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Kinsa

Why do I keep seeing the word "women" spelled as "womyn"?

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It's a feminist thing.  It was a thing 20+ years ago when I took some feminist courses at Uni. 

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It's a feminist thing. It was a thing 20+ years ago when I took some feminist courses at Uni.

Oh. Okay. I thought it had something to do with technology or something.

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No, it is not an anti-men thing. Nothing sets my feminist roots on edge more then a dismissive comment about feminism and what it means.  Womyn is an acknowledgment that feminizing a male word is not the same as being a separate entity.  It is a redefining of the traditions that define women based on reference to male norms.  Women are not a subcategory of men.  The word "woman"refers to 'of man' which implies that a woman's identity is inherently reliant on man. The alternative spelling is not about men. It is about womyn.  It is about reclaiming a term, that has been used for centuries, to discriminate and oppress more than half of the population, and making it our own. The alternative spellings are about redefining ourselves, as we are spiritually, socially, and physically, on our own terms, and not in relation to men. We have unique experiences that are different than men's experiences. It is a way of telling the world that we do exist separately from men in our society and that we should be acknowledge as such. Language has power. 

 

The spelling "womyn" first appeared in print in 1976 at the 1st annual Michigan Womyn's MusicFestival. The alternative spelling was introduced as a way to avoid the 'man' suffix, in protest of the biblical concept that women are simply subsets of men. It is meant to be a progressive term to demonstrate that "womyn" are their own free and separate entities.

 

However, 'womyn' has come under fire as only representing white, liberal feminists and thus womxn was born.

 

 

Edited by kewb
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Ugh. That spelling definitely leaves a negative impression on me. Same for "woman journalist", for example, instead of "female journalist". Since when did "woman" become an adjective? I know it's been around awhile too, but it just doesn't sit well with me.

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Ugh. That spelling definitely leaves a negative impression on me. Same for "woman journalist", for example, instead of "female journalist". Since when did "woman" become an adjective? I know it's been around awhile too, but it just doesn't sit well with me.

 

 

This sets me on edge because the term journalist doesn't need a gender disclaimer.

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The alternative spelling was introduced as a way to avoid the 'man' suffix...

avoid the ‘’man’ suffix = anti-man to me [shrug]

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avoid the ‘’man’ suffix = anti-man to me [shrug]

 

Did you not read anything that came after that sentence about avoiding reference to the man suffix?  It has nothing to do with being anit-men at all.  Nothing, zero, zip to do with men.  It is about being one's own entity not in reference to men.  For you to continue with your stance that it = anti-men tells me I did not do a very good job of explaining womyn.

Edited by kewb
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Can't say I've seen that spelling at all around me.

 

Can't say I'm disappointed not to have seen it either.

 

I suspect it goes along with my not being super sensitive about most things.  I'm fully ok being a woman.

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I keep seeing this. Is this a "thing"?

 

Where are you seeing it? I've never actually seen it outside of some feminist literature I read for a class back in college. 

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avoid the ‘’man’ suffix = anti-man to me [shrug]

 

I see it more as avoiding being male centric.

 

I personally can't stand this sort of shi* t hough.  It strikes me as petty.  And I'd call myself a feminist.

 

Different strokes for different folks I guess.

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I don't think thinking about language is petty or unimportant or overthinking. Language shapes how we think about the world. If you dismiss it, you're saying you don't think the underlying ways we think about the world are influencing us.

 

That said, I don't have especially strong feelings about this particular term.

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This sets me on edge because the term journalist doesn't need a gender disclaimer.

Fair. But the noun could have been anything. Journalist was just an example.

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Where are you seeing it? I've never actually seen it outside of some feminist literature I read for a class back in college.

Ha, funny you should ask. I have four kids in college, so I follow all four colleges in Facebook. It is in their posts that I'm seeing it. I didn't realize it had been around forever. I thought it was some new fangled thing that I just wasn't aware of yet.

Edited by Kinsa
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 Women are not a subcategory of men.  The word "woman"refers to 'of man' which implies that a woman's identity is inherently reliant on man. The alternative spelling is not about men. It is about womyn.  It is about reclaiming a term, that has been used for centuries, to discriminate and oppress more than half of the population, and making it our own. The alternative spellings are about redefining ourselves, as we are spiritually, socially, and physically, on our own terms, and not in relation to men. We have unique experiences that are different than men's experiences. It is a way of telling the world that we do exist separately from men in our society and that we should be acknowledge as such. Language has power. 

 

 

 

Using the word women has never made me feel as you described above.  it is just a word.  A word that feminists have decided to attach negative connotations to. Using womyn and womxn is nonsensical to me and I just can't take it seriously.

