Womyn

By Talia Bat Pessi

A button from the March for Women's Lives in 2004.

As a rule, I like to be controversial and cause a stir, especially when it involves feminism. After all, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich had it right when she said that well-behaved women seldom make history. About a year ago, I even went through a phase when I referred to God as ‘She’ instead of ‘He’ at my Jewish day school. (At this point, I believe that God has no gender, and avoid using pronouns when referring to God.) Despite this, I never got into the whole ‘womyn’ thing.

In the 1970s, a number of feminists felt that because the word ‘woman’ contains the word ‘man’, it defines femininity as a diminutive of masculinity. As a result, they began to spell ‘woman’ and ‘women’ differently, the most popular variant spellings being ‘womyn,’ ‘wimmin’, and ‘womon.’

Though I love this concept in theory, in practice, I’m just not buying it. In Old English, the word ‘man’ was gender-neutral, like ‘person’ today. A woman was a ‘wifman’, a female person, and a man was a ‘werman’, a male person. Throughout time, ‘werman’ was shortened to ‘man’ and ‘wifman’ was changed to ‘woman’. So in reality, the word ‘woman’ is not in any way a diminutive of the word ‘man’; they both mean ‘person’, just specifying the gender. So I’ll be using ‘woman’ for the foreseeable future.

‘Human’, however, is problematic for a feminist. It comes from Latin for ‘Homo sapiens’, which means ‘wise man’. No, not wise person – wise MAN. So essentially, when you say “I’m a human,” you’re saying “I’m a dude.” I think I’ll be spelling it ‘humyn’ from now on. (Look for an update on how freaked out my teachers are when I write it on tests!)

When I first discovered Women of the Wall, an organization of women that are working for the right to pray at Kotel HaMa’aravi (the Western Wall in Jerusalem), I noticed that they call themselves Nashot HaKotel rather than Nashim HaKotel, which is the masculine, and “correct,” pluralization of the word ‘woman’. “It is a pro-female assertion that seeks to remove the linguistic dependency of the word woman or women on the word man or men,” the WOW website says.

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7 Comments on “Womyn”

  1. Open says:

    A woman wants one man to sftsiay her every neede2€a6A man wants every woman to sftsiay his one need.=============The former is much more difficult actually. Especially when women dont plainly tell what they want

  2. I see Leona,Nice to see you saying, "想來如今終於可以向他說: I'm over you."You are too humble in saying "這篇文實在寫得非常爛". If by writing this blog entry helped you, then it has done its duty and its a good entry. There is nothing as "十分不智". In contrast, if you write something specifically engineered and crafted to fit your readership and market demand, while the essay/blog entry means absolutely nothing to you, then I would take the contrary view of calling it "十分不智".What you did is good for you and I am happy for you. The operative word is "you"."… 在從未想像過的情況下,感受狂喜與激情。他改變了你的常規,扭轉了你的生活,打開了你生命中的另一扇窗," These are all good. And I hope this is for the better, "甚至改寫了你的下半生。"You used Black Swan, let me use my version of Snowball. Imagine yourself as a snowball on the top of the hill, rolling down the hill, growing & getting bigger. For the snowball to get bigger, it need to find a nice tall hill with lots of nice wet snow to grow. The wet snow a snowball picked up on the hill are the friends and girl/boy friends a person meet over his/her life time. While these friends help define and make us, our friends and previous/current girl/boy friends are not us. They will be part of us but not us. The fun and unchangeable fact is we only get one chance in rolling down the hill, we may as well find a nice hill to pick up some good wet snow.And on this note, Leona, I view you as a blog friend, as one of those chunks of wet snow I picked up in my path down this hill. We may never meet but I do try to read and learn from you.I think this quote is fitting so allow me end with something by Bruce Mau,Allow events to change you.You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them. Your blog friend,Kempton

  3. Herpery says:

    This is wonderful!!!! Thank you so much for the write-up, the shout-out, and the usanrntdeding of, and passion for, our vision. We hope to see you there!Best,JenDirector of Programming for GeekGirlCon

  4. Unparalleled accuracy, unequivocal clarity, and undeniable importance!

  5. Jocelyn says:

    I see Leona,Nice to see you saying, “想來如今終於可以向他說: I’m over you.”You are too hulmbe in saying “這篇文實在寫得非常爛”. If by writing this blog entry helped you, then it has done its duty and its a good entry. There is nothing as “十分不智”. In contrast, if you write something specifically engineered and crafted to fit your readership and market demand, while the essay/blog entry means absolutely nothing to you, then I would take the contrary view of calling it “十分不智”.What you did is good for you and I am happy for you. The operative word is “you”.”… 在從未想像過的情況下 感受狂喜與激情 他改變了你的常規 扭轉了你的生活 打開了你生命中的另一扇窗 ” These are all good. And I hope this is for the better, “甚至改寫了你的下半生 “You used Black Swan, let me use my version of Snowball. Imagine yourself as a snowball on the top of the hill, rolling down the hill, growing & getting bigger. For the snowball to get bigger, it need to find a nice tall hill with lots of nice wet snow to grow. The wet snow a snowball picked up on the hill are the friends and girl/boy friends a person meet over his/her life time. While these friends help define and make us, our friends and previous/current girl/boy friends are not us. They will be part of us but not us. The fun and unchangeable fact is we only get one chance in rolling down the hill, we may as well find a nice hill to pick up some good wet snow.And on this note, Leona, I view you as a blog friend, as one of those chunks of wet snow I picked up in my path down this hill. We may never meet but I do try to read and learn from you.I think this quote is fitting so allow me end with something by Bruce Mau,Allow events to change you.You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them. Your blog friend,Kempton

  6. Superb information here, ol’e chap; keep burning the midnight oil.

  7. Justin says:

    Should I bother pointing out that Human refers to the species? The word in Latin for humans in general is Homo. There is a specific latin word for the gender of men. It’s nearly the same word as the proto-germanic. It’s Vir.


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