To define a woman is to refine or confine?

A shakeup in the gender stakes is currently underway. Unless the dust settles, there’s no telling how much women are set to gain, or lose, in the long run.

Published: 02nd April 2023 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st March 2023 07:48 PM   |  A+A-

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For representational purposes

A shakeup in the gender stakes is currently underway. Unless the dust settles, there’s no telling how much women are set to gain, or lose, in the long run. The inclusivity revolution is in freefall mode, and what will remain of womanhood even the very word ‘womanhood’ in a post-woke world is nothing short of 
an apocalyptic guess.

While you may have your take on descriptions of women as menstruators or uterus-havers, there are biological truths to these new terms not easy to deny. The Goldsmiths University Student Union replaced women with womxn, to disconnect ‘man’ from the etymology. Also, to include the trans community, people of colour and the non-binary.

Merriam-Webster edited ‘female’ to include ‘having a gender identity that is the opposite of male’. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a woman is not only an ‘adult female human being’, but ‘an adult who lives and identifies as female though they may have been said to have 
different sex at birth.

We do know that with uterus transplants, transgender pregnancy is a possibility. Egg-freezing and the quiet spread of surrogacy despite legal complications and commercial exploitation make single parenthood a viable option. A feverish transactional energy unites mankind where the demand and supply connect the market dots.

While colourism and sizeism, which change from society to society and era to era, are rightly labelled, new-age prejudices may be creeping in invisibly, only to rear their head down a century or two. The danger of a holier-than-thou-ness worm-holing its way through the proceedings, not to mention the commerce and benefits to any vested industry, can’t be ruled out.

Featuring as the common people, we are inclined to go with the flow. To take offence when told to, to applaud new neutrality—what’s not to like about the new world order in the making? With social media weighing in, opinions both pro and anti are ours for the taking. As politically correct Alices, we find ourselves voicing what we don’t understand, endorsing what we may later rethink.

ALSO READ | Dear women, be fair to yourself

Yes, corsets are optional, trousers are unisex and anyone can grow their hair and pierce their ears. Daughters are fighting the Asian battle one stereotype at a time, and, overall, there is a patina of choice and education. But in the hurly-burly of mind games and gender mish-mash, we hope not to lose victories won so far to an inarticulate vocabulary.

Feminism has fought hard—securing voting rights, property rights and menstrual leave, demystifying birth control—down the ages. Now it is the very definition of women that women have to navigate. Mother, maternal, matriarch… are words waving goodbye.

Shinie Antony 



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