As a researcher who appreciates the funding opportunities offered by the Wellcome Trust, I would have hoped that someone in that august institution could have foreseen even the teensiest little problem in talking about ‘womxn’. Yes, you read it right – that’s not a typo. Apparently the word ‘women’ does not refer to, um, all women…
In recent publicity for an event at the Wellcome Collection in London – ‘Daylighting’ – the blurb referred to ‘womxn’ rather than ‘women’. Helpfully, for those of us uneducated enough to need this pointing out to us, the publicity linked to a definition of ‘womxn’ in the Urban Dictionary – a wonderful website where you can actually give words your own definitions! Where has this wonderful facility been all my life?!
Apparently ‘womxn’ is a more inclusive term that “includes women of colour”. Who knew non-white women were not included in the word ‘women’? Has anyone asked non-white women what they think about this?
According to Urban Dictionary, ‘womxn’ is:
‘A spelling of “women” that is a more inclusive, progressive term that not only sheds light on the prejudice, discrimination, and institutional barriers womxn have faced, but to also show that womxn are not the extension of men (as hinted by the classic Bible story of Adam and Eve) but their own free and separate entities. More intersectional than womyn because it includes trans-women and women of color.
Wow! And there was I thinking that being identified as a woman all my adult life was linguistically sufficient to state my biological status! Now we have to engage in virtue-signalling by expressing inclusivity and progressiveness in our identity so that we can show we’re not in favour of prejudice, discrimination and ‘institutional barriers’.
It’s also news to me that female (femxle?) voices have been excluded from mainstream dialogues for generations (according to the Urban Dictionary). Eh? I wonder what Joan of Arc, Elizabeth I, Queen Isabella of Spain, Julian of Norwich, Hildegard von Bingen, Hrotsvitha, Pocohontas, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Florence Nightingale, Mary Seacole, Marie Curie, the Pankhursts, Rosa Parks and others like them would make of that?
All this reminds us that we’re now living in a social climate where it is acceptable to remove a paid-for, perfectly legal billboard that states “‘woman’ means ‘adult human female'” – because it apparently constitutes hate speech and makes transgender people feel unsafe. These claims were actually made by a man. So now the word identifying half of the world’s population is a form of hate speech?
Think this is as mad as it is going to get? Let’s see what else is happening as part of this cultural revolution.
In case you are labouring under the misapprehension that only women have periods – watch out! You too may find yourself accused of being a purveyor of hate speech. We now have companies who are ‘moving to ensure that their [sanitary] products are inclusive for all people who experience menstruation’. Ok. Right. So there you go.
Cancer UK recently sent out publicity material to encourage the uptake of cervical screening by saying ‘Cervical screening is relevant for everyone aged 25-64 with a cervix’. So it’s now ‘uninclusive’ to say that cervical screening is for women? If you are a trans person who is living as a man, are you really so sensitive that you are offended by the reminder that you have a cervix?
And where are all the new words applicable to men/mxn/transmen? How about ‘sperm-producers’? Or ‘testosterone-suppressed people’? Or ‘those with recently-reduced breasts’? But we’re not seeing that, are we? I wonder why?
This is nothing more than an attack on the rights of women in the public sphere. Isn’t it time we started fighting back a bit more?
Those enlightened folks at the Wellcxme Collection wanted, in their ‘Daylighting’ event for womxn, to ‘explore the interconnections of art, activism, performance, politics, health and print, with a live printing workshop, discussions, readings and collective writing.’ Yikes. Don’t all rush at once, people (with or without cervixes).
Their publicist said “We’re using it [‘womxn’] because we feel that it is important to create a space/venue that includes diverse perspectives.” Glad we’ve cleared that up, then.
I’m now rushing off to urbandictionary.com to define ‘Bullshxt’, ‘Crxp’ and ‘Dxspairing’.
If you’re interested in hanging on to your rights as a biological woman, have a look at https://fairplayforwomen.com/