.

There She Goes

When Everyone’s a Woman, No One’s a Woman

upon reading the news story here.

There she goes, erased from Cambridge pages—
An instant relic wafting on the fringe
Of lunacy as sybils, saints, and sages
Forewarn of doom and logophiles cringe.

There she goes—Eve’s ostracized from Eden.
The change in Adam’s pronouns tossed her out.
His choice to be a she (a muscly maiden)
Leaves rankled Eve aggrieved — she counts for nowt.

You’ll find her in the shreds of whispered history
Where witches bleed beneath a gibbous moon,
Where shrieking banshees shroud their dread in mystery,
And only ghosts are gifted with a womb.

You’ll never find her purity and purpose—
When woman is an open-ended term,
You’ll find her in a lexiconic circus
Appropriated by a bearded worm.

.

.

Susan Jarvis Bryant has poetry published on Lighten Up Online, Snakeskin, Light, Sparks of Calliope, and Expansive Poetry Online. She also has poetry published in TRINACRIA, Beth Houston’s Extreme Formal Poems anthology, and in Openings (anthologies of poems by Open University Poets in the UK). Susan is the winner of the 2020 International SCP Poetry Competition, and has been nominated for the 2022 Pushcart Prize.


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76 Responses

  1. Brian Yapko

    Brilliant, Susan! Delightfully scathing language which places a glaring spotlight on the apparent victory of ideology over biology and common sense. I could go line by line to express my delight with all of your bitingly sarcastic phrasing but do not have enough time. Let me just say that your treatment of Adam and Eve is hysterically funny while the subject you skewer is frankly terrifying. I wondered if you were going to be made aware of this new story.

    Here’s my challenge to the dictionary definers: What is the correct word for a human being who possesses a functional uterus, breasts which lactate, ovaries which produce eggs and a vagina? Or are you going to tell us with a straight face that in a language which the Oxford Dictionary claims has 171,476 words that no such word for this type of human exists? That, my friends, is the nefarious thing called “ideology.”

    Reply
    • Russel Winick

      Susan – I agree with you and Brian. But what do I know? I’m not a biologist.

      Reply
      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Russel, I am laughing… and I have a sneaking feeling that even though you’re not a biologist, you know exactly what a woman is!

      • Jeff Kemper

        Russel, I am a biologist, and you must understand that human anatomy and physiology have changed in the recent past. Susan is guilty of eisogesis, reading these biological changes back into a time before the 20-21st century human evolution. In Eden there were merely two genders; it was the best God could do then. But we have now elevated God’s world to a higher level.

  2. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Brian, you have nailed my poetic intent with your amazing comment – “ideology over biology and common sense” says it all… perfectly!

    As for your challenge, with its precise indicators pointing in the direction of a REAL woman, how on earth could anyone who wants to portray the meaning of words truthfully, fail to see that the new definition misses the mark by light years?!

    Brian your comment enhances the message I’m conveying in my poem, and for that I thank you… very much indeed!

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      My pleasure, Susan. I’m glad you wrote this and I hope it embarrasses the Cambridge Dictionary ideologues. And, by the way, Evan’s choice of Elagabalus as the image accompanying this poem is also hysterical. Now I’m tempted to write a poem in his/her/their imperial voice.

      Reply
      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Brian, I agree wholeheartedly with Evan’s oh so appropriate choice of Elagabalus… and I hope with all my heart you succumb to your poetic temptation… laughter is not only a cure for medical ills, it also sends those trying to blind us with BS into a state of apoplexy. Go for it!

      • Brian Yapko

        The subject matter is irresistible! Alright, Susan! I’ll do it!

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Brian, you have made my evening… I look forward to the end results!

  3. Yael

    Hmm, so if anyone can basically choose their own definition of what the word “woman” (or “man”) means from a menu of contradictory and delusional choices, then maybe it’s time to re-define what the word “definition” means. And if the clever dictionary smiths were to re-define the word “definition”, then maybe we won’t need any more dictionaries at all in the near future, because verbal communication will have become totally outmoded and terminally impractical.
    Good job shining a bright spotlight on this topic Susan. I really like the parting image of the bearded worm.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Yael, you have a valid point – what purpose does a dictionary serve if every word is a potential rainbow-maned unicorn?! You are right, if we continue on this delusional path, the dictionary is dead! I love your idea of defining “definition”… inspiration for my next poem, perhaps. Thank you for your sane take in a world gone bananas.

      Reply
  4. Robert Zimmerman

    Hello Susan.

    You have demonstrated in this eloquently stated satirical piece that neither dictionaries or gender definitions have a place in our lost cause vernacular these days. In her confirmation hearings, our newest Supreme Court Justice could not define the word “woman”. The. descent of our culture is dizzying.

