Language, as anyone who has ever read ‘1984’ knows, is incredibly important. In Orwell’s novel, ‘Newspeak’ was developed by the state to limit citizen’s freedom of thought and counteract any threats to the state that could arise from individuality or self-expression, put bluntly, the citizens were robbed of the linguistic power to describe the oppression they experienced under the total dominance of the state. Orwell had come to realise the political power of using language this way, and wrote about how political orthodoxy is supported by euphemistic or unclear language in 1946’s ‘Politics and the English Language’.
Within the transgender movement there is an ongoing attempt to redefine what it means to be a woman, and generally this is based on identity and itself is an extension of Queer Politics; the politics of Queer Identity can be taken to some quite staggeringly mind-bending extremes.
The political redefinition of ‘woman’ or ‘female’ is being constantly challenged by the transgender movement, even being codified into law; as an example, the UK’s Gender Recognition Act allows the petitioner to change his/her birth certificate, performing a monumental act of historical revisionism to what is itself a historical record of birth.
Gaining momentum is the rather fantastical assertion that ‘biological sex is a social construct’, which of course it is, to a point, but sometimes this point can be taken way way way too far.
Biological sex, being ‘male’ or ‘female’, are the biological characteristics that make up what we accept, in general or conventional use, as being ‘male’ or ‘female’. The ‘social construction’, being something that exists only because society says it does, comes in right here; we give words meaning by what they are used for, they are innately meaningless and only have a use where the same word is adopted, by convention, to mean the same thing.
Words and meanings are different things, it’s only when they are consistently put together that we end up with ‘what a word means’. Thus ‘biological sex’, ‘male’, ‘female’, ‘Miranda’ and ‘weirdo from another planet’ are all social constructions – they are noises or marks created by human beings which, through constant, consistent repetition of use to describe the same thing, become words that define something. Ultimately, words are tools; words allow us to communicate and so change other people’s behaviour. And therein lies their power.
The application of ‘social construct’ to biological sex is not without meaning, but that meaning is confined to the situation I have described above. It is not a social construct in the same way as gender, a system created by and within society that has no existence in the real world aside from how it manifests in societal groups. ‘Biological sex’ describes something that exists in the real world, something that is tangible, something that has material consequences. Seizing on ‘biological sex is a social construct’ and using it to justify statements such as “sex, like gender, is indeed socially constructed and can be changed” is dishonest.
At the heart of this is an attempt to reduce biological sex from being a real description of something that exists in the material world to something that, as an identity, is what it is solely because someone says that it is. It makes these words meaningless, as their function has changed from words that are used to describe something very precise to words that actually hide and obscurificate the very meaning they once held.
This propaganda which robs language of meaning is solely for the political furtherance of the transgender movement. Of course, it is right and proper that people should be able to live the life they choose the way they want it, as long as they don’t harm others, but this attempted redefinition of language is not without consequence, it directly affects women, the impact upon whom is blatantly disregarded in favour of a misguided crusade towards moral and social justice, a crusade which ignores 52% of the population.
In the words of a far better writer than I, who is an actual woman, this “isn’t everyone defining what woman is, much as we’d like it to be. It’s those born male setting the boundaries and changing them at will – which it always has been.” Which is the antithesis of any aspirations we could ever have to create a fairer, more free society.
@Jobob_80 @TerrorizerMir Because the alternative isn’t everyone defining what woman is, much as we’d like it to be. It’s those born male >— Glosswitch (@glosswitch)
@Jobob_80 @TerrorizerMir setting the boundaries and changing them at will – which it always has been.— Glosswitch (@glosswitch)
One Reply to “Biological Sex as a Social Construct”
Miranda, your insights are so spot on – thank you for sharing them!