the appropriate response might be, “Well, you’re about to find out.”

    • #14
  15. Kephalithos Member
    Kephalithos
    @Kephalithos

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment): For 4 years, on the first day of the semester, in every class, the professor would introduce itself, and then give its preferred pronouns. It would then go around the classroom and ask each student what their name was, and what pronouns they preferred. Every class for 4 years.

    If this happens to me, I won’t hold back. Prepare to hear about me on the evening news.

    • #15
  16. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    My oldest daughter just graduated from one of the top 10 colleges in America. Elite of the elite.

    For 4 years, on the first day of the semester, in every class, the professor would introduce itself, and then give its preferred pronouns. It would then go around the classroom and ask each student what their name was, and what pronouns they preferred. Every class for 4 years.

    I asked her if anyone ever gave pronouns that were not what she expected. She said, “Of course not” and rolled her eyes.

    She’s right. That was a stupid question.

    Because this whole charade is stupid and everyone knows it. But no one has the guts to stand up against it. Because they would lose, and they know it.

    This is surreal…

    Well, a lot of us seem to be standing up against it, here at Ricochet.

    I don’t think that it’s just the question that is stupid, or the charade that is stupid.  What I think is really stupid are the people who give this nonsense their support.  The Democrats make their anti-discrimination argument, and a bunch of people still vote for them.  I find that stupid.

    They probably don’t see the mess that it coming.  That’s stupid, too.

    There’s a lot of stupid going around.

    • #16
  17. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Another thing that bothers me, relating to the bizarre trans thing, is the way that so many conservatives yield on the issue.

    It started out with the pronoun thing.  I recall many responses — including from Ben Shapiro, I think — arguing that no one should be forced to use another person’s preferred pronoun, but that the person making the argument — i.e. Shapiro — would do so, of course, out of courtesy.

    Great way to lose.  Someone demands that you lie, and you say that no one should be forced to lie, but they you concede that any decent, courteous person would go ahead and lie.

    I do think that the trans thing is far, far more destructive and insidious than most people seem to realize.

    It is funny to watch the feminists caught in this trap, as the trans-crazies have turned the feminists’ whole “gender is social construct” around on them.  Even the use of the word “gender” is a lie in this context.  People have a sex, not a “gender.”  Words in Spanish have a gender.

    However, both feminism and the trans ideology are wrong, and harmful, in my view.

    • #17
  18. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Lilly B: “Words have meaning. And their meaning doesn’t change.” – Antonin Scalia

    Nonsense.

    My grandmother used to use “presently” meaning “soon” all the time when I was a child and initially it confused me. It once had the meaning of “currently” but lost that meaning yet that meaning has returned.

    Then there’s “nunnery” if you wish to be more Shakespearian.

    The difference is, bottom-up vs. top-down language changes.

    • #18
  19. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Another thing that bothers me, relating to the bizarre trans thing, is the way that so many conservatives yield on the issue.

    It started out with the pronoun thing. I recall many responses — including from Ben Shapiro, I think — arguing that no one should be forced to use another person’s preferred pronoun, but that the person making the argumenti.e. Shapiro — would do so, of course, out of courtesy.

    Great way to lose. Someone demands that you lie, and you say that no one should be forced to lie, but they you concede that any decent, courteous person would go ahead and lie.

    I do think that the trans thing is far, far more destructive and insidious than most people seem to realize.

    It is funny to watch the feminists caught in this trap, as the trans-crazies have turned the feminists’ whole “gender is social construct” around on them. Even the use of the word “gender” is a lie in this context. People have a sex, not a “gender.” Words in Spanish have a gender.

    However, both feminism and the trans ideology are wrong, and harmful, in my view.

    Words in Latin have gender, too.  Masculine, feminine and neuter.  I wonder what gender neuter is.  I understand castrati sang beautifully.

    • #19
  20. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Flicker (View Comment):
    Words in Latin have gender, too.  Masculine, feminine and neuter.  I wonder what gender neuter is. 

    Yes.  That’s been the generally understood (although there are exceptions throughout history) way in which the term “gender” is used.

    Latin is a weird language.  Tables are feminine.  Fingers are masculine.  Wars are neuter.

    Then there are languages like Thai, in which the words used express the gender/sex of the speaker, rather than that of the thing being spoken about.  Thus:

    sawadeet-ka: “Hello. I am a woman.”

    and

    sawadeet-krap: “Hello. I am a man.”

    As my stepdaughter wryly observed when I explained this to her: “Well, at least it saves the trouble of announcing your pronouns.”  (I’m not sure what the Thai will do when they have to cope with all 57, or however many it is today, of the approved Facebook genders.)

    • #20
  21. Kephalithos Member
    Kephalithos
    @Kephalithos

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment): Another thing that bothers me, relating to the bizarre trans thing, is the way that so many conservatives yield on the issue.

    Agreed. It’s because being “mean” or “disrespectful” — in other words, doing or saying anything that might cause offense — is deemed to be the worst of all social crimes, and maybe the worst of all crimes. People being what they are (submissive, conflict-avoidant, and eager to please), most would rather yield to the demands of the woke than escalate the conflict.