    Reply
  5. Stephen Dickey

    I’m so dismayed by what is going in now on all fronts that I can barely stand to think about it. That having been said, this is the best possible poetic treatment of this topic I can imagine.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Stephen, I feel the same way as you, and composing satirical poetry is the way I deal with it. I’m hoping my words go some way towards giving hope to those in despair… those who think no one is thinking along the same lines as them. There are many of us out there. Perhaps if we all stood up at the same time, things would be different. Truth matters. I thoroughly appreciate your comment. Thank you.

      Reply
  6. Norma Pain

    Another great satirical creation Susan. I think so many people are just flabbergasted by the total garbage that is crawling out of the woodwork, they cannot believe all this stupidity is happening.

    Reply
  7. David Watt

    Susan, your words “she counts for nowt” perfectly express the diminution of womanhood through the totally unfounded expansion of its definition. This is a fine satirical piece.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      David, it’s lovely to see you back, and thank you very much for your spot-on comment, your appreciation, and your encouragement… it means a lot!

      Reply
  8. Wayne

    “The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only – and that is to support the ultimate career.”

    -C.S. Lewis

    Women, givers of life, and peace and joy!

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      How beautiful! I’m basking in the wonder of your comment, Wayne… it is so true. Where would we be without authentic women – “givers of life, peace and joy!” Thank you!

      Reply
  9. James Sale

    More excellent poetry Susan: you may not be as big as The Cambridge, but you are a bit of a dictionary yourself – great to see words like gibbous being resurrected! Haven’t seen that one for a long time. But of course your work is much more satisfying that the Cambridge; the excuse that this is just how people use language now is so lame, because it is not how people use language now – it is how a very small and vociferous minority pervert language now. I think I know what a woman is, and aside from my lifetime’s experience, the chromosomal argument is pretty unanswerable except to ideologues or bigots. Well done, this is very funny, very satirical and very skilful.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      James, thank you for this. I love the word ‘gibbous’, and all those other words I stumble upon and collect like fireflies in a jar by the side of my bed… ready for the next poem. The way language is dumbed down and perverted to sick ends these days, makes me want to scour the pre-idiocy dictionaries for linguistic delights and shower the globe in their sparkle. Words matter!

      Reply
  10. Joshua C. Frank

    Susan, another great poem, and very well said with your usual poetic skill, as always!

    It’s so true, about how the whole transgender agenda erases women. Meanwhile they claim to do all this to honor women as something to emulate. “War is peace, freedom is slavery,” etc. It’s the logical conclusion of feminism; once a woman can take on the male role, who’s to say she can’t become a man, or that a man can’t become a woman? Once we make that step, just as you say, we can’t define man or woman anymore, making their whole movement, not to mention all language and everything else, meaningless. I mean, a man must have an idea what a woman is if he’ll sacrifice everything to try to become one.

    The worst part is, once you can’t define women, you can’t defend women from unscrupulous men. How are videos of men like Dylan Mulvaney different from minstrel shows, where white actors painted themselves black and acted out all the ethnic stereotypes for a laugh? I heard someone say his whole body is a girl costume, which about sums it up.

    I’m glad you’re continuing to speak out against this lunacy and for women. If I wrote those exact same words that you wrote, a lot of people would say a man has no right to speak for women… even though they can’t define what a man or woman is.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Joshua, I thoroughly appreciate your astute and informative comment and I’m thrilled you like the poem. Every point you make serves to point out the maddening mendacity and manipulation surrounding the entire charade. Altering the meaning of words in this day and age isn’t because the language of the street dictates it, it’s because our draconian, gaslighting overlords demand it. The natural evolution of language no longer exists. It’s been replaced by iron fisted control through ideologies that are incompatible with the human soul.

      Josh, I am certain many women out there would appreciate your poetic voice on this subject matter… it’s only those who are pushing this agenda that won’t. I get plenty of flak for speaking out and I am a woman… at least I am to all those who embrace reality. You make some very interesting points. Thank you very much indeed!

      Reply
  11. Joseph S. Salemi

    Dr. Johnson defined a lexicographer as “A harmless drudge, that busies himself in tracing the original, and detailing the signification of words.”

    I think we can now define the Cambridge Dictionary lexicographers as “Flaming assholes, who busy themselves in desperate attempts to sound as politically correct as possible, while allowing the signification of words to dissolve.”

    Elagabalus wasn’t the only sick pervert in imperial times who tried to change sexual reality. The emperor Nero castrated his slave Sporus to make him a “woman,” and he then actually married the guy. And the male priests of Cybele castrated themselves to become “women,” so as to imitate their sexually ambiguous divinity. The foetid cesspool of transgenderism has a long heritage.

