The word womyn is one of several alternative spellings of the English word women used by some feminists.[1] There are other spellings, including womban (a reference to the womb) or womon (singular), and wimmin (plural). Some writers who use such alternative spellings, avoiding the suffix "-man" or "-men", see them as an expression of female independence and a repudiation of traditions that define women by reference to a male norm.[2] Recently, womxn has been used by intersectional feminists to indicate the same ideas, with explicit inclusion of transgender women and women of color,[3] although some feminists have since indicated that they feel excluded by the term.

Historically, "womyn" and other spelling variants were associated with regional dialects (e.g. Scots) and eye dialect (e.g. African American Vernacular English).

Old English

Old English had a system of grammatical gender, whereby every noun was treated as either masculine, feminine or neuter, similar to modern German. In Old English sources, the word man was neuter. One of its meanings was similar to the modern English usage of "one" as a gender-neutral indefinite pronoun (compare with mankind (man + kind), which means the human race).[4] The words wer and wyf were used, when necessary, to specify a man or woman, respectively. Combining them into wer-man or wyf-man expressed the concept of "any man" or "any woman".[5][6] Some feminist writers have suggested that this more symmetrical usage reflected more egalitarian notions of gender at the time.[2]

18th, 19th, and early 20th century uses

The term wimmin was considered by George P. Krapp (1872–1934), an American scholar of English, to be eye dialect, the literary technique of using nonstandard spelling that implies a pronunciation of the given word that is actually standard. The spelling indicates that the character's speech overall is dialectal, foreign, or uneducated.[7][8] This form of nonstandard spelling differs from others in that a difference in spelling does not indicate a difference in pronunciation of a word. That is, it is dialect to the eye rather than to the ear.[9] It suggests that a character "would use a vulgar pronunciation if there were one" and "is at the level of ignorance where one misspells in this fashion, hence mispronounces as well."[10]

The word womyn appeared as an Older Scots spelling of woman[11] in the Scots poetry of James Hogg. The word wimmin appeared in 19th-century renderings of Black American English, without any feminist significance.

Current usage in the United States

The usage of "womyn" as a feminist spelling of women (with womon as the singular form) first appeared in print in 1976 referring to the first Michigan Womyn's Music Festival.[12] This is just after the founding of the Mountain Moving Coffeehouse for Womyn and Children, a lesbian feminist social event centred around women's music. Both the annual "MichFest" and the weekly coffeehouse operated a womyn-born womyn policy.[13] Womyn's land was another usage of the term, associated with separatist feminism.

Z. Budapest promoted the use of word wimmin (singular womon) in the 1970s as part of her Dianic Wicca movement, which claims that present-day patriarchy represents a fall from a matriarchal golden age.[14]

These re-spellings existed alongside the use of herstory, a feminist re-examination and re-telling of history. Later, another wave of female-produced music was known as the riot grrrl movement.

The word "womyn" has been criticized by trans activists[13][15] due to its usage in trans-exclusionary radical feminist circles which exclude trans women from identifying into the category of "woman" and consequently prevent them from accessing spaces and resources for women.[13][16]

Current usage in the United Kingdom

Millie Tant, a fictional character in the British satirical comic Viz, often used the term wimmin when discussing women's rights.[17]

Recent developments

"Womxn" has been used in a similar manner as womyn and wimmin. Due to transgender women and women of color's perceived exclusion from the usage of these respellings, an "x" is used to "broaden the scope of womanhood," to include them.[18][19] The Women's March on Seattle uses womxn.[20]

