noun, plural wim·yn, wom·yn [wim-in]. /ˈwɪm ɪn/.
FOR LEXICAL ALIMENTATION, TAKE THIS WORD OF THE DAY QUIZ!
Origin of womyn
Words nearby womyn
ABOUT THIS WORD
What does womyn mean?
Where did the term womyn come from?
To some feminists, the word women (and woman) improperly defines womanhood in the context of men because of its m-e-n spelling. So, they’ve adopted alternative spellings such as wimmin or womyn to reject assumptions of male power in language.
Womyn is recorded as early as 1975 during second-wave feminism. One notable early instance was the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, which was held annually starting in 1976 until 2015. This was a feminist music festival only open to “womyn-born womyn” (i.e., cisgender women). It was much criticized for its exclusion of transgender individuals, which has led to another alternative spelling of women, womxn, meant to include trans and nonbinary women in intersectional feminism.
The term is also featured in Womyn’s land, a radical feminist movement of lesbian separatists who have formed a number of communities, such as Camp Sister Spirit, that exclude men. They’ve also been criticized for excluding transgender women and non-homosexual women.
Womyn gained some more mainstream attention during the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. and other cities around the world starting in January 2017 to protest the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump. The marches, among other causes, fight for women’s rights.
How to use the term womyn
Users of the term womyn are typically feminists pushing back against patriarchal structures in society, including in language.
— yesenia (@_flowerrbombb) March 8, 2017
It’s rendered as a way to emphasize that women have their own identity and authority independent of men.
in 2018 we spelling women like womYn because we don’t need MEN
— lauren (@Iaurenelle) February 24, 2018
Given the trans-exclusionary history of some self-identified womyn (sometimes called TERFs, or trans-exclusionary radical feminists), the term has come under some criticism, with intersectional feminists opting for the alternative womxn to be more inclusive.
looow🔑 wanna post this article ab why terms like “wombyn”, “womyn” and “womxn” are seen, in theory, as a ‘progressive’ political move for token feminists but are actually-factually simultaneously transmisogynistic asf
— 🎰🎰🎰 (@ariannaaabb) March 15, 2019
More examples of womyn:
“The Exist slate will also re-examine the current UMSU board of directors’ structure and create additional roles for marginalized communities beyond the current four positions of Indigenous, international, LGBTTQ* and womyn’s community representatives.”
—Malak Abas, The Manitoban, February 2019
This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.