Museum Apologizes For Rebranding Women As ‘Womxn’ In A Bid To Be ‘Inclusive’
By Mikelle Leow, 12 Oct 2018
Image via The Wellcome Collection
London museum The Wellcome Collection’s attempt to be “inclusive” has fallen short for, ironically, being too exclusive.
For a four-day program titled ‘Daylighting’ that “challenge[s] existing archives and systems of knowledge, change[s] narratives and [amplifies] new voices,” the organization decided to use the lesser-known term, “womxn.”
The label apparently refers to anyone who identifies as a female, regardless of their race, background, or the sex they were born as.
“We’re using it because we feel that it is important to create a space/venue that includes diverse perspectives,” it tweeted.
The Wellcome Collection then shared the Urban Dictionary’s definition of the word, which appears to be an extension of, “womyn,” a moniker that feminists used in the 1970s.
The label would only be used in the program, and not in the museum’s other contexts.
The unorthodox move, of course, confused many, who felt that the rebrand was unnecessary.
“Who exactly is this meant to include?” questioned Twitter user Sam Baxter. “Trans women call themselves women, non-binary people don’t call themselves women at all. The only thing that comes to mind is that this could be to include both ‘woman’ and ‘women,’ which implies there are women who identify as plurals.”
Suzie Leighton, director at UK-based The Culture Capital Exchange, tweeted, “I’ll be a womxn when men become mxn. Until then, jog on and stop eroding women’s rights.”
“As [a] mxn, I have to say that it appears that you fxcked this up!” joked Twitter user Rob Field.
The Wellcome Collection has since issued an apology, regretting that it had not thought the idea through.
“We agreed with our collaborators that we would use the word womxn in the context of this event, with the intention of being inclusive… We should have put more thought into whether this was the right term to use…”
“We made a mistake, and we should not have used it. We’re sorry that we made the wrong call.”
Typeset women back into history with #Daylighting our four-day programme of letter printing presses, zine workshops, discussions on how womxn can challenge existing archives, wikipedia 101 & more. 18-21 Oct. Explore the programme: https://t.co/jt7HitkDaA #free pic.twitter.com/uWTpEhhhwK— Wellcome Collection (@ExploreWellcome) October 6, 2018
Who exactly is this meant to include? Trans women call themselves women, non-binary people don't call themselves women at all. The only thing that comes to mind is that this could be to include both "woman" and "women", which implies there are women who identify as plurals.— Sam Baxter (@szbnahl) October 10, 2018
I’ll be a womxn when men become mxn. Until then jog on and stop eroding women’s rights.— Suzie Leighton (@suzietcce) October 10, 2018
Fxxl off.— Deborah Orr (@DeborahJaneOrr) October 10, 2018
This is ridiculous. And you are supporting it by linking to Urban Dictionary? Seriously? As far as I know, the word 'women' has always included women of colour. Correct me if I'm wrong. "Womxn: More intersectional than womyn because it includes trans-women and women of color."— Claire King (@ckingwriter) October 10, 2018
As mxn, I have to say that it appears that you fxcked this up!— Rob Field (@RFieldNorthWard) October 10, 2018
I find myself incurably curious as to why you have decided to erase the word women without for a moment considering why that might create a space/venue that excludes women. It is spelt WOMEN.— Jenny Dee (@JennyAnnDee) October 10, 2018
I look forward to the use of mxn in your forthcoming exhibitions. This is just another instance of women being made smaller to make space for someone else. It's not inclusive its oppressive.— Alice Miller (@alice_f_miller) October 10, 2018
Unless someone identifies with a unicorn that is. You never know lately 😂— Charlotte in Londonland (@CVFDESIGNS) October 10, 2018
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. pic.twitter.com/0ukSBfQabA— Wellcome Collection (@ExploreWellcome) October 10, 2018
[via RT, cover image via The Wellcome Collection]
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