Feminist glossary

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This is a glossary of the main concepts, terms and neologisms in feminism.

Feminism[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Feminism

The theory holding that men and women should have equal rights socially, politically and economically, as well as a range of political and social movements geared towards achieving this equality.

Anarcha-feminism[edit]

Feminism melded with anarchism, seeing the way to gender equality in the dismantling of hierarchical structures in society. Also called anarcho-feminism.

Black feminism[edit]

Feminism focussed on the representation of black women.

Chicana feminism[edit]

A movement representing Chicana and Latina women.

Ecofeminism[edit]

A joining of feminism with ecological concerns based on a perceived connection between the causes of the subjugation of women and of the environment.

Indigenous feminism[edit]

Feminism combined with concerns about indigenous sovereignty, focussed on decolonization and the empowering of indigenous women.

Individualist feminism[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Individualist feminism

Feminism holding that gender equality can be achieved through equal rights for all individuals without respect to gender.

More often than not, this is a euphemism for libertarian anti-feminists who want to co-opt the label in order to prop up their oftentimes reactionary criticisms of feminism.

Intersectional feminism[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Intersectionality

Feminism concerned with the ways in which the type of oppression experienced by women is effected by their other identities, such as ethnicity, sexuality, transgender status etc.

Lesbian feminism[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Political lesbianism

A current of feminism advocating that women direct their energies toward other women rather than men, seeing lesbianism as the practical application of feminism.

Liberal feminism[edit]

Feminism encouraging women to achieve and maintain their own equality through their own actions and through campaigning for political and legal reform. In a sense, the polar opposite of radical feminism.

Lipstick feminism[edit]

Lipstick feminism can be seen as a reaction to the common prejudice that feminists are ugly and hate sex. They embrace, among other things, the idea that wearing make-up and suggestive clothing can be empowering for women.

Mainstream feminism[edit]

Feminism as promoted to and accepted by relatively large numbers of people. In recent years, it has come to mean fourth-wave feminism as promoted through celebrities and through popular feminist blogs like Everyday Feminism or Feministing.

Postmodern feminism[edit]

Feminism intertwined with postmodern theory and ideals, usually seeing gender and ideas of the feminine as constructs of language. A conscious departure from what is perceived as the "modernist" polarity of liberal vs. radical feminism.

Radical feminism[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Radical feminism

Feminism based on the idea that an inherently patriarchal society and its institutions are the foundation of women's oppression and must be radically overhauled to achieve equality. To some extent, the term has been hijacked by nominally feminist groups and individuals with anti-sex work and anti-trans views, who use "radical feminist" as a political euphemism in a similar manner to "gender-critical".

Separatist feminism[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Political lesbianism

A type of radical feminism holding that feminists should completely avoid all forms of contact with men. In a sense, the extreme endpoint of lesbian feminism.

Sex worker-exclusionary radical feminism[edit]

Radical feminism hostile to and exclusionary of sex workers, seeing their work as colluding with the oppression of women. Adherents are called SWERFs for short.

Trans-exclusionary radical feminism[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Trans-exclusionary radical feminism

Radical feminism that excludes transgender women and does not see them as real women. Adherents are referred to as TERFs.

Socialist feminism[edit]

A current of feminism holding that patriarchy is connected to capitalism, and that gender equality should be achieved through ending both the economic and cultural sources of oppression.

Transfeminism[edit]

Feminism emphasizing the liberation of transgender women and challenging cissexism.

White feminism[edit]

Feminism that does not acknowledge the ways in which non-white women may experience sexism differently to white women. It is used to criticize white feminist women who are perceived to be racist. Usually a derogatory term.

Womanism[edit]

A social theory geared toward the representation of African-American women. Coined by Alice WalkerWikipedia's W.svg.

Women of color feminism[edit]

Feminism focussed on the concerns of women of color.

Waves of feminism[edit]

Periods of activity in feminist history.

First-wave feminism[edit]

The feminist movement encompassing the 19th and early 20th century, focussed primarily on women's right to vote.

Second-wave feminism[edit]

The period of feminism beginning in the 1960s, working towards equal rights for women in other areas, such as equal pay. This period included the push for an Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution.

Third-wave feminism[edit]

Beginning in the 1990s, with a focus on individual identity and increasing the inclusiveness of feminism through intersectional theory, in order to represent the unique perspectives of women from a wide variety of demographics, such as women of color and LGBT women.

Fourth-wave feminism[edit]

The most recent wave, beginning in about 2012 and concerned primarily with combatting cyberbullying, sexual harassment, and violence against women.

