Bill has been an internet friend of mine for 20 years now. When I first met or “met” him he was pretty much a standard issue upper middle class WASP Republican. He’s now a centrist Democrat who utterly despises Trump and Trumpism, and is a big fan of Joe Biden. He’s an example of somebody who has undergone a genuine political conversion experience because of the unrelenting awfulness of contemporary American conservatism, as it trends inexorably towards open fascism.
Yesterday, however, he got upset about Cori Bush using the phrase “birthing people.” In case you haven’t heard about this latest national crisis, here’s a typical right wing diatribe about this Orwellian twisting of the Real Meaning of Words etc etc:
Happy Birthing Person’s Day to all the Birthing People out there. What would we do without you?
Sure, some of you bigots might refer to this day as Mother’s Day — but inclusivity matters.
In that same vein, liberals used to tell us that “words matter.” But that no longer seems to be the case.
Instead, the left has become the party of twisted semantics, hell-bent on muddying up the meaning of words.
While speaking at a House Oversight Committee hearing, U.S. Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., said, “I sit before you today as a single mom, as a nurse, as an activist, and as a congresswoman. And I am committed to doing the absolute most to protect Black mothers, to protect Black babies, to protect Black birthing people, and to save lives.”
The video immediately blew up on Twitter. Some users criticized Bush’s woke linguistics, while others praised the congresswoman for being inclusive.
This is by no means the first time that terminology referring to mothers and females has received a progressive overhaul.
After all, our pronouns and descriptors have to keep up with the times.
And since the times are insane, it only makes sense that our dialect should match.
According to the New York Post, in two UK hospitals, “health professionals were advised to use the phrases ‘breast/chest milk,’ ‘milk from the feeding mother or parent’ and ‘human milk.’”
In January, the House passed a resolution that eliminated multiple gender-specific terms from a document pertaining to House rules. Why? Well, to “honor all gender identities” of course.
Terms like father, mother, son and daughter were given the ax — to name a few.
You might think this wackiness would set off some alarm bells among the journalists who pushed out countless pieces comparing Trump’s America to George Orwell’s “1984.” But these woke warriors champion Newspeak and gaslight anyone who questions it.
A headline in the main stream media reads, “Are We Really Criticizing Rep. Cori Bush for ‘Birthing People’ Instead of Solving Black Maternal Mortality?”
Well, if the term birthing people is no big deal — then why use it?
The left can downplay these changes but the truth is they fully recognize the power of language and are constantly trying to wield it.
When definitions are ever-changing, then words become meaningless.
Suddenly, reality is whatever the Ministry of Truth wants it to be.
This screechfest is a product of Bush using not just the word “mothers” — which Bush uses in the very same sentence which is trying to instantiate the Orwellian semantic totalitarianism of the Left — but also the phrase “birthing people,” to refer to the fact that transgender men and non-binary persons also give birth.
Bill got upset about this because he considers this kind of politically correct speech (the right wing PC term for the former right wing PC term “politically correct” is now “woke;” please update your wingnut translators accordingly) to be harmful to Democrats, since it will push swing voters towards Republicans.
The argument is something like this: when normal people hear the word “mothers” being replaced by — actually in this case supplemented by — the phrase “birthing people,” they get anxious about being criticized for not using the “correct” term, even though the “correct” term strikes them as preposterous. And that anxiety pushes them rightward.
This is of course just a rehash of the now more than 30-year-old argument about political correctness, with many centrist types decrying what they see as over the top complaints about failures to use “inclusive” language etc.
These arguments aren’t completely baseless — people do in fact have anxieties about unintentionally giving offense because of shifting semantic practices — but they are almost always wildly overstated. I really like Bill, and very much admire how he was willing to pretty much upend his entire political world view in response to America’s right wing horrorshow. Nevertheless, is he really worried that he, or people like him, will get criticized for not using the term “birthing people” instead of “mothers?” Is this actually going to happen to anybody?
Ok it might happen in a faculty workshop on using gender inclusive language at Oberlin, where it will lead to much eye-rolling by various even the liberal types who will scoff at the absurdity of it all, even though if pressed they would admit that there actually are transgender people in the world and that directional men do have babies. But out in the real world, so called, 99.9% of the criticism and mockery for putatively inappropriate language use will be aimed at the people who are using phrases like “birthing people,” not at the people who have no idea what that phrase even means, i.e. 99.9999% of that subset of the American population that spends less than twenty hours a day on Twitter.
In other words, this is just another fake right wing culture war “controversy,” designed to play on the anxieties of people who are understandably anxious about a changing world that is often difficult to understand. It also allows right wingers to mock transgender people while hiding behind the usual nonsense about how we’re not even allowed to say X anymore ever since the blacks and the girls and especially the black girls started getting so uppity, right around the time race music started dominating the radio in the 1960s.
As long as we Boomers are still alive in large numbers, it will always still be the 1960s. That’s what arguments about politically correct aka woke speech have always been about and will always be about.