Let's get some self-revealing stuff out in the open before I proceed to challenge the wisdom of calling a follow-up to last year's highly successful Salem Women's March a Womxn's March.
I'm a heterosexual (cisgender, just to show that I'm clued-in to some new-speak) man. I'm old, 69. I believe in using English words that can be pronounced. I'm married to a woman, Laurel, who was one of the lead organizers for the 2017 Salem Women's March. I created a web page that showcased this event, which attracted 4,200 enthusiastic people -- see below.
So depending on your point of view, I'm either (1) a old fogey who doesn't understand how important it is to get "men" out of "women" by making it "womxn" in order to make this word more inclusive, especially of transgender womxn, or (2) I'm someone who is knowledgeable about what made the 2017 Women's March a big success and is concerned that going down the Womxn Road is a bad idea.
As you probably can guess, personally I'm going with (2).
Yesterday I learned about the upcoming Womxn's March by coming across a Salem Resists Facebook post, a group I heartily support. A woman had questioned whether it was wise to use Womxn when other upcoming marches around the country use Women. She shared the images below.
(Note: Salem Resists isn't sponsoring the Womxn's March. The group just shared a notice of the event on their Facebook page.)
Some Googling revealed that it looks like many Women's Marches are going to be held on Saturday, January 20, while some Womxn's Marches are going to occur on Sunday, January 21 -- which is when the Salem event will be. For example, Seattle is having a Womxn Act On Seattle event on January 21.
But Seattle had a 2017 Womxn's March, so the 2018 event with a similar name is building on the 2017 success.
By contrast, here in Salem many of the 4,200 people who attended the 2017 Women's March are going to be confused by the Womxn's March. Aside from not being able to pronounce the name, they likely will wonder if it will bear any resemblance to the previous Women's March.
I also am concerned about the January 21 Womxn's March being held on a Sunday from 11 am to 1 pm. I'm not religious, but many people in Salem are. I don't know when the typical church service is these days, but I'm assuming that many are in the morning, which could cause fewer people to come to the Womxn's March.
My biggest concern, though, is how featuring "Womxn" in the name of the event is going to affect how Salemians view the march. Obviously the focus of the 2018 march should be on the horrors being wrought by the Trump administration, women's rights, and the "Me Too" wave of sexual harassment awareness.
Anything that detracts from this focus is a distraction. And often progressive groups get involved in unproductive disputes over who is more politically correct to the Nth degree which dissipate energy that should be directed at the real enemy: Donald Trump and his Republican cronies.
It appears that the organizers of the 2018 Salem Womxn's March have settled on that name. Well, I'm hoping that they will change their minds.
It'd be better if the event echoed the successful 2017 Women's March by having the same name. Then include mention of "Womxn" in the promotional materials, explaining that this word is viewed as more inclusive by some people. Also, change the date of the event to Saturday, January 20.
That way all the publicity around the Women's Marches in Boston, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and other cities can help generate interest in a Salem march on the same day.
Look, I've spent a lot of time and energy on trying to Strange Up Salem. I'm not only fine with weirdness, I'm a huge fan of it. But there's a time and a place for strange. Womxn is a weird word that shouldn't be used for a 2018 Women's March that, like the first march, should attract a broad spectrum of people in our town.
Women. Men. Liberals. Conservatives. Religious believers. Ardent atheists. People of all ages, races, ethnicities, sexual persuasions. Words can bring people together, and they also can push people apart.
My view is that Womxn is a divisive word in the context of a Women's March. I could be wrong, of course. I just feel that the risk is too high that "Womxn" will become a focus of the march rather than the pressing issues and problems that need attention in these Trumpian times.