The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
Associate Professor Patrick R. Grzanka who serves in the Department of Psychology and Chair of the Interdisciplinary Program in Women, Gender, and Sexuality at the University of Tennessee’s flagship campus in Knoxville was recently interviewed by political commentator Matt Walsh from Nashville.
In the interview, Walsh probed Grzanka for answers to questions like “What is the difference between sex and gender?” and “What is a woman?”
In Grzanka’s opening statement he explained what they do in Gender Studies.
“What we do in gender studies is not just reduce gender to what psychologists might call ‘individual differences,’ but rather thinking about gender and that’s not women or men, but gender as a social form,” Grzanka said.
Walsh asked, “Gender and Sex. What’s the difference between the two? Is there a difference?”
Grzanka replied, “What we tend to think about in the social sciences today is that sex refers to a set of biological characteristics and gender is a social construct or category.”
Walsh asked for clarity, “So, are gender and sex two different things?”
“I think that they both are and they aren’t. I’m comfortable is saying that gender and sex are two different constructs but they’re deeply intertwined with each other,” Grzanka said.
Walsh asked, “If we’re talking about a trans woman who has all the male physical characteristics, would that not be a male then? Could we plainly say ‘This person is a male’?”
Grzanka asked, “Why are you asking the question? …Why is that so important?”
Walsh said, “To sort of understand reality.”
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Grzanka said, “If someone tells you they’re a woman or a man, then that’s them telling you what their gender is.”
Walsh then stated that his goal was to get to the truth. Upon Walsh stating his intentions, Grazanka said “I’m really uncomfortable with that language.”
Walsh asked why getting the truth made Grzanka uncomfortable.
Grzanka said that getting the truth sounds “deeply transphobic” and threatened to end the interview should Walsh continue his “probing.”
“You keep invoking the word ‘truth’ which is condescending and rude” and threatened Walsh that he was ‘walking on 30-seconds more of thin ice’ before he would end the interview. “Why don’t you tell me what your truth is?,” Grzanka asked.
Walsh replied, “I don’t think I really have a truth. I think there is just the truth, the reality and so we should begin by trying to figure out what the reality is…We are at a university, this is a place of understanding truth isn’t it?”
Walsh proposed that an individual could make a statement about him or herself that is untrue, and Walsh, being a white man himself, gave an example that he could claim that he is a black man.
“That doesn’t sound like a genuine statement of who you are…It’s well-established that human beings can lie,” Grzanka said.
Bringing it to the point, Walsh asked, “What is a woman?”
“What do you think the answer to that question is?”, Grzanka asked in response.
Walsh replied, “I’m asking. That’s why I came to a college professor. This is what you do.”
Grzanka said, “I think it’s interesting that you say that some of the people you’ve interviewed have been reluctant to answer. I think that has a lot to do with the questions that preceded it and the way that you’ve conducted yourself in the interview.”
With Grzanka being a professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality studies, Walsh asked, “Shouldn’t the first answer you should be able to provide is ‘what exactly is a woman’?”
Grzanka said, “For me, it’s actually a really simple answer and that’s a person who identifies as a woman.”
“But what are they identifying as?” Walsh questioned.
“A woman,” Grzanka stated.
“But what is that?,” Walsh asked.
“As a woman,” Grzanka stated.
“Do you know what a circular definition is?” Walsh asked, “It’s what you’re doing now where a woman is a woman.”
Grzanka said, “Because you’re seeking what we call in my line of work, an ‘essentialist definition’ of gender. I think it sounds like you would like me to give you a set of biological or cultural characteristics that are associated with one gender or the other.”
“I’m not seeking any ‘type’ of definition, I’m just seeking ‘a’ definition,” Walsh said.
“Yea and I gave you one,” Grzanka replied.
Watch the interview HERE.
Patrick R. Grzanka’s bio on the University of Tennessee Knoxville’s website states:
Patrick R. Grzanka is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology and Chair of the Interdisciplinary Program in Women, Gender, and Sexuality at the University of Tennessee’s flagship campus in Knoxville.
He is an applied social issues researcher who draws upon theory and methods in psychology, sociology, and science and technology studies to explore and intervene in systemic social inequalities.
He has expertise in intersectionality, sexualities, reproductive justice, racism and White supremacy, and gender.
His scholarship has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, and he is an associate editor (since 2017) of the top-ranked Journal of Counseling Psychology.
Grzanka is a committed scholar-activist who frequently writes and speaks to the public and serves on the board of several non-profit, social justice organizations.
About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com