Saturday, April 1, 2023

'Are women female?'

Philosopher Peter Kreeft explains in his Logic textbook Socratic Logic, that a successful argument has 1) clear terms, 2) true premises and 3) valid arguments. "What is a woman?" has become a conservative gotcha question, and "whoever identifies as one" has become the post-modern rejoinder. Women's rights activist Posie Parker (aka Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull) became famous in 2018 when she had the dictionary definition of a woman "Woman: noun, adult human female" printed on a billboard in Liverpool. Nearly a hundred years ago Dorothy Sayers cheekily asked Are Women Human? She observed how women were not treated with the basic respect we give, or know should be given, to all entities who belong to the category of 'human'. Perhaps a modern version of Sayers' question would be "Are women female?" 

Kreeft quotes GK Chesterton from (Orthodoxy) to explain the importance of defining terms. "As GK Chesterton says, it is simply 'an attack on thought' to say 'that every separate thing is unique, and there are no categories at all ... a man cannot open his mouth without contradicting it. Thus when Mr Wells says (as he did somewhere), 'All chairs are quite different,' he utters not merely a misstatement, but a contradiction in terms. If all chairs were quite different, you could not call them 'all chairs''." (Kreeft, Socratic Logic, 54) Terms, even terms like "female", are not subjective categories; something each of us invents in our own minds, but a term that corresponds to a specific, tangible and objective category of entities. 

'Adult Human Female' (2022) is a documentary that explores the controversy around affirming the biological reality of female gender. 

Also relevant is the new podcast 'The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling' (Free Press, 2023). It explores the controversy through the lens of J.K. Rowling, and her work, and her recent statements about gender. The tangents about internet-culture, the Satanic-panic and the ideological reactions of famous transgender YouTuber Contrapoints helps put the post-modern reaction into context.