See also


  1. ^ D. Hatton. "Womyn and the 'L': A Study of the Relationship between Communication Apprehension, Gender, and Bulletin Boards" (abstract), Education Resources Information Center, 1995.
  2. ^ a b Neeru Tandon (2008). Feminism: A Paradigm Shift
  3. ^ Kerr, Breena (2019-03-14). "What Do Womxn Want?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-06-20.
  4. ^ In Latin similarly, there is "homo" or "hominis" then "vir" or "viris" and "mulier" or "mulieris"; respectively meaning "man" (gender-neutral) then "adult male" and "adult female".
  5. ^ Spender, Dale. Man-Made Language.
  6. ^ Miller, Casey, and Kate Swift. The Handbook of Non-Sexist Language.
  7. ^ Walpole, Jane Raymond (1974), "Eye Dialect in Fictional dialogue", College Composition and Communication, 25 (2): 193, 195, doi:10.2307/357177, JSTOR 357177
  8. ^ Rickford, John; Rickford, Russell (2000), Spoken Soul: The Story of Black English., New York: John Wiley & Sons, p. 23, ISBN 0-471-39957-4
  9. ^ "Eye Dialect by Vivian Cook". Homepage.ntlworld.com. Archived from the original on 2012-10-23. Retrieved 2012-06-13.
  10. ^ Bolinger, Dwight L. (Oct–Dec 1946), "Visual Morphemes", Language, 22 (4): 337, doi:10.2307/409923, JSTOR 409923
  11. ^ DOST: Woman Archived 2013-05-11 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Womyn". Oxford English Dictionary.
  13. ^ a b c Molloy, Parker Marie (July 29, 2014). "Equality Michigan Petitions Michfest to End Exclusionary Policy". The Advocate.
  14. ^ Eugene V. Gallagher, W. Michael Ashcraft (2006). Introduction to New and Alternative Religions in America.
  15. ^ "What They Call "Womyn-Only" Space is Really Cisgender-Only Space". The TransAdvocate. May 21, 2012.
  16. ^ Vasquez, Tina (March 20, 2016). "It's Time to End the Long History of Feminism Failing Transgender Women". Bitch.
  17. ^ Maconie, Stuart. Pies and Prejudice: In search of the North. Edbuty, 2008. p. 132. ISBN 978-0-09-191023-5
  18. ^ Reporter, Asia Key, Staff. "Woman, womyn, womxn: Students learn about intersectionality in womanhood". The Standard. Retrieved 2019-01-31.
  19. ^ "Womyn, wimmin, and other folx - The Boston Globe". BostonGlobe.com. Retrieved 2019-01-31.
  20. ^ EndPlay (2017-01-21). "Seattle women's march estimates 50,000 attendees after Trump inauguration". KIRO. Retrieved 2019-01-31.

Further reading

  • Sol Steinmetz. "Womyn: The Evidence," American Speech, Vol. 70, No. 4 (Winter, 1995), pp. 429–437

Cisgender (sometimes cissexual, often abbreviated to simply cis) is a term for people whose gender identity matches the sex that they were assigned at birth. For example, someone who identifies as a woman and was assigned female at birth is a cisgender woman. The term cisgender is the opposite of the word transgender.Related terms include cissexism and cisnormativity.

Copper Wimmin

Copper Wimmin were an American women-only vocal group. They formed in the late 1990s, and released three albums. They disbanded in 2006.

Their lyrics mainly deal with the topics of sexism, consumerism, the American way of life, and the empowerment of women - or "womyn", a spelling they often used and which is, like "wimmin", not unusual in feminist circles.

They were quite popular in the lesbian community, especially after one of their songs (Bleeding rivers) was featured in the episode Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way of the TV series The L Word (Season 3, Episode 9), although the song was not included on the soundtrack album.

Ellen (season 5)

The fifth season of Ellen, an American television series, began September 24, 1997 and ended on July 22, 1998. It aired on ABC. The region 1 DVD was released on November 28, 2006. Note that although Disc 2 of the Region 1 DVD release has "The Funeral" before "Womyn Fest," the content of the next two episodes suggests that "Womyn Fest" goes before "The Funeral."

Eve Fowler

Eve Fowler (born 1964) is an American photographer based in Los Angeles.

Fowler's most notable work includes her series of texts appropriating Gertrude Stein's poetry, and her portraits of male hustlers in New York and Los Angeles in the 90s. Identifying as a lesbian and feminist, Fowler's work tries to identify what she perceives as male biases in language and culture and reframe them around sex-positive, feminist, and queered images.

List of The Mighty B! episodes

The Mighty B! is an American children's cartoon series co-created by Amy Poehler for Nickelodeon. The series centers on Bessie Higgenbottom, an ambitious Honeybee scout that believes she will become a superhero called the Mighty B if she collects every Honeybee badge. Bessie lives in San Francisco with her single mother Hilary, brother Ben and dog Happy. The series was picked up for a pilot in early 2006 under the name of Super Scout. The series premiered on Saturday, April 26, 2008, which was the morning after Poehler's film Baby Mama had premiered. In September 2008, the show was renewed for a second season with 20 episodes. Brown Johnson, president of animation at Nickelodeon, called the show a "break-out hit" that "compliments and strengths" the Saturday morning line-up. The second season premiered on September 21, 2009.The Mighty B! and its crew have been nominated six Annie Awards, with so far no wins. The show has also been nominated for two Daytime Emmy Awards, winning one for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation. The show has also been nominated one Artios Award and one Golden Reel Award.Many titles of the episodes of the series are parodies of particular media. Examples include "Sleepless in San Francisco" (based on the 1993 film Sleepless in Seattle) and Dirty Happy (based on Clint Eastwood's 1971 film Dirty Harry, which even includes references quotes from the movie).

