What is a Woman?

Matt Walsh is asking this question in his new book and movie and getting a variety of answers it seems. Being a data driven science type guy, I like to start answering questions like this with observations. What observations can we make about women (and men) besides the obvious physical differences? Well if I had to characterize women vs. men over the whole scope of what we call history — the past 6000 years or so — I’d probably characterize women (contrasted with men) as generally … more nurturing, more empathetic, more emotional, more discerning, less creative / more maintaining … and men (contrasted with women) as generally … less nurturing more conquering / destroying, less empathetic, less emotional, less discerning, more creative / less maintaining. To summarize … I would say that Woman = Discerner / Revealer / Nurturer … Man = Maker / Conqueror / Destroyer. Of course these are generalities and there are definitely areas of overlap. Also, there will be debate as to WHY these differences exist. Some say it’s social conditioning and some say it’s more biological. What say you?

156 thoughts on “What is a Woman?

  1. HMGuy:
    “Operation” … if I underwent an operation to make my body look female, I would probably consider myself a hybrid, unless I started having “womanly” feelings … for example, getting turned on by Chippendale dudes, liking it when men open the door for me, etc. If my feelings / emotions / mental processes changed to more or less match my physical changes, then of course I would consider myself a woman, not a hybrid.

    Lesbians “womanly “feelings certainly do not include a an attraction the Chippendales, likewise for many straight women.Some women are attracted to neither male or female. Holding a door open is an interesting choice, does that make a man “ womanly “ if he opens the door for another dude? So many gray areas.

    Maybe, if your search for what makes one a woman, like a culture warrior Sherlock Holmes , list the commonalities between man and woman and what you have left is definition of the difference.

    It seems true ,to me, someone must be highly motivated to take a different path. Perhaps they consider themselves as not fitting into a neat box . So the whole decision which stereotypical category to place oneself in does not come up. Of course, that is true in many things in the human experience .Conformity is the safer choice.

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  2. HMGuy:

    If I underwent an operation to make my body look female…

    In my thought experiment, your body isn’t modified to look female, it’s replaced altogether with a female body. The severity of the accident left your doctors no choice but to transplant your brain into a new body, and the only donor body available was female.

    I stress this just in case it changes any of your answers. Does it?

  3. HMGuy,

    I’ll assume for now that your answers won’t change based on the above, but let us know if they do.

    You write:

    I would probably consider myself a hybrid, unless I started having “womanly” feelings … for example, getting turned on by Chippendale dudes, liking it when men open the door for me, . etc. If my feelings / emotions / mental processes changed to more or less match my physical changes, then of course I would consider myself a woman, not a hybrid.

    So if a particular gay man has those ‘womanly’ feelings, he’s a hybrid, not a man?

    That’s what your logic implies. You’d initially consider yourself a hybrid since your brain and body were of different sexes. But if your brain started producing thoughts that were sufficiently womanly, it would become a female brain, and at that point you’d consider yourself a woman because your brain and body would both be female.

    So for you, a brain is male if it produces thoughts that are sufficiently ‘manly”, and it’s female if it produces thoughts that are sufficiently ‘womanly’. Is there a third category for brains whose thoughts are neither sufficiently manly nor sufficiently womanly?

    You’d also say that a man is a person with a male brain and a male body, a woman is a person with a female brain and a female body, and a hybrid is a person whose brain and body mismatch in terms of sex.

    Does that all sound right?

  4. keiths:

    Your brain wouldn’t change overnight, so you’d still be attracted by the “womanly characteristics” that appealed to you before the operation, at least in the short run. Would that make you a lesbian, given that your body is female? Or would you still be a heterosexual?

    :
    HMGuy:

    The labels “lesbian heterosexual etc” don’t matter much to me.

    OK, let’s grant that those labels aren’t important to you. I still ask: would you be a lesbian, given that you have a woman’s body and are attracted to women, or would you be straight, given that you have a male brain and are attracted to women? Neither lesbian nor straight?

  5. HMGuy,

    Why are you acting surprised? You asked the question. It was clear that you didn’t have a good answer. My thought experiment and the questions I’ve posed are designed to help you come up with a better answer, one that reflects your intuitions and is also logically consistent.

    You might find that impossible, but if so, that’s good! As a “a data driven science type guy”, you want your answer to be logically consistent, right? Knowing that it’s inconsistent would spur you on to develop a different answer.

    Please go ahead and answer my questions, and we’ll see where it leads.

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