Changing language to change world

06/01/2021

Abigail Shrier writes that one of the first acts of the USA’s new House of Representatives could be to cancel mothers:

On Sunday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Democratic majority proposed to eliminate “father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister” and all other language deemed insufficiently “gender-inclusive” from House rules. They would be ­replaced with terms like “parent, child, sibling, parent’s sibling” and so on.

“Mother” — among the most important concepts in human life — would be erased from the lexicon of the US House of Representatives. It’s important to recognize how radical this is. And no, it isn’t akin to updating federal law to replace “policeman” with “police officer,” a rational corrective sought by feminists for generations. . . 

Those changes were to reflect fact that jobs weren’t the preserve of one gender. That’s very different from trying to eliminate biological reality.

But “mother” is a fundamental biological, emotional, familial reality. It captures the irreplaceable bond between a baby and the woman who bore her in her womb. That others can be excellent guardians — a fact no one disputes — can’t justify extirpating Mom from our vocabulary. (For that matter, the political erasure of “dad” is also dehumanizing, because it ­entails the loss of our capacity to describe relationships that define what it means to be fully human.)

House Democrats don’t pretend to seek this change merely for the sake of “streamlining” congressional language. The explicit point is to advance “inclusion and diversity” and to “honor all gender identities.” Pelosi & Co. are desperate to accommodate an ­aggressive gender ideology that ­insists “man” and “woman” are fuzzy, subjective categories, rather than biological ones.

This desperation for acceptance and inclusion ironically doesn’t include and has no tolerance for those who maintain that there is an important difference between biological sex and what some people might choose for their gender.

Remember the trouble that J.K. Rowling got into when she tweeted ?

‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud? 

She was labeled a TERF (a trans-exclusionary radical feminist); people burned her books and called for her publisher to blacklist her.

And if you think that’s mad, what about this? (back to Abigail Shrier):

Lest you think this a harmless alteration, consider the ways California’s Democrats have run wild with Newspeak. As Quillette reported last week, California’s insurance commissioner has ­issued a directive to reclassify double mastectomies of healthy breasts from “cosmetic” procedures to “reconstructive,” necessary to “correct or repair the abnormal structures of the body caused by congenital defects.”

You read that right: The “congenital defect” is a young woman’s healthy breasts, provided that young woman subjectively identifies as “nonbinary” or anything other than “woman.”

It matters what we call things in the public space: Just ask the ­female prisoners now housed with violent biological men in California if our lawmakers’ words matter. This lie — that a girl’s breasts constitute “developmental abnormalities” depending on her subjective state of mind — carries the result that female patients of all ages would suddenly become eligible for insurance coverage for double mastectomies. A small change in language grants doctors the green light to remove the normal, developing breasts of an 11-year old girl. Still just words?

By all means, call people what they prefer. But language in the law, by definition, ushers words into action. Words grant rights or take them away. Words can enhance or diminish status, placing people and concepts beyond the bounds of legal protection. . .

If “mother” is now a useless concept under House rules, why shouldn’t it pose an equally offensive presence in federal law?

That’s where we’re headed, isn’t it? Erasing “mothers,” and “women,” because the concepts are insufficiently inclusive to gender ideologues. The rights women struggled to win become undone, paradoxically, in the name of ­inclusion.

The female body loses its significance in language and in law: no need for doctors to regard the healthy breasts of young girls as anything more than noxious lumps. The dystopian threat to individuality lies in this: Without mother and father, we all become atomized and fungible, losing our true individuality.

Those pressing for these changes do so precisely because they know there is no more effective means of upending society than by deleting the women and the natural bonds that make society possible. Congressional Democrats move us, by Orwellian fiat, one step closer to a sterile world with sterile words. We shapeless humans — fungible as pennies — are left to await further instruction.

The cancelling of gender specific terms for family members is an extension of the idea that those who have undergone puberty as males can compete equally and fairly in sports with those born female. Or as the proponents of this madness would say, that trans women are women.

In doing so they are blind to biological differences and the fact that whatever drugs and surgery do to change gender, nothing can make someone born a boy a natal woman, regardless of what he, she, or whatever other pronoun is chosen, identifies as and what words are used to denote that identity.

People who want a different gender from the sex assigned to them at birth face many hurdles and often are victims of discrimination. But accepting some people born boys can be trans women and some born girls can be trans men, that this isn’t always easy for them and they have rights, doesn’t mean we have to disregard biological facts, cancel family labels and undo progress that came from decades of activism to give women equality and safety.

