Wimmin?

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PaulMarsh
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Apr 17 2006 07:09
Wimmin?

Am I the only person who switches off as soon as I see this word used?

http://libcom.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=9448&highlight=

If I were to use it in a letter or note to my mother, she would ask me what the hell I was playing at, and go into a rant about how the English education system has seemingly left her with a son who cannot spell.

If one of the objectives of Libcom is for it to get bigger, and to have influence and recognition amongst the working class, I can understand why site admins have looked to dump some of the odder elements of the anarchist movement, and perhaps even to dump the word anarchist entirely.

There have been great bonuses to libcom spreading out internationally (see some of the points in Revols thread) but I am slightly uneasy when I see words like Aortorea being used instead of New Zealand, and downright bilious when I see words like "wimmin" appearing.

Is this the future for Libcom?

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Apr 17 2006 09:23

Are you saying they should ban the practice? Tbh I couldn't care less if individuals on the forums want to call themselves wimmin, more power to em as long as they don't try and force me to.

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Apr 17 2006 09:44

theres always the spelling "womyn", not quite sure how that came about tho...

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Apr 17 2006 10:20

Not to mention "wombyn"

That post actually uses both "wimmin" and "wimmyn". It's pretty wierd, but I figured someone would call them on it.

I think the Oceania forum is doing really well so far, some very interesting stuff in there.

The US + oceania international forums are quite small now, when forums are small you can't afford to be very exclusive, like we weren't (I'm sure you remember the "shooting nuclear waste into the sun" days grin), I think they just need to reach a critical mass of good posters.

As for the word "anarchist", we haven't dropped it, just not displaying it - or any other "isms" prominently (like the class war site), cos otherwise people immediately get their preconceptions going when they say it. But we're not worried about using it, just check our bios page:

http://libcom.org/history/individuals.php

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Apr 17 2006 10:32

Yeah i think its bizarre to spell women in any other way than how it is spelt... We obviously wont use that or any other bizarre words on site, but sadly we cant control what everyone says in the forums sad wink

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Apr 17 2006 10:32

I don't particularly like "wimmin" (unless in not-serious contexts) and I do find it a bit alientating - so I'm not too sure how someone who wasn't into anarchafeminist gender politics would feel about it.

I mean I understand where people are comin from when they use it, and I don't think stuff should be written off because of stuff like that - I mean the Ottowa thing looks really good, I've run groups like that before and I think it's definately worthwhile - and so did the other (normal wink non-political) women who came along.

So despite the spelling I was pleased to see that on libcom.

Still, it's not as bad as herstory instead of history - cos the "his" in history isn't even about men.

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Apr 17 2006 10:34

Oh, and at risk of derailing...

Paul Marsh wrote:
but I am slightly uneasy when I see words like Aortorea being used instead of New Zealand

I know nothing about any of that - can someone tell me what that's about and why it's a problem?

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Apr 17 2006 10:42

ask in the NZ forum maybe?

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Apr 17 2006 10:44

Zobag - Have a look at the points half way down the page on

http://libcom.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8726&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=15

I have worked with lots of Kiwis in London, and never heard anyone use the term.

Still its up to them what they call themselves...........

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Apr 17 2006 10:46

Ta.

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Apr 17 2006 14:32

I wouldn't normally get involved in these discussions because it usually gets me in trouble. But I feel I have to say something.

Some of the conversations in here are slightly dodgy. I'm sure this thread wasn't intended as being sexist, but I think it is.

I understand the arguement that you are using. We need to use words that people understand. That's fine, I agree.

However, there are heaps of words on here apart from "wimmin" that are innaccessible to the majority of people. Try, anarchism, communism for starters. Even the majority of the concepts on here, or even the topics are inaccessible. I suppose I could push it to its exteme (?) by saying we are on the bloody internet! (-;

As for Aotearoa and New Zealand, I usually try to stick with Aotearoa New Zealand so as not to confuse people.

Some people say United Kingdom or Britain instead of England which is quite clearly imperialistic... what do we do about that. I know I say UK all the time.

SimonO

violet black star neutral

(btw I was sorely dissapointed to read this forum thread called "Wimmin" in the organising section and find it wasn't a bunch of anarchists talking about how we can organise with women or how they could it themselves.)

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Apr 17 2006 14:40

But why use the word "wimmin" to make a point? I just don't see the need confused

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Apr 17 2006 14:44

Edit - Zobag - bollocks John I just edited your post instead of quoting it and managed to delete everything. I suck. Sorry embarrassed

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Apr 17 2006 15:42
John. wrote:
Edit - Zobag - bollocks John I just edited your post instead of quoting it and managed to delete everything. I suck. Sorry embarrassed

John basically asked how the thread is being sexist and to what effect using words like "wimmin" are used.

