What is a woman, anyway?

  1. A woman is an adult human female.
  2. Female means of the body type that, all being well, will produce large, sessile gametes rather than small, mobile ones
  3. This definition is true across a range of animal and plant species including all mammals.

This argument is one of the most annoying ones of all. “Woman” is to humans what “Ewe” is to sheep, “Sow” is to pigs, “Doe” is to deer and “Bitch” is to dogs. “Woman” is no more a feeling in anyone’s head than “ewe” is a feeling in sheep’s heads. It really is that simple.

The commonest answers are “a woman is a person who identifies as a woman” (see below) or “someone who takes on the role of a woman” (ask them what that is and why we are embedding the past rather than being #progressive).

They might suggest “anyone who uses female pronouns is a woman”, which, of course, is purely performative and means allowing female identity to be defined by others – hardly respectful of women as independent people and very much NOT a feminist argument. You will see more of the arguments sometimes put forward (such as “what about infertile women” or “intersex people”) in the sections that follow.

Forward to a woman is a person who identifies as a woman.

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