Language is often politicized, especially in the context of social justice work. USA Today's "feminist glossary" inspired us to gather our notes. Be sure to check back for more entries soon!


accomplice

If you have been an ICAH supporter for a while, you might have noticed that we changed our language from “ally” to “accomplice.” This was an intentional decision. Lately, “ally” has become a privileged identity people claim for themselves without doing the work of interrupting and dismantling oppression. An accompliceship model call on the privileged group to actively share their power and take on more risk than oppressed groups; it moves folks from just saying they are not transphobic, homophobic, racist, etc. to actively joining and participating in the movement.

birth justice

Birth Justice exists when people of all ages and genders and their partners (if applicable) are empowered during their pregnancy, labor, and postpartum to make healthy decisions for themselves, their babies, and their families. Birth Justice means something different to everyone.

chest/breastfeeding

not "breastfeeding"

cisgender

a gender identity of a person who identifies with the gender or sex assigned to them at birth

condoms

We use both internal/external and male/female at the same time, but prioritize internal/external first, e.g. "This is an external condom, sometimes known as a male condom. We say external because not everyone who uses these condoms is male."

consent

Copyright © 2015 Emmeline May and Blue Seat Studios 

Consent is an agreement to engage in a sexual activity. Consent must be asked for by the person initiating the sexual contact, and must be given clearly, unambiguously, enthusiastically, and freely. In other words, the person giving consent should not feel threatened or pressured into giving consent. Consent may be given as a clear “yes” or through enthusiastic actions. It can be reversed at any time during the sexual encounter, and giving consent to a partner once does not mean that they automatically have your consent the next time you engage in sexual activities together.

disability justice

Disability justice challenges the idea that an individual's worth has to do with their ability to perform as productive members of society and insists that value is inherent to the liberation of all beings. Like transformative justice, reproductive justice, and environmental justice, it implies a movement-building strategy.

Simply put, feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.
— Bell Hooks

feminism

the belief that persons of all genders, regardless of social identity or background, deserve the same political, social, and sexual rights

gender-inclusive/all-gender

not "gender-neutral"

gender non-conforming

not "other," "both," or "neither;" see NON-BINARY

homosexual

Use the term gay or lesbian rather than homosexual. While homosexual is a factually accurate term, it is also very loaded. Homosexuality was listed for many years as a psychological disorder and was only removed from the American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1973, with all mention of other related issues (such as ego-dystonic homosexuality) in 1987.

intersectional

a term used to describe that an individual’s identity is not singular, but rather a combination of intersecting identities and roles, which assumes a unique set of experiences, challenges, and privileges

intersectional feminism

feminism that includes and advocates for all women of all background and identities in order to eradicate every oppression that falls on women; this distinction is made in response to the largely white, middle class feminist movement of the 20th century

intimate justice

framework for acknowledging how social identities and social stigma affect one’s perception of sexual satisfaction and "deserved" intimacy

Latinx

not "Latina," "Latino," "Latina/o," "Latin@," or "Hispanic"

LGBTQQIA+

not LGBT or LGBTQ

lifestyle

Refers to the manner in which a person lives her or his life. There is no such thing as a heterosexual lifestyle. Heterosexual people live very diverse lives. They have all different kinds of jobs. They are in short- and long-term relationships, they marry, they divorce, they have children, they travel, etc. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual people also lead very diverse lives. They have all different kinds of jobs. They are in short- and long-term relationships. They have children, travel, etc. “Lifestyle” is a term that often comes from a media depiction of one portion of gay male life, which does not match all gay male realities. However, since they are less visible, what we see stays with us. This is how stereotypes begin and how they stick.

mansplain

when a man explains something to a woman in a particularly patronizing way, regardless of his expertise on the subject

misogyny

a prejudice against women

misandry

a prejudice against men

non-binary

a gender identity used by an individual who may not neatly fit into the gender binary (man or woman) that our society has in place. this individual may not identify with either gender, find themselves in between the two, or may find the two labels too restricting

patriarchy

a system which gives power to men and excludes & disenfranchises women, promoting sexism and misogyny

People/Folks/Everyone

not "guys," "ladies," or "gentlemen"

PNA

The Parental Notification of Abortion Law in Illinois requires that women under the age of 18 seeking an abortion must notify an adult family member before she may obtain the abortion. The adult family member does not need to give permission for the abortion, only notified of it. Organizations like ICAH and the ACLU stand against PNA because many women seeking abortions do not have an adult they can trust and live in the fear of abuse, being kicked out of the house, or being forced to carry out the pregnancy against their will. If a woman seeking an abortion would like to bypass the notification, she may attempt doing so in court. For more information and to sign a petition against PNA, visit stoppna.org. Download this article from Emory Law Journal to learn more about how PNA is harmful (pages 1018-1022).

