Ambiguous statement

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Ambiguous statements are a form of semantic chameleon, often used for purposes of strategic ambiguity. They are particularly useful for starting pointless arguments, as different people are likely to assume different meanings and then either attack or defend the statement based on their interpretation. The person who originally made the statement can later disavow either meaning without necessarily clarifying what they actually meant.

A particularly devious form of ambiguous statement is to make some generalization which is usually but not always true, especially if the exceptions to the rule disproportionately apply to some group you're trying to attack.


women and cervixes

Example statement: "Women have cervixes". The reality is:

  • Most cis women have cervixes. (Some do not.)
  • Most trans men also have cervixes.
  • Trans women do not have cervixes (not possible with current technology).

Not only that, but the statement is logically ambiguous; it could mean either (or both) of:

  • All women have cervixes.
  • If you have a cervix, you're a woman.

Realizing the ambiguity (and perhaps trying to get clarity on what was meant) is half the battle in untangling this statement. The other half lies in that it is mainly trans people for whom neither of these statements are true – so tossing this statement into a public forum is likely to result in a lot of upset trans people and a lot of befuddled cis people who don't understand what the problem is (along with a fair number who are in on the "joke" and enjoying the theatre).