The Erasure of ‘Women’ Is Escalating

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The campaign to erase references to women has reached new levels of absurdity. In just the last few weeks, it’s made forays into social media, medical journals, and even federal legislation.

For example, if you’ve spent much time on social media lately, you’ve likely seen the ACLU’s edits of a quote from Ruth Bader Ginsburg to remove offending references to “women.”

Last October, now-Vice President Kamala Harris had no problem quoting an uncensored Ginsburg in the Senate confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett. But conventions on these delicate matters change fast. Eleven months later, the ACLU felt the need to strike the affronting words.

The stunt stirred up enough controversy that the ACLU had to apologize. Executive Director Anthony Romero confessed that “it’s somewhat Orwellian to rewrite historical utterances to conform to modern sensitivities.”

Still, “having spent time with Justice Ginsburg,” explained Romero, “I would like to believe that if she were alive today, she would encourage us to evolve our language to encompass a broader vision of gender, identity, and sexuality.” In other words, while it may be best not to alter past quotes, we should avoid regressive references to “women” from now on.

The Lancet’s Sept. 25 cover is even more disturbing. It features a single, stark quote on white background, reducing women to “bodies with vaginas.”

The medical journal, like the ACLU, has issued its half-hearted apology. They didn’t intend to dehumanize and marginalize women, explained Editor-in-Chief Richard Horton. Their goal, rather, is to “emphasize that transgender health is an important dimension of modern health care, but one that remains neglected.” He goes on and on in this exculpatory fashion, lamenting the scourge of “menstrual shame and period poverty.”

Or, in the words of Demi Lovato: Sorry, not sorry.

Both episodes have played out on social media. But there’s another erasure campaign underway in the shadows. Take, for instance, the Newspeak that has crept into the 2021 budget reconciliation bill now going through Congress. This sweeping tax-and-spend proposal would affect far more than just our fiscal health.

Sex-specific words such as “women,” “females,” and “mothers” have gone missing in some of the very places you’d expect them—such as with “maternal mortality.” Instead, we discover awkward constructions, over and over, like “pregnant, lactating, and postpartum individuals and individuals with the intent to become pregnant.”

Reconciliation packages are supposedly limited to budgets. But for gender ideologues, the process has become a chance to start erasing references to women and females.

While “individual” or “person” is common in legal documents when the referent could be male or female, that doesn’t explain what’s happening here. The authors of this section intend to neuter references to women.

How do we know? Because they’re departing from past usage, and even the typical usage still present here and there in the reconciliation text when referring to or quoting preexisting law. Take, for example, the Medicaid section, which must still refer to “pregnant and postpartum women.”

It’s no surprise that a simple word search of existing law turns up 96 references to “pregnant women” already in the federal code. A search for “women” turns up 1,118 references.

And then, just last month—with few precedents—this changes.

This comes on top of other efforts to advance this Newspeak. For instance, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, early this year, made degendered language standard practice for Congress.

Gender activists have pushed a sweeping piece of legislation—the misnamed Equality Act—which would enshrine their views in civil rights law. But as they work toward that goal, activists are focused on erasing women incrementally by slipping the same kind of language into bills moving through Congress now.

These efforts are provoking resistance, however, and not just from committed traditionalists. Most Americans object to gender ideology. Whether it’s being pushed on minors in the doctor’s office or the sports arena, this is true. Hence the pushback to the flag-flying stunts from the ACLU and The Lancet. And why both groups had to issue apologies.

The campaign also is facing resistance from nonconservative quarters. Atheists like Richard Dawkins have pushed back against the transgender ideology that inspires these language games. Many feminists, including radical feminists, also oppose it.

Meanwhile, activists’ efforts are sporadic and contradictory. We see this even in the internal inconsistencies of the budget reconciliation bill text, as noted above.

Finally, gender ideology contradicts natural reality. Not just the natural moral law written on every heart. We’re talking about mammalian biology.

Hard facts like these should give us hope that common sense will prevail against gender activists’ efforts to erase women.

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This article was published on October 13, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from The Daily Signal.

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