privilege

Privilege is an unearned advantage and stability that an individual may receive due to one or more of their social identities. It is grounded in the oppression of marginalized people and groups. Privilege can take many shapes and forms. Examples: being able to hold hands with your partner in public without fear of ridicule or harassment, being able to see representation of your skin color and culture in every media outlet, being able to make mistakes without it reflecting on your entire race or religion, getting school off for your religious holidays, learning about your heritage in history class, simply feeling welcome in any social or institutional setting, or being able to afford applications for college.

pro-feminist

Pro-feminists are allies of the feminist movement, often men. This term was coined to address the fact the men can never fully grasp or understand the daily oppression of women but are supporters of the cause to end that oppression.

pronouns

not "preferred gender pronouns" or "PGPs"

reproductive justice

"The human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent children we have in safe and sustainable communities." --Sister Song

Read our full post on Reproductive Justice.

racial justice

the effort toward equity across races, achieved through proactive policy, practice, and action; racial justice is essential in repairing the oppression that followed the displacement of indigenous people and enslavement of people of color

safer space

not "safe space"

sexism

stereotyping and discriminating against a woman

sexual choice

Implies that someone chooses to be lesbian, gay, or bisexual. We will often hear people who are trying to understand lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals say, “Whatever you choose to do is your business.” However, we do not say this about heterosexual individuals.

sexual preference

Implies that a person would consider someone of a different gender than the one to which they are attracted. For example, if I prefer blueberry pie to pumpkin pie, that means that I would, on occasion, consider having some pumpkin pie. If, however, I do not like pumpkin pie at all, don’t find it even remotely appealing, and would never consider eating it, I do not prefer blueberry pie. I’m just a blueberry pie person.

sex worker

not "prostitute" or "hooker," with respect for all people’s professions/labor

STIs or Sexually Transmitted Infections

not "STDs" or "sexually transmitted diseases"

survivor-focused language/sexual violence

do not use "victim," "sexual assault," or "rape"

SWERF

Sex Worker Exclusionary Radical Feminist describes a type of feminist whose policies, views, and attitudes exclude or harm sex workers. In general, these feminists are not sex positive and oppose sexual agency.

TERF

Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist describes a type of feminist whose policies, views, and attitudes exclude or harm trans people. Often this type of feminist doesn’t believe that transgenderism is real or sees it as inferior to being cis.

they

Do not use “they” just because you don’t know a person’s pronouns. Use their name if you don’t know their pronouns.

Title IX

Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 declares that no educational program (including school athletics) that receives federal funding may discriminate against or exclude persons based on their sex. It has since been expanded to ensure a fair approach to sexual harassment and assault. Check out this video to hear how Title IX has made an impact in school settings.

transfeminism

a feminist movement that focuses on the liberation of trans women as unique and necessary to the feminist movement at large; it is enlightened by trans experiences and trans politics

TRANS/transgender

Use only as an adjective; do not use "trans*" or "transgendered." Transgender is a term used to describe the gender identity of a person who does not exclusively identify or define themselves by the sex assigned to them at birth. Transgenderism may take many different expressions, from adopting the appearance of the gender they identify with, to changing one’s hormonal makeup, or if none of the above are accessible, simply being self-aware of their ‘new’ gender identity.

Womanist is to feminist as lavender is to purple…. Womanism is simply another shade of feminism. It helps give visibility to the experience of black women and other women of color who have always been at the forefront of the feminist movement yet marginalized and rendered invisible in historical texts and the media.
— Alice Walker

trigger

a stimulus, like a conversation or a movie scene, that initiates feelings of trauma

victim-blaming

Victim-blaming occurs when a victim or survivor of a crime is held responsible. It's often used in the context of sexual assault and takes form in questions/comments like, “What was the victim wearing?” or, “How much had they had to drink?” or, “They were flirting them all night, what did they think was going to happen?”

woke

to be aware of social and political current events and attentive to their impacts on the community

womanism

a feminist movement that prioritizes the needs of black women; the term, movement, and identity were coined by Alice Walker as a response to the 20th century feminism that attended more to white women

Young parents/pregnant and parenting youth (PPY)

not "teen parents," "teen mom," or "teen dad"

youth/young people

not "teens," "teenagers," "children," or "kids"