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Drop the Stones, Matt

by: Dan Kent

Last month Matt Walsh declared an “all out assault on gender ideology:”

Matt Walsh

I’d like to see Matt stop his attack on gender ideology. My primary concern about Matt’s crusade relates to his public profession of faith in Christ—he has even written a book about his own faith. His crusade against transgender, non-cishetero people troubles me because it has devolved into inspiring hatred and vitriol in his followers toward a group of actual people, thereby mocking Christ’s call to love one another.

But perhaps deeper than that, Walsh’s crusade is founded on an embarrassing double-standard that perhaps he doesn’t see, even as he tries to humiliate others with it. Ultimately, Matt declares “all out assault” on gender ideology, but ends up falling on his own sword.

Let me explain. 

Matt loves to trap transgender folks and their advocates by asking: “What is a woman?” In doing a quick Twitter search, I found over 30 times Matt quote-tweeted someone with this question. You can see the search here. Matt also confronted a trans person on national television with this same question:

The question is fine. Rhetorically, I see why Matt adores it so much. When he asks one of his trans opponents “what is a woman,” he often leaves them speechless and befuddled. If the trans person defines “woman” in any way outside of biological markers (such as reproductive organs, chromosomes, and so forth), Matt can easily trap them into showing how arbitrary and indefensible, and even nonsensical, their definition is. If they instead define a woman with biological markers, Matt can expose how their behavior, attire, and cosmetics deviate from their biology, thereby exposing them as gender frauds.

As a rhetorical device, I love how succinct and essential this makes Matt’s point. It makes Matt’s claim about gender seem so obvious. How could anyone deny how simple gender is?

Except Matt himself doesn’t truly believe gender is so simple.

Matt claims: “The whole discussion really boils down to this question (“what is a woman?”), which of course nobody on the left can answer.” Unfortunately for Matt, he fails the same test. Matt espouses a gender ideology just as loose and ambiguous as those he attacks on the left.

We see this when we turn the question back on Matt: What is a man?

Given Matt’s expectations for how trans people ought to respond to this question, I’d hope Matt would say something like: “a man has a seminal vesicle,” or maybe something more basic, like: “a man has both X and Y chromosomes in their cells.” He explicitly says on Dr. Phil’s show that gender “goes right down to your bones, your DNA… we have no idea what they believed in their head, but we can tell what sex they were because it’s ingrained in every fiber of their being.”

Simple. Obvious.

And if a man is simply someone with X and Y chromosomes, then there shouldn’t be much else to say about what a man really is. Yet, in looking at his posts and articles, Matt distinguishes men from “real men.” And, of course, he understands this more esteemed real man with a great deal of nuance that goes far beyond one’s chromosome status.

For instance, Matt claims: “Real men are pro-life.” Really? How do we then explain those with X and Y chromosomes who vote pro-choice?

Actually, this tweet related to an article Matt wrote about the abortion debate that, beneath the hostility, makes some really great points. I particularly like this quote here:

“To be a man is to fulfill the obligations that come with the territory. A man who not only supports prenatal murder but leaves the women and children of society to absorb the devastating impact of the institution is a man who has rejected those obligations. He is a man who has rejected his manhood. A man who has castrated himself, in effect.”

I agree with the spirit of this quote: Men who abandon their children, and who abandon the women they impregnate, demonstrate cowardice. I applaud Matt for challenging men to remain loyal to their children and the women they impregnate. But do these cowardly acts change a man’s chromosomes?

In another article Matt argues that “fathers must show our sons what true masculinity looks and acts like.” Again, I truly appreciate how passionately Matt advocates for fathers and how Matt prioritizes fatherhood. But if gender is so simple, reducible to certain biological markers, then why do we need to show boys how to be male?

In this same article Matt confesses: “It’s not enough to simply tell them that they must be men. I have to provide for them a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute demonstration.” Why? Is manhood really so fleeting? So fragile? Isn’t it simply a person with a certain set of chromosomes?

Matt summarizes his fatherly burden toward his boys like so:

“This is what a man is. This is what he does. This is how he carries himself. This is how he behaves. This is how he dresses. This is how he speaks.”

We see here just how complex and nuanced Matt thinks being a man is, going far beyond reproductive organs and chromosomes. To be clear, I’m not objecting to the debate about what a real man is or isn’t. At minimum, though, I just want to add one characteristic to the discussion that should be uncontroversial: Real men hold themselves to the same standards they hold everyone else to.

 

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