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Ha, funny you should ask. I have four kids in college, so I follow all four colleges in Facebook. It is in their posts that I'm seeing it. I didn't realize it had been around forever. I thought it was some new fangled thing that I just wasn't aware of yet.

 

I can chalk it up to the new thing I learned today.

 

The Hive is usually good for helping me check that box daily.   :coolgleamA:

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I haven't seen that used in a gazillion (or so) years.

 

I understand the reasoning.

 

My personal pet peeve is the de-femininizing (for lack of a better word) of certain things.  Why is an actress bad or less than an actor?  Why is it assumed to be an insult??  

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Using the word women has never made me feel as you described above.  it is just a word.  A word that feminists have decided to attach negative connotations to. Using womyn and womxn is nonsensical to me and I just can't take it seriously.

 

"It's just a word that  some activists attached negative connotations too" is exactly what my grandma said in the 1980s when she wouldn't use any other term but "colored" to describe black people.   And all Asians were "Chinamen". Never with malice, more like:  "I need to call the chinaman repairman again, my washing machine is not working right."   

 

Here especially I don't see any reason for scorn, especially since no one is asking YOU to use the term ever.  It's an academic thing. I saw it in college.   Debates about feminists vs womanists and so forth. 

 

OP, I graduated 20 years ago.  It makes me smile to think of kids today going through the same arguments and thoughts we did back then. It's a useful... I don't want to say "phase".  That's dismissive.  It's a  useful step in becoming a thoughtful adult.   Not that everyone has to take that specific step, but , I'm glad I took it.

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I don't think thinking about language is petty or unimportant or overthinking. Language shapes how we think about the world. If you dismiss it, you're saying you don't think the underlying ways we think about the world are influencing us.

 

That said, I don't have especially strong feelings about this particular term.

 

In general no it's not.  But really on my list of problems women face, it's just not on the list for me. And I don't like people changing language rules.  That bugs me.  LOL

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I haven't seen that used in a gazillion (or so) years.

 

I understand the reasoning.

 

My personal pet peeve is the de-femininizing (for lack of a better word) of certain things.  Why is an actress bad or less than an actor?  Why is it assumed to be an insult??  

 

I have wondered the same thing - being a woman is a perfectly acceptable designation for me. I am a woman - it's part of who I am. There is nothing good or bad about it, it just is. Many languages have masculine and feminine forms of words. In English, there are far fewer than in some other languages. French also comes to mind, where most (all?) nouns have gender (masculine "le" and feminine "la") . Or is that okay because it's masculine/feminine as opposed to male/female or man/woman? 

 

**It's been a long time since I've been in my French classes, so please forgive and correct me if I'm remembering this wrong. 

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I haven't seen that used in a gazillion (or so) years.

 

I understand the reasoning.

 

My personal pet peeve is the de-femininizing (for lack of a better word) of certain things.  Why is an actress bad or less than an actor?  Why is it assumed to be an insult??  

 

I don't think it's insulting, personally, but if some female actors do, probably safer to use the more general term.

 

I  kidna associate -ess with animals.  A tigress, a lioness.

 

I wonder if you would call a man who sews a seamster?  Or, why is a woman a seamstress instead of a tailoress?

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"It's just a word that  some activists attached negative connotations too" is exactly what my grandma said in the 1980s when she wouldn't use any other term but "colored" to describe black people.   And all Asians were "Chinamen". Never with malice, more like:  "I need to call the chinaman repairman again, my washing machine is not working right."   

 

Here especially I don't see any reason for scorn, especially since no one is asking YOU to use the term ever.  It's an academic thing. I saw it in college.   Debates about feminists vs womanists and so forth. 

 

OP, I graduated 20 years ago.  It makes me smile to think of kids today going through the same arguments and thoughts we did back then. It's a useful... I don't want to say "phase".  That's dismissive.  It's a  useful step in becoming a thoughtful adult.   Not that everyone has to take that specific step, but , I'm glad I took it.

 

I do not view the word womyn in the same vein as coloured and chinamen.  Womyn is an invented word and as such I cannot take it seriously.

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I have wondered the same thing - being a woman is a perfectly acceptable designation for me. I am a woman - it's part of who I am. There is nothing good or bad about it, it just is. Many languages have masculine and feminine forms of words. In English, there are far fewer than in some other languages. French also comes to mind, where most (all?) nouns have gender (masculine "le" and feminine "la") . Or is that okay because it's masculine/feminine as opposed to male/female or man/woman? 