    Susan’s poem is magnificent. And dammit, she can write FAST!

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Joe, thank you! Your second paragraph has me laughing and simultaneously shaking my head in anger and despair – just the sort of reaction that spurred me to write my poem. “The foetid cesspool of transgenderism has a long heritage” (a stark and shocking revelation) is swirling around my head as I wonder why people are unable to recall or research past events that point to one direction only… and it’s not a nice destination. Why aren’t the multitudes railing against this, I wonder? Having said that, perhaps I need to return to my history books… but, I have a sneaky feeling they’ll spoil my Christmas.

      Reply
  12. C.B. Anderson

    The whole thing is horrifyingly ridiculous, but dictionaries, after all, when it comes to pronunciations and definitions, are committed to being descriptive, not prescriptive, which in some ways is a good thing.
    This was definitely one of your most scintillating and most powerful pieces.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      C.B., thank you! You make a very interesting ‘prescriptive, not descriptive’ point… one I’m pondering on. I’m really glad you like this poem… it came from somewhere deep within; somewhere seething and insistent… somewhere news articles are sending me regularly. I must be ready for my annual viewing of James Stewart in “Harvey”… that will get me back on track.

      Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Dear Sally, it’s lovely to hear from you, especially in fine alliterative form. I agree with every shining word of your comment. Thank you!

      Reply
  13. Conor Kelly

    There seems to be a conflict, Susan, between the title of this page – On Cambridge Dictionary Expanding Woman Definition – and the first line of your poem – “There she goes, erased from Cambridge pages”. Expansion is not erasure. As C.B. Anderson says, quite rightly, a dictionary is descriptive, not prescriptive. So, if a substantial proportion of the population use the word woman to signify transgender women, where is your problem? The dictionary is merely expanding the definition to reflect usage. That’s the purpose of a dictionary.
    Brian Yapko may moan about “the apparent victory of ideology over biology”, but this is about neither ideology nor biology, it is merely about how people use words, not about how they should use words – descriptive not prescriptive. I may prefer the word “film” and loathe the word “movie” but, hey-ho, I have to live in the real world and I, also, will watch “Harvey”.
    In the meantime, happy holidays or, if that is too expansive for you and Mike, happy Christmas to you both.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      I also said: when everyone is a woman, no one is a woman. The dictionary definition of “woman” has been expanded to such a degree, the word has been rendered meaningless to me, and judging by the comments, many others feel the same.
      You ask: “So, if a substantial proportion of the population use the word woman to signify transgender women, where is your problem?” The problem is the blinkered use of the phrase “substantial proportion of the population” – prove it.

      I am not foolish enough to believe, or wicked enough to promote, an expansion of meaning that demeans and endangers women and children. If I am forced by a draconian ideology and PC language to call a lion a hamster and treat it as such – it doesn’t mean it’s the truth, and I certainly wouldn’t let my kids have the newly affirmed “hamster” as a pet… just as I wouldn’t want a “woman” with a penis in the women’s bathrooms, shower rooms, hospital wards, or prisons.

      Reply
      • Dan Boucher

        Conor’s comment makes a lot of sense to me, regardless of politics. Respectfully, I’d like to take up your challenge to “prove it” (the ‘it’ being that a substantial proportion of the population word use the word woman to refer to a trans woman).

        I think that a substantial proportion of the population, say, more than 15%, would, on sight and in many other contexts, use the word ‘man’ to describe this person:

        https://tinyurl.com/ypwdmusr

        e.g. “Hmm, I don’t like that man’s beard over there.”, “Hey man, what’s up.”, etc.

        Similarly, I think a substantial proportion of the population would use the word ‘woman’ to describe this person:

        https://tinyurl.com/2p4wcmhv

        e.g. “Ou, I like that woman’s dress over there!”, “Hey I saw you across the bar, you’re a gorgeous woman, can I buy you a drink?”

        To deny that many people would use the word woman or man to describe these individuals in many contexts seems absurd, no matter how one feels about people using the word that way.

        Besides, it seems to me that the dictionary still has the primary definition as “a female human person.” I think Conor’s point stands. Is the dictionary supposed to omit a use of the word that is in fact very common in many contexts?

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Mr. Boucher, no one is denying that dictionaries should provide descriptive as well as prescriptive definitions on occasion. What was suggested is that if a usage is controversial or contested, that fact should be acknowledged as an important part of the entry, ,just as some words are tagged as “slang” or “offensive” or “vulgar” or “dialectical.”

        The Cambridge idiots didn’t do that. They simply swallowed the political contention of fanatical LGBT agitators that “woman” can mean anyone at all who claims to be a woman, regardless of sexual identity.

