A London Museum Has Stopped Using The Word "Womxn" After Women Said They Felt Erased

    "We made a mistake, and we should not have used it," the Wellcome Collection said.

    Wellcome Collection

    A London museum has dropped the word "womxn" from promotional materials after it was claimed that the spelling was a form of erasure.

    Earlier this week the Wellcome Collection tweeted that its new Daylighting exhibition would feature a "four-day programme of letter printing presses, zine workshops, discussions on how womxn can challenge existing archives".

    Following a backlash, the word, which is not recognised by dictionaries but is intended to show inclusivity to all those who identify as women, will now be removed from all communications relating to the event, which runs from 18–21 Oct.

    @ExploreWellcome Oh please, just stop it. There's a perfectly good word already: women. Doesn't that include trans women and women of colour? And how the fxck are we supposed to pronounce #womxn...?

    "We made a mistake, and we should not have used it. We’re sorry that we made the wrong call," a spokesperson for the Welcome Collection told BuzzFeed News.

    The exhibition seeks to explore the impact women have had in a variety of areas of art and uses the tagline, "Who have we forgotten?"

    But many felt that it was women themselves who were being sidelined by the term "womxn".

    Wellcome replaces woman with "womxn" and men with… no, men just stay exactly the same, because "including diverse perspectives" always means squeezing women out and asking nothing of men https://t.co/HhtHC7DbAR

    "How do you pronounce womxn? The same way you pronounce bollocks," journalist Suzanne Moore wrote on Twitter.

    Writer India Knight was more succinct: "Womxn! Honestly, fuck off."

    In an initial response to backlash against the alternative spelling, a spokesperson explained that it had been used "because we feel that it is important to create a space/venue that includes diverse perspectives".

    Lordt. Don’t know one trans friend of mine who calls themselves a womxn lol..the desperation to be the uttermost inclusive means you shut the door on most! https://t.co/bWh222zAWA

    The museum has now reconsidered this position. "We should have put more thought into whether this was the right term to use when communicating about the event," it said in a statement.

    We invite challenges to our thinking and we listen to our audience, which is why we’ve taken the decision to remove the word womxn from our website and communications about the Daylighting event. We’re sorry that we made the wrong call. https://t.co/0ukSBfQabA

    "We invite challenges to our thinking and we listen to our audience, so we’re removing the word from the website and from our communications about the event."

    Laura Silver is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

    Contact Laura Silver at laura.silver@buzzfeed.com.

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