The Film The Critics Dare Not Touch: Review of Matt Walsh’s What Is A Woman

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When liberals stream en masse from the woodwork to condemn something, you can be sure they dislike it. It’s when they ignore it that you know they are seething. 

That’s the case for Matt Walsh and the Daily Wire’s documentary What is a Woman?, released June 1. The film, as of July 15, has 5,000+ reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, but the professional critic class has largely left it untouched.

What about this film makes the left seethe? Walsh’s documentary is about the transgender debate, a sacrosanct piece of modern left-wing ideology.

“I’ve heard people say that there are no differences between male and female,” Walsh says in a voiceover to start the film. “Those people are idiots.”

But making matters worse, the film limits itself to an aim so simple and specific that it reveals gender ideology for the sham that it is.

The film asks:  What is a woman? 

Why this is even a question is baffling for some, but others? It sends them into torrents of confusion.

The reason is that a central premise of gender ideologues is that one’s gender, a fluid term, might not coincide with one’s biological sex, which is concrete. One might be a woman, but one’s gender might be something else (you might think by default that this means one’s gender is male, but no no no, it’s way more fun than that). Therefore, someone with the biological sex of a man can become a woman. But not only that, “he” was always a “she” even though “he” never looked it.

Man has always believed until the last 50 years that women were … well, distinguishable from men. But, if, Walsh asks, the biological man was always a woman, what even is a woman? 

For Matt Walsh, a talk show host and writer for The Daily Wire, this is not his first splash in the transgender debate. 

In March, Walsh released a “children’s” book called Johnny the Walrus. In the book, Johnny is a little boy who likes to pretend he’s a walrus. It’s all fun and games until a group of activists convinces Johnny’s mother that Johnny is an actual walrus who needs walrus-affirming surgery.

A couple of months earlier, Walsh appeared on the talk show Dr. Phil to debate two transgender non-binary men (i.e., women … I think).

A few favorite moments from the exchange:


Walsh: This is one of the problems with this left-wing gender ideology is that no one who espouses it can even tell you what these words mean. Like what is a woman? Can you tell me what a woman is? 

Ethan: No, I can’t because it’s not for me to say. Womanhood looks different for everybody. 


Walsh: You stood up here and said trans women are women.

Addison: Yes. 

Walsh: Tell me what you mean — what is a woman?

Addison: Womanhood is something that, just as Ethan explained, I cannot define because I am not myself a woman. 

Addison: Womanhood is something that is an umbrella term. It includes people that …

Walsh cutting in: That includes what?

Addison: People who identify as a woman.

Walsh: People who identify as what?

Addison: As a woman.


In the film, Walsh takes this question and multiplies its answerers.

Part of Walsh’s process is to first observe the simplest truths. He never lets his subjects dive into a depth that isn’t there. Often in the movie, an expert will try to explore some “nuance” where there is none. But in hastening to proceed to the land of the complex, they ignore the simple.

The result is gobbledygook. 

One example of many:  Walsh interviews Dr. Patrick Grzanka, a professor of women, gender, and sexuality studies at the University of Tennessee. The interview goes through roughly ten minutes of buildup before Walsh gets to the point.


Walsh: I guess this all comes down to really one question — especially women, gender, and sexuality studies —  What … what is a woman?

*six-second pause*

Grzanka: Why do you ask that question?

Walsh: I’d just really like to know. 

*two-second pause*

Grzanka: What do you think the answer to that question is?

Grzanka: I came today very willing and enthusiastic about answering questions about women and gender and sexuality studies … 

Walsh cutting in: So you want to answer questions about women’s studies, and so the first answer you should be able to provide is what is a woman.

Grzanka: For me, it’s actually a very simple answer, and that’s a person who identifies as a woman.

Walsh: But what are they identifying as?

Grzanka: As a woman.

Walsh: But what is that?

*one-second pause*

Grzanka with more emphasis: As a woman.


At one point, Grzanka just comes out and says it:  “You’re seeking what we would call in my line of work an essentialist definition.”

In other words, any definition.

In the film, Walsh proves to be a patient interviewer. In other instances, such as his daily talk show,  Walsh can bring things to their climax in a hurry. But he doesn’t do that here. Walsh is surprisingly non-confrontational. He isn’t there to convict of idiocy; the subjects do that themselves. But Walsh doesn’t let them get away with their nonanswers. Again and again, the question comes with a touch of hesitation:  But … what is a woman?

Walsh’s project isn’t just about exposing gender ideologues; the film’s second half is mainly about the heroes.

Dr. Jordan Peterson, a clinical psychologist from Canada, analyzes the left’s misconceptions about gender, arguing that when liberals refer to gender, they actually mean personality. “There are masculine girls; there are feminine boys,” Peterson says in the film. “What are we going to do about that, carve them up?”

Several anti-transition advocates in the film make critiques against the social contagion that prompts young children to question their gender in the first place. Among the consequences of the online echo chamber is kids receiving experimental surgeries without pushback.

But often, the most compelling testimony comes from nonexperts who experienced the horror up close. A harrowing story is told by a Canadian father who faced fines and went to prison in connection with trying to prevent the medical transition of his 14-year-old daughter. 

A female swimmer from Yale who had to compete against Lia Thomas, a biological male swimmer (just nominated for NCAA woman of the year), describes the culture of silence and punishment for those who complain about competing against and sharing space in the same locker room with a biological male. The woman remained anonymous for the interview.

Other questions are asked by the film. For instance:  Why should we care? Why is it essential to argue at the cost of other people’s lived experiences? The film answers:  protecting children from experimental surgeries, keeping women and young girls from dangerous situations, and safeguarding women’s sports.

But the answer from which all these answers spring:  it’s not true; the gender ideologues are wrong. Walsh’s documentary is uncompromising on this fact, making the rest of its arguments compelling as well. The film’s argument is laid bare; it doesn’t hide anything, thus appearing reasonable.

The argument from its opponents is nothing of the kind.


Rating: The film’s storyline and content are thought-provoking and entertaining. At 1 hour 35 minutes, the film is not overlong. Would highly recommend. 9/10. 


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