        You say that 15% of the population might choose to say something. Since when do we create dictionary definitions by taking a vote? Are you some kind of an obsessive populist? Do we vote on how many electrons an element in the periodic table has? Do we vote on how many degrees there are in a right angle?

        A person is born either male or female. Just deal with it, OK?

    • Joshua C. Frank

      Hey Conor, before we discuss the issue, we need to define our terms. If you don’t define a woman the way Susan, Brian, and I do, then what, in your eyes, is a woman? How do you define the word?

      Reply
      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Thank you for your comment, Joshua. I have a strong feeling we will all be referred to the Cambridge Dictionary by Mr. Kelly. As Brian quite rightly points out, dictionaries are “reference books which purport to give definitions which are to be relied on whether in court, hospitals, academia, and elsewhere. Their “imprimatur” on a definition carries great weight” which is precisely why the definition has been expanded.

        Mr. Kelly is not on my page because he cares for my poetry. He is on my page because he wants to shame me and shut me up. All over the Western world, people are getting arrested for “mis-gendering”… and there are plenty of people out there enabling it.

      • Joshua C. Frank

        Susan, you’re probably right about Mr. Kelly’s probable response, but the Cambridge dictionary now defines “woman” as “an adult who lives and identifies as female though they may have been said to have a different sex at birth.” That just begs the question. What is female, if not primary and secondary sex characteristics?

        I note that Mr. Kelly mainly goes after you even though Brian and I also write along similar lines. That may be because of your talent… or it may be because he hates women even though he can’t define what a woman is! As talented as you are, I’m afraid it may be the latter since one would have to hate women in order to want to force women to accept men as women.

    • James Kirkpatrick

      So outfits like the Cambridge Dictionary are just objective types waiting around to “expand” in whichever direction they must to reflect, impartially, the usage of language as it evolves, with nary an agenda?

      You’ll have some credibility as soon as one sees the definition of, say, “refugee” expanded to mean: “person or persons primarily of non-white ethnicity pretending to suffer persecution in their home country in order to gain entry to Europe or the Unites States especially, with the intention of getting welfare and committing violent crimes against their indigenous populations.”

      Dear man, please.

      Reply
      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        An excellent point, James, a point that brings a bit of balance to an off kilter, insane argument.

      • Paul Freeman

        Then again, we have violent insurrectionists being described and defined as patriots in some quarters.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Hey Paul — wake up. At least a little bit, OK?

        Those men at Bunker Hill, Valley Forge, and Lexington were “violent insurrectionists.” Had you forgotten that?

        I suppose you wouldn’t call those native peoples who fought against European colonialism “violent insurrectionists.” For a left-liberal like you, they were “heroic,” no doubt.

      • James Kirkpatrick

        Yes, Paul Freeman, and BLM/Antifa murder-looters described as “mostly peaceful protestors.” Go on.

      • Mike Bryant

        Paul Freeman, in America, Great Britain, and yes, even in Abu Dhabi UAE, the accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. But, you have taken it upon yourself to ignore hundreds of years of jurisprudence because you seem to have some weird belief in the world-wide mockingbird media. You really should not be calling the January 6 defendants “violent insurrectionists” because it is libel and not very smart. You owe them an apology.

        https://www.thenationalnews.com/uae/courts/court-affirms-principle-of-innocent-until-proven-guilty-1.521039

  14. Brian Yapko

    Susan, C.B. raises a really interesting point. Yes, dictionaries document language as it is used, whether in academia or on the street. But dictionaries are not simply mirrors. They are reference books which purport to give definitions which are to be relied on whether in court, hospitals, academia, and elsewhere. Their “imprimatur” on a definition carries great weight. They are citable authority. Dictionary definitions purport to be based on generally accepted usage. If they choose to impose a definition that they hope will become generally accepted usage, they are now acting ideologically rather than objectively. If it is not based on generally accepted usage, reputable dictionaries then notate the questionable usage as being slang, dialect or, perhaps, a secondary, specialized definition or — especially as here — a controversial definition. I don’t see any such qualification here. Cambridge has fully driven off the cliff by asserting a definition as settled when it is indeed controversial. That is indeed ideological and nothing else.

    And forgive my obviously neanderthal obtuseness, but I simply do not understand the need for an expanded definition. A transgender person is asserting the identity of the noun that is the original dictionary definition in the first place. Why are we adding someone’s ASPIRATION to be a woman to the actual DEFINITION of a woman? Do we now define people in terms of both identity and aspiration to that identity? President = someone who is president AND someone who identifies as a president. Tree = an actual woody tree AND any plant which, despite not being a tree, identifies as being a tree. Yes, this is reductio ad absurdum but why are we adding aspiration into the noun? I want to be an actor. I want to be Belgian. Well, if I say I am, I guess I am. Do people not see how intellectually dishonest this is?