    But appeasement isn’t a winning strategy, in the long run.

    • #21
  22. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Kephalithos (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment): Another thing that bothers me, relating to the bizarre trans thing, is the way that so many conservatives yield on the issue.

    Agreed. It’s because being “mean” or “disrespectful” — in other words, doing or saying anything that might cause offense — is deemed to be the worst of all social crimes, and maybe the worst of all crimes. People being what they are (submissive, conflict-avoidant, and eager to please), most would rather yield to the demands of the woke than escalate the conflict.

    But appeasement isn’t a winning strategy, in the long run.

    This is a trait conspicuously absent in Paul’s definition of “Love”.

    • #22
  23. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    She (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):
    Words in Latin have gender, too. Masculine, feminine and neuter. I wonder what gender neuter is.

    Yes. That’s been the generally understood (although there are exceptions throughout history) way in which the term “gender” is used.

    Latin is a weird language. Tables are feminine. Fingers are masculine. Wars are neuter.

    Then there are languages like Thai, in which the words used express the gender/sex of the speaker, rather than that of the thing being spoken about. Thus:

    sawadeet-ka: “Hello. I am a woman.”

    and

    sawadeet-krap: “Hello. I am a man.”

    As my stepdaughter wryly observed when I explained this to her: “Well, at least it saves the trouble of announcing your pronouns.” (I’m not sure what the Thai will do when they have to cope with all 57, or however many it is today, of the approved Facebook genders.)

    Yes, and Filipinos don’t have he and she.  So when they use a pronoun they will just as often say he or she contrary to the sex of the person they’re referring to.

    • #23
  24. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Flicker (View Comment):
    Words in Latin have gender, too.  Masculine, feminine and neuter.  I wonder what gender neuter is.  I understand castrati sang beautifully.

    German has all three as well. What’s even weirder about German is that the word commonly used for “girl” (Mädchen) is neutral. But it’s also understandable in that all words ending in -chen are neutral (-chen is added to words to signify little, so little maiden). 

    Mark Twain wrote in The Awful German Language

    Every noun has a gender, and there is no sense or system in the distribution; so the gender of each must be learned separately and by heart. There is no other way. To do this one has to have a memory like a memorandum-book. In German, a young lady has no sex, while a turnip has. Think what overwrought reverence that shows for the turnip, and what callous disrespect for the girl. 

    That’s not strictly true about learning whether all words are masculine, feminine or neutral. Sometimes you can tell from the ending (as with -chen), but it’s true 80-90 percent of the time.

    • #24
  25. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Yes, and Filipinos don’t have he and she.  So when they use a pronoun they will just as often say he or she contrary to the sex of the person they’re referring to.

    It’s one word for he, she, him, her in Tagalog. It’s the same in Indonesian and Malay (though a different word).

    • #25
  26. Lilly B Coolidge
    Lilly B
    @LillyB

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):
    Because this whole charade is stupid and everyone knows it.  But no one has the guts to stand up against it.  Because they would lose, and they know it.

    Can’t we band together to test that hypothesis? It sounds like your daughter knows that it’s BS, but what does it do to our young people to train them to be silent in the face of absurd demands? It’s like the mask mandates. A friend just told me that her middle school daughter is fine to do whatever the school asks her to do. It’s a compliance mindset. When authority is acting reasonably, that’s a good mindset. But lately, it’s like institutional authority is flaunting its irrationality.

    Also, is it worth it to get the elite degree if part of it is the acceptance of nonsense? My oldest will be applying to colleges next year. She hates this stuff, but is non-confrontational.

    • #26
  27. CuriousKevmo Member
    CuriousKevmo
    @CuriousKevmo

    I’ve always been a little baffled by the feminist arguments but perhaps it’s down to my upbringing – primarily my mother’s doing.  Sure, there were the obvious little things that had to go “let me speak to the man of the house”,”don’t worry your pretty little head”  etc.  But I grew up seeing women as “more than” – they had the children, they made homes — even if primarily men built the houses.  Mom and the other Mom’s in the neighborhood ran the show.

    It’s that way in my house – my wife is irreplaceable to all of us.  Sure I have great relationships with my kids and they would miss me, but my absence would be covered with my savings and life insurance, not so hers.  She is the center for us and is adored.

    Pretty sure she is quite happy with this arrangement and I’ll fight anyone that says she shouldn’t be.

     

    • #27
  28. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Yes, and Filipinos don’t have he and she. So when they use a pronoun they will just as often say he or she contrary to the sex of the person they’re referring to.

    It’s one word for he, she, him, her in Tagalog. It’s the same in Indonesian and Malay (though a different word).

    That’s interesting. One wonders how they keep things sorted out. 

    Hausa (Northern Nigeria) has masculine and feminine nouns and modifiers. Its verb conjugation is very different from English and relies on the context provided by surrounding words to identify what we would call the ‘tense.’  I learned to speak it as a small child, at about the same time, and in the same way that I learned to speak English. And so it didn’t occur to me until much later, to think about the differences; I just mimicked what I heard. 

    • #28