On Twitter recently, the British Green Party’s women’s organization explained why it had chosen to refer to its constituency as ‘non-men’ rather than ‘women’.
This inspired an outbreak of the kind of mockery and parody Twitter excels in. ‘What’s all this in my mentions about the non-blue party?’ inquired one user. Others urged the immediate rewriting of well-known feminist slogans and book titles, like ‘a non-man needs a man like a non-mammal needs a bicycle’ and The Non-MaleEunuch. Popular music was also fertile territory: ‘I’m Every Non-Man’ and ‘No Non-Man, No Cry’ were among the classics given the #greenpartyfeminism treatment.
The idea behind substituting ‘non-men’ for ‘women’ was to be more inclusive of trans and non-binary people. It will be news to nobody that this is a contentious issue in contemporary feminist politics. But whatever position you take on the issue itself, ‘non-men’ remains problematic from a linguistic point…
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