    The only reason for the existence of the expanded definition to include aspirational identity is ideology. Cambridge goes out of its way to dignify a subjective identification of womanhood when a) this is not a generally accepted usage — it is controversial, they fail to identify it as controversial, and, in fact, many people vehemently object to such usage (I’d love for all English-speakers throughout the world to have a vote on whether this is proper usage); and b) the original definition of “woman” adequately describes the aspirational target identification of a transgender person. The dictionary doesn’t simply get to create definitions based on promoted mass delusions which history will be sorely embarrassed by when they realize the extent of damage their ultimately insupportable ideology has caused.

    By the way, it should be noted that Cambridge identifies “man” in the same way — someone who identifies as male irrespective of what gender they were assigned at birth. This is the same identical form or doublespeak. Let’s put it in other terms: Whether I am a lawyer versus whether or not I am simply IDENTIFYING as a lawyer should not not cause the dictionary to change the definition of what a lawyer is. And on that unhappy day when a dictionary does define a lawyer as both A) someone who practices law AND B) someone who, despite not having been a lawyer, now identifies as someone who practices law — then you will see a collapse of our legal system. Because absolutely anyone will be able to claim he or she is a lawyer under the dictionary definition and will be utterly unfit to practice. Is it any different when men claiming to be women compete in sports or force doctors to use terms like “birthing person” to satisfy their fragile egos?

    But I’ll concede this: if Cambridge had qualified its secondary definition to be slang or stated that this usage was controversial meaning then it would be less alarming. But to abuse its status as a reference book to promote a controversial and NOT-generally-accepted definition of “woman” in order to promote transgenderism is despicable.

    Lastly, and with dictionary definitions under attack, can I assume that the words femme or mujer or frau now also incorporate a transgender component to their definitions in their respective languages? Or is English the only language that is lucky enough to have such an expanded definition for a word which hasn’t changed definition for 1300 years. Wow, those who are drunk on compassion must really feel good about the anarchy — as well as mental illness — that they promote. Well, bless their hearts for thinking that they are making the world a better place. Word by word.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Brian, I thoroughly appreciate your eloquent, intelligent, reasoned observations on a subject that has thrown the Western world into chaos, by design – the ultimate goal being power and money, not “care”. The mutilation of manipulated minors is lining many pockets at present. You have also reminded me that the definition of “man” has also been expanded. In my eyes, they too have been erased. When everyone’s a man, no one’s a man. We are living in a sick society. Thank you for shining the light of truth on the lies.

      Reply
    • Conor Kelly

      Although you begin by accepting C. B.’s account of a dictionary as descriptive, Brian, the rest of your diatribe is all prescriptive. I am not interested in having a row with you or anyone else, this side of Christmas, over what defines a woman. I am merely here to defend the editors of the Cambridge dictionary for doing what all good lexicographers do – explore the fluid nature of language as words expand their meanings over time. Despite your attestations, a dictionary is not a legal document; it is not a political document; it is not a biological document. It just reflects how words are used. As the controversy on this site, and far more widely in America, over the question posed to a Supreme Court nominee over the definition of “woman” proved, the meaning of the word has now expanded to include the terms used in the Cambridge dictionary. It doesn’t, as I have already argued, erase your definition of “woman”, it expands it to include usages that are becoming more common. A dictionary does not, as you argue, create definitions; it merely reflects them.
      According to my dictionary “grass” is a commonly used term for cannabis. Botanically the two are very different but the dictionary can expand the use of one to include the other without erasing one. That doesn’t obviate the need for you and me to cut it back with a lawnmower in the summer months. Maybe you should smell the grass (whatever variety suits you) and calm down. The dictionary is merely doing what it is supposed to be doing.
      (As for the personal attacks on me, not my views, by Susan and Joshua, you will excuse me if I don’t go down into the gutter with them.)

      Reply
      • Brian Yapko

        Hello, Conor. I’m not interested in having a row with you either. I am, however, interested in the ethics of what goes into creating a dictionary definition. In my view, the process is both descriptive and prescriptive. That includes the decision-making that goes into adding or amending a definition. It also includes the process of deciding whether a usage is generally accepted. It also includes the process of deciding whether or not this is a definition that can actually be used for the purposes the dictionary exists for in the first place an extremely important one of which indeed involves the legislative chamber and the courtroom. Like it or not, dictionaries are considered to be citable evidence and authority in court. That means that the definition that is provided by the dictionary has the potential of carrying great practical weight in a case or in the creation of legislation or in any number of important situations with legal implications. Under the Doctrine of Judicial Notice, a judge MUST accept the definition in a dictionary because of the authoritative nature of the work. So it is not merely descriptive, it is prescriptive. And it will be used harshly against a party if a term is misused as reflected by a dictionary definition. There is no context where words matter more. Movies may mirror the world. Facebook may mirror the world. But dictionary definitions, like almanac entries, the multiplication table and the Periodic table must rise to a higher standard. In the United States — at least in the world of Law — they are considered authority and not just a reflection of usage.

        Furthermore, as I said in my comment, IF a dictionary is going to present a definition which is controversial, not generally accepted, slang, etc. they have an ethical obligation to explain that fact. To simply take something controversial and present it as a settled definition is dishonest. Here, Cambridge did exactly that. They purported to define woman (man, too) in terms of both the original noun but then they added transgender language that is far from settled. In fact, to change the definition of “woman” in this way places this dictionary definition out of step with the rest of the world. You will not find this expansive definition of “woman” in Africa, Russia, China, India, Latin America or any part of the world that represents probably 7.5 billion out of 8 billion people on the planet. So for one dictionary in a country with a population that represents 0.87% of the world’s population to purport to change the definition of a woman – a word whose definition has been known conclusively throughout recorded history – strikes me as breathtakingly arrogant. Arrogance aside, wouldn’t it have behooved the publishers of Cambridge to say – at a minimum – that the expansion to this definition is either not universally accepted or is controversial? To me that seems like compliance with a minimal ethical standard. But they don’t do that. They settle the matter unilaterally. And that, more than anything else, is what I have a problem with — a problem that is ubiquitous in our society today. The people who edit dictionaries – or Wikipedia – or who draft legislation – or who write up news stories – inject their ideological agendas into their work. It’s what the media does, it’s what academia does. We are becoming numb to this and that, I submit, will someday be looked upon as a grave mistake.

        Times are now such that we have to scrutinize every thing because nothing seems to be presented with innocent intent. So when I say that Ideology has triumphed over biology and common sense, it’s because I know that the Cambridge dictionary authors have decided “the time has come” to lead the rest of our neanderthal world into the future – but they do so without any real basis for it and with a preponderance of reasons not to. They claim a monopoly on knowledge of the March of History and Historical Inevitability and I have to roll my eyes because it’s sheer, ideological nonsense that will be swept into the dustbin of history the way all cultural revolutions ultimately are.

        On that thread, I’ll again repeat one of my other original points. Why is the definition being expanded at all? A transgender person is claiming the identity of a traditionally-defined woman. Why does that justify the transgender person’s claim to a broader definition? And why is the definition suddenly subjective for something that is objective? Chromosomes don’t lie. Hip bones don’t lie. Do we exhume bodies from the 15th century and say oh, here is a transgender person? No. It’s ideology in the pursuit of unsettled psychiatry. Is there another species on the planet in which we rely on subjective criteria to identify the gender of a given individual? And what happens when someone who “identifies” as a woman changes his/her/their mind? What happens if that someone is mentally disabled so that they can’t cognate the concept of gender? What if someone decides to identify with the opposite sex for reasons of fraud? There is so much that is being ignored to promote a transgender ideology that has not been fully-thought through.

        As I bring this to a close, your comment about “grass” is interesting. Cambridge cites your secondary definition, i.e. cannabis very specifically as “slang.” So making a qualified identification of a definition is certainly within their skill-set and repertoire.

        Lastly, I’ve endeavored not to present an ad hominem attack. That’s not my style. But I will answer yours. Maybe you didn’t realize it in your final flippant remarks about how uptight I am, but I do not smoke grass or partake in drugs in any way shape or form. I have been sober for 27 years and have known far too many people who have died from drug deaths to receive such a comment casually. No one on this site has ever said such a thing to me before. I regard your flippant suggestion to “smell the grass” as presumptuous.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        “As for the personal attacks on me, not my views, by Susan and Joshua, you will excuse me if I don’t go down into the gutter with them” – Conor Kelly

        “Happy holidays or, if that is too expansive for you and Mike, happy Christmas to you both.” – Conor Kelly

        This is the ultimate example of hypocrisy, ridiculing Christians while claiming that you’re the target of ridicule. Let’s hope the Cambridge Dictionary doesn’t skew the definition of “hypocrisy” any time soon!

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        To understand Conor Kelly’s method of argumentation here, one needs to know something about leftist rhetorical practice. Kelly is a leftist or left-liberal, but in debate with those who disagree with him it is standard procedure for a leftist to downplay that commitment, and to pose as the disinterested voice of reason and moderation. This is a way to claim the “higher moral ground” above one’s opponents, thereby framing them as unreasonable and mulish.

        The legerdemain becomes more intricate when Kelly falls back on the “descriptivist” definition of lexicography as superior to the “prescriptivist” model. (This is a fake opposition, fashioned after the “thesis-antithesis” dyad so beloved of leftist thinkers.) In fact, all serious dictionaries since the days of Dr. Johnson have been both — they describe how words are used, but they also point out usage mistakes, solecisms, vulgar errors, dialectical terms, and other things that should be avoided. They are clear about what is slang, and about words with controversial or disputed meanings.

        Kelly’s aim in all this is to defend the “descriptivist” role of a dictionary while downplaying or ignoring its “prescriptivist” one, setting up the former as the proper business of lexicographers and condemning the latter as the concern of pedants and authoritarians. And this descriptivist approach, as he says, is what “the good lexicographers do,” as if this were some kind of ethical question over which there can be no serious argument. In other words, like all leftists, he turns the whole issue into a moral claim, from which there can be no respectable dissent.

        Then of course there comes the grand finale — the assertion that nothing is being “erased,” but only being “expanded.” This is where the real agenda peeps out, like the hem of a loose petticoat. Who can possibly object to something being “expanded”? It’s so wonderfully inclusive and welcoming! But in fact what it calls for is for other dictionaries to do the same thing — after all, aren’t they also being edited by “good lexicographers”?

        This is why we can safely predict that there will now be quiet but intense pressure on all other major dictionaries to follow the lead of the Cambridge idiots. And as Brian has pointed out, once a politically charged definition becomes ensconced in a dictionary, it does become a potential legal weapon in the hands of the transgender and “non-binary” freaks. And the definition of “woman” will be expanded so much that it will explode like Aesop’s frog.

        And that, of course, is exactly what Conor Kelly and other leftists wanted all along: the wreckage of definition.

      • Conor Kelly

        You argue so well, Joe, you almost had me convinced but, like the hem of a loose petticoat, a nagging doubt peeps out. If it is not the role of a lexicographer to be descriptive, to state how common words are commonly used in a variety of circumstances, who is to oversee the prescription. A lexicographer is not a political operative. Usage is not abusage.
        I have limited my remarks to the expansion of words and steered clear of the transgender arguments propounded by so many on this page. But I have one question for you. Was the celebrated travel writer Jan Morris, who was born James Morris and who described her transition in the bestselling book, Conundrum, a man, a woman or, in your crude terms, a freak? There’s a conundrum for you.
        As I consider the word “leftist” merely descriptive, thank you for not joining others in insulting me personally for my defending lexicographers. And so, in a spirit of good will, I wish you happy holidays and hope that, unlike Susan’s weird response, you don’t find that too expansive or too insulting.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        First off, thank you for your holiday greetings. I reciprocate them and wish you all the best for the Christmas season.

        To answer your question: James Morris is a man. He always was, and he always will be, world without end, amen. The same is true of Bruce Jenner. Mutilating one’s genitals and wearing lipstick changes nothing. These men also became freaks when they attempted — insanely — to alter an unalterable reality.

        Prescriptive definitions of words are not “determined” or “overseen” by persons. They merely assert the correct linkage of a term with the objective reality it describes. Period.

      • The Society

        Dear Conor Kelly,

        Communicating online can be great sometimes but can also be a very poor excuse for human interaction. People often say things they would not say face to face, and they have no idea what effect they might have had on someone. I think a number of people have found you insulting or troll-like, and it sounds like you have felt the same way too (or not?).

        At any rate, we have let you break the basic rules that others have followed. You have in the past posted under Ronald J. Lockley (as identified by Mike Bryant). From now on do not ever post under a name other than Conor Kelly or you will be banned.

        -Evan Mantyk

    • Evan Mantyk

      Dear Brian,

      Thank you for your thorough, clear, and well-reasoned explanation!

      What comes to mind for me is the John Adams quote: “Our Constitution is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other.” We are talking about a British publication, but I think this can be taken as a general Age of Enlightenment quote describing the nature of our democratic societies in both England and the United States. Our dictionaries have been run democratically but were designed only for a moral and religious people. We have reached a point in history where the people are largely not moral and religious, making it necessary to re-evaluate the prerogative of “However people are using a word should go in the dictionary.” The situation at this moment in history calls upon someone to be the authority and say, “No we won’t include that definition because it is, to put it plainly, stupid.” It calls for something like the Academie Francaise (https://www.britannica.com/topic/French-Academy).

      That’s my two cents.

      Reply
      • Brian Yapko

        My pleasure, Evan. I’m glad to be able to contribute to the discussion. I think what you bring up concerning “a moral and religious people” is extremely important. These are indeed amoral, irreligious times and likely to remain so for a long while until people get sick of the crime, chaos and censorship which comes along with those attributes. It is difficult to understand how things can keep going the way they are. An English equivalent to a French Academy sounds attractive, but it also frightens me. What if the English Dictionary Academy were controlled by a leftist academia? Stranger things have happened.

  15. Jeff Eardley

    Susan, this is right on the button for me after reading about the nonsense going on in our Scottish parliament. I was thinking of calling my wife of 48 years “significant other” until I read this, but I have reverted to “spouse” which just about covers it. The only advantage of this current trend is that I could join her in the changing rooms at Marks and Spencer and comment on “Does my bum look big in this?” from the inside rather than sitting outside with the other guys fiddling with their phones. I admire your boldness in writing cutting-edge comment on current issues. You are a beacon of sense in a world slowly going mad. Please keep on doing what you do so well.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Jeff, thank you very much for your words of support, and for taking me back to those M & S changing rooms where I spent half of my life looking for the perfect outfit!! There’s no store like it in Texas… Mike was blown away by their prawn sandwiches… a delicacy that we pine for here in Texas.

      Reply
  16. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Brian, I too would like to thank you for taking the time to present an articulately expressed, logical argument on why this “expansion” is disturbing. I would also like to thank Evan, Joe, and Josh for your reasoned viewpoints and your support. It is always difficult when writing topical poems that go against the current narrative. The backlash I’ve dealt with this year has been tough, but I always feel it’s worth it when standing up for the vulnerable who end up being abused in the name of a destructive ideology that claims to “care.” I try my best to be mindful of others’ feelings in my replies, and know I sometimes fall short. I will endeavor to do better in the future, but I will never give up highlighting the immutable Truth.

    I wish everyone at the SCP (staff, poets, and commenters alike) a very Merry Christmas and a joyful, poetry-filled 2023!

    Reply
    • Conor Kelly

      A parting shot.
      When you say you are

      standing up for the vulnerable who end up being abused in the name of a destructive ideology that claims to “care.”

      I somehow doubt you are standing up for vulnerable members of the transgender community who are under constant attack from the destructive ideology of contributors to this page.

      Here’s to a more compassionate new year, Susan.

      Reply
      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        By “the vulnerable”, I mean the children who are being sexualized, manipulated, neutered, and mutilated.

        By “the vulnerable”, I mean biological women who are forced to compete against biological men in sports, women who are forced to share hospital wards, bathrooms, and prison cells with biological men who rape them.

        By “the vulnerable”, I mean those with gender dysphoria who are being used and abused by those who are making big bucks and securing power at their expense.

        I echo your sentiment – here’s to a more compassionate new year, Conor!

      • Joshua C. Frank

        I don’t know why Conor expects us to believe anything he says. Not just because he lied about his name in order to sock-puppet his arguments, but because no liberal has any credibility when it comes to morality. When someone believes that it is all right to slaughter unborn children like cattle, or spay and neuter prepubescent children like dogs, we can no more trust anything he has to say about right and wrong than if he believed the Holocaust to be a good thing. Would you listen to anything a Nazi said about right and wrong? I know I wouldn’t.

        Dostoyevsky expressed it well: “Without God, anything is permissible.” Anything. Without God giving value to the lives He made, humans have no more value than rocks, and murder is no more immoral than shooting at tin cans.

        Conor’s wasting his time here if he thinks he’s going to convince any of us. He thinks we’re just ignorant, when in reality, some of us have seen liberalism from the inside and found it wanting, to say the least. We know exactly what he’s offering with his anti-gospel, and we reject it, as we rejected it long ago.

      • Conor Kelly

        And a happy new year to you, too, Joshua.
        Thank you for telling me what I do and don’t believe.

  17. James Kirkpatrick

    The alliteration and assonance in this sacred-cow butcher are extraordinary. (Reader, read this piece aloud; do not deny yourself the pleasure!)

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      James, thank you very much for this wonderful comment. I am thrilled you enjoyed my poetic embellishments… always fun to use when imparting with a serious message… a little bit of honey with the horror. 😉

      Reply
  18. Mike Bryant

    Conor Kelly/Ronald Lockley (and who knows how many other false identities) judges all on matters of morality and compassion. Con/Ron lied to Evan and everyone here about who he is. Who is real, Ron or Con?
    Lying is now, apparently, the correct tool to spread morality and compassion to those who have a different opinion.

    Reply
    • Conor Kelly

      And a happy new year to you, also, Mike, from Con/Don/Hon/Jon/Lon/Ron.

      And I must borrow every changing shape
      To find expression….
      T.S. Eliot

      Reply
      • Mike Bryant

        “Villainy wears many masks; none so dangerous as the mask of virtue.”

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