Is the Only Valuable Thing About Women Their Biology?
The WOMAN Means Something campaign against Bill C-16 is premised on the fact that the Bill absolutely destroys women’s rights and identity as a group. It is well-intentioned, but is ultimately chauvinistic. I have tried to articulate the argument elsewhere, but sometimes a story communicates the idea better.
I was working in Starbucks a month or so ago, and a young woman respectfully asked if she too could use the outlet where I had my laptop plugged in. I agreed and we struck up a conversation, having seen one another there before. We spoke at some length and I had the privilege of hearing some of her life story. She is an intelligent, articulate, and beautiful young woman who has overcome significant adversity in her life to become an educator and advocate for others. One area of her studies had been gender, and so when I replied that I too had done some significant self-study on the topic we started discussing gender and sex, her as a bisexual woman and I as a Christian man. And in true Canadian fashion, we listened politely and asked questions in order to increase our understanding of the other’s position.
There was one part of the conversation that stood out to me, however. I asked her, “what do you value about women in particular?” There wasn’t much hesitation. She answered that she appreciated the strength that women show in fighting for each other, especially in matters of equality. “OK, but that is a contextual thing”, I gently challenged. “It’s not intrinsic, it’s extrinsic. What if there weren’t any fight or oppression”, I asked, “would women still be valuable?” She wasn’t quite following (my fault I am quite sure), so I rephrased the question. “What if some evil ruler rose up and in his hatred for women decided to destroy them all. What would humanity lose?” She laughed, “well, the human race would die out in short order!” I laughed my agreement. “So the fact that women give birth is a valuable thing about women?”, I answered, wanting to make sure I understood. Not only did she heartily agree, but she went on for a bit about her appreciation for her own mother.
Then I pressed her a little further. “But surely you don’t think that the only valuable thing about women is that they give birth? What else is valuable about women?” Here she hesitated. She couldn’t think of anything. At least not at that particular moment.
In the end I shared why I thought women ought to be valued, honored, and praised. And she agreed, at least in general. I can only hope that she felt valued, honored, and praised as I spoke to her, a woman in particular, about women as a group. But here’s the point: Bill C-16 will enshrine in law forevermore that the only thing that is valuable about a woman is her biology. And in doing so the law will arrive at an outcome that is indiscernible from institutional misogyny. Can you imagine if one of our MP’s or our Prime Minister came out and said, “the only thing we recognize about women as a group is that they bear children.” They would be drawn and quartered! And yet that is precisely what this bill says.
In separating “sex” from “gender identity and expression” in the Human Rights Act, and then also saying (Justice Department) that gender is fluid and doesn’t mean anything in particular, it creates a situation where the only thing that can be said about women in particular is what pertains to “sex”, ie. biology. So there you have it women; you have now been reduced to breasts, hips, and a vagina– by your feminist Prime Minister.
If you don’t believe me, simply ask one of the 248 MP’s who voted for the Bill, or a Senator, or our Prime Minister, what is valuable about women? And watch them squirm. #WOMANmeansomething
*Photo Attribution: Dave Croker [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons