A question about the definition of “woman” — one that stunned Republicans during last month’s confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson and was also called “fundamental” by Senator Marsha Blackburn to answer — is proving to be a stumbling block for the GOP lawmakers give a succinct answer.
One in particular, Sen Josh Hawley, who spent his time during the confirmation hearings quizzing Judge Jackson about her record in punishing sex offenders, not only seemed unable to provide a straight answer to the question that he and other Republicans were in the judiciary just weeks before the committee pivoted, but were genuinely confused about how the human anatomy works.
In a series of hallway interviews HuffPost asked Republicans sitting on the Judiciary Committee the same question their House and Senate peers have derided as simple and straightforward: how to define a woman.
Their answers ranged from textbook Republican (Sen Thom Tillis responded to the question by saying “my wife”) to genetic (Sen Chuck Grassley repeated the definition originally given by Sen Blackburn: “A woman is born with two X- chromosomes born”). But Sen Hawley’s comments were perhaps the strangest, causing the internet to erupt in a widespread panning over what appears to be a serious misunderstanding of human anatomy.
Prompted by the reporter’s question, Mr Hawley boldly began explaining that femininity is inherently linked to a person’s ability to give birth, saying: “Someone who can bear a child, a Mother, is a woman,” said Mr. Hawley. before adding: “Someone who has a womb is a woman. It doesn’t seem that complicated to me.”
The reporter then punched a hole in his logic by asking if a woman had her uterus removed, a procedure the CDC estimates has been performed on 20 million people in the country. Would that then exclude her from inclusion in Mr. Hawley’s definition?
Mr. Hawley responded to the question by asking another question: “Yes. Well, I don’t know, right?” When the reporter pressed further on whether a woman would still be defined as such if, say, she lost her reproductive organs to cancer, he responded again with a question: “I mean, a woman has one vagina, right? ”
Online reactions to the Republican politician’s stumble from Missouri have been swift and unrelenting, with many taking time to point out the irony of lawmakers struggling to answer the question he and his peers had ridiculed for weeks as being straightforward .