Nor does it mean that those who speak out against this are transphobic.

As J.K. Rowling wrote in defending her tweet:

. . . It isn’t enough for women to be trans allies. Women must accept and admit that there is no material difference between trans women and themselves.

But, as many women have said before me, ‘woman’ is not a costume. ‘Woman’ is not an idea in a man’s head. ‘Woman’ is not a pink brain, a liking for Jimmy Choos or any of the other sexist ideas now somehow touted as progressive. Moreover, the ‘inclusive’ language that calls female people ‘menstruators’ and ‘people with vulvas’ strikes many women as dehumanising and demeaning. I understand why trans activists consider this language to be appropriate and kind, but for those of us who’ve had degrading slurs spat at us by violent men, it’s not neutral, it’s hostile and alienating. . .

I believe the majority of trans-identified people not only pose zero threat to others, but are vulnerable for all the reasons I’ve outlined. Trans people need and deserve protection. Like women, they’re most likely to be killed by sexual partners. Trans women who work in the sex industry, particularly trans women of colour, are at particular risk. Like every other domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor I know, I feel nothing but empathy and solidarity with trans women who’ve been abused by men.

So I want trans women to be safe. At the same time, I do not want to make natal girls and women less safe. When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman – and, as I’ve said, gender confirmation certificates may now be granted without any need for surgery or hormones – then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside. That is the simple truth. . . 

I have met only a couple of trans-women and enjoyed the company of both. I accept that some people aren’t comfortable with the sex assigned at their births, have the right to change their gender and not face discrimination because of that.

I don’t accept changing language to to deny biological reality.

People wanting social change use language to advance their agenda.

That can be sensible, for example changing gendered job titles to those that are gender neutral for occupations done by men and women. It can be good, for example changing offensive labels to ones that aren’t.

But it can also be political manipulation – changing the language to in a misguided attempt to change the world.

This linguistic trickery of cancelling family titles and denying biological reality is many radical and dangerous steps too far.


January 4 in history

04/01/2010

On January 4:

1490  Anna of Brittany announced that all those who would ally with the king of France will be considered guilty of the crime of lese-majesty.

1493 Christopher Columbus left the New World, ending his first journey.

1642 King Charles I of England sent soldiers to arrest members of Parliament, commencing England’s slide into civil war.

1643  Sir Isaac Newton, English mathematician and natural philosopher, was born.

Head and shoulders portrait of man in black with shoulder-length gray hair, a large sharp nose, and an abstracted gaze

1698  Most of the Palace of Whitehall in London, the main residence of the English monarchs, was destroyed by fire.

1785 Jacob Grimm, German philologist and folklorist(one of the Brothers Grim), was born.

1813 Isaac Pitman, English inventor, was born.

 

1847 Samuel Colt sells his first revolver pistol to the United States government.

1854 The McDonald Islands were discovered by Captain William McDonald aboard the Samarang.

1865 The New York Stock Exchange opened its first permanent headquarters at 10-12 Broad near Wall Street in New York City.

1869 Te Kooti was defeated at Nga Tapa.

Te Kooti defeated at Nga Tapa

1878 Sofia was emancipated from Ottoman rule.

1878 Augustus John, Welsh painter, was born.

1884 The Fabian Society is founded in London.

1885  The first successful appendectomy was performed by William W. Grant on Mary Gartside.

1903 – Topsy, an elephant, was electrocuted by Thomas Edison during the War of Currents campaign.

1912 – The Scout Association was incorporated throughout the British Commonwealth by Royal Charter.

The Scout Association

1947 – Rick Stein, English chef and television presenter, was born.

1948 – Burma regained its independence from the United Kingdom.

1958 Sir Edmund Hillary led a New Zealand party to the South Pole.

Hillary leads NZ party to Pole

1958  Sputnik 1 fell to Earth from its orbit.

1959  Luna 1 became the first spacecraft to reach the vicinity of the Moon.

1962 New York City introduced a train that operates without a crew on-board.

1965 Cait O’Riordan, British musician (The Pogues), was born.

1972  Rose Heilbron became the first female judge to sit at the Old Bailey in London.

1975  Elizabeth Ann Seton became the first American-born saint.  

1991  Olivia Tennet, New Zealand actress, was born.

2004 Spirit, a NASA Mars Rover, landed successfully on Mars.

NASA Mars Rover.jpg

2007 The 110th United States Congress elected Nancy Pelosi as the first female Speaker of the House in U.S. history.

 

Sourced from NZ History Online and Wikipedia.


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