Feminist Glossary

Ableism – discrimination or prejudice against individuals with disabilities; belief that able-bodied people are the norm.

Cultural Appropriation – a form of exploitation that involves power dynamics between cultural groups, cultural appropriation is when elements of a non-dominate and/or disenfranchised culture are used and/or claimed without permission by individuals from a dominant culture which has systemically oppressed the non-dominate group; when cultural elements from a non-dominate population are used by individuals from a dominate group, the cultural elements are usually taken out of the original culture’s context and this can result in the exoticization of the culture and/or reinforce stereotypes of the culture that is being exploited.

Ethnicity – when a group of individuals identify with one another based on a shared cultural heritage. Cultural heritage entails cultural factors such as language, regional culture, religion, ancestry, nationality, etc.

Feminism – the belief that women and men are of inherit equal worth; the advocacy for political, social and legal equality.

Gaslighting – a mental abuse tactic where information is twisted in such a way that it selectively favors the abuser and/or false information is presented to make the victim doubt herself and her sanity, perception and memory.

Gender – a social construct that prescribes social expectations and norms and operates based on a binary system (i.e., you can only be a girl or a boy and not anything else or between).

Heterosexism – the assumption that opposite-sex attraction is the norm and superior to same-sex attraction and that same-sex attraction is abnormal and inferior; can be conscious or unconscious.

Homophobia – when an individual dislikes, hates or is prejudiced against a gay, lesbian, bisexual or intersex individual; when an individual holds negative beliefs towards gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex individuals.

Intersectionality – an individual has multiple identities (e.g., an individual can identify as a woman, as Arab and as able-bodied) that intersect and these intersecting identities influence the kinds of discrimination and oppression that the individual experiences.

Microaggression – verbal or behavioral communications that are hostile, derogatory and/or negative and that are related to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc. These communications are brief, common, unintentional and can be psychologically harmful.

Misogyny – hatred and/or mistrust of and/or prejudice against women; can manifest as discrimination, objectification of women, violence against women, etc.

Oppression – repeated, widespread and systematic injustice.

Patriarchy – a system of society or government where men are the dominate group in power and women are the subordinate group.

People of Color (POC) – an individual who is not White.

Privilege – when a special right or advantage is only available to a particular individual or group of people.

Race – a social construct where a group of people are identified as being similar to one another and distinct from other groups based on physical characteristics like bone structure, skin color, eye shape, hair texture, etc.

Racism – the belief that all members of a race are inherently inferior to another race; the unfair treatment of individuals based on perceived racial differences.

Sexism – prejudice, stereotyping and/or discrimination on the basis of sex and/or gender.

Stereotype – widespread attitudes, beliefs, feelings and/or assumptions about a specific group.

Womanist – a Black woman feminist or a woman of color feminist; womanism is a social theory that was created in reaction to White feminism.