Word of the Week ✏️📖

To help demystify some of the language that is used in feminist discussion groups we have decided to attempt to define a different commonly used term via an update to this page each week!

We are aware that our definitions do not represent all experiences/perceptions and may not explore all dimensions of a definition fully so we will include further reading and links to other dictionaries at the bottom of each update!

We want to try to be as varied and extensive in what we cover as possible so please let us know if you want to see a particular term defined/explored!

Lots of Jocyey Love xoxoxo

Word of the Week #10//✏️📖


The Oxford English Dictionary defines a patriarchy as “a form of social organisation in which the father or oldest male is the head of the family, and descent and relationship are reckoned through the male line; government or rule by a man or men”. Whilst the more everyday use of the word today is closer linked to the latter part of the definition, more recent bleaching of the term has resulted in many people simply taking the word patriarchy to mean “the predominance of men in positions of power and influence in society, with cultural values and norms favouring men.”

This being a rather mammoth topic, I thought I would touch briefly on its history first. The word patriarchy itself derives from the Ancient Greek patriarkhēs meaning ‘ruling father’. Whilst its Greek roots might perhaps suggest a wokeness in their society, it seems in reality that male supremacy was (unlike democracy, autocracy and oligarchy) just taken as a given. This boils down to the main problem that has kept patriarchies afloat the world over since the beginning of civilisation; the men in power don’t generally seem that interested in giving up their power to the other half of the population.

While on a basic level the fact that in our Western society the patriarchy doesn’t rear its ugly head so visibly legally (for example, women supposedly have access to the same jobs and opportunities as men) makes it seem that it is less powerful – indeed, many people argue that it doesn’t exist at all anymore. Paradoxically though, the less overt patriarchal control that underpins our modern society, manifesting itself instead culturally and socailly, is arguably even more pernicious; it allows people like author Hanna Rosin in her book The End of Men to deny its very existence, citing legal equality as proof when realistically this just draws a veil over the rest of the patriarchy’s consequences.

This “quieter” form of patriarchy manifests itself – amongst other ways – in new words like mansplaining and manspreading, where men feel more entitled to have an opinion or take up public space than their female counterparts. However, the almost comical presentation of this through these new words makes the problem seem less serious than it really is. 

Whilst many of us can benefit from the patriarchy in some way (especially more privileged groups), it also harms us all in many ways we often aren’t even aware of. From the obsession that women have no body hair to men who use the expression ‘nice guys finish last’, we are all in a way contributing to and reinforcing the ideas that men are the ones that hold power; that they are the strong and dominant members of our society. Of course I am not saying women shouldn’t shave their legs and men should feel bad if they are powerful, it is more a question of intention and the impact on others; are you doing things because society tells you that you should or because you really want to? Also, the patriarchy grants many of us certain privileges at birth; it is how we choose to use this that is crucial. Ultimately, to varying degrees, we all have the power to, in our own way, stand up to the patriarchy and try to dismantle it piece by piece. And this starts with the everyday things. Try to make sure everyone feels included and has their voice heard in a group setting. Speak up against misogynistic language. Check yourself and check your friends. Get involved in discussions.


  1. To what extent is the patriarchy visibly and invisibly affecting our society?
  2. What everyday actions can be changed to help combat this?
  3. How can people in positions of power help to eliminate the power imbalance?


  1. https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/jun/22/the-age-of-patriarchy-how-an-unfashionable-idea-became-a-rallying-cry-for-feminism-today (Guardian Article)
  2. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/138873?redirectedFrom=patriarchy#eid
  3. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/28/opinion/sunday/patriarchy-feminism-metoo.html (NY Times Article)
  4. http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2013/09/the_end_of_men_why_feminists_won_t_accept_that_things_are_looking_up_for.single.html?via=gdpr-consent (Hanna Rosin’s Article on ‘the death of the patriarchy’)
  5. https://newrepublic.com/article/114683/hanna-rosins-end-men-wrong-patriarchy-not-dead (A response piece to Hanna Rosin)
  6. http://guiltyfeminist.com/episodes/ Episode 53: It’s a Man’s World (A slightly more light-hearted discussion of this topic)

Word of the Week #9 // ✏️📖


The Oxford English Dictionary defines Lad Culture as the attitudes and behaviors considered to be typical of a ‘lad’. Dictionary definitions for ‘lad’ include ‘a young man who is boisterously macho’ and ‘a man who is an accepted or integral member of a male societal group’.

