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Now I’m not on the political Right, so this will come as something like friendly fire, but—
The very same people and party who are celebrating the first woman ever to “shatter the glass ceiling” by becoming the nominee of a major party, and declaring it to be a victory and historic day for women and girls everywhere who have since time immemorial been penalized merely for their womanhood—are the people and party who are also during the very same period of a couple of weeks arguing that there are no such things as “biologically male” or “biologically female” and that in fact these concepts are ideological.
This would seem to be a contradiction. If there is no such thing not merely as gender, but in fact no such thing as sex—if both are wholly selectable as personal choices—then the “glass ceiling” that Clinton has just smashed would seem not to have been particularly high or hard. Put it another way—why haven’t all of these women who have been barred from the presidency simply run as men, if sex and gender are completely unimportant, but titles, status, and income are a big deal? Or the converse—if Obama had had the foresight, he could have decided to run as a woman and shattered both the racial barrier and the glass ceiling at the same time.
Or is there something to the idea that women are made to suffer at times because they’re women? If so, what’s with all the language that such things as “women” and “men” don’t actually exist? Or that they don’t matter at all? The Clinton party seems to imply that womanhood does matter and is important and worth fighting for; the bathroom party continues to argue that sex and gender don’t matter and aren’t important or worth fighting over. And it’s the same party.
Is there something powerful and ineffable to womanhood and manhood that make them things either unalterable about ourselves or worth fighting for and applauding? Or are they things of no consequence and, in fact (I’m seeing this argument more and more) utter nonexistence?
I know, I know, the argument is that there exists a spectrum along which people can fall, and it is up to the individual to choose their place on the spectrum. And, the argument will go, this does not itself alter the fact that those on the “woman” side of the spectrum have historically been subject to unequal treatment. But in making these two arguments together, you do both concede that the category (or, at the very least, the spectrum) exists, and that it has a social reality with some historical force (indeed, if the celebration is to be taken at face value, world-historical force). Seems to me it can’t be had both ways, after all, without being open to the claim that what is really going on isn’t about justice but about people wanting what they want and finding the most expedient arguments, those that appeal to high-minded sentiments, to support their requests.
Just sayin’. Identity politics FTW.