President Joe Biden has nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to replace Justice Stephen Breyer on the United States Supreme Court. If confirmed, she will be the first “black” female to serve on the Supreme Court. It is ironic that she can’t define what a woman is: During her confirmation hearing, Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn asked her, “Can you provide a definition for the word woman?” Jackson responded, “I can’t.” When Blackburn incredulously echoed, “You can’t?” Blackburn said, “Not in this context; I’m not a biologist.”1
Merriam-Webster has, as of the date of writing, the primary definition of woman as “an adult female person.” The Oxford English Dictionary has the definition as “an adult female human being,” as does the Cambridge Dictionary. Every English dictionary has had a similar definition of the word woman, and up until very recently, everyone everywhere understood that men and women are the two biological sexes that comprise humanity. From ancient times, it is simply assumed that a person is either a man or a woman. There are people who might fall at the margins of these categories, like those born with developmental or chromosomal abnormalities, but it is still understood that the two default categories of human are “male” and “female,” and these categories are determined biologically.
In our society, we have a fairly clear definition of what “black,” or African American, means. A few years back, when Rachel Dolezal was exposed for posing as a “black” woman despite having European heritage, she faced outrage and even ridicule despite maintaining that she identified as a “black” woman. But “race” is less clearly biologically-delineated than biological sex, and the delineation between a “black” woman and a “white” woman is arbitrary.
What’s the Difference?
The biological differences between men and women go far beyond the reproductive system and secondary sexual characteristics. Women’s bones are, on average, less dense than men’s.2 Women have less muscle and more fat on their frames.3 Research suggests that women have better language skills4 and men are better at some types of math,5 though some of this has been attributed to differences in brain function, learning styles, and perhaps cultural expectations. (And while this may be true on a population level, it says nothing about the relative abilities of any particular man or woman.) Women’s biology is so different from men’s that doctors are now realizing they have distinctive heart attack symptoms6 and sometimes have different reactions to medication.7 Women’s lifespans are, on average, a few years longer than men’s.8 That the sexes are different regarding their bodies, their interests, abilities, and even their medical needs should not be surprising, nor should it be a boasting point for those of either sex.
That the sexes are different regarding their bodies, their interests, abilities, and even their medical needs should not be surprising, nor should it be a boasting point for those of either sex.
But all of this is beside the point. Judge Jackson knows very well what a woman is, both intellectually and experientially. She is a woman, a wife, and a mother of two girls. She’s intelligent enough to be nominated to the Supreme Court, so why couldn’t she give the dictionary definition of woman? The answer is simple: the lobby of so-called “trans women,” who are really men who sometimes take extraordinary measures to appear as women or to access their roles and places, viciously attack any woman who dares insist that women are exclusively biological females and should be recognized as such, at least at certain times. Jackson cannot risk losing a single vote with a refusal to give the trans lobby their pinch of incense.
What’s at Stake?
But when we refuse to define what a woman is, it’s women who suffer. Not only are there safety issues with men claiming “trans” with nefarious intent to obtain access to women’s/girls’ safe places, but women’s sports and awards for things such as scholarships are also at risk. Currently, swimmer “Lia” Thomas, who swam on the men’s team in 2017 before “transitioning” in 2019, is in the news after stealing the women’s NCAA Division I national championship from the actual female winner, Emma Weyant. USA Today has declared Rachel Levine, another trans “woman,” as “Woman of the Year.” Recently on Jeopardy! a trans “woman” was claimed to be the highest-winning female champ (bumping Julia Collins, a biological female, out of that position). Not only can a man be a woman, but the rules must change so they’re the best women!
God created humankind as male and female, both in his image. So, it’s not surprising that people who hate God want to attack how he created us and attempt to subvert and demean the most fundamental categories of humanity. Likely, Jackson will be the first “black” woman confirmed to the Supreme Court. But if we can’t even define what a woman is, is there anything distinctive to celebrate?