In the name of — you guessed it — not offending anyone, university groups in the United Kingdom are switching from the seemingly “non-inclusive” word “woman” to the more, er, comprehensive “womxn.”
No, I don’t know how to pronounce it either.
Like the term “Latinx” which has become popular at American colleges, UK student organizations say “womxn” not only is more inclusive, but “promotes intersectionality.”
According to CNN.com, the student union at Goldsmiths, University of London, and a student society at King’s College London have begun using the new (intersectional) designation so as to encompass “all kinds of women” such as trans women.
“Womxn is used to demonstrate our commitment to inclusiveness,” Goldsmiths student union told CNN in an email statement. “No student has complained about its use.”
Or, as a Harvard student explains it, “’womxn’ is a rejection of the simplicity of ‘women,’ an embrace of the multiplicity of non-male identity and a way we screw with gender.”
Gender-neutral language has entered use more slowly in the US, [Temple University political scientist] Fogg Davis says.
While the recent changes at London university societies are part of a trend towards inclusive terms, their use has been criticized in some quarters.
The Wellcome Collection museum and library in London sparked confusion on social media when it used the term “womxn” in October in promotional materials.
UK Labour Party MP Jess Phillips was one of hundreds of women who wrote to the Wellcome Collection.
“I’ve never met a trans woman who was offended by the word woman being used, so I’m not sure why this keeps happening,” she tweeted.
The Wellcome Collection eventually apologized and removed uses of “womxn” from its website.
It seems no one at vaunted CNN could discover just how to pronounce “womxn”; the article merely notes “confusion abounds over how to pronounce the word.”
At least folks explain that “Latinx” is pronounced “lah-TEE-nex.”