“What’s true to you can be false to me.”
“What if I said that it’s my truth that you don’t exist. Does that mean that you no longer exist?”
“If that’s your truth, sure, I don’t [exist]—”
“But you do.”
“But if you’re saying that I do, then I do.”
“But even if I said that you don’t, you still do because we’re having this conversation.”
“I mean, are we?”
“I think so.”
“That’s what you think.”
This conversation quintessentially exemplifies postmodernity. That so-called gender experts cannot affirm the reality of gender, save for constructivist interpretations that circumvents accountability for not knowing what it actually is, we can trace the derivation of queer, gender, and other activist ‘critical’ theories to the postmodern knowledge principle: objective truth is unobtainable and reality culturally constructed.
It was curious to see the majority of reviews on Letterboxd are half-stars for “What is a Woman,” the Daily Wire documentary featuring Matt Walsh. I’m sure if they could have given any less they would have. But that the next greatest is five stars shows that this documentary only reached those with strong enough opinions that they either praised it or felt deeply offended by it. The reviews are telling. Some claimed that gender is purely a social construct and has no biological basis, therefore the documentary itself is irrelevant: you are what you say you are and any further question is transphobic. Another claimed that kids transitioning is very uncommon because of the obstacles they have to face, therefore the documentary is irrelevant. And another, who was fair in his two and a half star review, critiqued the partiality of The Daily Wire, as might be expected of a documentary intended to persuade (perhaps most choose to emphasize this form) but nonetheless acknowledged the role big pharmaceutical companies and corporations play in exploiting children and adults through the constructed language that both confuses gender and justifies this confusion.
Let’s summarize some key points and see where we stand at the end of this.
The most powerful moment was when Walsh spoke to Scott (Kellie) Newgent, founder of TReVoices, a biological female who transitioned to a man. “We have five children’s hospitals in the United States telling girls that they can be boys at 70,000 dollars a pop, in a surgery that has a 67% complication rate, that will kill me from infection, that I can’t sue on. We’re butchering a generation because no one is willing to talk about anything…every child that they convince is transgender and in need of medical transition, it generates 1.3 million dollars to pharma…”
We are taken into the history and usage of Lupron, a puberty blocker advocated by trans advocates, whose drug company in 2003 was sued and deemed a criminal enterprise. In Canada, a parent was fined 30,000 dollars for misgendering his daughter; and she was administered the drug without his consent.
When speaking to a gender confirmation surgeon who performed surgeries on a child as young as 16, Walsh asks if she worries that minors do not understand themselves or are not neurologically capable to make life altering permanent decisions. “Absolutely not,” the doctor replies.
The university was never really a bastion of truth as much as it is supposed to be in pursuit of it; however, belief or, more pointedly, faith, is the basis for advocates of transgenderism and the social sciences more generally. In many universities across the country, ‘truth’ is an antiquated term. At one point, Walsh is speaking with a professor who, after taking the pain to explain way the question, “what is the difference between sex and gender,” says that sex consists of biological differences whereas gender entails a lot more. However, when asked if a transwoman, who has the biology of a male, can be considered a male, the professor asked why he was asking the question. “When someone tells you who they are, you should believe them,” he said. When talking about truth, the professor said that he was “really uncomfortable with that language.” Truth is “deeply transphobic, condescending and rude.”
What do other cultures have to say about this question? Walsh arrives with the welcome of a tribe in Nairobi, Kenya. Walsh’s questions are perceived as somewhat laughable; it’s clear that the tribe talks about the roles of men and women in a way that the aforementioned professor would call “essentialist.” Gender identity is inextricably linked in social roles for the benefit of the tribe. The ‘truth’ as it pertains to the Western individualist is wholly incompatible. One can only wonder what trans advocates would say to this ‘false consciousness.’
The irony here is that if gender is socially constructed, then transgenderism is a Western phenomenon that cannot be described as derived from biology, but the cultural situation that permits its conditions to exist. In other words, by looking at this Nairobian tribe, we come to understand the question, “What is a woman,” to be ridiculous for non-westerners, and thereby the social science predicating it is a meta-narrative of its own.
“Can a man become a woman,” Walsh asks. “No,” they laugh, “if you want to become a lady but look like a man, something is wrong. Something is wrong in your family, something is wrong in you.” The translator explains why the tribe is laughing: “They are laughing because they have never heard something like that, this is their first time.” Despite never thinking about gender, they have a clear sense of their identity.
In response to this, Walsh asks the begging question: if gender ideology is a Western construct, who came up with it and why? Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey. A social scientist who wanted to rid the world of Judeo-Christian values and sexual norms. He believed, much like Freud, that children were innately sexual but then based his research on sex offenders and convicts. He subsequently sexually experimented on babies and children, documenting their “number of orgasms.” He is still extolled by academia and his work serves as a basis for sexual education. Then we look at John Hopkins professor Dr. John Money, who coined the terms ‘gender identity and gender roles.’ He believed that babies were gender neutral at birth and gender was situational; so a boy could be raised as a girl. He famously conducted the tragic and abusive Reimer Twins experiment (which is worth reading about yourself).
Most of the people that Matt Walsh interviewed were trans advocates, consisting of medical professionals or other figures in the trans community. Walsh treated everyone respectfully, probed with open dialogue, and invited everyone he interviewed to answer the question: “What is a woman?” Curiously still, for all of their expertise, none of them could answer the question comfortably or, at least, with any certainty. One would think we would at least get a satisfying non-circular answer from “gender-affirming experts.” It seems the easy way out is to defer to others’ experiences and accept “their” truth as Truth—so much for postmodernity’s rejection of meta-narratives; we have merely constructed another one.
We end off with Walsh’s activist career, from speaking at a Loudon County, Virginia school against the sexual harassment, rapes, and sexual materials shown to children, to his children’s book “Johnny the Walrus.” The documentary concludes with suggesting that there is a social contagion pathologizing and preying on our children.
Generally, I’m not a fan of documentaries for the same reason that each one usually emphasizes persuasion and makes use of emotional extra-diegetic elements to guide our feelings. Nevertheless, the film leaves us with an honest angle to consider, one often dismissed and unacknowledged so that we can continue to support our preconceptions about gender and justify something culturally and humanly horrific. Four stars. One star is missing because there is an entire postmodern philosophy that was missed in this discussion; but, I suppose it would have been too much for the purposes here.
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