 

**It's been a long time since I've been in my French classes, so please forgive and correct me if I'm remembering this wrong. 

 

As a matter of fact, this is a hotly debated subject in countries with gendered languages. 

 

Here's an article about France (for anyone who's interested).

 

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/11/inclusive-writing-france-feminism/545048/

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However, 'womyn' has come under fire as only representing white, liberal feminists and thus womxn was born.

Why does womxn represent all women more than womyn?  

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Why does womxn represent all women more than womyn?  

 

Yeah and the x is too much like xtian which is too much like Christian, and I'm not Christian so this must be offensive to me.

 

 

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How do you pronounce ‘womxn’?? It is super awkward and jarring to read.

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I don't think it's insulting, personally, but if some female actors do, probably safer to use the more general term.

 

I  kidna associate -ess with animals.  A tigress, a lioness.

 

I wonder if you would call a man who sews a seamster?  Or, why is a woman a seamstress instead of a tailoress?

 

People who sew are now called "sewists," actually. It was a new term to me when I started quilting several years ago. I think it has been used in other countries more than in the US. Maybe this is how they are getting around the tailor/seamstress question. 

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Keeping the “wâ€, “oâ€, “mâ€, and “n†and just fiddling around with the “e†and replacing it with a “y†or “x†is silly (ETA: I acknowledge that “silly†could come across as dismissive and offensive to someone who finds this issue important. I’m not sure what I’d replace it with, though.) It has everything to do with avoiding the word “man†or “men.â€

 

If you want women to have a word that’s all their own as a designation, you’ll all have to come up with a totally new word.

 

Most women are good with being called “woman†or “female†because they don’t hate nor resent men, and there’s nothing dismissive about thinking that way.

Edited by Fifiruth
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People who sew are now called "sewists," actually. It was a new term to me when I started quilting several years ago. I think it has been used in other countries more than in the US. Maybe this is how they are getting around the tailor/seamstress question. 

 

I don't understand why this even needs to be a question.  What is wrong with each sex having their own word?  Sewists is too neutral and bland.  Tailor and seamstress is  much more descriptive and creates a vivid picture in ones mind.

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I don't understand why this even needs to be a question.  What is wrong with each sex having their own word?  Sewists is too neutral and bland.  Tailor and seamstress is  much more descriptive and creates a vivid picture in ones mind.

 

Tailor and seamstress to me are people who sew clothing. I prefer a different word, not to distinguish male or female, but to be a broader term in what they sew.

 

Tailor and seamstress are fine for that profession. I'm just thinking of a term for people who sew things that are not clothing or quilts. 

 

Kelly

Edited by SquirrellyMama

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As a matter of fact, this is a hotly debated subject in countries with gendered languages. 

 

Here's an article about France (for anyone who's interested).

 

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/11/inclusive-writing-france-feminism/545048/

 

Thank you for the information. I found this particularly disturbing:

 

"In late 2016, Microsoft Word released the newest version of its platform, which now has an inclusive writing option in French. The company explained that this new feature 'targets gendered language which may be perceived as excluding, dismissive, or stereotyping,' and encourages 'using gender-inclusive language' when possible."

 

I really don't want Microsoft, or any other technology company, to be able to decide what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in terms of changing the mindset of a culture. I think the proverbial ship may have sailed on that, but it remains my conviction that corporate entities attempting to control the way people think, and thus interact with each other, is a bad thing. 

 

I also, still, don't see gender as a negative thing. What ever happened to "I am woman, hear me roar?"  I do understand that some people see "woman" as a "subset' of "man," but, here's an honest question: Is that thought really prevalent throughout western culture? With all of the issues I have as a woman, how the word is spelled isn't even on my radar. I would much rather see feminists advocate regarding sexual harassment in the workplace than spelling. Changing the workplace environment, to my way of thinking, will change culture much more than how a word is spelled. 

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I do not view the word womyn in the same vein as coloured and chinamen.  Womyn is an invented word and as such I cannot take it seriously.

 

All descriptive terms are invented.   How do you think we got  from colored to Negro to black to African American as the terms denoting a respectful description?  Because the people with that identity asked for it.

 

 

It doesn't really matter if you take ti seriously or not, but going out of your way to say you refuse to respect it --  is nothing to do with language, I don't think.

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  Womyn is an invented word and as such I cannot take it seriously.

 

All words are invented. 

 

We add words to our language all the time. iPod, selfie, vape, covfefe ....

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Keeping the “wâ€, “oâ€, “mâ€, and “n†and just fiddling around with the “e†and replacing it with a “y†or “x†is silly. It has everything to do with avoiding the word “man†or “men.â€

 

If you want women to have a word that’s all their own as a designation, you’ll all have to come up with a totally new word.

