As part of a slew of anti-trans attacks, Republicans spent the better part of 2022 trying (and failing) to prove that they could easily define what makes someone a “woman.”
The result: Dictionary.com declared “woman” to be 2022’s word of the year, after searches for the word doubled compared to the average annual number of searches.
The website explained that the word “continues to be a source of intense personal importance and societal debate” and that it is “inseparable from the story of 2022.”
“Our selection of woman as our 2022 Word of the Year reflects how the intersection of gender, identity, and language dominates the current cultural conversation and shapes much of our work as a dictionary,” the announcement continued, adding that at its highest point searches for the word rose by over 1400%.
That massive spike happened during the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, when Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) tried to trip her up by asking her for “a definition for the word woman.”
Jackson replied, “I can’t. Not in this context, I’m not a biologist.”
Her reply infuriated Republicans across the nation, but after lambasting Jackson, many of them struggled with their own attempts at defining the word.
Anti-LGBTQ+ Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), for example, fumbled on this question at a Georgia Republican Assembly meeting in April.
“I’m going to tell you right now what is a woman,” she said at the time. “This is an easy answer.”
“We came from Adam’s rib. God created us with his hands. We are- we may be the weaker sex… we are the weaker sex. But we are our partner’s, our husband’s wife.”
Around the same time, Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) decided that Congress needed to hear his definition of the word “woman,” which many subsequently mocked.
“Take notes, Madame Speaker, I’m about to define what a woman is for you,” Cawthorn said. “XX chromosomes, no tallywhacker. It’s so simple.”
Failed GOP Senate candidate Herschel Walker declared, “If you can’t have, if you can’t produce a child, you’re a man,” prompting many to point out that there are many people who aren’t men who can’t produce children.
This year, anti-LGBTQ+ Daily Wire columnist Matt Walsh even released a documentary called, What is a Woman?
As LGBTQ Nation’s Erin Rook put it, the documentary “is framed as an earnest inquiry into womanhood, but Walsh’s anti-trans agenda is clear from the start. No matter how many times he repeats the central question, Walsh is really asking: ‘Are trans people crazy or what?’ and inviting viewers to join him in his conclusion that gender transition is a threat to both individuals and society.”
Dictionary.com says it defines the word – as well as the “inextricably linked word female” – by “accounting for the many facets of such terms—biological, personal, and linguistic.”
The website currently defines the word as “an adult female person” or “a female employee or representative.” It defines “female” in more detail, first with a “biology” section that explains it as “of, relating to, or being a person with a certain combination of sex characteristics, commonly including two X chromosomes in the cell nuclei, a vagina, a uterus and ovaries, and enlarged breasts developed at puberty.”
There is also “an animal, plant, or plant structure of the sex or sexual phase that normally produces egg cells during reproduction,” as well as “of, relating to, or characteristic of a female person; feminine,” and “comprising women or girls.”
In its explanation announcing the word of the year, the website was sure to conclude that it is not the end all and be all of what a woman is.
“The dictionary is not the last word on what defines a woman,” it declares. “The word belongs to each and every woman—however they define themselves.”