And a Biologist
I'm not a construction plant engineer but I'm pretty sure that's an excavator, not a bulldozer.
I'd hate to misgender the poor vehicle, though.
Ah…..the voice of informed sanity. Thank you. Shared.
I really appreciated your discussion of this on the podcast; this post is also lovely, including the beautiful photos at the end.
Perhaps because I am a successful product of the feminist movement, I have trouble wrapping my head around trans activism. Most specifically, I harbor no judgment or prejudice toward any male or female who prefers to present to the world ambiguously or in a non-conforming way, for whatever reason. It seems like rather a setback to me that one needs to claim womanhood in order to wear makeup and high heels-- a setback both for people who argue for the rights of men to do such things, and for feminism.
A gay friend once told me he was wary of the "marriage" movement because he thought it was turning an issue most people could agree with (legal and social contracts for same-sex couples) into a deliberate act of aggression toward this particular social construct. I disagreed with him, but now think he may have been ahead of his time. The trans movement is harming the goodwill many of us have toward human beings who just want to enjoy the rights and freedoms they deserve by insisting on co-opting a prior category. This time, however, as you pointed out, they are not dealing with a social construct. They are attempting to appropriate a word that actually describes something humans didn't invent. Thank you so much for providing a biologist's perspective; it's the one I am hoping that Ketanji Brown Jackson had in mind when she deferred the question.
The headline and subhead alone are worth the price of admission!! Thank you for the laugh, the clarity and the reality.
So logically laid out! Thank you! Will be sharing this as this topic comes up, which UGGH! it keeps doing.
I've been contemplating on the the public perception of science for some time now, and I may write about it fairly soon, but I find that there's been a capture of the language used in science by the public (most notably those within the social sciences) to misconstrue or misappropriate the language for their own narrative.
Take, for example, that we don't describe trans people with the dichotomous terminology of "sex" and "gender". In fact, there's a large paradox in the way we describe a trans person as a "Male to Female Transwoman". How is it that, even within this framework, can we conflate gender and sex and use both to define a trans person within the same phrase? At the same time we are arguing that there's a difference between sex and gender (which I absolutely agree with) we are bastardizing the terms and conflating them. In that regard I believe the term sex has been co-opted by the social scientists to describe things that were exclusively biological in nature, and by having scientists use such phrases as "male to female transwoman" we are arguing against their narrative by fighting on their territory.
COVID has shone a light on the concept of science possibly requiring their own form of language gatekeeping. We can see how the definition of vaccines have been changed to suit the needs of the medical establishment even though it runs counter to the actual, intended definition. But I'm also seeing the same thing with respect to "gain-of-function" with many arguing that gain of function research is only nefarious in intent and that it is done with the sole purpose of making a virus more deadly, which I would argue is not the case.
I would love to hear from the perspective of both you and Bret in how the science community properly addresses the co-opting going on in regards to the language of science that defends the actual intent of scientists' use of such terms with public perception and misappropriation.
It seems obvious to me, but then again I identify as not needing a biologist to define a female for me.
Love that glamour shot in the montage. From the 90's? Loved that time of my life and how we looked and felt.
My sister lives in a small town in WI and a young child in her friends' school has identified as a "furry" wears cat ears and requested a litter box. I remember wanting a pony as a young child but never thought I could actually request to be one- only Tabitha on "Bewitched" could twinkle her nose for that. This nonsense must stop. What are we doing to our children? If this has reached the Midwest I truly fear we have a very big problem on our hands.
This is really silly. You are using a biologists definition of 'female' to make meaningless noise about the legal definition of 'woman.'
Are you going to use a biological definition of 'sightless' to complain about people who are 'legally blind?' Would you like to use a biologists definition of 'parent' to nullify all adoptions?
Maybe you could address further the pitfalls of societies and species adding complexity to their lives. It is the complicated disorganized mess we generate in the interest of improving our lives that is doing us in, and at times is being conveniently weaponized. Noted authors like Jared Diamond have examined the issue. The ever increasing human drive toward complexity will be our demise. Didn't Terrence McKenna make this point? Understood under the influence of psychedelics no less, which may feel spiritual and life transforming as it simplifies our perception toward oneness? True species intelligence and survival may best embrace principles of simplicity. So where it applies here is why are we making the genders, sexes so complex? On purpose? With a treacherous set of rules and a rainbow of fine grained distinctions. Is complexification a path to destruction? Who or what is driving it?
I diverse. Page 146 of “A Hunter-Gather’s Guide” you write ‘A handful of ancestors came into the new world with Stone Age technology, & invented writing, astronomy,architecture, & city states along the way, pace of change being far too rapid to be attributable to genes. It took place on the software side.’ The stones age people who populated the American continent came from N.E. Asia. We call them Indians.They drew symbolic pictures. Would one state, it was the European migrants who caused the fast paced of the cultural software? The journey to astrology to astronomy began in eastern & Western Europe.
Thank you Heather, a wonderful and lucid description of a woman:)
Of the four words you use in your premise — women, adult, human and female — only 2 have biological meanings that would also apply socially, or in general conversation: human and female. Your definitions of those terms would not be objectionable at a cocktail party or in a lab. However, that is not true of your definition of adult as an individual who has “attained the average age of first reproduction for their species.” While that definition is fine for a biological discussion, I doubt that many people would consider a 13-year old boy or girl to be an “adult” as that term is used socially. And the same is true of the meaning of the word “women.” Just as the names of the different species of grasshoppers — and perhaps the too finely drawn distinctions between those species — are constructs (as you admit), the term women is also a construct. And the thing about constructs is that they can, and do, change. Just as there may be a correction to the lists and names of grasshopper species as entomologists dig deeper, we are now seeing a societal change in the meaning of “women” to encompass not just “human females” but also individuals who desire to live as females and who have taken steps to change their gender identities. And that is one way in which language evolves: terms that are constructs can change over time. What I don’t understand is why it makes a difference. You have precise biological terms — human female — that can be used to describe that group when it is biologically necessary to do so. We have another term “women” that is now taking on a broader meaning. No one is likely to mistake the use of those different terms given the context of the situations. If we want to discuss whether trans women should be permitted to use what we’ve historically designated as “Women’s” bathrooms, or participate in historically “Women’s” sports, we can, and should, have those discussions. There is no danger that conceding the meaning of women to include trans women automatically means that trans women can now do anything that human females had been permitted to do before. In fact the debates we’ve been having over these issues shows that no one is confused. So it seems to me that while you might say that trans women are not “human females”, society has now said that trans women are “women.”