In recent times, there has been a dedicated attempt at altering the fabric of the English language. While it’s natural for new words to emerge and for the language to develop, there hasn’t been any attempt as such to change the basic structure of the language. However, with the advent of postmodernism, we do witness such a radical attempt underway with terms like Womxn coming to the fore. So what is the term ‘womxn’ and why is it being used?
Indian liberalism is Western Progressivism with a Time Lag. Therefore, when clownish ideas sprout in the fringes of Western society, it inevitably trickles down to the fringes of Indian discourse from where it infiltrates more mainstream discussions. One of the most obvious examples of this is Postmodernist English. Until very recently, the usage of this could be found only in the extreme fringes of Indian discourse. However, as time has elapsed, it is beginning to make its presence felt in more mainstream discussions.
Two years ago, the usage of words such as ‘womxn’, ‘persynally’, ‘myntion’, ‘harassmynt’ could be found in the remote corners of far-left websites such as Kaafila. One Sayantan Dutta, whose preferred pronouns is they/them presumably, wrote in 2017 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.” We are expected to believe that twisting the spellings of words that contain a series of letters denoting the masculine gender will somehow lead to a less patriarchal language.
If words such as ‘harassment’ and ‘personally’ reflect the patriarchal structure of the English language, it would imply that even alphabets are patriarchal given the fact that they, too, developed at a time when society was deeply patriarchal. However, no attempts have yet been made to change the way alphabets are written to make them feminist. It appears that the individuals are not as committed to Feminism as they would have us believe.
Regardless, from the fringes of Kafila, it has now become part of mainstream feminist discourse in India. Rituparna Chakraborty, a pioneer of the Me Too movement in India who curates the official Twitter Handle of the campaign for India, has begun writing ‘Women’ as ‘Womxn’ because apparently, the latter is more inclusive. It’s a ‘gender-neutral term’, we are told, that includes ‘trans, intersex and nonbinary women’.
It’s a gender neutral term to include those who identify as trans, intersex and non binary women
— Rituparna Chatterjee (@MasalaBai) December 1, 2019
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.” It’s not entirely clear how the word is meant to be pronounced.
It’s extremely unlikely that such harebrained attempts at altering the English Language will ever be successful to any meaningful extent. The more likely reaction from the masses is undisguised contempt or annoyance. What we see here essentially is a centralized attempt at chartering the future course of the English language. Probability of success would have been much higher if ordinary citizens were more receptive to the ideas that are driving the change but as it so happens, they are not.
Another interesting feature of such postmodernist language is that no one has called for any other language apart English to be made ‘gender-neutral’. One would assume that the structures of Hindi, Sanskrit, Spanish, French, Japanese, Mandarin, and other languages are likely to be just as ‘patriarchal’ as that of English. However, no calls have been made to alter the ‘patriarchal structure’ of any language other than English. The obvious reason for this is the fact that English is the preferred language of Western Elite and Postmodernism is a Western disease. Therefore, all its activism is limited to English alone.
Even in India, we see that sections of society that are most Westernized are the ones who pick up such language. People who remain rooted in Indian traditions are much less likely to buy into Western delusions. Thus, the usage of Postmodernist English is restricted to a minute section of Indian discourse although attempts are being made to normalize it to a great extent.
Thus, the best-case scenario for such changes is that Postmodernist English will at some point in time become the language of the elite classes of Westernized Society. Right now, it is only a tool that signals a person’s ideological inclinations. Going forward, it’s likely to remain another avenue for individuals to demonstrate their social status. It is unlikely to ever become popular with people at large. At the end of the day, Postmodernist English is just another tool for the bourgeois to distinguish themselves from the plebs.
Black Coffee Enthusiast. Post Graduate in Psychology. Bengali.