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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.
Feminism melded with anarchism, seeing the way to gender equality as being rooted in the dismantling of hierarchical structures in society. One anarcha-feminist in particular, the Chinese activist He-Yin Zhen, explained it as being that the elevation of some women, or other members of the marginalized classes, to the elevation of the ruling classes, only means that some previously marginalized people are now part of the subjugating classes. Notably, in He-Yin's view, other women and/or marginalized people are still oppressed, even if they gain some token "representation" in the ruling classes. Also called anarcho-feminism.
Feminism focused on the representation of black women.
A movement representing Chicana and Latina women. Also known as Xicanisma.
Feminism combined with concerns about indigenous sovereignty, focused on decolonization and the empowering of indigenous women.
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.
This is the term you go for when you want to pimp your "egalitarian" cred but not look pretentious while doing so.
Feminism concerned with the ways in which the type of oppression experienced by women is affected by their other identities, such as ethnicity, sexuality, transgender status etc.
A current of feminism advocating that women direct their energies toward other women rather than men, seeing lesbianism as the practical application of feminism.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 freedom and 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".
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, and logical counterpoint of the MGTOW movement in the manosphere.
Sex worker-exclusionary radical feminism
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
Radical feminism that excludes transgender women and does not see them as real women. Adherents are referred to as TERFs.
A current of feminism holding that patriarchy intersects with capitalism, and that gender equality should be achieved through ending both the economic and cultural sources of oppression.
Feminism emphasizing the liberation of transgender women and challenging cissexism.
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.
Women of color feminism
Feminism focused on the concerns of women of color.
Waves of feminism
Periods of activity in feminist history.
The feminist movement encompassing the 19th and early 20th century, focussed primarily on women's right to vote. The same period also saw women gain the right to education, including a university degree, and as a result to pursue professions such as medicine, and the acceptance of women as legal persons able to own property, etc.
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. It also saw greater reproductive rights including legalization of abortion in the US and UK.
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. It often focused on individualism and self-expression (e.g. riot grrl), and generally aimed to be less anti-sex and anti-fun than earlier generations.
The most recent wave, beginning in about 2012 and concerned primarily with combating cyberbullying, sexual harassment, and violence against women.
Superficially favorable attitudes, words and actions toward women which are actually based on sexist beliefs.
Sexism hidden behind a paradox, such as making a sexist remark but quickly claiming to merely jest. The sexist, well aware of how sexist their remark is, nonetheless says it whilst claiming to not be sexist.
Sexism as expressed by overt antagonism towards women.
Sexism against women upheld by society and its institutions.
Misogynic attitudes and behaviours displayed by a woman.
Sexist attitudes toward women as internalized by a woman, manifesting as part of her self-concept.
The attitude that men are categorically superior to women, as held by a man.
Hatred of men.
Hatred of women.
Discrimination against and fetishization, hatred and objectification of someone's gender in a place of employment/occupation.
Discrimination against and fetishization, hatred, and objectification of Black trans women.
Expectations placed on women to look conventionally attractive.
The principle of having control over one's own body. Relevant to discussions about reproductive justice.
The advocacy of loving one's own body exactly as it is.
Women's activism to remove stigma from breastfeeding in public.
The depiction of women from a masculine point of view as sexualized objects. Coined by film studies academic Laura Mulvey in the 1970s, based on a feminist reading of Freud and Lacan; Mulvey noted that much film and media is structured for a heterosexual male viewer looking at a woman presented as a passive object of desire. The concept has now moved beyond post-structuralist academic circles to discussions particularly of visual media and literature, where female characters (even in kids' movies) are routinely sexualized with costume, makeup, positioning, lighting, photography, etc, all set up for male pleasure in quite a different way to male characters. More recently there has also been work on the homoerotic male gaze, men looking at men.
No means no
An anti-rape slogan emphasizing consent.
The stance advocating for a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy if she chooses.
A crime broadly defined as any sex act with someone who has not consented to it.
A woman's freedom to make her own decisions regarding reproduction and pregnancy.
A positive attitude toward and valuing of sexual freedom, sexual identities and consent.
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. Perhaps the most famous example of this would be the ancient Greek play Lysistrata, wherein the women of Greece refuse to have sex with their husbands until their husbands stop fighting in the Peloponnesian War.
The expression of uncoerced agreement to participate in sexual activity.
Unwanted sexual advances in a workplace or other professional situation where negative repercussions could result from refusal.
The treatment of a person as nothing more than a vehicle for one's own desire.
The shaming of a woman or girl for being or feeling sexual or having sexual partners.
A movement seeking to remove legal prohibition and social stigma from women going topless in public.
Yes means yes
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.
The workload of someone who has to earn a living and perform unpaid domestic duties in the home.
The extended working day associated with a double burden.
Term coined by Arlie Hochschild in 1983 to refer to the need for women to keep smiling and present a cheerful countenance, especially in service jobs, while men are more allowed to be grumpy, cold, or neutral in workplaces. Today the term has been expanded to refer to a wide range of soft skills, life management, and domestic tasks.