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Apr 17 2006 22:33
zobag wrote:
But why use the word "wimmin" to make a point? I just don't see the need confused

I use alternate spellings of "woman" most of the time, especially in feminist writing. The intent of language is to communicate ideas and I think that "women" and "wimmin" communicate two different ideas, they have two different tones about them.

Languages change and evelove over time to suit the needs of the speakers. For example my understanding is that in Old English, "man" was person, with prefixes added to specify gender. "Wifman" for female (as in wife) and "wereman" for male. Eventually the prefixes were dropped, as I understand it to meet the needs of a highly male-dominated society. "Man" continued to mean person, but also the male gender. It might seems petty but the liguistic non-personhood was backed up by legal, religious and social enforcement. So as far as I am concerned it is a bit of a sore spot.

I think that people get upset about this spelling so much because it is challenging and politically charged. It is a word with power, to be sure. To me that means it is effective. I think women get dismissed as a minority group, but wimmin are a force to be reckoned with.

As for putting people off, similar to anarchism, feminism has been thoroughly demonised for a while now, so a lot of people are scared and ignorant of it, including many within the anarchist movement. That is not a reason to give up the fight. Obviously a social movement which advocates reorganisation of human relationship (patriarchy is still fundamental at this point) is going to be scary and put people off. Nevertheless, still worthwhile.

On the other hand I recognise there is a time and a place. When I want to reach feminists I say wimmin. Trying to be very broad and open, I would concede to women. Whithin a radical community I think it's totally reasonable to say wimmin, after all they are supposed to be a place where we can start with some common ground. If there is a lot of confusion about the basics of feminism in a community then that is a problem which needs to be resolved.

Here is another discussion of this, FYI:

http://research.umbc.edu/~korenman/wmst/womyn.html

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Apr 17 2006 22:48
Gwen wrote:
It might seems petty but the liguistic non-personhood was backed up by legal, religious and social enforcement. So as far as I am concerned it is a bit of a sore spot.

I can see how changing the spelling might make a person think, once they had asked why the word was spelt "incorrectly" and had had it explained to them. I think that the explanation/discussion is the important part.

I've never understood why changing the spelling but not the word is worthwhile. When we talk about "the rich" should we spell it "ritch" so that we don't reinforce the positive connotations of the word?

I also find wombyn extremely odd as it seems to be following the restrictive patriarchal view of the function of women.

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Apr 17 2006 22:51

Personally i dont find it challenging (changing how 'women' is spelt that is), i just find it a bit odd. If there is a good/strong arguement to be made, it should be made with least linguistic jargon possible! People will be challengned by the ideas, not the words.

Welcome to the boards btw Gwen, i used to check out the nocog site quite a bit 'cos its always eyecatching smile

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Apr 17 2006 22:56
Gwen wrote:
Whithin a radical community I think it's totally reasonable to say wimmin, after all they are supposed to be a place where we can start with some common ground.

Don't you think that just deliberately spelling a word wrong due to a linguistical thing from probably hundreds of years ago helps people's impressions of "radical communities" as a bunch of odd-bods who have very little to do with them? And so do very little to actually help women gain equality with men?

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Apr 17 2006 23:02

Like I said before I can see where this comes from, and I understand the issues of masculine gender "neutrality" and women being presented as the other and everything, but I just don't think changing the spelling of "women" does much to move things along. And I don't think "wimmin" does sound like a force to be reckoned with to be honest - as a word it sounds to me a bit, well just silly, and if "women" represents and oppressed "minority", surely the best thing to do would be to counter that head on, rather than just scrapping women and starting again.

What about the women who don't identify as "wimmin"?

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Apr 17 2006 23:03

zobag you might want to rephrase the question in your post because gwen said:

Quote:
When I want to reach feminists I say wimmin. Trying to be very broad and open, I would concede to women.
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Apr 17 2006 23:04

Right then. So, female feminists who don't identify as "wimmin"?

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Apr 17 2006 23:05
rkn wrote:
zobag you might want to rephrase the question in your post because gwen said:
Quote:
When I want to reach feminists I say wimmin. Trying to be very broad and open, I would concede to women.

How many people in the UK/US would self-identify as 'wimmin'? My guess, of what 150 million women would be maybe 1-10,000 (being very generous)? Why would you want to be that exclusive?

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Apr 17 2006 23:10

I wasnt arguing for it... i was making a clarification!

lucy82
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Apr 18 2006 00:17

the problem is if you say wimmin or wombyn or any other spelling the word changed sets up barriers of its own. it speaks to a certain community if you like who understand why the word is changed and fails to engage with people who think the word woman is woman and you know that cause you said

Quote:

When I want to reach feminists I say wimmin. Trying to be very broad and open, I would concede to women.

so 'wimmin' is for people within a feminist group and 'woman' for those who are not. whats the point? i don't get it. you are saying 'wimmin' to the converted so why use it at all? its not spreading a message or anything its merely consoidating whats already known.

i like the word 'woman'. all the changed words are still stemming from the same word and don't alter the basis anyway except maybe wombyn which is reinforcing the idea of what women are for.. anyway altering a word does not change women's experiences and if it only sets up other social and group boundaries, why bother creating another line of alienation for some and inclusion for others?

