woman [ woo m-uh n ]
noun, plural wom·en [wim-in].
1. the female human being, as distinguished from a girl or a man.
2. an adult female person.
Very simple. Or so you’d think. On the BBC’s “Your Questions Answered,” a caller has asked the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson, to define what a woman is. Swinson’s reply is attracting a lot of attention – most of it bemused, some angry. The reaction at Spiked is typical: Jo Swinson vs biological truth.
SWINSON: Well, I know I’m a woman. And I think we do– we know what we are. And I think all women are important and their rights need to be protected, whether they are black, Asian, white. Whether they are gay or straight or bi; whether they have a very privileged upbringing, or they don’t have much money, whether they are cis [newspeak for actual women] or trans [newspeak for men who self-identify as women] whether they have a disability, we are all important, in all of those different ways.
ANNA FROM WARWICKSHIRE: So how can you tell what a woman is?
SWINSON: Well, I mean I’m just of, sort of, trying to understand, you know, what you’re getting at. I think we know when we engage with each other, we know if we are a woman. And I can tell you that I am, right? So, you know, we’re not going to start a scenario where we go and perform inspections on people, are we?
ANNA FROM WARWICKSHIRE: No. What if a man wears a dress to work twice a week? Is he a woman?
SWINSON: Not necessarily.
ANNA FROM WARWICKSHIRE: But could he be?
SWINSON: I think that people can understand their own identity. And I think it’s right to respect people in terms of their gender identity. And that’s for them to say.