The past few days have yielded a few bizarre news with absurd headlines by some reputed media outlets. A couple of decades ago, even 5-10 years ago, such articles would never have seen the light of day. Here, we will take a look at these articles.
‘Womxn’ and ‘Womyn’ because ‘Women’ is Patriarchal and Misogyny
One such article by Alex Regan for the BBC was headlined “Should women be spelt womxn?” The article reports on the backlash faced by an organization over the use of ‘womxn’ from hundreds of women. Wellcome Collection, a museum and library at London, used the weird spelling in a tweet promoting its event. When it faced a backlash, it explained that it used the spelling because “we feel that it is important to create a space/venue that includes diverse perspectives”.
The Urban Dictionary defines womxn as “A spelling of “women” that is a more inclusive, progressive term that not only sheds light on the prejudice, discrimination, and institutional barriers womxn have faced, but to also show that womxn are not the extension of men but their own free and separate entities. More intersectional than womyn because it includes trans-women and women of colour.”
The use of ‘Womxn’ and ‘Womyn’ began with the advent of postmodernism and its efforts to make the language less patriarchal. The word for the female sex containing ‘men’ was seen as an instrument of patriarchy. As per Gwendolyn Wu, a student at the University of California, “Womyn” and “womxn” are two of the most commonly used substitutes to avoid using the suffix “-men” at the end of the term, but others like “wimmin,” “wimyn,” and “womin” are also sometimes used.”
In an article on Kafila by guest author Sayantan Dutta, one can see that such ideas have also been imported to India. As per a note to the article, “The author believes that the structure of language has mirrored the patriarchal structure of the society, and therefore they practices aungendering mechanism persynally by neutralizing gendered roots of some words.” The author does not limit himself to women but uses weird spellings for every word whose spellings contain words that refer to the masculine gender. Thus, the author spells personal as ‘persynal’, mention as ‘myntion’, harassment as ‘harassmynt’, vehemently as ‘vehemyntly’, moment as ‘momynt’, movements as ‘movemynts’ and disappointments as ‘disappointmynts’ but apparently forgets to spell manifestation as ‘mynifestation’ thus clearly showing that the author, as per his/her/xhe (I do not know ‘their’ personal pronoun preferences) has not escaped his/her/xhe patriarchal indoctrination.
Quantum Physics and Queer Identity
In a video published by BBC again with the caption ‘What quantum physics taught me about queer identity’, Writer and performer Amrou Al-Kadhi (AKA Glamrou) speaks on the ‘inspiration to be found in a ‘beautiful, strange and glorious’ sect of physics.’
‘Quantum physics really helped me understand my queer identity.’ pic.twitter.com/GNqt7jfGT5
— BBC (@BBC) October 8, 2018
The speaker dressed garishly says at one point, “Quantum Physics to Newtonian Physics is, to me, what Queer Theory is to heteronormativity.” According to her, Quantum Physics shows that “Reality is just a set of contradictions with no real fixed foundations.” And that she is greatly comforted by Quantum Physics as a “Queer person with no real fixed identity”. Physicists might like to differ from her interpretation of Quantum Physics but it is unlikely that they will as no one wants to be labelled transphobic and exposed to unpleasant abuse if they can avoid it.
A researcher and a Google scholar was, however, kind enough to point out the flaws in her logic.
Proof of your existence and consciousness existing in a fixed universe is that you can never recall your consciousness waking up in another dimension. The ‘rigid’ laws of newtonian physics actually do govern macroexistence. Subatomic particle physics applies only 2 itself.
— Meraj Hasan (@_merajhasan) October 9, 2018
Trump Adviser Stephen Miller and the Glue Story from 3rd Grade
In a report by HuffPost headlined “Stephen Miller’s 3rd Grade Teacher Calls Him ‘A Strange Dude’ Who Ate Glue”, David Moye reports on comments made by Trump’s Immigration adviser Miller’s teacher.
As a child, White House immigration adviser Stephen Miller “would pour glue on his arm, let it dry, peel it off and then eat it,” his third-grade teacher said. https://t.co/acZwyeC4Bv
— HuffPost (@HuffPost) October 11, 2018
The report quotes Nikki Fiske, Miller’s teacher when he was eight years old, telling The Hollywood Reporter, “Do you remember that character in Peanuts, the one called Pig Pen, with the dust cloud and crumbs flying all around him? That was Stephen Miller at 8. I was always trying to get him to clean up his desk — he always had stuff mashed up in there. He was a strange dude. I remember he would take a bottle of glue — we didn’t have glue sticks in those days — and he would pour the glue on his arm, let it dry, peel it off and then eat it.”
HuffPost appears to have taken their opposition to Donald Trump and his administration to a whole new different level. I would guess that every one of us did pretty stupid things when we were eight years old but HuffPost appears to be making character judgments based on them.
People on Twitter appear to agree that none of us would want our character or ability to be determined by things we did when we were kids.
Ha, seriously? Third grade? When does the nursery school scoop on Jared Kushner come out?
— Lisa Boothe (@LisaMarieBoothe) October 11, 2018
Hey HuffPo adult, did you die a little inside writing this vapid piece?
— Rita Panahi (@RitaPanahi) October 11, 2018
Wow what fantastic reporting! I’m talking Pulitzer Prize news reporting right here! I mean reporting on wars and criminals and the state of the world holds nothing on a story about a third grader playing with glue… Whew I’m glad you guys did this story.
— Ray (@RSRocksInUSA) October 11, 2018
Some people also mentioned that the teacher should not be telling the media embarrassing stories about their students.
I don’t think she should be telling stories abou the children she taught.
— Christine Hall (@ChrisFlyerCNX) October 11, 2018
That’s so unethical of her. I’m a schoolteacher of 10 years and would never give information defaming a child!
— Alyssa Pinsker (@Girl_GoneGlobal) October 11, 2018
So what? Lots of kids do that. Shame on this teacher! Judge him on his actions as an adult- which theres lots to critique!
— ❤️bunnymother❤️ (@bunnymother) October 11, 2018
Regardless of political inclination, I guess we could agree that we wouldn’t want our stories from 3rd to be part of the national news. But for HuffPost, it appears more decency than they are capable of.