A London museum has apologised after it was accused of “eroding women’s rights” when its plan to “include diverse perspectives” backfired.
The Wellcome Collection, which explores medical history, advertised a workshop it is hosting to “challenge existing archives” and discuss the voices of women in history.
But the advert, which replaced the term “women” with the trans-inclusive word “womxn”, was criticised for not asking the same inclusivity of men.
It has since removed the word and apologised for making the “wrong call”.
We invite challenges to our thinking and we listen to our audience, which is why we’ve taken the decision to remove the word womxn from our website and communications about the Daylighting event. We’re sorry that we made the wrong call. pic.twitter.com/0ukSBfQabA— Wellcome Collection (@ExploreWellcome) October 10, 2018
It said in a statement: “We should have put more thought into whether this was the right terms to use when communicating about the event. We made a mistake, and we should not have used it.
“We’re sorry that we made the wrong call.
“We invite challenges to our thinking and we listen to our audience, so we’re removing the word from our website and from our communications about the event.”
It comes after Twitter users expressed concern at the choice of words.
Columnist Sarah Ditum wrote: “Wellcome replaces woman with “womxn” and men with…no, men just stay exactly the same, because “including diverse perspectives” always means squeezing women out and asking nothing of men.”
I’ll be a womxn when men become mxn. Until then jog on and stop eroding women’s rights.— Suzie Leighton (@suzietcce) October 10, 2018
Wellcome replaces woman with "womxn" and men with… no, men just stay exactly the same, because "including diverse perspectives" always means squeezing women out and asking nothing of men https://t.co/HhtHC7DbAR— Sarah Ditum (@sarahditum) October 10, 2018
Guardian columnist Marina Hyde suggested the museum apply the same train of thought in their next exhibition aimed at men.
“If the Wellcome Collection can’t get their next lot of collaborators to agree to use the term men, they will have failed to create a space/venue that includes diverse perspectives. Your move, guys,” she said.
Writer Hadley Freeman suggested that the use of the word “womxn” might be counterintuitive.
“So, wait, is the Wellcome Collection saying trans women AREN’T women? The word “woman” doesn’t include them? Beaches I can think of some people on here who might object furiously to that implication.”
MP Jess Phillips added: “I’ve never met a trans woman who was offended by the word woman being used, so I’m not sure why this keeps happening. As if internet dissent now replaces public policy.
“I get what they are trying to do but why is it only women not men where this applies?”
Acknowledging the responses, Wellcome Collection initially defended themselves and said: “We’ve had some questions about why we’re using the word womxn for this event. We’re using it because we feel that it is important to create a space/venue that includes diverse perspectives.
“It was agreed during our conversations with collaborators as the programme developed.”