Defining ‘Woman’ Starts with Humanity, Not Femaleness

"Conservatives quickly memed Jackson, portraying her refusal to answer the question as clear indication of progressive nonsense. After all, anyone should be able to define what a woman is. The only problem with this, of course, is that we’ve struggled to define what a woman is for thousands of years." - Hannah Anderson

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Hannah's done her homework.

In her 1947 essay “The Human-Not-Quite-Human,” Christian apologist and scholar Dorothy Sayers reflects on the inadequacy of our working definitions of woman:

The first task, when undertaking the study of any phenomenon, is to observe its most obvious feature. … It is here that most students of the “Woman Question” have failed, and the Church more lamentably than most, and with less excuse. … No matter what arguments are used, the discussion is vitiated from the start, because Man is always dealt with as both Homo [human] and Vir [male], but Woman only as Femina [female].

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Bert Perry's picture

With due deference to the issues had by the ancient Greeks and the Church Fathers, I'd have simply said (graciously of course) "duh" to the notion that we have to assume humanity first.  Implicit in the discussion is that nobody was talking about a sow, or a cow, or a hen here.  The question at hand was whether a "woman", legally speaking, had to have two X chromosomes for sex selection or not, and Judge Jackson's failure to answer it indicates she's got an answer that she didn't want to confess to the Senate.  

The reason I say this is that legally speaking, the term "woman" has had some ambiguity ever since states started to issue updated birth certificates to transgender people, and even the most conservative jurist can cheerfully admit that. Since Jackson did not, you know a priori that she's going to take Title VII and Title IX, among other law, firmly in the direction of arguing it applies to the transgender.  It's a pretty obvious declaration that, for all her statements about original intent, she's a judicial activist.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Paul Henebury's picture

Anderson is riffing off a very straightforward question put to the judge, which the judge fully understood as shown by her answer: that she isn't a BIOLOGIST.

Hence, the question had nothing to do with Anderson's points.  

BTW, can anyone show me where the Church Fathers thought of women in that way?

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

dgszweda's picture

Paul Henebury wrote:

BTW, can anyone show me where the Church Fathers thought of women in that way?

Here is one example,

 

In his commentary, “On the Trinity,” Augustine asserted that women alone were not the image of God but could become the image of God if they married a man: 

“when I was treating of the nature of the human mind, that the woman together with her own husband is the image of God, so that the whole substance may be one image; but when she is referred separately to her quality of help-meet, which regards the woman herself alone, then she is not the image of God; but as regards the man alone, he is the image of God as fully and completely as when the woman too is joined with him in one.”

A bit further in the same paragraph, he reasoned,

“when as a whole [the human mind] contemplates the truth it is the image of God; and in the case when anything is divided from it, and diverted in order to the cognition of temporal things; nevertheless on that side on which it beholds and consults truth, here also it is the image of God, but on that side whereby it is directed to the cognition of the lower things, it is not the image of God.” 

Don Johnson's picture

I agree with Paul. Hannah does make some good points but her subject has very little to do with the issues the judicial hearings raised. One wonders what is the point when you go on and on not answering the question 

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Paul Henebury's picture

Thank you.  Typical nonsense from Augustine.  

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

dgszweda's picture

Don Johnson wrote:

I agree with Paul. Hannah does make some good points but her subject has very little to do with the issues the judicial hearings raised. One wonders what is the point when you go on and on not answering the question 

It is a bit of a difficult question to 100% conclusively state this.  For example, about 1.7% of the population does not exhibit a clear biological clarity around female or male.  About 0.1% aren't even clear at the chromosome level.  How many people identify as transgender?  It was about 1.4M in the US or about 0.44%.  This has increased and studies conflict a bit, as it has gotten more mainstream to come out as transgender regardless of whether you really are or not.  With that said, we have made a much bigger deal about transgender than it represents in the population.  And those who identify as transgender is not really much greater than those who don't have biological clarity around it.

The Republicans were just grandstanding for election purposes and for a good clip for the news.  If I was in her seat, I am not sure I would answer it conclusively.  

Don Johnson's picture

dgszweda wrote:

The Republicans were just grandstanding for election purposes and for a good clip for the news.  If I was in her seat, I am not sure I would answer it conclusively.  

Maybe about the Republicans, but I think it was a revealing exchange.

The person who I meant wasn't answering conclusively (or at all) was Hannah Anderson, however. She is drifting ever leftward in her thinking, I think.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

dgszweda's picture

David R. Brumbelow wrote:

The definition of a “woman” seems pretty simple:

Woman – “an adult female human being.”

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/woman

"So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."  -Genesis 1:27 NKJV

David R. Brumbelow

For most, but not all.  What is a female human being?  I agree God created male and female.  But unfortunately sin has corrupted nature.  The reason why I touch on this is that I have known 2 people that biologically were neither male or female.  It is a real struggle that is challenging to live with.  They have challenges with church because churches often like to make fun of the issue, such as "God did not create Adam and Steve!".  And while there is a great deal of sin swirling around this issue in how society is grasping this, there are just as many with a real biological condition that we as Christians should be aware about.  So while for you, it may be simple in your mind, for someone who has XY and XX chromosomes and who has both pair of genetilia, it is not such a simple issue.

AndyE's picture

Yes, Christians, churches, and pastors need to be aware of birth defects that can cause difficult biological questions and special needs for these dear people.  Let's be clear, though, Jackson was not thinking about these birth defects when refusing to answer the question.  The trans community, which she was not wanting to say anything about, is made up of people born with unambiguous biological differentiators. Outside of very rare birth defects, everyone knows what a women is and it is not hard to define at all, unless you have a political agenda.

Jay's picture

She is drifting ever leftward in her thinking, I think

Ah yes.  The ever popular "she doesn't agree with me therefore she's a feminist/liberal" argument rears it's ugly head, and only ten posts into a thread.

It's the Fundamentalist corollary of Godwin's law.  Well, now that we've covered the boring and predictable ground...let's get back to the point.

Augustine, by the way, is only the tip of the iceberg.  He is hardly alone.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Don Johnson's picture

Jay wrote:

She is drifting ever leftward in her thinking, I think

Ah yes.  The ever popular "she doesn't agree with me therefore she's a feminist/liberal" argument rears it's ugly head, and only ten posts into a thread.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3