First came J.K. Rowling, erstwhile queen-who-could-dono-wrong (except revise her books to the press a hundred times since their release) — who was fumbling over inanities such as wimpund and wumben. While insisting on her empathy for and solidarity with transwomen, she later wrote, “… When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman – and, as I’ve said, gender confirmation certificates may now be granted without any need for surgery or hormones – then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside. That is the simple truth.”
Months later, in the build-up to Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, floated more words, not as new — entwined with historical connotations — womxn, womyn. To the eye that has never seen either before, they appeared as part of social media campaigns, as slapdash marketing strategies to capitalise on a March of opportunity. Streaming platform Twitch (popular among gamers) announced its decision to abandon women for womxn, later deleting its tweet amidst severe backlash about Twitch’s use of “transphobic language”. The platform apologised, announcing its intent to have wanted to be more inclusive, while acknowledging it had inadvertently done the opposite.
So, where do Jo and Twitch align, and what do their uses of the various spellings of women have to do with feminism today? Let’s unpack.
Where did womxn and womyn come from – and which came first?
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