The NUS defines lad culture as ‘a group or pack mentality residing in activities such as sport and heavy alcohol consumption, and banter which was often sexist, misogynist and homophobic’.

The phenomenon of lad culture has been suggested to have initially found its roots in the Britpop movement of the early 1990s. A MEDIUM article explores how some have traced its development as being a ‘backlash to feminism and the trend of ‘Girl Power!’ that was dominant during and pre-the 1990s’ – involving the creation of a kind of ‘new man’ that ‘became synonymous with cars, alcohol, women and sex’. The MEDIUM article also touches on the relationship between lad culture and feminism, suggesting that lad culture ‘perpetuates’ the idea ‘that a male feminist is clearly less masculine’.

Recently, the NATIONAL UNION OF STUDENTS has called for a summit on lad culture, following research which concluded that ‘50% of study participants identified prevailing sexism, ‘laddism’ and a culture of harassment at their universities’. This study has exposed the danger of ‘lad culture’ from degrading ‘misogynistic jokes and banter’ to a high correlation with the prevalence of ‘sexual harassment and violence’.

An article for GLASGOW UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE explores how lad culture perpetuates itself, citing a student quote stating that ‘lad culture is a negative part of the socialization of young people, especially young men’. This idea that lad culture is developed and reiterated because of social norms and pressures suggests its significant in our society. Moreover, the article identified how lad culture also acts to perpetuate the constraining ‘traditional views of masculinity and femininity’, questioning, perhaps controversially, whether boys and men that subscribe to lad culture are entirely to *blame*.


  1. What is the best way to challenge the ideas of ‘lad culture’?
  2. How important is social pressure in shaping individuals decisions?
  3. How should (or indeed, should) the feminist movement approach and involved those who participate in ‘lad culture’?


  1. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/lad
  2. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/lad_culture
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ka3B2pBG0Kg
  4. https://medium.com/@NatJordan/what-is-lad-culture-and-how-does-it-affect-people-760af0ef1138
  5. https://www.nus.org.uk/en/nus-calls-for-summit-on-lad-culture/
  6. https://www.glasgowuniversitymagazine.co.uk/features/what-is-lad-culture/

Word of the Week #8 // ✏️📖


The Oxford English Dictionary defines a woman as a ‘an adult human female’. We will attempt to unpick and nuance this, with a specific focus on the gender binary.

What makes someone female? This is a question that acclaimed feminist CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE attempted to answer in an interview for Channel 4 News, in terms the debate surrounding the position of trans-women in feminism. Her answer, that ‘transwomen are transwomen’ and we should not ‘conflate’ the experiences of women and transwomen but that, importantly, this does not make either or any experience less valid or difficult, caused controversy – some have labelled her a TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) in response to her comments.

This argument suggests that ADICHIE’s answer acted to exclude trans-women from feminism, through implicitly questioning their status as women. This fits into the wider discussion around the role of much current discourse (feminist and otherwise) in enforcing the notion that there is a ‘universal experience’ of being a woman – the definition of a women, currently bound by a narrow set of social and cultural norms needs expansion. Moreover, as pointed out by SHON FAYE in a recent GUARDIAN article we need to move beyond the ‘strange’ focus on ‘genitals’ in discussions about gender – only then can we build a truly inclusive model of womanhood.

