Sorry, What is a Woman Again?

18 July 2023

4.1 MINS

Every now and then an event occurs that offers a glimpse into the minds of the silent majority. Having been repeatedly told by the loud woke left that their views are racist, homophobic, anti-trans — or just plain wrong and not to be uttered in respectable society — many ordinary people have kept their views to themselves, even though they innately know they represent age-old truths and common sense. When the mainstream media ridicule or seek to cancel anyone who prefers the wisdom of the ages to the new morality, most people prefer to just get on with their lives and hope the current views are a passing fad.

But then comes the rare glimpse into their thinking. Such is the current phenomena of a film aired on Twitter and viewed, at the time of writing, by over 170 million people in the space of a few days. Incredibly, this has been ignored by most of the mainstream media, yet by the time you read this column, close to 200 million people will have viewed the documentary!

What is a Woman? was made last year by Matt Walsh, an American political commentator. It was originally hosted on the conservative Daily Wire website. Walsh is a Catholic and a conservative, so that makes him a persona non grata for the left. Read the anonymously left-wing authored Wikipedia entry about him and you will get the drift. But tens of millions of people disagree. They have logged on to watch an hour-and-a-half-long documentary that seeks an answer to a basic question, ‘what is a woman?’

For millennia, the question has hardly needed asking. The answer was obvious: a woman is an adult female. But in this era of identity politics, it seems the obvious is questionable or objectionable. Hence, Walsh’s pursuit of an answer.

Walsh thought he had negotiated a deal to stream the documentary on Twitter, but executives backed out. Twitter hid the film from the feeds of Daily Wire followers and removed the ability to simply re-tweet posts in which it was embedded. Twitter placed one of their ‘warnings’ on the post. It was ‘misgendering’ and ‘hateful’, according to the moral guardians of the left.

When Elon Musk learned of this decision, he immediately said it was ‘a mistake.’  Two executives left the company following Musk’s intervention. He also promoted the film on his own Twitter page, saying, ‘Every parent should watch this… A child is not capable of consent, which is why we have laws protecting minors.’ Obviously, millions of people agree with him.

Truth is Offensive

What is so objectionable for the left in the documentary? First, Walsh has the temerity to question one of the pillars of the left, namely transgenderism. Anyone who disagrees with the zeitgeist on the issue is to be cancelled. Witness the appalling treatment of J.K. Rowling.

Secondly, any criticism of the new moral certainties is to be ignored. To allow genuine discussion of the issue is seen by proponents as allowing dissension where they contend there can be none. While contending that their novel views are true, any questioning of ‘truth’ is forbidden. If this fails, proponents roll out one of their stock-standard attacks on the motives or sincerity of the questioner.

Consider some extracts from the exchange between Walsh and an American college professor of women, gender and sexuality studies (who appears to be a biological male!):

Walsh: ‘If we are talking about a transwoman [who] has all of the male physical characteristics, would that not be a male then? Could we plainly say “this person is a male”?’

Professor: ‘Well I guess… Why are you asking the question? I want to understand why that is so important. So if someone tells you…’

Walsh: ‘So to understand reality. You know.’

Professor: ‘What? I mean when someone tells you who they are, you should believe that, and so if a person says that they’re a woman or they’re a man, then that’s them telling you who their gender is. I’m not so sure what social interactions would have to do with maleness or femaleness that would…

Walsh: ‘I’m not even talking about a social context, I’m just trying to start by getting to the truth, you know.’

Professor: ‘Yeah, I’m really uncomfortable with that language, like getting to the truth. Again, in social…’

Walsh: ‘Why is that uncomfortable?’

Professor: ‘It sounds actually deeply transphobic to me.’

Walsh: ‘And truth?’

Professor: ‘If you keep probing, we gunna stop the interview.’

Walsh: ‘If I probe about what the truth is?’

Professor: ‘You keep invoking the word “truth” which is condescending and rude. I’m saying to you…’

Walsh: ‘How is the word “truth” condescending and rude?’

Professor: ‘Why don’t you tell me what your “truth” is – and you’re walking on 30 seconds more of thin ice before I get up.’

Walsh: ‘What my “truth” is? I don’t think I really have a “truth”. I think there is just “the truth”, like “the reality” so we should begin by trying to figure out what the reality is.’

Eventually, this exchange got to the question:

Professor: ‘I came today very willing and enthusiastic about answering questions about women, gender and sexuality studies…’

Walsh: ‘You wanted to answer questions about women’s studies, so the first answer you should be able to provide is exactly what is a woman.’

Professor: ‘For me, it’s a really simple answer. It’s a person who identifies as a woman.’

Walsh: ‘What are they identifying as?’

Professor: ‘As a woman.’

Walsh: ‘What is that?’

Professor: ‘As a woman.’

Walsh: ‘Do you know what a circular definition is?’

Professor: ‘I do.’

Walsh: ‘It’s sort of like (making a circle with his finger) what you’re doing right now: a woman is a woman.’

Professor: ‘You’re seeking what we would call in my field of work what we call an essentialist definition of gender. It sounds like you would like me to give you a set of biological or cultural characteristics that are associated with one gender or the other.’

Walsh: ‘I’m not seeking any type of definition, I’m just seeking a definition.’

Professor: ‘And I gave you one.’

So there you have it. A woman is a woman! Unlike the American professor, both men and women in an African Maasai tribe that Walsh also interviewed had no problems defining a woman. No wonder the documentary has gone viral.


Originally published in the Spectator Australia. Photo by Alexander Dummer.

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