Advantages given to working fathers, who are often preferred for promotions and higher pay. By contrast, working mothers face a motherhood penalty.
The tendency for someone's career to stall upon reaching middle management, making progression painfully slow or impossible. This is particularly common for women and people of color.
Gender pay gap
The difference between the average earnings of women and men.
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.
The glass ceiling concept as applied specifically to Asian or Asian-American people, particularly women.
The glass ceiling concept as applied to women in law and military professions.
The glass ceiling concept as applied to women in the movie and TV industries.
Second glass ceiling
This term has been used for two different variations of the glass ceiling concept:
- Barriers that prevent female entrepreneurs or small business owners from raising capital.
- Barriers that prevent women staying in their careers until retirement age; such as menopause, poor health, structural inequality, and caring responsibilities.
Stained glass ceiling
The glass ceiling concept as applied to women within religious leadership.
The phenomenon of women being more likely to be promoted to key leadership roles when there is a high risk of failure, such as during an economic downturn or when a company is struggling.
A metaphor to describe barriers that prevent women from entering male-dominated fields of work.
The phenomenon of men who enter traditionally female-dominated fields of work being quickly promoted over the women.
A metaphor to describe how, in male-dominated fields such as tech, far more women enter than ultimately emerge as leaders (like water leaking out of a pipe along the way.)
The practice of refusing to hire married women, and/or requiring that female staff quit their jobs upon marriage.
A metaphor to describe discrimination that mothers encounter in the workplace or when looking for work.
The cognitive stress associated with running a household.
The phenomenon of mothers earning less than women without children, amounting to a financial penalty for being a mother.
The phenomenon of mothers being placed on a career path that allows them to spend more time with their children, but prevents advancement.
Disadvantages that mothers face in the workplace; such as lower pay, difficulty in getting hired, being perceived as less reliable, and unpaid maternity leave.
The separation of people of different demographic characteristics — usually men and women — into different types of working roles within the workplace.
On-ramps / off-ramps
A theory that over the course of a lifetime, people will encounter opportunities to join or re-enter the workforce (on-ramps) or to leave and quit work (off-ramps.) These terms are sometimes used in discussion of women facing difficulty in finding work again after taking time out to care for children or relatives.
Someone who works in care-oriented professions, or in any field traditionally associated with women.
A job, workplace, or field of work dominated by women. The term typically indicates that the work is menial, poorly paid, or does not offer the same opportunities as male-dominated work.
The practice of dismissing pregnant employees, and/or refusing to hire those perceived as a "risk" for pregnancy (thus taking maternity leave and inconveniencing the company.)
Second-generation gender bias
Indirect gender discrimination in the workplace, caused by policies being made with only one gender (usually men) in mind.
A synonym for double day.
A metaphor to describe barriers that keep women "stuck" to the lowest level of the career ladder. It is related to the concept of the glass ceiling.
A law in the United States, ratified in 1972, protecting equal opportunity for women in sports, as well as in public education. Initially the focus was on ensuring women's college sports received the same funding as men's, but more recently it has been a focus of Obama-era attempts to combat sexual harassment and sexual violence, and in the 2010s trans rights.
The right of women to vote in elections.
Other feminist concepts
The centering and normalization of men and men's perspectives, to the exclusion of women and non-binary people.
Opposition to feminism and its goals.
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 Bechdel.
Mako Mori test
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.
A phrase coined by feminist author Collette Dowling to describe women who have an unconscious fear of independence and desire to be taken care of.
A feminist of a previous generation.
The principle of avoiding letting a person's gender affect their treatment or the roles relegated to them.
Language and words intended to avoid bias towards one gender.
A neologism referring to the presentation of history from a feminist perspective.
A theory devised by Sigmund Freud of a tendency among men to divide women into a binary of "good", pure, chaste women (Madonnas) and "bad", sexually active women (whores.)
The idea that men in society have unearned benefits and privileges not available to women simply by virtue of being men.
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
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.
The organization of society in such a way that men hold more institutional power than women.
The personal is political
A figurative synonym for androcentrism.
Any movement reacting to any of the waves of feminism, working to either build on it, address perceived shortcomings, or oppose its continuation.
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, in which case it is the inverse of antifeminist men.
Fundamentally feminist ideas appearing in a time period before the onset of the feminist movement.
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.
The concept of unity between all women as sharing a universal experience; an important term in second-wave feminism.
Deliberate misrepresentations of feminism with the straw man fallacy.
Dysfunctionally excessive adherence to stereotypical male gender roles such as aggression, domination and repression of emotions.
The inclusion of transgender women in feminist discussions and in safe spaces.
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
An umbrella term encompassing all non-white women, including those of African, Asian, Latin or Native American descent.
An area where only women are allowed, serving as a space where women can be away from men.
An academic field encompassing study of women and the relationship between gender and politics.