The above perspectives raise the wider debate as to the way in which gender is constructed in our society, which poses difficulties for the very notion of attempting to ‘define’ a woman. A GENDER SPECTRUM article explores the way in which gender is constructed, first by making the crucial distinction between gender and sex. The article then explores how gender is a ‘complex interrelationship between three dimensions’:

 – Body: our body, our experience of our own body, how society genders bodies, and how others interact with us based on our body.

– Identity: our deeply held, internal sense of self as male, female, a blend of both, or neither; who we internally know ourselves to be.

– Expression: how we present our gender in the world and how society, culture, community, and family perceive, interact with, and try to shape our gender. Gender expression is also related to gender roles and how society uses those roles to try to enforce conformity to current gender norms.

The complexity of what combines to determine someone’s gender, especially considering the impact of societal influences, makes it very difficult to write a finite definition of a women. This is the stance taken by ALLISON HOPE, in her HUFFINGTON POST article. HOPE highlights lack of ‘freedom of gender expression’, with the fact that those who ‘transcend gender norms’ are labelled as having ‘gender identity problems’ and ‘conditions’ merely serving to reinforce gender stereotypes.

Thus, with our current model of genders, it seems characterizing or stereotyping the typical women is unhelpful – as HOPE writes, ‘We’re looking at biological sex and gender in all the wrong ways’.

A DEBRIEF ARTICLE perhaps comes closest to a conclusion in this ongoing debate, and provides some ‘food for thought’ to end this exploration of womanhood

‘To suggest that there is a universal experience of gender or womanhood, of what it is to be and live as a woman, is not only inherently flawed intellectually, but totally impossible’

In short, women can be whatever they want to be.


  1. What is the stereotype of a women, and why do these stereotypes exist?
  2. In what ways is the gender binary enforced in everyday life? (e.g. baby boys wear blue, baby girls wear pink)
  3. To what extent, and in what ways, does the position of trans-women cloud some more traditional feminist arguments?


  1. https://www.rappler.com/move-ph/ispeak/40142-defining-woman (though this article raises some useful points about how women are currently ‘defined’, it does perhaps lack some nuance and does not explore the gender binary)
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/09/transgender-women-labour-shortlists-gender-discrimination (Shon Faye (and others) Guardian Article
  3. https://thedebrief.co.uk/news/opinion/need-know-chimamanda-ngozi-adichies-trans-women-comments/ (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Article)
  4. https://www.genderspectrum.org/quick-links/understanding-gender/ (Gender Spectrum Article)
  5. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/allison-hope/gender-binary_b_1531490.html (Allison Hope Huffington Post Article)
  6. http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/proginfo/2017/33/no-more-boys-and-girls (about a project to make a British year 3 classroom ‘gender free’ and the high-street clothes)
  7. https://sisteroutrider.wordpress.com/2017/09/05/binary-or-spectrum-gender-is-a-hierarchy/ (feminist blog which includes pieces exploring the gender binary)

Word of the Week #7 // ✏️📖


The Oxford English Dictionary defines heteronormative as ‘denoting or relating to a worldview that promotes heterosexuality as the normal or preferred sexual orientation’. Heteronormativity has also been associated with a worldview that enforces ‘an adherence to a strict gender binary’.

Perhaps the most obvious but also most common instance of heteronormativity is the simple question posed to a woman – ‘do you have a boyfriend?’. The reasons and effects of this are explored by MAYA in a personal BUSTLE article – ‘This question is posed to me because I’m a woman, and the common assumption is that women in relationships have either boyfriends or husbands.’ However, as MAYA later goes on to explain, this might not be the case as ‘in reality women can and do date whomever they prefer to date’.

A newspaper article from an American College Newspaper notes how damaging heteronormativity can be, especially due its dominant position in the media – ‘The concept of heteronormativity can be extremely limiting. The focus on heteronormative programming marginalizes and outcasts many gay and lesbian individuals, which causes unnecessary stress for individuals struggling to define their sexual identity.’ The article substantiates this by including a quote from IAN MCKELLEN – ‘No openly gay man has ever won the Oscar,” McKellen said to The Guardian. “I wonder if that is prejudice or chance.”

