Over on my Facebook page, we've been discussing the word “feminal”. It means: “relating to a woman” and I came across it while researching my Yeats-Gonne book… I really think we should revive it. It fills the great wide gap between “feminine” and “feminist”, which are great, fabulous, important words… but fail to cover all situations.
Collins dictionary shows how this F word was popular in the early 18th century, then completely fell away–apart from a small resurgence in the 1940s.
Why did we let it die? More importantly, can it live again?
A New Word for Women: Using the Word
Here's my first draft attempt to get it into my current WIP, A Life Before This One (first book in my upcoming Yeats-Gonne series).
… This book is born of what WB called “the blear-eyed wisdom” of midnight toil but that’s only the half of it. There's also the opposite kind of energy: the knowing that comes through heart and gut, not head. I’m an old woman now, a grandmother to thirteen and great-grandmother to seven, and was initiated early into such knowing, by my own grandmother, who taught me well. So I’ve spent a lifetime letting it through and I know it well.
The feminal. That was the word they had for it in the olden days, the word my grandmother used to use. That’s what fires this story, as much as any research or facts. Many times while writing, I've felt it…her… coming through me.
We let the word die, but what it described never went away, since then, or before. It’s behind the figures in cave paintings, the mantras of the Vedas and the head of the sphinx. Behind the whore of Babylon, the gifts of the Muses and the temples at Thebes. Behind the temptations of Eve, the trinity of Morrigan, the erotics of Sappho. Behind the spells of witches, the emblems of alchemy, the summoning of spirits. Behind lady love and girl power, virgin births and sex bombs, dame nature and Mother Earth. The feminal. Everywhere the same and everywhere concealed.
Both Maud Gonne and WB went in search of her, but neither could let her lead. A more opinionated pair than those two would be hard to find–and nothing sees off the feminal like a strongly held opinion…
Feminal. Relating to a woman. I really like it. I think we need it. Would you use it?
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