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The Church of England isn’t sure what a woman is. “There is no official definition, which reflects the fact that until fairly recently definitions of this kind were thought to be self-evident, as reflected in the marriage liturgy,” said Rev. Robert Innes. Our most recent Supreme Court Justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson, isn’t sure what a woman is either. “I’m not a biologist,” she said. Normal people, who know exactly what a woman is, are afraid to speak up. How did we get here? What happened?

Will it surprise anyone if I tell you we women are to blame? From Eve onward, we have possessed an extraordinary ability to make trouble for ourselves. And the past fifty years have been especially disastrous; our collective instincts have often been destructive rather than creative, self-defeating rather than empowering.

The feminist movement of recent history has held one sacrament supreme above all: abortion rights. But such feminism—that of abortion rights, and its attendant wage servitude and hook-up culture—has brought nothing but confusion, misery, and despair to all involved. Poll after poll, survey after survey, indicates that women are more unhappy now than they have ever been—at least since such studies were undertaken. And an ever-increasing number of young women and girls have now decided they are, or want to be, men, mutilating themselves in the process and filling their bodies with hormones that will make them forever infertile.

Meanwhile, abortion on demand has succeeded primarily in letting men off the hook. They got casual sex with zero accountability; we got a lot of ho-hum sex. Most women don’t actually enjoy sex without emotional attachment. How absurd to have to point this out: Men and women are different, physically, emotionally, and psychologically. We have more than two millennia of literature, art, and science exploring such differences. But today, we are supposed to forget all that.

The feminism that places abortion rights above all else rejects women’s raison d’être, namely, the procreation of the human species, and replaces it with what, exactly? Better a slave to the marketplace, apparently, than a slave to your own child. This sort of feminism views women merely as inferior versions of men, as people handicapped by a uterus. It posits that women will only ever be free if they deny their ability to give birth. In a just world, the logic of this feminism runs, women will be no more bound by biology than men. Both freed—to make money for the state.

But abortion is not justice for women. It is vengeance on the unborn. And, appallingly, women seem so desperate for power, they will grab it any way they can. If necessary, by murdering their own unborn children, any time, for any reason. Shout your abortion. Congratulations, ladies. You finally found something so powerless, it cannot fight back: your own baby.

The #MeToo movement of the past few years is, in part, a reaction to the confusion sown by abortion-above-all-else feminism. The natural consequence of a culture of sexual license and no accountability, #MeToo may have seemed like a movement for justice, but it became, in practice, an opportunity for women to settle old scores, take revenge on old boyfriends, and destroy lives with impunity. “Believe All Women” is a ridiculous slogan. Women lie all the time, just like men. 

In all too many cases, #MeToo is not justice. It is vengeance. And ultimately, the fallout, both professional and romantic, will harm women. Men will be reluctant to socialize at all with female colleagues, and entry to the “old boys’ club,” for which we once fought, will be barred again.

Romantically, of course, it’s a disaster. Only the brave, or very good-looking, will feel comfortable even approaching a woman. When every encounter, flirtation, or unhappy love affair can come back to haunt and ruin a man’s life, he will have to think long and hard before engaging in any sort of relationship at all. And increasingly, this is what seems to be happening. Marriage continues to decline, and birth rates have plummeted. Indeed, young men now report having less sex with women than ever before. It seems that most have settled for online pornography—much safer than a real woman.

Imprisoned by jargon and rigid rules, paralyzed by an imagined fragility, today’s young women must find happiness not in relationships, but in obsessive online activity. Might I suggest that flirting is far more enjoyable than tweeting? It is one of life’s greatest pleasures, but we have now produced a generation of women who regard compliments they didn’t ask for as abusive. 

In a world where all is understood through the lens of power, love is impossible. Women will always be destined for unhappiness if they choose power over love. A feminism that cares only about power and freedom from others, rather than love and freedom with and for others, is doomed to failure.

And, indeed, one need only look at the world we have helped bring about. Why are we now demeaned as “people with uteruses,” “bleeders,” “birthing people”? Don’t blame the trans activists. They’re only taking brilliant advantage of the ammunition we gave them.

We must bear much of the responsibility for this linguistic and existential confusion. When we understand ourselves as essentially inferior versions of men, handicapped rather than blessed by a uterus, eventually everyone else will too. Women are no longer regarded as extraordinary, complicated, mysterious humans blessed with the astonishing and supreme power of growing and giving life. No, they’re just weaker, non-men burdened with a uterus.

The Church of England does not know what a woman is—but we do. A woman is an adult, human female with two X chromosomes. And we might point, as an example, to Mary, a poor, unmarried, young Jewish woman from Nazareth, whose “yes” to God is history’s single most consequential choice since Eve chose the apple.

Change our thinking, and we can change the world. It’s time, ladies, that we heal ourselves.

Kari Jenson Gold’s most recent piece for First Things was “Jesus the Carpenter.”

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Artwork by Berthold Furtmeyr is in the Public Domain. Image cropped.

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