Glossary of Feminist Terms

  • Ableism: discrimination in favor of abled/able-bodied people
  • Ableist Language: words whose literal or historical definition derives from a disability and have been used to marginalize, other, and press disabled people; see glossary and alternatives
  • Abled/enabled person: someone not disabled by society; see able-bodied privilege
  • Ageism: a type of discrimination that favors one age group over another, usually youth over older adults
  • Agender: a term that describes people who lack a gender, or are without gender (genderless, gender neutral, non-binary)
  • Ally/Allyship/Accomplice: allies are people who want to end oppression for marginalized individuals/groups but are not themselves part of the group. Allyship is not a self-proclaimed identity or performance, it is a lifelong process; it is bestowed, not proclaimed. This group prefers the term “accomplice” to ally because accomplices are not supporters, but are engaged in the fight, i.e. fighting with rather than fighting for. 
  • Aromantic: a person who does not experience romantic attraction
  • Asexual: a person who does not experience sexual attraction
  • Biantagonism: hatred or dislike of bisexual folk
  • Cis/Cisgender: people who, for the most part, identify with the sex they were assigned at birth
  • Asexual: a person who does not experience sexual attraction
  • Biphobia: hatred or dislike of bisexual folk or bisexualism
  • Carceral Feminism: an approach that sees increased policing, prosecution, and imprisonment as the primary solution to violence against women; adherents to this approach would likely reject the descriptor.
  • Cis/Cisgender: people who, for the most part, identify with the sex they were assigned at birth
  • Cissexism: assumptions or erasure of trans folk
  • Classism: oppression of poor people
  • Cultural Appropriation: taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from someone else’s culture without permission. This can include unauthorized use of another culture’s dance, dress, music, language, folklore, cuisine, traditional medicine, religious symbols, etc.
  • Derailing: posting a comment on a thread that is off-topic from the original post
  • Disability: An experience that various folks with impairments often have: the loss or limitation of opportunities to take part in society on an equal level with others due to social and environmental barriers.
  • Disabled: The way that having a disability affects some people with impairments – they are disabled by society. Also an identity and/or cultural term that some folks with disabilities use to refer to themselves and/or their community.
  • Fatphobia: hatred or dislike of fat folk
  • Gaslighting: a form of psychological abuse wherein the perpetrator makes the victim belief that they are imagining things, when in fact the perpetrator is manipulating the situation to gain control. This occurs frequently among marginalized groups who are told that they are just “imagining” the oppression that they face. (also see victim blaming)
  • Heteronormativity: the set of power relations that normalize and regiment sexuality, marginalizing everything outside of the ideals of heterosexuality, monogamy, and gender conformity
  • Heterosexism/Heterosexual Privilege: the assumption that people are heterosexual, or the attitude that people should be heterosexual, because heterosexuality is the only valid sexual orientation. It often takes the form of ignoring bisexuals, gay men, and lesbians. Heterosexual privilege refers to the benefits granted automatically to heterosexual people that are denied to bisexuals, gay men, and lesbian.
  • Homonormativity: a way of privileging a type of homosexuality that encourages assimilation to dominant, mainstream, heterosexual norms (i.e. marriage) and marginalizes other sexualities and identities
  • Homophobia: hatred or dislike of gay folk
  • Impairment: an injury, illness, or congenital condition that causes or is likely to cause a loss or difference of physiological or psychological function.
  • Intersectionality: a framework that recognizes the multiple aspects of identity that enrich our lives and experiences and that compound and complicate oppressions and marginalizations
  • Intersex: describes a person whose biological sex is ambiguous
  • Kyriarchy: the social system that keeps all intersecting oppressions in place
  • Latinx(s): (pronounced “latinexx”) a gender neutral way of describing people from Latin America. “Hispanic” is a term that ties folks back to their Spanish colonizers, can feel oppressive, and also does not include Brazil, Haiti, etc. Latin@ to capture a/o is sometimes used, but creates a problematic gender binary. It makes the word gender neutral, since latin@ is only o/a, it only encompasses masculinity and femininity. Latinx includes non binary identifying people. It is pronounced as Latinexx.
  • Mansplaining: men attempting to “teach” women about something; often related to women’s issues
  • Mentalism/Sanism: a form of discrimination and oppression because of a mental trait or condition a person has, or is judged to have
  • Misogynoir: hatred of or prejudice against black women
  • Monosexism: used to refer to beliefs, structures, and actions that promote monosexuality (either exclusive heterosexuality or homosexuality) as the only legitimate or right sexual orientation, excluding bisexual or other non-monosexual orientations
  • Neurodiversity: the idea that neurological differences like autism and ADHD are the result of normal, natural variation in the human genome
  • Non-Binary: gender identification that is surpasses the binary of male/female. Sometimes may also identify as agender.
  • Pansexual: someone who is attracted to all sexes and genders of people
  • Queer: traditionally a pejorative terms, queer has been reclaimed by some LGBT folk to describe themselves. Some value the term for its defiance and because it can be inclusive of the entire LGBT community. Nevertheless, it is not universally accepted even within the LGBT community and should be avoided unless quoting someone who self-identifies that way
  • Rape Culture: a culture in which sexual violence is considered the norm
  • Respectability Politics: originated as cultural, sexual, domestic, employment and artistic “guidelines” or “rules” for racially marginalized groups to follow in the effort to be viewed as “human” in a White supremacist society and by individual Whites. The politics of respectability implies that recognition of Black humanity has to be “earned” by Black people by engaging in puritanical behavior as approved by White supremacy…behaviors that Whites themselves don’t have to engage in to “prove” humanity because of White privilege; they’re always viewed as “the default human.” Applicable to all other marginalized groups as well.
  • Sex-Shaming (f.k.a. “slut-shaming”): shaming someone because of their sexual behaviors/desires
  • SWERF: Sex Worker exclusionary Radical Feminist
  • TERF: Trans exclusionary Radical Feminist
  • Tone-Policing: focusing and critiquing on how something is said, ignoring whether or not it’s true
  • Trans/Transgender: an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sociocultural expectations of the sex they were assigned at birth. Trans people may or may not choose to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically
  • Transmisogyny: hatred of trans women
  • Transnational Feminism: examines issues from a global perspective including intersections of oppression across nationalities. Different from Western feminism which emphasizes commonalities and universalism, transnational feminism recognizes inequalities and difference. It’s a series of feminisms rather than a uniform movement; see Western privilege
  • Transphobia: hatred or dislike of trans folk; active hostility
  • Trigger Warningsa trigger warning does not promise to protect readers of potentially triggering material, but provide them with the opportunity to decide whether they need to protect themselves. We provide trigger warnings because they give survivors of various stripes the option to assess whether they’re in a state of mind to deal with triggering material before they stumble across it
  • Victim-Blaming: when the victim of a crime or any wrongful act is held entirely or partially responsible for the harm that befell them
  • Whitesplaining: The paternalistic lecture given by Whites toward a person of color defining what should and shouldn’t be considered racist, while obliviously exhibiting their own racism

**See also: How to Deal with Being Called Out**

(adapted from Guerrilla Feminism‘s glossary)

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