Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
“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.Published in