Womon; womxn; womyn
An alternative spelling of woman/women, coined in order to exclude the word "man". Some forms, notably womyn and wombyn, have been appropriated by TERFs as a euphemism for their views.
The state of being male, female, intersex or other as defined by physical markers . Biological sex may refer to several different things, including anatomical sex (most commonly), gonadal sex, hormonal sex or chromosomal sex. The term has, on occasions, been co-opted by transphobic movements, but its use is not limited to hate groups.
Anatomical sex is defined as the state of being male, female, intersex or otherwise as defined solely by the sex organs. Used by some, it is a variation on biological sex which eliminates the possibility of ambiguity.
Identifying as the same gender as the one assigned at birth.
Transphobia as normalized by social systems.
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.
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.
A political self-identifying euphemism used by trans-exclusionary radical feminists.
The theory that gender is an externally-measurable attribute tied to biological sex, regardless of self-identity.
One's external presentation and communication of masculine, feminine or other gender through behaviour, dress, mannerisms, personality etc.
The subjective sense of self as being a man, a woman, somewhere in-between or other.
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-inclusive feminism; the opposite of TERF.
An umbrella term encompassing all individuals who identify as a gender other than the one assigned at birth.
Discrimination against transgender people.
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.
A social movement encouraging progressive atheists to embrace feminism and other social justice issues.
Activism aiming to raise the population's awareness of social inequality.
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.
The concept of a system of interconnected oppressions of different minority groups, in which a person may be privileged for some things (such as being white, and cisgender) but also marginalized for other things (such as being disabled, and gay). Related to intersectionality.
Words or actions regarded as relatively subtle and usually unintentional discrimination or bigotry towards a marginalized group.
The unjust domination and subjugation of a demographic of people.
Movements to advocate for the poor or members of other marginalized demographics.
Anything that causes someone to relive a traumatic experience.
A caution that the material lying ahead may contain triggers for people who have been through trauma.
Internet neologisms, portmanteaus and abbreviations
(Of a man) The stealing of a woman's idea to present as one's own without giving due credit.
A derogatory term, often used in alt-right circles, for feminists who are perceived to be either sexist against men, dare to say something the alt-right doesn't like, or who speak out about topics not believed to be important or real, eg. sexism in the media, rape culture, gender pay gap, etc. Some may also use the term "femistasi".
Liberal feminism or a liberal feminist.
(Of a man) Explaining to a woman something related to her own direct experiences in a way that condescendingly assumes superior knowledge.
The occupying of an undue amount of space on public transportation (e.g., taking up more than one seat) by a man spreading his legs wide.
(Of a man) Interrupting and speaking over a woman, while allowing other men present to speak freely.
Not all men
A defensive response based on a misinterpretation of complaints about sexism as generalizations of all men. The phrase has become a popular antifeminist hashtag.
Radical feminism or a radical feminist.
Relating to French feminist and existentialist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986).
An early form of feminism, named for American 19th century women's rights activist Amelia Bloomer (1818-1894).
Pertaining to American feminist and gender theorist Judith Butler (b. 1956).
A supporter of Andrea Dworkin and her philosophy.
Relating to American feminist writer and activist Betty Friedan (1921-2006).
Relating to American feminist writer and sociologist Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935).
Relating to American feminist writer bell hooks (b. 1952).
Relating to American feminist social critic Camille Paglia (b. 1947).
Relating to American feminist literary critic Elaine Showalter (b. 1941).
Relating to French feminist author Monique Wittig (1935-2003).
- "The Best Feminist You've Never Heard Of: He-Yin Zhen"
- What Is Third‐Wave Feminism? A New Directions Essay, R Claire Snyder, Signs, Vol. 34, No. 1 (Autumn 2008), pp. 175-196 (22 pages)
- "Hipster Sexism: The New Hotness" - The Daily Beast
- , New York Times, Sep 26, 2018
- See the Wikipedia article on Male gaze.
- Film Theory 101 – Laura Mulvey: The Male Gaze Theory, Film Inquiry, Oct 27, 2015
- Masculinity, the Male Spectator and the Homoerotic Gaze, Patrick Schuckmann, Amerikastudien / American Studies, Vol. 43, No. 4, Engendering Manhood (1998), pp. 671-680
- See the Wikipedia article on Lysistrata.
- Why was everyone talking about emotional labour in 2018?, Sophie Wilkinson, BBC Three, 24 December 2018
- The Second Glass Ceiling Impedes Women Entrepreneurs, Douglas A. Bosse and Porcher L. Taylor III, The Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship 17, no. 1, January 2012
- Why lifting the ‘second glass ceiling’ could be an opportunity for us all, Anne Hayes, World Economic Forum, 17 July 2023
- See the Wikipedia article on Title IX.
- How to Spot a Brocialist: The Guys With Righteous Politics but a Dodgy Attitude to Girls by Sasha Borissenko (10.4.16) Vice.