Sexism[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Sexism

Sexism is discrimination based on a person's gender or sex.

Benevolent sexism[edit]

Superficially favorable attitudes, words and actions toward women which are actually based on sexist beliefs.

Hostile sexism[edit]

Sexism as expressed by overt antagonism towards women.

Institutionalized sexism[edit]

For more information, see: Prejudice plus power

Sexism against women upheld by society and its institutions.

Internalized misogyny[edit]

Misogynic attitudes and behaviours displayed by a woman.

Internalized sexism[edit]

Sexist attitudes toward women as internalized by a woman, manifesting as part of her self-concept.

Male chauvinism[edit]

The attitude that men are categorically superior to women, as held by a man.

Misandry[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Misandry

Hatred of men.

Misogynoir[edit]

Hatred of and discrimination against black women; an intersection of misogyny and racism.

Misogyny[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Misogyny

Hatred of women.

Transmisogyny[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Transmisogyny

Hatred of and discrimination against transgender women; an intersection of misogyny and transphobia.

Sex- and body-related concepts[edit]

Bodily autonomy[edit]

The principle of having control over one's own body. Relevant to discussions about reproductive justice.

Body positivity[edit]

The advocacy of loving one's own body exactly as it is.

Lactivism[edit]

Women's activism to remove stigma from breastfeeding in public.

Male gaze[edit]

The depiction of women from a masculine point of view as sexualized objects.

No means no[edit]

An anti-rape slogan emphasizing consent.

Pro-choice[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Pro-choice

The stance advocating for a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy if she chooses.

Rape[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Rape

A crime broadly defined as any sex act with someone who has not consented to it.

Rape culture[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Rape culture

The normalization and pervasiveness of rape in society as a result of prevailing attitudes towards gender and sexuality.

Reproductive justice[edit]

A woman's freedom to make her own decisions regarding reproduction and pregnancy.

Sex-positivity[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Sex-positivity

A positive attitude toward and valuing of sexual freedom, sexual identities and consent.

Sex strike[edit]

The withholding of sex from one's partner as a form of boycott or protest, with the aim of achieving a certain goal, such as ending war or violence.

Sexual consent[edit]

The expression of agreement to participate in sexual activity.

Sexual harassment[edit]

Unwanted sexual advances in a workplace or other professional situation where negative repercussions could result from refusal.

Sexual objectification[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Sexual objectification

The treatment of a person as nothing more than a vehicle for one's own desire.

Slut-shaming[edit]

For more information, see: Shaming

The shaming of a woman or girl for being or feeling sexual or having sexual partners.

SlutWalk[edit]

An ongoing trans-national movement calling for an end to rape culture.

Topfreedom[edit]

A movement seeking to remove legal prohibition and social stigma from women going topless in public.

Yes means yes[edit]

An extension of No means no, further stipulating that sexual consent is only valid if expressed explicitly.

Law- and work-related concepts[edit]

Androcracy[edit]

Government in which the rulers are men.

Career woman[edit]

A woman who considers her job, and success in her work, to be important in her life. This phrase is somewhat outdated, and can carry sexist and derogatory connotations.

Double burden[edit]

The workload of someone who has to earn a living and perform unpaid domestic duties in the home.

Double day[edit]

The extended working day associated with a double burden.

Gender pay gap[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Gender pay gap

The difference between the average earnings of women and men.

Glass ceiling[edit]

A metaphor to describe barriers that stop even the most high-achieving women from rising to the level of power enjoyed by their male counterparts.

Bamboo ceiling[edit]

The glass ceiling concept as applied specifically to Asian or Asian-American people, particularly women.

Brass ceiling[edit]

The glass ceiling concept as applied to women in law and military professions.

Glass escalator[edit]

The phenomenon of men who enter traditionally female-dominated fields of work being quickly promoted over the women.

Nineteenth Amendment[edit]

The 19th amendment to the United States constitution, granting women's suffrage in 1920.

Occupational segregation[edit]

The separation of people of different demographic characteristics - usually men and women - into different types of working roles within the workplace.

Pink-collar worker[edit]

Someone who works in care-oriented professions, or in any field traditionally associated with women.

Second Shift[edit]

A synonym for double day.

Title IX[edit]

A law in the United States, ratified in 1972, protecting equal opportunity for women in sports, as well as in public education.

Women's suffrage[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Women's suffrage

The right of women to vote in elections.

Other feminist concepts[edit]

Androcentrism[edit]

The centering and normalization of men and men's perspectives, to the exclusion of women and non-binary people.

Antifeminism[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Antifeminism

Opposition to feminism and its goals.

