What’s wrong with the word ‘woman’?


Sir, – Conor Maguire (Letters April 6th) claims that “inclusive language” in the proposed Period Poverty Bill is nothing more than “performative outrage” by those who perceive inclusion as a threat to the structural order of advantage and privilege”.

The irony of this opinion coming from a man made my head spin.

My “outrage” at the prospect of the word woman being erased is largely due to the fact that I am a woman, and no one has asked my nor other women’s permission to have it removed from Bills and legislation that affect women and girls. 

What “advantage and privilege” does Mr Maguire think women have by being able to define themselves as “women”? The same advantage and privilege that we have in the workplace? Or in the political sphere? Or the increased likelihood of rape and sexual assault right from childhood? Or in the division of domestic labour and childcare? I could go on.

If women have been the “beneficiaries of advantage” we would surely welcome someone enlightening us as to what they might be. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 12.

Sir, – As a woman who is also a person, I find myself completely unaffected by the absence of the word “woman” in any legislation. Not one right has been surrendered. My trans friends, on the other hand, are very much affected when this is the only word allowed. Inclusive language harms no one and helps many. – Yours, etc,




Co Leitrim.

Sir, – Conor Maguire describes the objection by women to the erasure of the word “woman” as “alarm and performative outrage by those who perceive inclusion as a threat to the structural order of advantage and privilege”.

It is precisely the structural order of disadvantage and lack of privilege experienced by women that makes the erasure of the words used to describe us as a distinct sex objectionable.

The very fact that this erasure is being attempted is itself a reason to disallow it.

If we accept the deletion of the words “woman” and “women” in healthcare today, tomorrow we can say goodbye to women’s shortlists, women’s institutions, women’s shelters, and women’s sports.

My outrage is not performative, my alarm is real and in his readiness to give away our words, the only person demonstrating privilege here is Conor Maguire. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – In 1998 former taoiseach Charles J Haughey told the journalist Cathal O’Shannon that his greatest achievement was the 1965 Succession Act.

Under that Act, every Irish woman was given the automatic right to inherit assets even if her husband had written a will excluding her.

In years to come, will Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and Labour politicians take similar pride in their furtive replacement of the words “woman”, “women” or “ mother” with “anyone”, “everyone” and “people” in legislation affecting women? – Yours, etc,



Dublin 13.

Sir, – I was not surprised to see in your letters page (April 8th) that the only letter in favour of excluding the word “woman” from legislation was written by a man . – Yours, etc,



Co Roscommon.