May 8, 2021

BIRTHING PERSON OF ALL SILLINESS:

I’m also not saying the majority should always give in—or give too much—to the minority. Take the recent algae plume of stupidity on Twitter. Rep. Cori Bush referred to mothers as “birthing people.” This elicited immediate, and deserved, mockery from many folks on the right, including yours truly. NARAL—or, at least, NARAL’s Twitter person—rallied to her cause.

Birthing-person-of-pearl! (Or for those of a certain faith, Holy Birthing Person of God!) This is a seamless disco ball of absurdity, radiating inanity from every angle. If one of the core tenets of the new Great Awokening is that the term “mother” is divisive or bigoted, then the Great Awokening is doomed (and deservedly so). Don’t tell me conservatives are too obsessed with silly and divisive culture war “distractions,” if in the next breath you’re going to lecture me on the need to erase the term “mother” from the English language.

One of the most interesting divides on the left is between socialists and critical race theorists. Some of the best pushback on the execrable 1619 Project came from socialists who think making race, as opposed to class, the focal point of the progressive project is counterproductive. It’s a fresh opening of a fascinating old divide that had once been central to the left when Marxism was taken more seriously by serious people. Anything that distracts from the class struggle is a gift to what Randi Weingarten calls the “ownership class.” This argument was applied to everything from Mickey Mouse to the welfare state to slavery reparations.

My point isn’t that mom-erasure sets back the class struggle, my point is that mom-erasure sets back the transgender cause, and virtually every other left-wing cause as well. People aren’t going to stop calling their mothers “mother” or “mom” or anything of the sort. Kids aren’t going to fall off a swing at the playground and shout, “Birthing person! I have an ouchie!” (And before you accuse me of perpetuating gender stereotypes, if dad is at the playground, they’re not going to shout, “Non-birthing person! I have an ouchie!” either.) And it’s absurd to ask them to, not just because it’s wrong on the merits, but because it’s an utterly doomed project that will invite 100 times more backlash against their cause.

Rep. Bush discovered this the hard way. She’s very mad that conservatives pounced (yes, I’m using that term ironically) on her birthing person comment while ignoring her larger point about the very real problems faced by pregnant black women.

I testified in front of Congress about nearly losing both of my children during childbirth because doctors didn’t believe my pain. Republicans got more upset about me using gender-inclusive language in my testimony than my babies nearly dying. Racism and transphobia in America.

This is bunk. Sure, transphobes and racists no doubt object to replacing “mothers” with “birthing people.” But you know who else does? Almost everybody. If Bush were more interested in communicating her actual message, she might have pondered that for a moment and used language that didn’t turn people off.

“Birthing person” sounds like a Newspeak Dictionary update too far. Read the whole thing.

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