Bechdel test[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Bechdel test

An imprecise gauge of the presence of women in media, based on the proportion of works that feature two named women who converse about something other than a man. Named for Alison BechdelWikipedia's W.svg.

Mako Mori test[edit]

A variation on the Bechdel test, gauging the proportion of works that feature a named woman who has her own narrative arc that does not exist to support the narrative arc of a male character.

Cinderella complex[edit]

A phrase coined by feminist author Collette DowlingWikipedia's W.svg to describe women who have an unconscious fear of independence and desire to be taken care of.

Foresister[edit]

A feminist of a previous generation.

Gender neutrality[edit]

The principle of avoiding letting a person's gender affect their treatment or the roles relegated to them.

Gender performativity[edit]

A theory produced by feminist Judith ButlerWikipedia's W.svg, holding that people construct and alter gender roles by causing the actions they perform to become associated with their own gender.

Gender-neutral language[edit]

Language and words intended to avoid bias towards one gender.

Herstory[edit]

A neologism referring to the presentation of history from a feminist perspective.

Heteropatriarchy[edit]

Related to patriarchy; the organization of society in such a way that heterosexuality and cisgender men are favored and given more institutional power than women and LGBT demographics.

Male privilege[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Privilege

The idea that men in society have unearned benefits and privileges not available to women simply by virtue of being men.

Malestream[edit]

The idea that mainstream social science findings are biased towards a masculine perspective, which is assumed to be applicable to women as well.

Men's rights movement[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Men's rights movement

An antifeminist movement based on the belief that men, not women, are the real victims of societal discrimination and oppression. Adherents usually assert that feminism has overshot its mark and harmed men.

Patriarchy[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Patriarchy

The organization of society in such a way that men hold more institutional power than women.

The personal is political[edit]

A rallying cry from second-wave feminism, opining that women's personal experiences reflect and are caused by larger political and patriarchal structures.

Phallocentrism[edit]

A figurative synonym for androcentrism.

Postfeminism[edit]

Any movement reacting to any of the waves of feminism, working to either build on it, address perceived shortcomings, or oppose its continuation.

Profeminism[edit]

Support of feminism by people who are not deemed to be or do not identify as part of feminism; this term is sometimes used for men.

Protofeminism[edit]

Fundamentally feminist ideas appearing in a time period before the onset of the feminist movement.

Purplewashing[edit]

Presenting an idea or action as feminist while concealing its antifeminist aspects. Is oftentimes used by critics of pornography and sex work as a means of calling out the more oppressive elements of sex-positivity.

Sisterhood[edit]

The concept of unity between all women as sharing a universal experience; an important term in second-wave feminism.

Straw feminism[edit]

Deliberate misrepresentations of feminism with the straw man fallacy.

Toxic masculinity[edit]

Dysfunctionally excessive adherence to stereotypical male gender roles such as aggression, domination and repression of emotions.

Trans inclusivity[edit]

The inclusion of transgender women in feminist discussions and in safe spaces.

Triple oppression[edit]

The early 20th century theory that the three main oppressions faced by black women - racism, sexism and classism - are connected and must be overcome simultaneously. Somewhat of a precursor to intersectionality.

Women of color[edit]

An umbrella term encompassing all non-white women, including those of African, Asian, Latin or Native American descent.

Women-only space[edit]

An area where only women are allowed, serving as a space where women can be away from men.

Women's studies[edit]

An academic field encompassing study of women and the relationship between gender and politics.

Womon; womyn[edit]

An alternative spelling of woman/women, coined in order to exclude the word "man". Oftentimes used by TERFs as a euphemism for their views.

Gender-identity-related terms[edit]

For more information, see: Transgender glossary

Biological sex[edit]

The state of being male, female, intersex or other as defined by physical markers such as sex organs, hormones, gametes and chromosomes.

Cisgender[edit]

Identifying as the same gender as the one assigned at birth.

Cissexism[edit]

Transphobia as normalized by social systems.

Gender[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Gender

Any conceptualization of the sociological and behavioural characteristics traditionally associated with a particular biological sex. This term may also refer to gender identity, gender expression or gender role. "Woman" and "man" are the genders traditionally associated with the biological sexes of "female" and "male" respectively.

Gender binary[edit]

The classification of gender into two mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive categories of man and woman, thus excluding people who are nonbinary, gender fluid etc.

Gender-critical[edit]

A political self-identifying euphemism used by trans-exclusionary radical feminists.

Gender essentialism[edit]

The theory that gender is an externally-measurable attribute tied to biological sex, regardless of self-identity.