An EVERYDAY FEMINISM article by KRIS NELSON uses a simple situational example to explain what heteronormativity is, particularly with regard to the gender binary, and how, perhaps more subtly, it manifests itself –

‘Well, let’s say you’re out at a bar. A friend of yours sees a cute guy, but she’s hesitant to make the first move because she assumes the guy would be turned off by that’
‘That’s heteronormativity.’

‘When she finally gets the courage to go up and talk to him, he begins to call her infantilizing pet names (like honey, baby, and sweetheart) – which would be fine if they’d agreed upon it, but he’s just assuming she’s cool with it! That’s heteronormativity.’

‘When she begins to get uncomfortable by these names, she gets up and leaves. But the guy says something like, “Oh, come on! Women are so sensitive. What’s your problem?” That’s heteronormativity.’

The examples above show how heteronormativity is deeply ingrained within societies, perhaps to the point that people are unaware they are subscribing to or reinforcing heteronormative views.

HANNAH WITTON, a sex positive blogger and author, has explored how and why heteronormativity has become so ingrained in our societies. Using a twitter hashtag #heteronorms, she collated examples which illustrate how heteronormative values are perpetuated and become so ingrained. The picture below was just one example sent into her –

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 10.58.02.png


  1. Will we ever be able to subvert heteronormative values completely, or is this an urealistic aim?
  2. To what extent is sexual hetronormativity (not recognising/understanding sexualities other then between a man and a women) linked with the gender binary?
  3. Has our society become more or less heteronormative – what do we need to do next?


  1. https://everydayfeminism.com/2015/07/what-is-heteronormativity/ (Everyday Feminism Article)
  2. https://www.bustle.com/articles/162363-5-subtle-ways-heteronormativity-sneaks-into-day-to-day-life (Bustle Article)
  3. https://hannahwitton.com/heteronormativity-in-everyday-life-heteronorms/ (Twitter hashtag)
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oB2Cck9Ok8 (Popular YouTube video)
  5. https://www.washtenawvoice.com/2016/02/01/2876/ (American College Newspaper Article)
  6. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/heteronormative (OED Definition)

WORD OF THE WEEK #6 // ✏️📖

There is no OED definition for enthusiastic consent. However, enthusiastic is defined as ‘having or showing intense and eager enjoyment, interest, or approval’ and consent as giving ‘permission for something to happen or agreement to do something’.

A PERSEPHONE article that explores attitudes towards enthusiastic consent gives a pretty clear and concise definition; ‘The idea of enthusiastic consent is quite simple. In a nutshell, it advocates for enthusiastic agreement to sexual activity, rather than passive agreement’.

‘Basically, we’re saying, Yes! I want this! or, No, I don’t think I want to do that and we’re asking, Is this ok?’

The popularisation of the concept of enthusiastic consent is often credited to a 2008 feminist book entitled ‘Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape’. Pertinently, the book made a concerted attempt to move away from the limits of the ‘No means No’ culture; consent should be explicit and positive.

Enthusiastic consent, arguably, is still surrounded by taboo. Campaigning groups such as FEMINISTING have addressed the problem and stated the fundamental need for enthusiastic consent. For example, in an article entitled ‘Critical Hotness of Enthusiastic Consent’, it is argued a culture of enthusiastic consent encourages ‘values’ of ‘knowing what you want and having the mind to ask if it’s also what your partner wants’, and, in time, embrace of this will start ‘to slowly but surely un-do all of the awkwardness of uncertainty and amps up the hotness of getting (and giving!) a hell, yes!’.

