A bit jarring?

Department of Ridiculous Headlines:

Can the women’s movement be as effective without the word ‘women’?

Of course not. Any other questions?

If you were raised on 1970s feminism, as I was, the linguistic shift toward phrases such as “birthing people” and “uterus havers” has been a bit jarring.

No it hasn’t. It’s been utterly enraging.

The incongruity between old language and new became particularly noticeable this week, after Politico published a leaked draft of a Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade.

Particularly noticeable and enraging. You’re god damn right it did.

In 1987, the National Women’s Law Center called the nomination of Robert H. Bork to the Supreme Court “a particular threat to women” because of his lack of deference to precedents such as Roe. Today, with Roe actually in danger, the organization warns that any justice who signs on to the leaked opinion “is fueling the harm and violence that will happen to people who become pregnant in this country.”

Exactly, and it needs to stop.

Nor is it alone in blurring the old focus on women; an official from Planned Parenthood in California, along with Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and feminist writer Mona Eltahawy, were among those who focused on “people” rather than “women.”

I too have been collecting examples. It’s horribly easy to do, because they’re ubiquitous.

It is hard to fault more inclusive language, of course

No, no it isn’t. Stop right there. It isn’t. We don’t order BLM to use “more inclusive language.” We don’t tell people campaigning to act on climate change to be more “inclusive” of oil companies. We don’t expect unions to “include” bosses. Use your damn brain. It’s very easy to fault “inclusive language” in fights where it doesn’t belong.

— but it is also impossible not to wonder whether “people who become pregnant” constitutes the same kind of effective political coalition that “women” did.

Wonder no more. Of course it doesn’t. Why? Because it veils the existence of women, which language has always done and continues to do. Invisible people can’t be an effective political coalition.

What used to be called “women’s health” is now for “individuals with a cervix,” media outlets (including this one) write about the threat to Roe and “pregnant individuals,” up-to-date midwives talk of “birthing people” and “chestfeeding,” and “women’s swimming” can now cover both those born with male bodies who identify as women and those born with female bodies who identify as men.

This shift has been controversial on the right, but seems to have engendered little discussion on the left about how it might affect future political organizing and other efforts once tightly tied to womanhood.

Well, there’s more than McArdle seems to think, but she’s right that there’s not nearly enough.

So in reducing women to their constituent body parts, or to discrete activities such as birthing, we may also reduce their political power to something closer to that of “people with colons.” Dignity and inclusion may be worth that sacrifice. But such a momentous decision should probably not be made without extensive debate, and a full understanding of what we’re giving up when we choose to write women out of the discussion.

Nothing is worth that sacrifice. Funny how it’s always women who are supposed to sacrifice, while the other campaigns get to go right on naming themselves.

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