It’s fair to say anyone claiming expertise in a field and simultaneously failing to properly define its most basic concepts would fail to be taken seriously.
The feminist movement, for a change, whilst apparently working towards advancing women’s rights, is permanently confused by this seemingly volatile notion of being female.
In fact, many have such an unclear understanding of the term “woman” that they choose to avoid it altogether, using expressions such as “people with vaginas”, “people who menstruate” and “pregnant people”, in situations which only apply to women, which leads to very awkward phrasing.
What is more, it seems identity politics should have an impact on society’s view on women to the extent of denying or ignoring their number on this planet. Yes, apparently, even census is offensive now.
“Five reasons why we need to stop saying that women are half of the world’s population” . I suspect, to some, this incentive might be a response to people pointing out that women, who are lumped in with various groups in the oppression Olympics, cannot be classed as a minority or a marginalised community, since that is utterly ridiculous. The reasons given here, however, are quite different.
I don’t see this “women are half the world” thing as being intersectional, nor do I see it as being correct.
And perhaps most importantly, I don’t see it as a step in the right direction: It marginalizes other people in a heck of a lot of ways, trying to uplift women at the expense of others – specifically people of marginalized gender and sex.
The day when statistics are supposed to be cool instead of accurate is the day O’Brien tells Winston how many fingers to see, though Winston is not blind.
Perhaps everyone should see what they want to see, in terms of objective reality. For instance, if your landlord wants to see another zero added to your rent, though the agreement specifies otherwise, or your doctor wants to see three inches instead of seven in the gaping cut in your arm, so that there would be less to stitch up, that would be completely fine. Who needs counts and measurements after all?
It would be every politician’s dream on this planet to convince the masses that numbers don’t matter. Unemployment, war
massacres casualties, people living below the poverty line, you name it.
It didn’t occur to me until I began my gender transition, living now as a genderqueer trans guy, that the phrase started to rub me the wrong way – because it erased transgender people like me, for starters.
Every category has its own statistics and is free use them to make a point, as long as they are factual and not made up.
If we want to make a case for women’s equality around the world, we need to do it in a way that doesn’t erase or harm people of other genders and identities.
Aside from straight white men, I presume, as in every discussion about inequality there has to be a “privileged” group interested in maintaining it. A group which equality is sought with.
It’s time we did away with this talking point once and for all. Because as you’ll see, it’s not doing women – or anyone else, for that matter – any favors. Here are five things to consider the next time you’re thinking of spouting off the “women are half the world” argument.
Of course; not only is it justified to decide what others should and should not talk about, but it is completely justifiable for neutral facts to be censored through peer pressure.
Let’s be real: This phrase isn’t logically correct. When we’re saying that women are half the world, what we’re actually saying is that roughly half the world is assigned female at birth.
We aren’t talking about gender (and therefore, women) at all. We’re talking about sex, and assuming that everyone assigned female at birth must identify as a woman.
This is totally cisnormative – reinforcing the assumption that being cisgender is the default, and centering the experiences of cisgender people, effectively erasing transgender people – and makes this phrase really problematic.
Sure, let’s be so real that we deny the implications of associating the word “woman” with the correct anatomy; it’s not that boys and girls/ men and women have different needs in terms of, let’s say, medical assistance, to begin with. In a medical facility, like it or not, you will be treated as your sex, not your self-appointed gender. Let’s burden the medical system with terms such as pregnant men or women with testicular cancer. Let’s also burden the legal system with notions such as men who are vaginally raped or a biological mother claiming the legal status of the baby’s father, and vice-versa. Because it’s totally not unusual for your sperm-producing mother to impregnate your uterus-possessing father. That must just happen every day, everywhere, as to warrant a generalised policy.
Completely disregarding these differences leads to this dangerous type of situation, when a trans-female MMA fighter, possessing male physical abilities, was allowed to fight actual females. Anyone seeing an average looking guy punching and kicking a woman in the street would be outraged; however, in this context, one has to pretend there is a difference in terms of the major discrepancy of force.