Michigan Womyn's Music Festival

The Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, often referred to as MWMF or Michfest, was a feminist women's music festival held annually from 1976 to 2015 in Oceana County, Michigan, on privately-owned woodland near Hart Township referred to as "The Land" by Michfest organizers and attendees. The event was built, staffed, run, and attended exclusively by women; with girls, boys and toddlers permitted.Michfest's stated policy of admitting only "womyn-born womyn" and excluding transgender women led LGBT advocacy group Equality Michigan to boycott the event in 2014 and drew criticism from the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the National LGBTQ Task Force. The festival held its final event in August 2015.

Mountain Moving Coffeehouse

The Mountain Moving Coffeehouse for Womyn and Children was a lesbian feminist music venue, located in Chicago and known across the United States. It operated for thirty-one years, from 1974 until 2005. The name of the organization evokes the political task that feminists must "move the mountains" of institutional sexism and homophobia. The alternative spelling of "womyn" represented an expression of female independence and a repudiation of traditions that define women by reference to a male norm.The "coffeehouse" was a once-a-week Saturday night gathering, held at a rented space in churches, in various north side Chicago neighborhoods, that presented woman-identified music and entertainment by and for lesbians and feminists. Drug and alcohol-free, the space was intended as an alternative to the lesbian bar scene. The organization was founded by lesbian-feminist activists as a safe-space for women and their young children. Male children over the age of two and transgender women were not allowed to attend.The womyn-born womyn policy generated some controversy during the 1980s when pressure was put on the coffeehouse to allow admittance to men, as well as in the 1990s when the policy was contested by transgender women. It was claimed that the policy was discriminatory and created "mental difficulties" for transgender women. The policy was also challenged in the 1990s by a local gay male journalist. However, the organization staunchly defended its policy and never allowed admittance to men or to transgender women.In 1993, the coffeehouse was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame.Upon the closure of the coffeehouse on December 10, 2005, it was the oldest continuously operating womyn-born womyn and girl-only concert venue in the United States. A successor organization was created called the Kindred Hearts' Coffeehouse, which serves as a monthly event offering women's music.

Mr. Lady Records

Mr. Lady Records (or Mr. Lady Records and Video) was a San Francisco-based lesbian-feminist independent record label and video art distributor. Artists on the label included Le Tigre and The Butchies. OutSmart magazine noted that Mr. Lady was "queercore's strongest label."The label was founded in 1996 in Durham, North Carolina by musician Kaia Wilson and artist/UNC photography professor Tammy Rae Carland, aiming to redress what they saw as a lack of feminist record labels at the time. As well as a range of recording artists, the label was also heavily involved in other events that promoted feminist thinking and music, such as the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival – which led to some controversy in 1999 – and various art showcases. Mr. Lady closed down in June 2004.

Nehru Jackets

Nehru Jackets is the first solo mixtape by rapper Himanshu. It was released on Himanshu's own Greedhead label on January 17, 2012.Rolling Stone named the song "Womyn" the 36th best song of 2012.

Paula P-Orridge

Paula P-Orridge (born Paula Jean Brooking, 23 February 1963), also known as Alaura O'Dell, is an English musician, writer, and entrepreneur.


Transfeminism, also written trans feminism, has been defined by scholar and activist Emi Koyama as "a movement by and for trans women who view their liberation to be intrinsically linked to the liberation of all women and beyond." Koyama notes that it "is also open to other queers, intersex people, trans men, non-trans women, non-trans men and others who are sympathetic toward needs of trans women and consider their alliance with trans women to be essential for their own liberation." Transfeminism has also been defined more generally as "an approach to feminism that is informed by trans politics."In 2006, the first book on transfeminism, Trans/Forming Feminisms: Transfeminist Voices Speak Out edited by Krista Scott-Dixon, was published by Sumach Press.According to Emi Koyama, there are two "primary principles of transfeminism" that each transfeminist lives by and wishes to follow, as well as wishes for all individuals. First, Koyama states that all people should not only be allowed to live their own lives in whichever way they choose and define themselves however they feel is right, but should also be respected by society for their individuality and uniqueness. Included is the right to individualized gender expression without the fear of retaliation. Koyama's second principle states that each individual has every right, and is the only one to have the right, to possess complete control over their own bodies. There shall be no form of authority - political, medical, religious, or otherwise - that can override a person's decisions regarding their bodies and their wellbeing, and their autonomy is fully in the hands of that sole individual.