Enthusiastic consent is key to tackling the ‘blurred lines’ of sex. The recent Aziz Ansari case has become central to a debate surrounding where the ‘blurred lines’ and mistakes end, and sexual harassment and abuse begins. A 4 part GUARDIAN article explores how ‘Aziz Ansari and Cat Person are taking the #MeToo debate into today’s dating scene, showing gender disparity and raising consent issues’. The article contains interesting, nuanced and some controversial perspectives (linked below) but of particular poignancy are the reflective comments of ANNE PERKINS. Whilst she acknowledges that her gut reaction to the Ansari case was to ‘give “Grace” a really good shake’, she recognizes that to do this would be to say that ‘Ansari’s behavior is OK’. What she takes away from the case is this; ‘check your ideas about consent. Consent is not the absence of rejection. It is not a tense silence. It is not passive. It should not be capable of being misread.’

The discussion around enthusiastic consent has also raised the issue of sex ed delivered to young people. This is something that author of the above ‘Yes means yes’, JACLYN FRIEDMAN, wrote about in a VOX article. There is an ‘absence of comprehensive, pleasure-based sex ed’, with this being especially damaging for girls; the current model allows ‘girls to go on thinking that sex is something that’s not really for or about them. Boys learn not to worry about girls’ pleasure, and when girls and women have sexual encounters that don’t feel good — whether they’re just unsatisfying or actively abusive — they’re primed to accept that’s just how sex is.’

1. Does the sex ed given to girls undermine the idea of enthusiastic consent? If so, how is this?
2. Can the ‘blurred lines’ ever be irradiated?
3. Does as put by GUARDIAN multimedia journalist, IMAN AMRANI ‘lumping all these grey-area stories in the wider #MeToo debate about rape, assault and the abuse of power only serves to drown out the voices of women whose stories should be focusing on this week’?

1. https://www.theguardian.com/…/young-women-react-metoo-datin…
http://persephonemagazine.com/…/why-do-people-hate-the-con…/(Guardian Article)
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yes_Means_Yes (quick summary of ‘Yes means Yes’ book)
3. http://feministing.com/…/on-the-critical-hotness-of-enthus…/ (article on making enthusiastic consent ‘hot’)
4. http://time.com/5104010/aziz-ansari-affirmative-consent/ (an article exploring enthusiastic consent in specific relation to the Ansari case)
5. https://www.vox.com/…/1…/sexual-consent-educator-aziz-ansari(Jaclyn Friedman Vox Article)
6. http://persephonemagazine.com/…/why-do-people-hate-the-con…/

WORD OF THE WEEK #5 // ✏️📖

The Oxford English Dictionary describes slut-shaming as ‘the action or fact of stigmatizing a woman for engaging in behavior judged to be promiscuous or sexually provocative’.

Women may be ‘slut-shamed’ in multiple different circumstances; for example, the clothes she wears or the language she uses. Often, ‘slut-shaming’ has a relation to women and sex (as seen in the OED definition) with women being targetted for engaging in ‘casual, premarital or promiscuous’ sex, or using birth control. 

The language of ‘slut-shaming’ seems to have permeated our everyday discourse – words such as ‘slut’ and ‘ho’ are just two examples. Slut-shaming, then, many would argue, has become a dangerously normalized incidence of everyday sexism. A TEEN VOGUE article on *implicit* ‘slut shaming’ highlights the commonality of the problem; entitled ‘6 ways you might be Slut shaming without realising’ the piece points out how suggesting women who enjoy sex are ‘like guys’ and ‘assuming girls only dress up to impress a guy’ has repercussions.

‘Slut-shaming’ is something that tends to affect women, and for this reason, it has been seen embodying the sexual double standard; as LEORA TANENBAUM points out in her article, ‘Slut-shaming is sexist because only girls and women are called to task for their sexuality, whether real or imagined; boys and men are congratulated for the exact same behavior. This is the essence of the sexual double standard: Boys will be boys, and girls will be sluts.’

LEORA TANENBAUM also explores how the phenomenon of ‘slut-shaming’ leaves women in a ‘damned if you, damned if you don’t’ position – ‘with one false step, it’s easy to cross the invisible and ever-shifting boundary between “sexy” and “slutty.”

