Chintz (1936), George Loughridge. Public Domain.

This Week: “Assigning” Sex, Responding to Rape, and Interdependence

Welcome to the weekly Fairer Disputations round-up: your one-stop shop for the best in sex-realist feminism. This week: Alex Byrne and Carole Hooven on “The Problem With Saying ‘Sex Assigned at Birth,’” Larissa Philips on responding to rape, Victoria Smith on interdependence, PCOS, perimenopause, what featured author Eliza Mondegreen is reading—and more!

The Problem With Saying ‘Sex Assigned at Birth’

At The New York Times, Alex Byrne and Carole Hooven argue that sex is a real, important category and using the phrase “sex assigned at birth” occludes this truth.

Toward Ruin or Recovery?

At Quillette, Larissa Phillips objects to feminist talking points about rape—using the story of her own rape and recovery as a touchpoint.

(Content warning: this piece includes an explicit description of rape.)

Matthew Parris and the Illusion of Independence

Finally, at The Critic, Victoria Smith responds to Matthew Parris’s article in favor of assisted death. We are none of us fully “independent,” and a flight from dependency is also a flight from our full humanity.

Parris pretends to be doing the hard, cold thinking so the rest of us softies, with our rose-tinted glasses, don’t have to. Nonetheless, I’d suggest his position is the cosseted, childish one. Most people know that care work is incredibly difficult, that an ageing population requires a reformed care system, that health isn’t assured at any life stage, that a drawn-out, painful death is something to be feared. There is nothing glamorous or affirming about severe illness. There should be more, not less, recognition of the costs — not just economic, but emotional — of caring for someone with extensive needs. Leaping straight ahead to “it’s all too much” is not brave.

Victoria Smith

More Great Reads:

What I’m Reading: Eliza Mondegreen

I’ve been revisiting George Eliot’s Middlemarch, that brilliant tapestry of provincial life in a time of great social change. I first read Middlemarch as a college student and filled the margins of the book with comments, so I bought a clean copy to help me read the book with fresh eyes. It is charming on a sentence-to-sentence level like nothing else and I’ve enjoyed revisiting the characters I fell in love with so many years ago, but I find myself more drawn this time to the ways people navigate change in the relationships they form, break, and sustain, their community, and within themselves.