woman (n.) late Old English wimman (plural wimmen), literally “woman-man,” alteration of wifman (plural wifmen), a compound of wif “woman” (see wife) + man “human being”
man (n.) Old English man, mann “human being, person (male or female)…”
Wo/Man or ((Wo)man)
My mother pushed open the bathroom door
bearing the word “women” which I now could read.
A smile stretched across my girl-child face
And, on an ignorant whim,
decided to prove the superiority of my gender over my brother’s
and everyone like him
“There’s more letters in ‘woman’ than there are in ‘man’,” I said triumphantly.
My mother said nothing
but put her hand over the sign
took away the “wo”
leaving me only with “men”
I stopped dead in my tracks.
“Oh,” I said, my mouth as round as my wide-opened eyes
It’s been years and years since that day
but I still remember that one moment
how it felt, how it looked and what Mum managed to say
with, literally, only a wave of her hand and no words
And if I’ve wrote this right, I hope you understand
I never counted letters to prove superiority again.