News & Politics

London Museum Uses Feminist Term 'Womxn,' Angering ... Feminists

The Wellcome Collection, a museum in London, has found itself targeted by feminists after its attempt to please feminists by using the “inclusive” term “womxn.”

The BBC reports that the museum’s usage of “womxn” in a tweeted announcement led to “backlash from hundreds of women, and an apology from the organisation.”

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen (or whatever you identify as): feminists and trans women are offended by a term that seeks to erase the word “men” from the word “women” because — wait for it — it denies their womanhood:

To be clear, “womxn” is a feminist invention. According to Urban Dictionary (I tried looking it up in a real dictionary but, well, it’s not a word), “womxn” 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.”

The basic concept: “womxn” erases the word “men” from the word “women.” This isn’t new — you may have seen another version, “womyn,” used by feminists over the past few decades. However, as Urban Dictionary adds, “womxn” is “more intersectional than womyn because it includes trans-women and women of color.” (Because the letter “y” is totally racist and transphobic, I’ve been meaning to talk to it about that.)

All of this makes the backlash against Wellcome Collection hilariously nonsensical. Twitter user Suzie Leighton writes:

I’ll be a womxn when men become mxn. Until then jog on and stop eroding women’s rights.

But if men become “mxn,” then wouldn’t “womxn” need to revert to “women” to not be an extension of “mxn”?

And, really, if the terms are going to be “womxn” and “mxn” then we might as well go back to “women” and “men,” because humans can pronounce those.

Or is the idea that women shouldn’t have to be the ones to change? But, if so, doesn’t that imply that the term “women” is already its own entity and that, perhaps, “men” was derived from “women” and not the other way around? Hmm, that’s obviously untrue — so that must be what feminists think:

Jennie Kermode, chair of the campaign group Trans Media Watch, explained why “womxn” is an outrage:

We would generally just write women in the usual way because we feel it’s important for people to recognise that trans women are women. … Trans women aren’t a special, separate category.

So “women” is the inclusive term because making up a new term implies that trans women are not actually women.

But “women” isn’t “progressive” because it implies that women are just a sort of extension of men (not that anyone knows what “extension of men” means). So, I guess, trans women want to be just as oppressed as biological women, otherwise they’ll miss out on the full experience of being women.

Let’s see if we can untangle this web of feminist insanity (no promises).

The word “womxn” is meant to imply both that women are their own distinct entities, having nothing to do with men, and to include “non-traditional” women — like trans women, or “non-binary” people. But trans women take offense at this — even though the word was invented to prevent them from being offended — because it implies that there are some people who are real women (i.e. people who are biologically female) and other kinds of women (i.e. people who are not biologically female but say that they are women). But non-trans women take offense at this — even though the word was invented to prevent them from being offended, too — because it implies that “women” needs to change when the guilty party is “men.”

Clearly, the moral thing for the museum to do is seek penance for causing this SERIOUS PROBLEM by engaging in SERIOUS THOUGHT. Indeed, a spokeswoman/spokeswomxn/spokeswomyn for Wellcome Collection groveled:

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

Given that nothing anyone was saying was making any sense and museum spokespeople probably wouldn’t have been able to explain why they used the term in the first place, or what day it is, or what planet they’re on, or where they left their keys, the statement probably hit the right notes.

If nothing else, it seems that everyone is now in agreement: “womxn” is ridiculous. If only we could agree on why.