When asking a friend what she thinks would be useful as a reader of my blog, I was surprised to hear that a feminist glossary was at the top of her list.
I realize now that while I feel like I know very little about feminism, I probably have learned more than I think with all that I’ve been reading and writing lately.
And since I want to help you learn more about feminism, well… a feminist glossary only makes sense!
So if you’re completely confused by all the feminist lingo all over the internet, or if you’re just looking for some clarification, this glossary is a good starting point — it’s short list of key terms I use when I talk about the subject.
And after you’re done, be sure to check out all the Feminism 101 posts:
- What is Feminism?
- Why Feminism Matters
- How Gender Roles Are Harmful
- A Brief Feminist Glossary (hey, that’s this one!)
I tried to make the definitions as easy to understand as possible, because technical definitions can sometimes be a bit frustrating. I used Merriam-Webster for most of the shorter terms, and other sources are linked unless they were my own words — so if you’d like to check those out, feel free!
Note: I’ve purposely left out a lot of terms that are specifically about gender and queer sexuality because I have a lot of research to do for those topics. I know they are related to feminism (#intersectionalityftw), but these terms are a good starting point.
A (Very) Brief Feminist Glossary
The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.
Note: Equal rights and opportunities aren’t just about rights under the law — it has to do with how women are treated in our society as a whole.
The belief that oppression of different types (gender, race, sexual orientation, etc.) “intersect” and don’t happen separately.
You can read this article on intersectionality for some more good information!
1. The normalization of heterosexuality, so that non-heterosexuality is marginalized.
2. The idea that gender identity, gender roles, and physical sex should align to either all-male or all-female norms (the gender binary).
The two-gender system of only male or female genders. Male and female are thus binary genders.
Expectations assigned to each gender (usually the binary male and female).
(For example, traditional gender roles say that women should be the primary caregiver of children, and men should work to provide financial support.)
1. Prejudice or discrimination based on sex.
2. Behaviour, conditions or attitudes that reinforce stereotypes of social roles based on sex.
(Tends to be used more often when referring to discrimination of women but can be used for any gender.)
The idea that media is presented in a way that is geared specifically towards men’s viewing of it.
(For example, advertising often caters to men with the sexualization of women in ads; therefore the male gaze is present in advertising.)
Privileges that males receive for simply being a man in a patriarchal society, which other genders do not receive.
Hatred of men.
Hatred of women.
1. A system of social organization where descent/relation & inheritance are traced through the female line.
2. Society controlled by a woman or group of women.
3. Control by women of a disproportionately large share of power.
1. A system of social organization with supremacy of fathers, dependence of wives and children, and descent/relation is through the fathers.
2. A society controlled by a man or group of men.
3. Control by men of a disproportionately large share of power.
A culture where rape is pervasive and normalized because of how people have been taught to think about gender and sexuality, usually by society as a whole.
Attacking or “shaming” a woman for having multiple sexual partners and being sexual in general, whether that means enjoying sex, having lots of sex, or simply dressing “provocatively.”
(This article summarizes the concept pretty well.)
The difference in pay between groups of people, often men and women, for the same amount of work.
… and this list is short!
This is a pretty good starting point, but definitely not a complete feminist glossary — not even close!
But hopefully these help clarify what you read on this blog in the future, or even in past posts since I’ve already used a lot of this language without realizing I might need to clarify it.
I’ll do my best to add new words as I learn as well, and do feel free to let me know in the comments if there is a word I’ve used in the past that you are confused about — I’ll be sure to add it!
Do you have some terms to add to my list? Please leave a comment & let me know!