From the day we decided to build an app for women, our first goal was to empower them.
At that time, we were using the word female to address women, like so many people and organisations do: female groups, female friend, female users. However, this word did not feel right. In an attempt to understand why, we found out that female simply **refers to someone’s reproductive abilities, being them a person or an animal.
The word ‘woman’ evolved from its initial spelling of ‘wifmann’, which means ‘female human.’ What some might notice is that the word ‘man’ merely meant ‘human,’ implying that wifmann were an extension of men.
Robin Lakoff, a linguistics professor at the University of California at Berkeley says that“to refer to a woman as a female is to subtly downgrade her to a lower mammalian status” because “a female can be any species but only a human can be a woman.”
If you are not convinced, here are 6 Reasons You Should Stop Referring To Women As “Females” Right Now.
You might think (as we also thought) that stop calling women ‘females’ would be enough to make people feel welcome and respected. But this is not true for everyone. Some may say that including everyone is impossible, others would say its impractical. We think it just comes down to who you as a person and the company ou want to build.
Thus, the next question we asked ourselves was: Who is Spher for?
Today, it is inevitable not to see that society no longer divides itself into women and men. We have been witnessing the explosive beginning of the gender spectrum becoming a social reality (which we applaude), becoming freedom, and becoming law. And so we asked: do we watch change happen or do we want to be part of it? And more than that: are we for some or are we for all?
We were sure, we did not want to discriminate nor exclude anyone.
What it means to Spher
- We are inclusive.
Are you a woman? Were you born female but you do not feel female? Or feminine? Maybe you are not sure of your gender? Maybe you do not want to have a gender or know that your gender is non-binary? It does not matter to us. We want to empower everyone who is harmed by the patriarchal system that we live in. We are here for you.
We work against Sexism, as well as Cissexism**.
- A woman is a woman is a woman.
We know that trans women are women. Black women are women. Indigenous women are women. While some transgender people are non-binary, most transgender people have a gender identity that is either male or female, and should be treated like any other man or woman. The term “womxn” has been described as trying to include Black, Indigenous, women of colour, and trans women, but that’s not what it means to Spher, because a woman is a woman. Womxn is meant to include more than binary people.
- The goal is to address the entire problem, not only a part of it.
You may ask what is the problem and we tell you: the problem is a morbid patriarchal society that throughout history has promoted a misogynistic attitude in all aspects of life. Not only preventing womxn from voting or earning an equal salary, but mistreating and harming them in various ways, from intimidation and control to sexual harassment and assault. Not only cis women are subjected to this – but everyone who somehow resembles a female/feminine figure, even if not identifying as a woman. If we were helping cis-women only, we would be addressing only part of the problem. Achieving gender equality means, first and foremost, inclusion and then fighting social inequalities and injustices, together.
What it Does Not Mean to Spher
- There is no way that we are not embracing Women as much as Womxn.
After all, womxn includes women, but women does not include womxn. By not choosing to use the word women, some might think that we do not find it powerful enough or relevant enough. But that is not the case. To use the word women proudly is more and more important, but not everyone that is affected by the patriarchy is a woman. And if we want to fight it, we must do it together.
- No, we are not against men.
At Spher, we are against those who support a patriarchal society and allow misogyny to happen and go unpunished. Whoever it is, man, woman, gender non-conforming or nonbinary, we are against those who do not support and do not work to make gender equality a reality.
- And no, we do not need to change the word men to mxn.
Why? Because men are privileged. Men are the most privileged when comparing genders. We we all have experience it somehow if we live in the western world, but are some facts:
Sexual harassment and assault are just a tiny part of how womxn are affected by a patriarchal societal system. There are various layers. There are things that are being talked about, like the pay gap. There are other things that are not being talked about enough and there are things that we have not dared to talk about yet.
Well we will be talking about those things. Hell we will even be standing on the barricades making sure that the uncomfortable gets less uncomfortable to talk about. We will use the word Womxn, but if any of you out there disagree with the wording, we are eager to hear why and how we can improve. After all, the word can’t be inclusive if you, our readers, do not feel included.
Other nice readings
It is not just about replacing an ‘e’ with an ‘x’, it’s about what big manifestation this small transformation has. Read more >>>
Why I Choose to Identify As a Womxn, By Natalia Emmanuel. Read more >>>
Some folks that are using the word Womxn
London’s Goldsmiths and King’s College