One Simple Question
A Catholic cultural commentator shines light on the illogic of “transgenderism”
The year 2022 saw the release of an explosive documentary film by Catholic cultural commentator Matt Walsh that asked the titular question, “What is a Woman?” The simple question, which Walsh posed to a variety of people ranging from clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson to transgender activists to African Masai tribesmen, proved to be a decisive one that some of his interlocutors just couldn’t answer.
And that was the point: how can one assert that transgenderism has a valid rationale when people who claim to transition from men to women (or vice versa) cannot even say what a woman is?
As the husband and father of four, writer, blogger and online Daily Wire host said himself in his column “What is a Woman? Why the Left Can’t Answer the Question”: “Gender theory has made it so that the word ‘woman’ itself, and the word ‘man,’ have no meaning. Leftists, because of their ideological commitments, cannot define the terms. They say trans women are women. They say that someone can start out life as a male and transition into a woman. But how can I understand any of these claims and declarations if I do not know how they define the word ‘woman’?”
The film, and the companion book he also released by the same title, caused a firestorm of criticism in the mainstream secular press, as well as appreciation and support in the Catholic press. In it, he presses the logic of gender theory to its ultimate conclusion: if gender is not defined biologically, then it simply can’t exist, and even speaking of the concept “gender” means nothing.
The Masai tribesmen he interviews are the ones who provide the most straightforward and logical observation of what woman and man are: a woman has babies and a man does not. Finally, it turns out, there is no alternative way to define the sexes.
We can add, “And that is what God meant when he said, ‘Male and female I have created them.’”
But the deeper issue that is thrown into relief by Walsh’s work is the ultimate fate of the soul of the world. For sexuality, as American Orthodox writer Rod Dreher points out in a December 11 post at theamericanconservative.com, has emerged as the principal battleground of the struggle — it may not be an exaggeration to call it a cosmic struggle — for that soul. Why? Sexuality is the principal arena in which culture reveals its contours as either authentically human (meaning in harmony with our human natures as God created them), or anti-human. There is no in-between.
So one lesson Matt Walsh’s documentary teaches us is that those who would deny that gender is a created reality end up denying our very humanity.
The result? Human beings become playthings, as exemplified in ancient Roman society, where the free, landed male was culturally entitled to use whomever he wished — male or female, slave or freewoman — to satisfy his lust, effectively denying the humanity of those he used.
Christianity changed all that, bringing dignity and respect for their humanity, created in God’s own image, to ordinary people.
Today the situation is returning to that of pagan Rome. The exception is the much-lauded but ultimately empty element of “consent” that exists where it did not in pagan Rome — but this does nothing to diminish the fact that modern sexuality, shorn first of its natural purposes through contraception, and now, in this “LGBT-friendly” age, even of its natural bodily expression, has become fundamentally a relationship of “using” others for pleasure — a situation Pope St. John Paul II labored throughout his pontificate to change through his “Theology of the Body” catechesis.
Walsh has done us a tremendous service by giving us new and irrefutable evidence that following God’s plan for sexuality, gender and procreation is really the only way that makes sense. May Catholics around the world become awake to the danger human culture — another way of saying the world’s soul — is in because of our denial of reality in the sexual sphere.