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What Makes A Woman?

(512 Posts)
MxJackMonroe Wed 27-Jul-16 09:28:39

Hi MNers,

A couple of days ago I did an informal webchat ...

...and it seemed to go quite well. One of the questions that came up was 'What Is A Woman'?

I'm throwing this one open to the floor - as I am interested to hear your opinions on it.

Please try to not railroad the thread with trans-bashing; it is a wider question than that, so keep responses respectful please.


GirlWithTheLionHeart Wed 27-Jul-16 09:29:53

Someone with a vagina

GirlWithTheLionHeart Wed 27-Jul-16 09:30:51

I don't mean to be pedantic but when you said what makes a woman, that was the first thing I thought smile

MxJackMonroe Wed 27-Jul-16 09:31:32

^ So would a person born with a non-functioning or severely deformed vagina be less of a woman, in your opinion?

skatesection Wed 27-Jul-16 09:32:52

This is a bit like "what does rice taste like?" ;)

FloraFox Wed 27-Jul-16 09:34:54

Being an adult human of the sex class that produces eggs (ie female). Any person who fits that description is a woman regardless of their personality.

GirlWithTheLionHeart Wed 27-Jul-16 09:35:23

Still a vagina, doesn't have to be functioning or perfectly formed

FloraFox Wed 27-Jul-16 09:38:35

"Less of a woman" is a false concept. Humans are bipedal. A person born with one leg is not less of a human. They are a human with a disorder. A woman with non-functioning sex organs is a woman with a disorder.

TheDuckSaysMoo Wed 27-Jul-16 09:38:59

What if I can't produce eggs or have a hysterectomy, floral?

GirlWithTheLionHeart Wed 27-Jul-16 09:39:43

Agree, definitely not less of a woman.

Just as a woman who has undergone mastectomy or didn't develop breasts isn't less of a woman

SpeckleDust Wed 27-Jul-16 09:40:16

XX chromosomes

MxJackMonroe Wed 27-Jul-16 09:40:55

Around 62,000 women in the UK alone have this, LionHeart.

"MRKH (Mayer Rokitansky Küster Hauser) is a congenital abnormality which affects one in 5,000 women in the UK.

It is characterised by the absence of the vagina, womb and cervix.

Women suffering from the condition will have normally functioning ovaries and so will experience the normal signs of puberty but will not have periods or be able to conceive."

TheDuckSaysMoo Wed 27-Jul-16 09:41:29

Sorry flora, I reread your post and noted you don't assert that the person has to produce eggs.

FruitCider Wed 27-Jul-16 09:41:42

A woman is anyone that identifies as a woman, surely?

FloraFox Wed 27-Jul-16 09:43:31

TheDuck yes it's being in the sex class that produces eggs rather than sperm.

PaintedDrivesAndPolishedGrass Wed 27-Jul-16 09:43:59

What speckledust said.

FloraFox Wed 27-Jul-16 09:44:36

Meaningful definitions cannot include the word being defined.

DollyBarton Wed 27-Jul-16 09:44:57

I can't help feeling that defining what makes a woman is not only impossible but irrelevant. I'm not sure if that is an actual school of thought or just my own opinion, it's not something I've thought about before. But I think man v woman (which I think is still the primary descriptor of a person) is oversold as a definition of who/what a person is.

FreshwaterSelkie Wed 27-Jul-16 09:47:08

A woman is an adult human female, and has one or more of the following checklist:

xx chromosome
Has or had uterus
has or had ovaries
has or had breasts
and in very rare intersex cases where one or more of these does not apply, was raised as a female child.

It has nothing to do with gender, regardless of whether one believes that gender functions as identity (the trans position), or as a method of controlling women (the feminist position).

MxJackMonroe Wed 27-Jul-16 09:47:27

Is this a woman?

Klinefelter syndrome is associated with a group of chromosomal disorders in which one or more extra X chromosomes are present. Males with the classic form of the disorder have one extra X chromosome. Males with variant forms of Klinefelter syndrome have additional X and/or Y chromosomes. The extra X and/or Y chromosome can affect physical, developmental, behavioral, and cognitive functioning. Common physical features may include tall stature, lack of secondary pubertal development, small testes (hypogonadism), delayed pubertal development, and breast development (gynecomastia) in late puberty. These features may be associated with low testosterone level and elevated gonadotropin levels.

I agree it's a tricky question, which is why I've opened it for discussion.

Felascloak Wed 27-Jul-16 09:48:01

What do you think a woman is Jack?
For me it's someone with female genitals where the non-appearance of periods/breasts etc would be treated as a medical issue and investigated.
I think socialization and being raised with female gender expectations plays a role in being a woman alongside biological sex.

I don't think coopting intersex conditions or women born with physical abnormalities (e.g. missing uterus) is relevant as these are medical issues. Its about the same as saying someone born with a deformed leg isn't fully human because humans are bipedal confused Very offensive.

FloraFox Wed 27-Jul-16 09:48:54

Determining who is a woman is irrelevant? hmm

mamapants Wed 27-Jul-16 09:49:18

Yes agree woman is a purely biological descriptor, florafoxs definition seems apt

FreshwaterSelkie Wed 27-Jul-16 09:51:40

I don't have a uterus as I had to have it removed. I am a woman. I find it spectacularly offensive when my situation is leveraged to support other people's gender identities.

FloraFox Wed 27-Jul-16 09:54:05

Jack your description says "males" so not women.

Intersex conditions affect a tiny number of people. Certainly not enough to say the classification of people as female or male is impossible, pointless or irrelevant nor that people with sexual organs of one sex can somehow be classified as the other sex.

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