DISCLAIMER: This is IN NO WAY a complete and exhaustive list. This is just a continuation of my article “Terminology Every Feminist Should Know” – a list of words I’ve come across frequently (and occasionally had to Google).
Cissexism (x) – Cissexism is a type of discrimination, often referred to as a “subtle” form of transphobia. Cissexist assumptions enforce the gender binary and exclude trans people. An area in which I’ve witnessed a lot of cissexism is in discussions about menstruation – it’s quite common to hear “Men will never understand how painful periods are!”. The speaker ignores/is unaware that not everyone with a uterus is female.
Classism (x) – discrimination based on social class, usually directed at the working class, in which particular traits and stereotypes are assigned to those who belong to that class.
Cultural appropriation (x) – cultural appropriation is when traditions and other social phenomena from a minority culture are assimilated by a dominant culture. Commonly-cited examples are the appropriation of henna, of the bindi and of traditional Native American war bonnets by white people. People who dress up as “Red Indians” or “Arabs” for Halloween are appropriating culture (and also being generally sickeningly racist). Sharing culture is fine – the nature of human civilisation is that of transferring ideas and philosophies – but take care to be respectful. Don’t treat it as something “weird”, “exotic” or as a fashion accessory.
DFAB/DMAB – Designated Female At Birth/Designated Male At Birth. Sometimes AFAB/AMAB (Assigned _ At Birth). An acronym used by some trans and gender-variant folk to refer to the gender they were given when they were born (i.e. what their parents/nurse/doctor said). More accurate and validating than “born a boy/girl”.
Identity politics (x) – political movements based upon a shared aspect of the self (i.e. race, gender, sexual orientation). This was the predecessor of intersectional feminism. You might hear second-wave feminists complain about identity politics, as some of them felt that calls for diversity derailed the main issue of patriarchy.
Intersectional feminism (x) – a type of feminist theory which encompasses the “intersections” between different forms of oppression – where racism, homophobia (biphobia, transphobia, etc) and sexism connect. It operates with the awareness that women deal with unique challenges in daily life, not just based on gender. The historic sexualisation of Black and Latina women is one example; the stereotyping of lesbians as “butch” or bisexual women as “promiscuous” is another. See also: my kind of feminism.
Kyriarchy (x) – Kyriarchy is a social system (or group of social systems) that are constructed through oppression and domination. It’s essentially a broader term than “patriarchy” – a society ruled by men – and encompasses oppression from all privileged groups.
Lesbian feminism (x) – a movement that considers lesbianism to be the logical result of feminism. It “denaturalises” heterosexuality (i.e. stops treating it as the default), examining the way heterosexual relationships have contributed to patriarchy and sexual oppression.
Microaggression (x) – microaggressions are actions/statements that exclude or denigrate someone based on their race, gender or sexual orientation. They can be verbal or non-verbal, and they are often unintentional. It can be in a business environment, such as a woman having her point interrupted in a meeting, then a male colleague being praised for the same idea. They can be racist assumptions, no matter how “well-meaning”. Essentially, they belittle and silence the targeted person/people.
Misogynoir (x) – discrimination based upon both race and gender; sexism directed specifically at Black women. We see examples of this in common tropes, such as “the strong Black woman”, which essentially suggests that Black women are not sensitive or emotional.
POC (x) – acronym for “people of colour”/”person of colour”, a term used to refer to anyone who is not white and does not benefit from white privilege. It frames the description positively and it avoids the use of a degrading or outdated adjective, such as “coloured”. Martin Luther King Jr. first used the phrase “citizens of colour” in 1963. You may also come across “WOC” – “women/woman of colour”.
Problematic fave (x) – I’ve discussed this at length in another post (a post that I plan to rewrite, actually). A problematic fave is a favorite person (usually a character) who has problematic views and opinions.
Separatist feminism (x) – a branch of feminism that refutes the idea that men can have any positive impact within the movement, due to the benefits the patriarchy affords them. It focuses exclusively on women and girls, and this is often paired with the condemnation of heterosexual relationships and of personal relationships with men altogether.
Transmisogyny (x) – Transmisogyny is the intersection of transphobia/cissexism and misogyny. The term was coined by Julia Serano in her book “Whipping Girl” to identify how discrimination against trans women is uniquely nuanced compared to the sexism that cis women suffer. Often, trans women are perceived as “men becoming women” (a grossly inaccurate and insensitive perspective) and this is seen as some kind of downgrade. You might also come across transmisogynoir, a term identifying the discrimination faced by Black trans women.
White feminism (x) – white feminism is a term referring to feminist activism that, unwittingly or otherwise, excludes women of colour. The feminists involved may not be white themselves, but usually they are – white people don’t have to think about racial prejudice on a daily basis. It very much focuses on one-size-fits-all feminism, accessible only to white, educated women. It’s the antithesis to intersectional feminism. A prime example of this was Taylor Swift’s refusal to accept Nicki Minaj’s critique of racism in the music industry, or what the media chose to call “a feud”.
Whitewashing (x) – the act of casting a white actor in the role of an historically non-white character. Hollywood’s favourite hobby. This has been going on since the birth of cinema, and it continues today. It’s often blamed on the lack of “bankable” big-name actors of colour – see Ridley Scott’s comments from USA Today concerning the film Exodus: Gods and Kings: “I can’t mount a film of this budget… and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such… I’m just not going to get financed.”
Womanism (x) – Womanism is a social theory based upon the lives and experiences of Black women, aiming to change the gender-based and race-based oppression they suffer. The term was first coined by Alice Walker in 1979. Womanism is, in some ways, a response to how the feminist movement has alienated minorities throughout its history – something that many of us want to change through intersectional feminism. Womanism has allowed Black women to celebrate their culture in a way that feminism, sadly, has not.
Xicanisma (x) – sometimes called Chicana Feminism. It challenges the stereotypes surrounding Mexican-American women who identify as “chicana”, helping them to balance their cultural identity with the mainstream American feminist movement.