 

Most women are good with being called “woman†or “female†because they don’t hate nor resent men, and there’s nothing dismissive about thinking that way.

 

 

It's not at all dismissive to be OK with "women".  Most women (including me!) are ok with it.

What's dismissive is or mocking people who prefer a different term. You have ever right to feel that way, of course, but. no way around it, it is dismissive. 

It's putting a middle finger up at someone's personal identity. 

Now if someone yells at YOU about using the term woman to describe yourself, you can absolutely fight against that.

But "Beverly calls herself a womyn, that's silly, I refuse to take that seriously" is disrespectful.  And just mean.

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I do not view the word womyn in the same vein as coloured and chinamen.  Womyn is an invented word and as such I cannot take it seriously.

 

Aren't "colored" and "chinamen" considered non-standard terms?   I see them as (old) slang.   The Oxford English dictionary notes them as "dated, offensive" terms, Merriam Webster has a similar note.  So, not exactly what I was thinking, but not in the same class of words as woman/women which is/are standard.

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I haven't seen that used in a gazillion (or so) years.

 

I understand the reasoning.

 

My personal pet peeve is the de-femininizing (for lack of a better word) of certain things.  Why is an actress bad or less than an actor?  Why is it assumed to be an insult??  

 

Actress is a special case.  For many years actress was used as a euphemism for sex worker.  I'm not sure that it is perceived like that now, so I'm not sure that it's crucial to change the usage, but it's worth considering.

 

Both my mother and my grandmother were actresses.

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Language can change and does all the time; changing the spelling seems...just silly to me. If the point is that women need a different label why not a completely different word?

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Thank you for the information. I found this particularly disturbing:

 

"In late 2016, Microsoft Word released the newest version of its platform, which now has an inclusive writing option in French. The company explained that this new feature 'targets gendered language which may be perceived as excluding, dismissive, or stereotyping,' and encourages 'using gender-inclusive language' when possible."

 

I really don't want Microsoft, or any other technology company, to be able to decide what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in terms of changing the mindset of a culture. I think the proverbial ship may have sailed on that, but it remains my conviction that corporate entities attempting to control the way people think, and thus interact with each other, is a bad thing. 

 

I also, still, don't see gender as a negative thing. What ever happened to "I am woman, hear me roar?"  I do understand that some people see "woman" as a "subset' of "man," but, here's an honest question: Is that thought really prevalent throughout western culture? With all of the issues I have as a woman, how the word is spelled isn't even on my radar. I would much rather see feminists advocate regarding sexual harassment in the workplace than spelling. Changing the workplace environment, to my way of thinking, will change culture much more than how a word is spelled. 

 

 

"gendered language blah blah"...that's not neccessarily coming from feminists....at least, not the feminists with a grasp on material reality. You need to understand that when you read 'gender' in a 21stC context, it's not referring to biological sex, or sexism. Your critique could be better applied to other ideologies currently invested in distorting language on the basis of 'gender'. 

 

Womyn was in use at my campus in the lesbian community in the 90's. I always found it slightly embarassing, idk why. Probably because I'm not keen on messing around with words, and because it already looked old school even then. 

Edited by StellaM
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All words are invented. 

 

We add words to our language all the time. iPod, selfie, vape, covfefe ....

 

Yeah, but do we take them seriously ??!!

 

That list is not appearing in any of my poems any time soon :)

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I've always found it amusing that "menstruation" has the word men in it.

Lol.

 

This reminds me when I was in second grade and my BFF and I made it a point (who knows why) to go all day without using any words that had "ass" in it--like aspirin, which we instead just called prin that day (why we needed to talk about aspirin all I can't imagine). An exercise in ridiculousness to be sure. ;)

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I don't think thinking about language is petty or unimportant or overthinking. Language shapes how we think about the world. If you dismiss it, you're saying you don't think the underlying ways we think about the world are influencing us.

 

 

Does language shape the world, or is language is shaped by the culture in which it exists.  Seems like a "which came first, the chicken or the egg," argument. 

 

There are examples where both occur. It don't think it's a clear case of one or the other. 

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I don't understand why this even needs to be a question.  What is wrong with each sex having their own word?  Sewists is too neutral and bland.  Tailor and seamstress is  much more descriptive and creates a vivid picture in ones mind.

 

I loathe 'sewists'. It's an ugly word, replacing otherwise functional words. 

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Why does womxn represent all women more than womyn?

The original use at the musical festival had specific language excluding transgender.

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