“You can’t defend women if you can’t define what a woman is”
Norwegian radical feminist, Christina Ellingsen, faces jail time for claiming that men cannot be lesbians or mothers.
Christina, who serves as the country contact for Women’s Declaration International (WDI) in Norway, criticized a Norwegian trans activist group which teaches children that men can become lesbians and mothers.
Christina specifically criticized one of the group’s advisers, Christine Marie Jentoft, who is a biological male identifying as a lesbian woman. “Why [does] FRI teach young people that males can be lesbians? Isn’t that conversion therapy?” Ellingsen asked.
In another tweet, she called out Jentoft, asking, “How does it help young lesbians when males claim to be lesbian, too?” Christina also allegedly told Jentoft on national television “You are a man, you cannot be a mother,” adding “to normalize the idea that men can be mothers is a defined form of discrimination against women.”
For these comments, Christina now faces the possibility of three years in prison under a 2021 update to Norway’s hate crime legislation.
Christina is defending herself on feminist grounds. In an interview with Tucker Carlson she said, “You can’t defend women if you can’t define what a woman is.”
Feminist Mother Deprived of Daughter
Readers may be unsurprised to hear such news coming out of a highly secularized nation like Norway. But what happens when an American feminist insists that her twelve-year-old daughter is a girl? We found out on last week when the Independent Women's Forum reported on the case of Jeannette Cooper.
In the summer of 2019, Jeannette’s daughter Sophia was visiting her father, who is divorced from Jeannette. During the visit, Sophia reportedly told her father that she was transgender and didn’t feel safe returning to her mother. Jeannette, a PhD candidate and self-professed radical feminist, was suspicious, since Sophia had never shown any signs of gender confusion.
“They want me to have a certain understanding that there is such a thing as a child who is born transgender, and this is who they are,” Jeannette said. “I do not believe that to be true … My child is a girl, and I won’t lie to her or anyone else. I think that’s good parenting.”
Sophia’s father began court proceedings, claiming that his daughter was “no longer mentally or emotionally safe” with Jeannette. There followed a heated custody battle and an agonizing three years of court proceedings and investigations. During this process, Sophia reportedly changed her name to “Ash” and preferred to be addressed by the pronouns xe/xyr/xyrs.
Jeannette eventually negotiated a legal settlement that must have been an agonizing choice for a mother: in return for giving up her right to spend time with her daughter, Sophia will not medically transition without a court order.
Deprived of contact with her daughter, Jeannette is now speaking out. In an interview with the Independent Women's Forum, Jeannette pointed out that even imprisoned parents are allowed more communication with their children than she is. Jeannette’s only crime is that she refuses to acknowledge that children can be born transgender.
Like Christina Ellingsen, Jeannette is a biological realist, holding that gender is rooted in biological sex. “I don’t think there are any bounds on what it means to be female other than to exist in a female body,” she explains. “There is nothing that I have to do to become female. I simply am. I can dress whatever way I want. I can cut my hair off, grow it long, I can change my clothes. I am still female.”
What is a Woman?
Both of the above cases involve women who are self-proclaimed RFs (radical feminists). They are among a growing number of feminists who believe we cannot defend women if the category “woman” is open-ended. If the concept of “woman” can mean anything, then in another sense it means nothing.
This basic point—that in order to defend women, we must be able to define women—was catapulted into the limelight with The Daily Wire’s recent documentary, What is a Woman? In this program, political commentator Matt Walsh travelled around the world asking experts the question, “What is a woman?” No one could provide him a straight answer, but instead lapsed into circular definitions, such as “a woman is someone who identifies as a woman.”
One of the more disturbing aspects of What is a Woman? is its close-up exposé of the growing industry providing surgery to adolescents wishing to transition into the other sex. The obsession with permanently altering a child’s genitals to match their chosen gender is reaching the point of hysteria, as medical professionals are afraid to question the new orthodoxy for fear of losing their positions.
God’s Design is Indelible
When I recently watched What is a Woman?, I was struck by the fact that there can be no escape from God’s design. On a deep primal level, nobody truly believes the meaning of a man or woman can be separated from the physiological realities of a person's body. For consider, if being a man or a woman really could be disengaged from physiology, then why is there such a fixation with changing people's physiology to fit their chosen gender? This presents a paradox at the heart of the transgender movement. The trans community wants it both ways: on the one hand, they want to deconstruct the man-woman binary; yet on the other hand, they are still very beholden to the biological correlates of the man-woman distinction. After all, if a person's chosen gender really can be disengaged from their anatomical characteristics, then why such an obsession with altering the latter to correspond with the former?
It is only when we stop to ask questions like this that we realize how inescapable biological sex is. From a Christian point of view, this should come as no surprise. Because God created us male and female, we can no more escape his design than we can escape physical laws like gravitation.
Thank God for Cobelligerents
Christians and social conservatives can be glad at the growing opportunity to work with radical feminists as cobelligerents in the battle against transgender ideology. Yet, at the same time, we must recognize a certain irony, namely that feminism paved the way for the transgender movement.
In response to Ellingsen’s appearance on Tucker Carlson, Janice Fiamengo discussed how feminists have a long history of working to minimize the impact of biology, and working to create a gender-neutral society. Accordingly, Fiamengo argues, feminism helped to create the very thought structures that have enabled the transgender movement to achieve the illusion of coherence.
I think Fiamengo is onto something. To the extent that second and third-wave feminism worked to deconstruct gender, feminism spelled its own doom, rather like sawing off the branch of the tree you are sitting on. So don’t expect a feminists fifth wave: rather, expect the feminist movement to age into obsolescence, as a younger generation of activists eschew feminism for transgender activism, with its focus on deconstructing the very notion of the feminine.