Gender expression[edit]

One's external presentation and communication of masculine, feminine or other gender through behaviour, dress, mannerisms, personality etc.

Gender identity[edit]

The subjective sense of self as being a man, a woman, somewhere in-between or other.

Gender role[edit]

A socially-imposed role of being a man, woman or other gender based on one's perceived sex, along with the behaviours and attitudes that are traditionally considered socially acceptable or appropriate for this role.

Transgender[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Transgender

An umbrella term encompassing all individuals who identify as a gender other than the one assigned at birth.

Transphobia[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Transphobia

Discrimination against transgender people.

Womyn-born womyn[edit]

A cisgender woman. This political term is primarily used in the context of trans-exclusionary radical feminism, encompassing only women who were assigned female at birth and thus excluding transgender women.

Relevant social justice concepts[edit]

Atheism Plus[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Atheism Plus

A social movement encouraging progressive atheists to embrace feminism and other social justice issues.

Consciousness raising[edit]

Activism aiming to raise the population's awareness of social inequality.

Intersectionality[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Intersectionality

A theoretical framework which studies how individuals experience privilege and oppression differently according to their combination of different social identities, such as ethnicity, gender, sexuality etc.

Kyriarchy[edit]

The concept of a system of interconnected oppressions of different minority groups. Related to intersectionality.

Microaggression[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Microaggression

Words or actions regarded as relatively subtle and usually unintentional discrimination or bigotry towards a marginalized group.

Oppression[edit]

The unjust domination and subjugation of a demographic of people.

Social justice[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Social justice

Movements to advocate for the poor or members of other marginalized demographics.

Trigger[edit]

Anything that causes someone to relive a traumatic experience.

Trigger warning[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Trigger warning

A caution that the material lying ahead may contain triggers for people who have been through trauma.

Internet neologisms, portmanteaus and abbreviations[edit]

Broflake[edit]

A derogatory term for a (usually white, heterosexual and conservative) man who is easily offended by advocacy for marginalized demographics.

Bropriation[edit]

(Of a man) The stealing of a woman's idea to present as one's own without giving due credit.

Feminazi[edit]

A derogatory term, often used in alt-right circles, for feminists who are perceived to be either sexist against men, or who speak out about topics not believed to be important or real (eg. sexism in the media, rape culture).

Libfem[edit]

Liberal feminism or a liberal feminist.

Mansplaining[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Mansplaining

(Of a man) Explaining to a woman something related to her own direct experiences in a way that condescendingly assumes superior knowledge.

Manspreading[edit]

The occupying of an undue amount of space by a man spreading his legs wide, in a context where this causes inconvenience or cramping for others.

Not all men[edit]

For more information, see: Not all

A defensive response based on a misinterpretation of complaints about sexism as generalizations of all men. The phrase has become a popular feminist hashtag.

Radfem[edit]

Radical feminism or a radical feminist.

SWERF[edit]

A sex worker-exclusionary radical feminist.

TERF[edit]

A trans-exclusionary radical feminist.

Woke[edit]

Educated and aware of social justice issues.

Feminist eponyms[edit]

Beauvoirian[edit]

Relating to French feminist and existentialist philosopher Simone de BeauvoirWikipedia's W.svg (1908-1986).

Bloomerism[edit]

An early form of feminism, named for American 19th century women's rights activist Amelia BloomerWikipedia's W.svg (1818-1894).

Butlerian[edit]

Pertaining to American feminist and gender theorist Judith ButlerWikipedia's W.svg (b. 1956).

Dworkinian[edit]

Relating to American radical feminist Andrea Dworkin (1946-2005).

Dworkinite[edit]

A supporter of Andrea Dworkin and her philosophy.

Friedanian[edit]

Relating to American feminist writer and activist Betty FriedanWikipedia's W.svg (1921-2006).

Gilmanian[edit]

Relating to American feminist writer and sociologist Charlotte Perkins GilmanWikipedia's W.svg (1860-1935).

Hooksian

Relating to American feminist writer bell hooksWikipedia's W.svg (b. 1952).

Paglian[edit]

Relating to American feminist social critic Camille Paglia (b. 1947).

Richian[edit]

Relating to American radical feminist essayist Adrienne RichWikipedia's W.svg (1929-2012).

Showalterian[edit]

Relating to American feminist literary critic Elaine ShowalterWikipedia's W.svg (b. 1941).

Wittigian[edit]

Relating to French feminist author Monique WittigWikipedia's W.svg (1935-2003).

Wollstonecraftian[edit]

Relating to English protofeminist author Mary WollstonecraftWikipedia's W.svg (1759-1797).

See also[edit]