Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Carol Hay: "Who Counts As A Woman?"

Yet another embarrassingly bad pro-trans-ideology post in the NYT. They're barely even worth commenting on anymore. The errors and confusions are so glaringly obvious that it doesn't take a philosopher to identify them...though one has to wonder whether it takes a philosopher to believe them...or at least think them up.
   The most notable thing about this to my mind is that, despite article after article in the NYT, Washington Post, etc. articulating and defending these ridiculous positions and arguments, I don't think there's been a single one articulating the obvious, non-insane, and actually true alternative. That's to say: man and woman are, as they have always been, sex kinds not genders. What all women have in common is: being female. There is no great puzzle here. It takes the likes of Judith Butler et al. to cook up a problem, and then to hysterically defend a ridiculous, politically correct solution. Female is a sex; feminine is a gender.; woman is a species/sex/age kind: a woman is an adult, female human. Women are necessarily female. Women tend to be more feminine (i.e. less masculine). Women are necessarily female, and tend be feminine. It takes a concerted effort by scholars to confuse these rather simple matters. Women could become men--if we could change females into males. But we can't currently do that, we can only simulate such a change. "Transwomen" are not women at all, but feminine men. Calling them "women" is just another bit of tactical misdescription by the left, which is known for its use of the tactic.
   It's ridiculous to take Hay's positions and arguments seriously by addressing them directly. But I can't help at least pointing to some peripheral bits of sophistry. Consider the first lines of her essay:
Who counts as a woman? Is there some set of core experiences distinctive of womanhood, some shared set of adventures and exploits that every woman will encounter on her journey from diapers to the grave?
Who counts as a woman is: every adult, female human being. There's simply no puzzle there. Is there some set of experiences common to all women? Not really, but sort of. Not really because woman isn't a behavioral kind, but a biological one. So what all women have in common is a biology, not a type of experience. Sort of because you can just trivialize things by saying: all women share the experience of having a female body. Hay begins her essay the way she does precisely in order to obfuscate the issues by presupposing that there's some puzzle about commonality of experience that needs addressing. There isn't.
   Also nonsense:
Any attempt to catalog the commonalities among women, in other words, has the inescapable result that there is some correct way to be a woman.
It's not a question of correctness and incorrectness. Women just are adult female persons. The business about right and wrong ways is a red herring. Having a penis and all that isn't the wrong way to be a woman: it's not being a woman at all. Someone who's male and feminine isn't being a woman in the wrong way; he's being a man in a nonstandard way. (Which is his right.) 
   Trans ideology survives, in part, by trying to change the subject. The point is to prevent people from focusing on the fact that "transwomen" aren't women and "transmen" aren't men. Better to pretend that the real challenge to TI is something else--otherwise, they can't win. So they pretend that "transwomen aren't real women" means "transwomen are women, but not in the right way," rather than "transwomen aren't women at all." If they can move the discussion to this terrain, then the crucial, false presupposition remains out of play.
   Hay's task is made easier by the fact that everyone else has been shouted down; no one dares point out that the emperor has no clothes, because they've seen the wrath of the left--especially this part of it. Philosophers, in particular, are shamefully silent about it all. The only ones speaking are defending trans ideology. Except for the radical feminists--radical feminists (especially lesbian ones) are permitted--but barely--to raise objections because of their relatively exalted position in the progressive stack. But, though the majority of non-brainwashed philosophers are out there rolling their eyes at this nonsense, they're all rolling them in private. None will speak up about it.
   That's it. I have real things to do. I've wasted more than enough of my time complaining about this nonsense. 


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