Dictionary.com chosen “lady” as its phrase of the yr for 2022. Searches for the phrase on the Dictionary.com web site doubled this yr in comparison with earlier years, boosted by questions on what it means to be a lady.
“It is one of many oldest phrases within the English language. One which’s basic not simply to our vocabulary however to who we’re as people. And but it is a phrase that continues to be a supply of intense private significance and societal debate. It is a phrase that is inseparable from the story of 2022,” the digital dictionary firm wrote about its phrase alternative.
“This yr, the very matter of the definition of the phrase ‘lady’ was on the middle of so many consequential moments, discussions, and selections in our society,” stated John Kelly, senior director of editorial at Dictionary.com.
Certainly, searches for the phrase “lady” spiked greater than 1400% on the positioning in March in the course of the Supreme Court docket affirmation listening to for Decide Ketanji Brown Jackson. Particularly, the surge in lookups occurred after Senator Marsha Blackburn requested the judicial nominee to outline the phrase “lady.” The 1400% surge was described as a “large leap for such a standard phrase.”
Throughout the listening to in March, Blackburn requested the Supreme Court docket nominee, “Are you able to present a definition for the phrase ‘lady’?”
“I am unable to,” Jackson stated.
“You’ll be able to’t?” Blackburn requested.
Jackson responded, “Not on this context—I am not a biologist.”
“The which means of the phrase lady is so unclear and controversial which you can’t give me a definition?” Blackburn requested.
“The prominence of the query and the eye it acquired show how problems with transgender id and rights are actually incessantly on the forefront of our nationwide discourse. Greater than ever, we’re all confronted with questions on who will get to determine as a lady (or a person, or neither). The insurance policies that these questions inform transcend the significance of any dictionary definition—they immediately influence folks’s lives,” Dictionary.com wrote in a press launch.
Nonetheless, Dictionary.com does present a number of definitions for “lady” on its web site (the phrase can apparently additionally operate as a verb). “An grownup feminine particular person” is the first which means listed. Though the positioning’s definitions sidestep transgender id, the positioning certified in an announcement, “the dictionary is just not the final phrase on what defines a lady. The phrase belongs to every lady—nevertheless they outline themselves.”
The Human Rights Marketing campaign is extra specific on how trans ladies match into the definition of womanhood. “After we say ladies, that phrase at all times contains trans ladies. There are not any ifs, ands or buts about it. A lady’s gender id is her innermost idea of being feminine. A trans lady’s gender id does not outline or caveat her womanhood; it merely describes her journey to womanhood,” they clarify.
Sadly, many like Blackburn do not subscribe to this definition—which is why “lady” stays a controversial phrase, even in 2022. In actual fact, based on a Pew Analysis survey, six-in-ten U.S. adults consider an individual’s gender is decided by the intercourse assigned at beginning.
The Supreme Court docket hearings weren’t the one time “lady” definitions have been questioned within the information this yr. Earlier in 2022, questions have been raised about who must be categorized as a lady for collegiate sports activities groups and about whether or not Lia Thomas, a trans lady swimmer on the College of Pennsylvania, had an unfair organic benefit in her sport.
And a few thought we should not be defining gender in any respect, no less than in colleges. In March, Florida Governor Ron Desantis signed a legislation that stops kindergarten by way of third-grade lecturers from discussing gender and sexual orientation at school. The legislation additionally restricts what lecturers can say in higher grades to what’s developmentally applicable however does not state what is taken into account appropriate for older children.
Clearly, there are nonetheless competing views on what it means to be a lady. Along with searches associated to gender id, lookups for the phrase “lady” on Dictionary.com additionally spiked after the leak of the Supreme Court docket Dobbs choice overturning Roe v. Wade and once more after the choice was formally launched. Apparently, these searches have been accompanied by a rise within the variety of folks trying up the phrase “autonomy.”