Quote:
Some of the conversations in here are slightly dodgy. I'm sure this thread wasn't intended as being sexist, but I think it is.

I also don't understand this. why is the thread sexist? because its questioning the use of a word?

Quote:

However, there are heaps of words on here apart from "wimmin" that are innaccessible to the majority of people. Try, anarchism, communism for starters. Even the majority of the concepts on here, or even the topics are inaccessible. I suppose I could push it to its exteme (?) by saying we are on the bloody internet! (-;

yeah, there may be some other relatively non-mainstream concepts here but changing a word in an attempt to change the meaning, use and ultimately the power of a word are not the same thing. if i called anarchism some clever twisted misspelling would it be more accessible?

basically, use whatever word you want but using non mainstream words both excludes and includes and so it is no solution and may even be part of the problem.

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Apr 18 2006 00:46
simono wrote:
Some people say United Kingdom or Britain instead of England which is quite clearly imperialistic... what do we do about that. I know I say UK all the time.

Eh? People who live in the UK but not in England tend to get quite pissed off when England is used as though it was the same word as UK or Britain.

Saying UK isn't imperialistic, it's just the name of the state. Britain, like England, is a geographical term.

To avoid being imperialistic, from now on I'll be calling Canada "Ontario".

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Apr 18 2006 01:21
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
simono wrote:
Some people say United Kingdom or Britain instead of England which is quite clearly imperialistic... what do we do about that. I know I say UK all the time.

What?! How is it imperialistic to use the name of a country?

Many of my Irish friends would kick me in the mouth if I used the term United Kingdom or UK to describe Ireland. I don't know anything about the meaning of the word Britain, but I'm told it's the same.

The point that I was making was why focus on the word Wimmin, when there are many words and concepts that we use that are difficult for people to understand. The point with the UK comparison was that there are people who are Irish who don't want the term United Kingdom to be used.

All I'm saying is, where do you draw the line. The words we pick out will say a lot about ourselves.

AnarchoAl
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Apr 18 2006 04:19
simono wrote:
Many of my Irish friends would kick me in the mouth if I used the term United Kingdom or UK to describe Ireland. I don't know anything about the meaning of the word Britain, but I'm told it's the same.

The point that I was making was why focus on the word Wimmin, when there are many words and concepts that we use that are difficult for people to understand. The point with the UK comparison was that there are people who are Irish who don't want the term United Kingdom to be used.

All I'm saying is, where do you draw the line. The words we pick out will say a lot about ourselves.

Well, Ireland hasn't been part of the UK since the 1920s, so fair enough. I doubt anyone would deny that Northern Ireland remains a part of the UK, though whether this is a good or a bad thing is a somewhat contentious issue wink

Anyway, on wimmin vs women, I can't see any harm in using wimmin or other alternative spellings in stuff aimed at feminists, but I think it would be tactically foolish to use it in public prop. I certainly never use the words anarchist or communist to describe myself to anyone other than politicos, because politicos have a different understanding of those words from most people.

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Apr 18 2006 10:15

There was an argument on these boards about this time last year about whether or not to use 'wimmin' because it sounded somehow Scottish. That annoyed me too because it doesn't particularly.

Scots for a woman is wuman/wumman, plural is weemen/weemen. Wimmin was being used a plural in a pseudo-Scots way. Argh! Kill! Destroy!

Agree with Anarchoal, but notwithstanding not wanting to crush politicos autonomy it is still pretty unnecessary.

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Apr 18 2006 10:56
simono wrote:
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
simono wrote:
Some people say United Kingdom or Britain instead of England which is quite clearly imperialistic... what do we do about that. I know I say UK all the time.

What?! How is it imperialistic to use the name of a country?

Many of my Irish friends would kick me in the mouth if I used the term United Kingdom or UK to describe Ireland. I don't know anything about the meaning of the word Britain, but I'm told it's the same.

I don't think so mate! As Al says, Ireland isn't part of the UK, NI is, but not Britain, Scotland + Wales are both part of the UK and Britain. AFAIK Scots and Welsh people like being called "British" more than English people do (who often prefer just "English").

Steve
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Apr 18 2006 10:59
John. wrote:
AFAIK Scots and Welsh people like being called "British" more than English people do (who often prefer just "English").

Haven't you got that arse about tit? It's the English who tend to say 'British' and Scots & Welsh don't. confused

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Apr 18 2006 11:04
Steve wrote:
John. wrote:
AFAIK Scots and Welsh people like being called "British" more than English people do (who often prefer just "English").

Haven't you got that arse about tit? It's the English who tend to say 'British' and Scots & Welsh don't. confused

depends whether the olympics is on wink