Conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro participated as a guest speaker at the Young Americans Foundation conference at the University of North Carolina (UNC) in Greensboro, where he offered his arguments in defense of his premise: “Men Cannot Become Women,” which is also the title of his talk.
As is his custom, Shapiro opened the microphone after his speech for a round of questions to allow the audience to debate his position and promote contrasting ideas in the auditorium. A pair of progressive UNC students intervened in contradiction to Shapiro’s arguments. The exchange set the social media abuzz.
Shapiro vs. the Mathematician
The most popular on social media was Quentin Merrit, a student who claimed to be a mathematician and physicist that supposedly won the most “prestigious” award and scholarship granting him the opportunity to specialize. He began his intervention with a personal insult against Shapiro, his wife and family, to then argue that “the binarity is a Western colonialist framework of gender.”
“Right, because men and women don´t exist in any other culture,” was Shapiro’s first response, to which Merrit replied that “third gender people” exist in Native American, African, and even in South American societies like Mexico, referring to Mexico as a “South American” society.
In the midst of Merrit’s inconsistent intervention, Shapiro replied that even in those cultures, the consideration of a “third gender” is “biologically incorrect.”
“I’m a mathematician and a physicist, you can’t tell me anything,” the student replied. “And also, you’re not a biologist.”
“As a mathematician and physicist, what in the hell do you know about biology?” assaulted Shapiro. “And, frankly, I would ask another question: if your logic is so flawed as a mathematician and physicist, I would suggest, to whatever the institution that gave you an award was, to revoke it immediately.”
Another student was Steven Banelli, who questioned the conservative commentator’s “preconceptions” about gender.
“I find it really unsatisfying when you say that gender is male or female, reducing it to chromosomes. I feel there’s a really important social aspect to being a man that doesn’t simply boil down to your chromosomes. Do you think there’s more to humans than just their chromosomes?” was Banelli’s question.
“I think there are masculine qualities attached to biological masculinity that have become generalized,” Shapiro responded, making the caveat that not everyone fits into those categories, such as feminine men or masculine women.
“If you were to ask me what makes a good man or a useful man, I would give you a description that would include social categories like protecting their family, going out to earn a living, assuring the creation of institutions in society, but, in the end, if you need a definition of male or female, what you’re talking about is the most irreducible form for it, which is biology; that is why you can discover a body from 30,000 years ago and a scientist can tell you whether it’s male or female without ever knowing how that person lived,” he added.
The relentless responses on Twitter
Comments on social media erupted, especially regarding Merrit’s insulting intervention.
“Holy crap this is embarrassing,” Tweeted rapper and host, Zuby.
“I´m going to start using ‘But I’m a mathematician and physicist, bro’ when I’m losing an argument. Seems to really work,” commented one tweeter.
“Mathematician and physicist who is not a biologist, tells a political commentator that they can’t talk about biology because they are not a biologist,” tweeted another user. “OK, then. So I get to ignore everything the mathematician and physicist just said on the topic.”
When one user commented that Merrit was neither a mathematician nor a physicist because he didn’t behave like one, another user replied, “He probably identifies as a mathematician/physicist.”
“When people start out by waving their degrees at you, get ready because you’re about to hear some bullshit,” was another comment on Twitter.