Women or 'womxn'? Students adopt inclusive language

In the latest example of the growing use of inclusive language, designed to avoid excluding particular group...

Posted: Nov 27, 2018 4:49 PM
Updated: Nov 27, 2018 4:49 PM

In the latest example of the growing use of inclusive language, designed to avoid excluding particular groups of people, some university groups in the United Kingdom have started using the term "womxn" rather than "women" in official communications.

The student union at Goldsmiths, University of London, and a student society at King's College London have introduced the alternative spelling, though confusion abounds over how to pronounce the word.

Continents and regions

England

Europe

London

Northern Europe

United Kingdom

Demographic groups

Females (demographic group)

Population and demographics

Society

Internet and WWW

Social media

Technology

Education

Students and student life

Science

Goldsmiths student union social media posts include invitations to a "Womxn's Basketball Session" and the "Adidas Womxn's Fun Run," while the KCL Womxn in Physics society uses inclusive language on social media and its website.

The scientific society aims to "address the issue of underrepresentation of womxn in the physics department at King's College London," reads its website.

"Womxn is a more inclusive term which promotes intersectionality," reads another page at the site.

Intersectionality refers to the overlap of different kinds of discrimination based on, for instance, sex, race, class, sexuality and ability, according to the Merriam Webster dictionary, which added the word in April 2017.

As a result, "womxn" is designed to be more inclusive of all kinds of women, including 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."

KCL's Womxn in Physics Society has not responded to CNN requests for comment.

The evolution of language

The use of inclusive language is increasing as English evolves, and similar debates are taking place in other languages.

"We are opening up to the idea that binary conceptions of gender are unnecessarily rigid and don't correspond to the self-image of a great many people and even that people's sense of their gender may not correspond to their biological sex," wrote linguist John McWhorter of Columbia University in 2015 for CNN.

In the UK, this change is reflected in the increasing use of the gender-neutral honorific, "Mx," on driver's licenses and bureaucratic forms, such as banking statements, wrote Heath Fogg Davis, a Temple University political scientist, in 2017 for CNN.

Gender-neutral language has entered use more slowly in the US, 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.

West Lafayette
Clear
60° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 60°
Kokomo
Partly Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 64°
Rensselaer
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 59°
Fowler
Clear
60° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 60°
Williamsport
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 59°
Crawfordsville
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 63°
Frankfort
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 63°
Delphi
Clear
60° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 60°
Monticello
Clear
60° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 60°
Logansport
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 59°
Another chilly start but breezy and partly sunny today
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1000163

Reported Deaths: 16309
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1347632106
Lake660041156
Allen57441793
Hamilton46100461
St. Joseph44109607
Elkhart35696507
Vanderburgh32087477
Tippecanoe27796257
Johnson24902443
Hendricks23738354
Porter22802362
Madison18614404
Clark18424250
Vigo17347301
Monroe15180197
LaPorte15046250
Delaware14984259
Howard14626287
Kosciusko12217147
Hancock11630175
Bartholomew11505179
Warrick11255189
Floyd11013214
Wayne10897250
Grant9964218
Morgan9404176
Boone8863116
Dubois8227130
Dearborn817093
Henry8139151
Noble7984106
Marshall7838134
Cass7499119
Lawrence7403170
Shelby7138114
Jackson694088
Gibson6533113
Harrison644491
Huntington633999
Knox6273106
DeKalb626397
Montgomery6208109
Miami589797
Putnam575377
Clinton570271
Whitley560455
Steuben554675
Wabash5279101
Jasper524475
Jefferson506996
Ripley495685
Adams476073
Daviess4616113
Scott435869
Greene422096
Wells420987
Clay420260
White415962
Decatur4133101
Fayette404286
Jennings385160
Posey375343
LaGrange353978
Washington353249
Randolph341999
Spencer337342
Fountain332558
Sullivan326752
Starke313369
Owen312070
Fulton306567
Orange291762
Jay280445
Perry264752
Franklin264042
Carroll259132
Rush258832
Vermillion255454
Parke230026
Pike227943
Tipton226659
Blackford190540
Pulaski181855
Crawford158623
Newton156048
Benton150217
Brown144547
Martin137419
Switzerland134211
Warren120516
Union106815
Ohio84112
Unassigned0538

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events