1. What are some high profile examples of ‘slut-shaming’?
2. How can we best tackle incidents of ‘slut-shaming’?
3. To what extent are their different sexual standards for men and women, and how best can we deconstruct these standards?

1. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/the-truth-about-slut-shami…(Huffington Post Article mentioned above)
2.https://www.theatlantic.com/…/theres-no-such-thing-…/371773/(interesting article exploring the prevalence of ‘slut shaming’ – case study style)
3. https://www.teenvogue.com/s…/slut-shaming-subtle-ways-unslut(Teen Vogue Article)
4. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/slut_shaming (Oxford English Dictionary)

 WORD OF THE WEEK #4 //✏️📖

The Oxford English Dictionary defines Cisgender as ‘denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex’.

When describing a person, cis isn’t used as a noun or a prefix; so it would be, for example, cis women not ciswomen.

This was a term first coined in the 1990s, as a suggested opposite to transgender, according to PAULA BLANK’s Atlantic article. It began circulating academic journals, and has only recently become used more widely.

As was explained last week (see Word of the Week #3), in our society, gender is assigned to a baby at birth, determined by their genitals. A cisgender person identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth.

Someone who doesn’t identify as cisgender might identify as transgender or gender non-binary.

‘Cissexism’ is a term which denotes the assumption that cisgendered people are the norm, and thus the enforcement of perceptions and structures that act to disadvantage and oppress those who don’t identify with the gender assigned to them at birth. SIAN FERGUSON, in her article for Everyday Feminism, highlights how examples of cissexism begin even before a baby is born; the question ‘Is it a boy or a girl?’ is one that assumes a child’s gender based on their genitals. As FERGUSON points out, ‘since genitals do not determine gender, you actually won’t know your child’s gender identity until they’re able to tell you’.

1. In what ways does our current society disadvantage those who don’t identify as cisgender?
2. How can we best tackle these disadvantages?
3. Why is gender still assigned at birth, given the deeper understanding of gender our society now has?

1. https://everydayfeminism.com/2014/03/everyday-cissexism/ (explores cissexism in everyday life)
2. http://lifeoutsidethebinary.com/glossary (definitions page)
3. https://www.theatlantic.com/…/cisgenders-linguistic…/380342/(interesting article on the future of the word cisgender)
4. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/cisgender (Oxford English Dictionary)

WORD OF THE WEEK #3 // ✏️📖

The Oxford English Dictionary defines transgender as ‘of, relating to, or designating a person whose identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender, but combines or moves between these.’

MTF is a term for describing a transgender woman, someone who is assigned male at birth but identifies as a woman. FTM is a term for describing a transgender man, someone who is assigned female at birth but identifies as a man.

The doctor’s observation of the sex of a baby at birth is used to determine what gender the baby will be brought up. The allocation of gender at birth is based on the baby’s external anatomy, without any concern for bodily characteristics such as chromosomes and hormones.

The imposition of gender-based on perceived sex at birth is often seen as oppressive as gender is not directly linked to sex. Our genitals do not necessarily define our gender identity. Gender is how a person individually identifies, and thus cannot be defined at birth, based on society’s perception of the body.

Gender is not binary. A person may identify as neither male nor female, or equally, a person may identify as both male and female. Gender is our internal relationship with our masculinity and femininity (or neither/both); the way in which we choose to express this; and our relationship with our biological sex (or the sex to which we were assigned at birth).

To what extent is biological sex a social construct?
Why is gender, something unique to every person, allocated to us at birth?
How does the presence of gender roles reinforce the traditional idea that gender is binary?

