Margaret Atwood faces backlash for sharing op-ed about the word 'woman'

The Handmaid's Tale author shared an article titled: "Why can't we say 'woman' anymore?"


Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: Wiki

Margaret Atwood is weathering backlash after sharing on opinion article on Twitter titled: "Why can't we say 'woman' anymore?"

The Handmaid's Tale author posted the piece to her two million followers on the platform on Tuesday (19 October 2021).

The article was written by Rosie DiManno for the Toronto Star and published last Friday (15 October 2021).

"She's not a Terf"

In her piece, which is behind a paywall, DiManno states [as per Metro]: "'Woman' is in danger of becoming a dirty word … struck from the lexicon of officialdom, eradicated from medical vocabulary and expunged from conversation.

"It shouldn’t leave well-meaning people tongue-tied, lest they be attacked as transphobic or otherwise insensitive to the increasingly complex constructs of gender."

DiManno adds: "There’s more than a whiff of misogyny to it. Why 'woman' the no-speak word and not 'man'? Why not 'persons who urinate standing up' or 'people who eject semen?'

"Certainly there are words — they are slurs mostly — that are no longer acceptable. 'Woman' shouldn’t be one of them.’

Responding to criticism from Twitter users for sharing the piece, Atwood said: "Maybe you should read Rosie's piece?"

Responding to another, the Canadian said: "Read her piece. She's not a Terf [trans-exclusionary radical feminist]."

One response to Atwood reads: "Ms. Atwood, I have long been a fan of your work. As a trans woman, I’m grateful for your past support for trans rights. I ask this in good faith: how can we ensure trans men and non-binary folks feel welcome in discussions on abortion? What is the language solution for you?"

Another said: "Firstly, sharing a paywalled article with an inflamatory headline is not going to help, as folks cannot read the piece to see any nuance or context you may see."

A third added: "I’m disappointed you shared this because it’s factually untrue. We can still say 'woman' & we can also say 'people' when it makes sense to use more inclusive language. I’m nonbinary. I also menstruate and gave birth to 3 kids. Saying “people with periods” includes women AND me."

Atwood, 81, is also known for works including Cat's Eye and Alias Grace.