WBW may refer to:

Wait But Why, an American blog

Wilkes-Barre Wyoming Valley Airport, an IATA code for a regional airport in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

Womyn-born womyn, women who were assigned female at birth and raised as females

World Breastfeeding Week, worldwide annual celebration

WWAY-DT2, formerly WBW, American television station


We'Moon: Gaia Rhythms for Womyn is an astrological and lunar calendar datebook, featuring art and writing submitted by, for and about women. "Wemoon" means "women," "we of the Moon" (for other alternative political spellings, see Womyn). The datebook was founded in 1981 and is published annually in Oregon, USA, by Mother Tongue Ink (d.b.a. We’Moon Company). We'Moon is a publication focused on “helping women make their daily lives sacred and align themselves with Earth and Moon rhythms.”

Woman (disambiguation)

Woman is an adult female human.

Woman also can refer to:

Womyn, an alternate spelling for woman

Women-only space

A women-only space is an area where only women are allowed, thus providing a place where they do not have to interact with men. Historically and globally, many cultures had, and many still have, some form of female seclusion.


The term Womxn is an alternative term for the English language word women which has been regularly in use since 2015 to explicitly include transgender women and women of color. It has been used in a similar manner as womyn and wimmin, as a rejection of the etymology of 'woman' being 'of man'. Due to transgender women and women of colour's perceived exclusion from the usage of these respellings, an "x" is used to "broaden the scope of womanhood," to include them."While hard to pronounce, “womxn” is perhaps the most inclusive word yet using an “x” to tinker with the word’s literal approach to gender in a similar way as “Latinx,” which has become an ungendered alternative to words like “Latino” and “Latina.”". 'Womxn' explicitly includes femme/feminine-identifying genderqueer and non-binary folks. A wiktionary definition of the term simply states its etymology as a 'respelling to avoid containing men'.

Womyn's land

Womyn's land is an intentional community organized by lesbian separatists to establish counter-cultural, women-centered space, without the presence of men. These lands were the result of a social movement of the same name that developed in the 1970s in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and western Europe. Many still exist today. Womyn's land-based communities and residents are loosely networked through social media; print publications such as newsletters; Maize: A Lesbian Country Magazine; Lesbian Natural Resources, a not-for-profit organization that offers grants and resources; and regional and local gatherings.Womyn's lands practice various forms of lesbian separatism, an idea which emerged as a result of the Radical Feminist movement in the late 1960s. Lesbian separatism is based on the idea that women must exist separately from men, socially and politically, in order to achieve the goals of feminism. These separatist communities exist as a way for women to achieve female liberation by separating themselves from mainstream patriarchal society. Men are not allowed to live in these communities, but a few lands allow men to visit. Some communities ban male infants and/or male relatives.Womyn's lands have generated a wide range of criticisms, most of which center around the lack of acceptance by many residents of bisexual and heterosexual women; the exclusion of transgender and transsexual women; ideological conflicts with local communities that include violence and threats of violence targeting residents of womyn's lands; and local community concerns about expanded lesbian visibility. Examples of present-day womyn's lands include Hawk Hill Community Land Trust, HOWL, Susan B. Anthony Memorial Unrest Home (SuBAMUH) and Sugar Loaf Women's Village. Today, these communities are facing decline as founders age, and they struggle to connect with younger generations of women.

Womyn-born womyn

Womyn-born womyn (WBW) is a term developed during second-wave feminism to designate women who were identified as female at birth, were raised as girls, and identify as women (or womyn, a deliberately alternative spelling that challenges the centering of male as norm).

Events and organizations that have womyn-born-womyn-only policies bar access to anyone who was assigned male at birth: men, trans women, and male children older than a determined age. Cisgender women-only spaces have raised a number of concerns from transgender groups.


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