A Twitter thread by @radicalhag
I’m a woman. I think “adult human female” is an excellent definition of ‘woman’.
It’s dignified. I’m a fully human grown-up person with a female body.
It marks femaleness as the thing which distinguishes me from male humans.
It says nothing about my worth or ability as a person, about my intellect, what I should like or dislike. It places no expectations on me to conform to any particular views or behave in a particular way. It simply describes me as a member of a particular sex class.
That sex class is clear, well defined and objectively observable, even in women who bear the burden of DSDs. It’s an excellent characteristic on which to base law and policy – simple, coherent and obvious. We’re mammals and so we evolved to be good at detecting sex.
At the same time, given the history of women’s oppression, ‘adult human female’ marks the specific vulnerabilities associated with having a female body – the kind of body which made every human on this planet, which is quite miraculous.
It allows women to be granted specific protections and private spaces, reflecting the respect and gratitude society has (or should have) for the enormously important role of reproducing the species, and the extra burden that places on us.
In a progressive society which understands that women cannot enjoy full humanity if we are at the mercy of our reproductive role, it also allows for specific laws and healthcare aimed at ensuring our complete bodily autonomy and right to make our own reproductive decisions.
Sadly, male violence is still a scourge and a stain on our species’ claim to be civilised, and it is often directed at women. Defining us as adult human females makes it possible to provide protections and refuges for us where we are, at least temporarily, safe from this blight.
This definition allows us to disaggregate data by sex, to ensure that women are not overlooked or treated as identical to men in scientific research or healthcare. It allows us to monitor and remedy the remaining inequalities women suffer.
In short, it is a definition which is crucial to women’s human rights. That it still has gendered connotations is a reflection of the injustices directed at us, not anything fundamental, and feminism works to reduce and remove those connotations.
So it is extraordinary that anyone who respects women would want to abandon this definition in favour of something circular and amorphous like identity, something that reflects a partial and inaccurate male view of women rather than women’s reality. It is regress, not progress.
Changing the definition of this word has enormous and very negative implications for women, who are half the population. You’re going to need a much better justification than ‘inclusivity’. The people who make you deserve better than this.
To those contemptible misogynists who think that the word, and our rights, are theirs to give away, I would say: if you erase us, don’t expect reproductive services from non-people. A society which treats women this badly is a society which deserves to go extinct. And it will.
To those who can’t bear to be unkind to trans people, I would say: the consequences of this change are too big for women to allow it. Trans people need to construe themselves in a way which does not infringe on women, and we need to welcome them into society just as they are.
Now go and sort your crap out. We’re not putting up with it any more.