Why are cisgender women the only women that count in this statistic?
They are not. All women are given the same type of assistance and opportunities since they are born (varying from country to country of course, and in some countries those are minimal; it also varies according to class). But a woman remains a woman regardless. One cannot say those who later identify as a different gender are being discriminated against since birth and are thus oppressed by their “gender assignment”. Their decision to transition has nothing to do with the medical system; or with the system in general; it is theirs and theirs alone.
And while trans women may not be a huge percentage of the population, your movement is not for women if it doesn’t explicitly and intentionally include all women.
What is a woman though, if we were to compile progressive standards into a brand new definition? Well, it would have to sound like this.
A woman is a person born female or male, cisgender or transgender, displaying female or male characteristics, holding this status permanently or temporarily, according to self-identification.
And the same could be said for men. Who are these people representing then?
Let’s see here. Women are half the world. So men must make up the other half of the world. That’s 100%. So presumably, this includes everyone! Right?
No, it really doesn’t.
Biologically and legally, in most regards except fancy terminology, YES.
Let me put it this way: you will not be drafted even if you cut your hair short and call yourself a man, if you are not one. And you will not be contacted for a prostate exam when the appropriate age comes, if you are a female “identifying as gender fluid”, or for a breast exam, if you “identify as androgynous” when you’re actually a guy.
Likewise, if you are, let’s say, “trigender”, you will not be given three different legal names to switch between on a whim – because you’re actually just one person.
Anytime we normalize a phrase that says there are only two genders, we’re erasing anyone and everyone who identifies differently.
People can call themselves what they like, but when it comes to practical implications, the environment they live in must be considered, as well as their well-being. For instance, I can call myself a driver, but that won’t make the police treat me as one if I don’t have a licence. I could identify as elderly (yes, there is something called… trans-age, or something like that), but that won’t make me eligible for a pension. As a matter of fact, I can even identify as a dog and wear one of those fake tails, like the Otherkin, but that won’t mean I’ll be put into a van and taken to the kennel if I’m seen wandering the streets by myself.
Honestly, when I identified as a cisgender woman, I didn’t notice these issues, and the phrase felt empowering – it felt radical to claim our collective power as women!
There is no we and no collective power. If there were, human rights abuses against women in backward countries would not exist.
This mentality – that we are born female or male and there’s no in-between – is actually the source of a great deal of oppression and pain for intersex people.
Is it really, or could it be they are aware they were simply born with a biological abnormality, which says nothing about them as people and the lives they can have?
The reality is that biological sex also exists on a spectrum.
No, it doesn’t. An abnormality does in no way define the norm; that is like saying that because some people are born without an arm or a leg, the number of limbs is also on a spectrum.
I really despise the underlying message of “women are half the population” because it implicitly communicates to me that because my community isn’t as large, the fight for transgender rights is somehow less of a priority or less significant.
Typical SJW infighting, jealousy and resentment, which shows that the notion of “oppression Olympics” is not at all exaggerated.
And finally, the cherry on the cake.
Here’s the thing: It’s important that when we build our movements, we create language that reflects our values. And if you take anything away from this article, it’s that we must be intentional about our words – because our words mean something.
We can do better than a lousy 50/50 percentage that lacks nuance. We can do better than a so-called “statistic” that erases people of marginalized gender and sex.
Here’s an idea, taken straight from a former communist regime. Not only did they ignore statistics; they used to make them up and present them to the population as real.
Because those made-up statistics reflected their values.
They wanted to live in a prosperous country, so they would simply call it that, even though the population was almost starving. They aimed for a certain agricultural production every season, so when the results did not match, they would simply change the numbers, which would make everyone feel better (well, except for the starving people, but hey, that was another matter).
So remember, kids: reality is in the eye of… well, anyone really.