Bethany Mandel speaking in front of book shelf


“So, I mean, woke is … umm … sort of … the idea that … umm’: Conservative author asked to define woke, struggles mightily

Not many people bought her excuse about why she couldn't explain it.


Jacob Seitz


Posted on Mar 15, 2023   Updated on Mar 15, 2023, 2:54 pm CDT

Conservative author Bethany Mandel said she struggled to explain what “woke” meant during a talk show interview because the host was caught on a hot mic “demeaning parenting” before she spoke.

In a Twitter thread, Mandel quote tweeted a video of her where Briahna Joy Gray, host of the Hill’s web series “Rising,” asked her to define “woke” during an interview.

Mandel stuttered and at one point said, “This is going to be one of those moments that goes viral.”

Mandel was on the show to discuss her new book, “Stolen Youth: How Radicals Are Erasing Innocence and Indoctrinating a Generation.”

The book claims that “the Left is waging an all-out battle on the American family, particularly the youngest members. If they can make our children … question every building block of society, and rebuild their entire concept of reality, then the Left and their woke indoctrinators will consider that a victory,” according to its summary on Amazon.

The interview did indeed go viral.

Gray Joy asked what “woke” means to her, and whether she would mind “defining woke” because it had come up in the interview a few times.

“So, I mean, woke is … umm … sort of … the idea that … umm … this I … is gonna be one of those moments that goes viral, I mean woke is something that is very hard to define, and we’ve spent an entire chapter defining it. It is sort of the understanding that we need to totally reimagine and redo society in order to create hierarchies of oppression,” she said. “Umm… sorry … it’s hard to explain in a 15-second sound bite.”

Mandel is one of a number of conservative influencers and authors who have waged a war against “woke,” their preferred term for criticizing a number of progressive policies that focus on gender and racial equality. In the wake of Silicon Valley Bank’s recent collapse, a number of right-wingers said the bank collapsed because it was too “woke,” pointing to it having an employee who identified as “queer.”

Mandel has also, just yesterday, echoed the “groomer” slur that’s become popular among the far-right, which attempts to brand the LGBTQ communities as pedophiles.

A number of internet users howled in response to Mandel’s struggle to define a word that is so prominent in conservative criticism of public policy, especially given that she said, in her own words, she spent a chapter in her book defining it.

Now, Mandel is claiming that she was unable to define woke because of comments she overheard from Gray before they went live. 

“Just before we went on air, Briahna Joy Gray was on a hot mic. I heard her demeaning parenting in general in colorful and nasty terms, stating parents only have kids in order to perpetuate their own narcissism,” she said in a tweet. “Robby [Soave, cohost of Rising] responded, ‘There are some good ones and some bad ones.’’

But some commenters aren’t buying the comment.

“‘i’m the victim!!!’” i scream because i am mad at embarrassing myself as i was not sufficiently articulate in my degradation of minority groups,” one user wrote.

“I was distracted because my host is such a bad person, you see,” another said.

Others posted memes about it.

Gray has not commented on the situation, but has liked several joking tweets about Mandel’s claims.

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*First Published: Mar 15, 2023, 2:49 pm CDT