Right-wing author left speechless after being asked to explain what ‘woke’ means

Bethany Mandel during her appearance on The Hill's Rising.

A right-wing author was left fumbling for words when asked to define the term “woke”, despite having dedicated an entire chapter of a new book to the word.

She also predicted a clip of the moment would go viral – which it has.

Bethany Mandel was left red-faced after appearing on The Hill’s Rising web series on Tuesday (14 March) to promote her new book, Stolen Youth.

During the segment, Mandel claimed that her book was an attempt to deconstruct the supposed influences that progressive activists hold over children.

While simultaneously claiming that the “war on woke” wasn’t a partisan issue and then claiming that very few Americans “consider themselves very liberal”, she was asked by host Briahna Joy Gray as to what the word “woke” even means.

The straightforward question seemingly left Mandel speechless as she attempted to explain her own definition of “woke”.

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After mumbling over her own words for several seconds, she admitted that the clip was “one of those moments that is going to go viral”.

The conservative pundit was exactly right, with the clip of her blundering a simplistic response being widely shared across social media.

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Several users described the clip as “hilarious”, and pointed out that Mandel should be able to define” a term “woke” she’s written extensively about it.

Incompetence or unwillingness

Glee actor Jane Lynch responded to Mandel’s embarrassingly inarticulate performance, tweeting: “‘Words, words, words! I’m so sick of words!’ But a few would be helpful. Choice ones- strung together to make a sentence.”

Some have argued that Mandel’s difficulty describing the phrase wasn’t down to incompetence, but a reluctance to share what the term is actually used for by anti-LGBTQ+ conservatives.

“They actually have a very simple definition of ‘wokeness’, they just can’t use it publicly for pretty obvious reasons,” one user wrote.

In the clip, Mandel explained that the reason she felt reluctant to give a definition was that it was “very hard to define” and that an entire chapter in her book was dedicated to defining it.

“It is the sort of understanding that we need to totally reimagine and reduce society in order to create hierarchies of oppression,” she explained.

“Sorry, it is hard to explain in a 15-second sound bite.”

But several people online have been able to give a fairly clear-cut definition of “woke” as it’s used in political discussion.

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In response to the clip, author Kaitlin Bird described woke as the “awareness of systemic inequalities” and the “understanding of the ways in which our society is organised to deny people rights and perpetuate injustice”.

Many people online have pointed out the term’s initial usage by Black Americans to signal the need for systemic change, until it was appropriated by right-wing and anti-LGBTQ+ activists.

Some have described its modern usage as a “slur“, while others have attempted to reclaim the word in progressive spaces.

Mandel attempted to save face by attacking The Hill’s Rising hosts

Following the clip going viral, Mandel responded by claiming it was merely a “brain fart“, while accusing Briahna Joy Gray and co-host Robby Soave of “demeaning parenting” before going live.

She then attempted to give her own definition of woke after the fact, which seemed to take a lot less explaining than the chapter-worth of text she mentioned in the clip.

“As for wokeness, here’s an actual definition – a radical belief system suggesting that our institutions are built around discrimination, and claiming that all disparity is a result of that discrimination,” she wrote.

“It seeks a radical redefinition of society in which equality or group result is the endpoint, enforced by an angry mob.”

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