Feminism News & Commentary State United Kingdom

BBC News: Should we change the spelling of ‘women’ to ‘womxn’ in order to get away from ‘patriarchal language’?

BBC News has asked if the word “woman” should be spelt “womxn” after the Wellcome Collection, a museum and library in London, used the term in a tweet to promote an upcoming event.

According to the British public service broadcaster, “womxn refers to females, but it is an attempt to get away from patriarchal language.”

The story went on to cite Dr Clara Bradbury-Rance, fellow at King’s College London, who said the spelling womxn “stems from a longstanding objection to the word woman as it comes from man, and the linguistic roots of the word mean that it really does come from the word man.”

Not long after posting the tweet, the museum received hundreds of responses ridiculing their use of the word womxn.

The Wellcome Collection responded to the backlash saying, “We’ve had some questions about why we’re using the word womxn for this event.”

“We’re using it because we feel that it is important to create a space/venue that includes diverse perspectives. It was agreed during our conversations with collaborators as the programme developed,” they said.

A spokesperson for the museum later apologised and admitted that they made a mistake in using the term.

“We should have put more thought into whether this was the right term to use when communicating about the event,” they said. “We made a mistake, and we should not have used it. We’re sorry that we made the wrong call.”

Also see: Billboard removed after dictionary definition of ‘woman’ deemed offensive, transphobic hate speech.

BBC Newsnight later sat down with transgender author and broadcaster Sophie Cook, who explained, “X is just making it a bit more inclusive… The group had the right intentions, but it turned out being a slightly clumsy effort.”


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