1. https://www.glaad.org/reference/transgender
2. https://everydayfeminism.com/2016/08/transgender-101/
3. https://everydayfeminism.com/…/trans-women-not-biologicall…/(discusses the way in which sex can also be seen as a social construct)
4. A powerful poem about what it feels like to be transgender
5. http://eminism.org/readings/pdf-rdg/tfmanifesto.pdf (“The Manifesto” by Koyanna)

WORD OF THE WEEK #2 // ✏️📖

The Oxford English Dictionary defines Intersectionality as ‘the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage; a theoretical approach based on such a premise’.

This term first entered feminist discourse in 1989, after the publications of KIMBERLE CRENSHAW’S pivotal essay ‘Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex’. In this essay, CRENSHAW argued that there is an unhelpful tendency to ‘treat race and gender as mutually exclusive categories of experience and analysis’, which ‘contributes to the marginalization of Black women in feminist theory and in anti-racist politics’. CRENSHAW proposed that there be a shift in the contemporary framework for communicating *oppressions*.

Essentially, for CRENSHAW, intersectionality is about the ‘inclusion of marginalized groups’ in fighting all type of injustice, discrimination, and inequality because different oppressions, such as gender, race and class cannot be isolated from each other.

An Everyday Feminism article on the topic by JARUNE UWUJAREN and JAMIE UTT uses a good analogy to describe the thinking at the core of Intersectional Feminism. They assert that ‘it is not, in fact, possible to tease apart the oppressions that people are experiencing. Racism for women of color cannot be separated from their gendered oppression. A trans person with a disability cannot choose which part of their identity is most in need of liberation.’

Intersectional feminism could be seen as a *progression* from white feminism which has been criticized as a type of ‘one size fits all feminism, where middle-class white women are the mold that others much fit’. Proponents of Intersectional feminism, therefore, may argue that this idea is simply about creating a *truly inclusive feminism*.

However, this term has caused a lot of confusion, especially as to the exact nature of its meaning; so much so that CRENSHAW commented in 2009 that she is ‘amazed at how (intersectionality) gets over- and under-used; sometimes I can’t even recognize it in the literature anymore.’ Some critics of an Intersectional approach to feminism suggest that it encourages divisions in the movement, that it is too politicized a term (associated with the ‘far-left’) and that is it inaccessible. Links to articles that discuss these criticisms more are included below.

How should we demystify the popular perception of Intersectionality (and other feminist language)?
How can we best practice intersectionality in feminism?
Is it useful to take an overarching approach to different types of oppression? Does this complicate things and avoid the root causes, or is it the only way to truly tackle the problems and power structures?

1. https://philpapers.org/archive/CREDTI.pdf (Link to Crenshaw’s 1989 Essay)
2. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/429843 (Oxford Dictionary)
3. https://www.ted.com/…/kimberle_crenshaw_the_urgency…/up-next(2016 TED Talk by Crenshaw)
4. https://www.theguardian.com/…/intersectional-feminism-jargon(Article that explores the complicated nature of the term)
5. https://everydayfeminism.com/…/why-our-feminism-must-be-in…/(Article advocating the practice of intersectional feminism)
6. https://areomagazine.com/…/the-problem-with-intersectional…/(Criticism of intersectional feminism)
7. https://www.newstatesman.com/…/uses-and-abuses-intersection…(Explore the debate and the misuse of the term)

(Another s/o to CUSU for sources)

WORD OF THE WEEK #1 // ✏️📖

The Oxford English Dictionary defines feminism as ‘the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of equality of the sexes’.

Other definitions focus on the *struggle* of women, associating the term with the *resistance* to patriarchal oppression.

There is also debate as to whether the practice of feminism should be limited to women and non-binary people and whether feminism should be associated and categorized by a particular lifestyle.

Feminism is increasingly being seen as a political statement that can be very individual – the practice and perception of feminist can differ person to person.

There has also been debate as to whether feminism should be perceived as ‘focusing on women’s liberation’ or whether it is more of a ‘broad movement to end all kinds of oppression’. ‘Intersectional Feminism’ considers both. (Separate definition coming next week!)


Is feminism about liberation, for women or for all people?
How should men ‘do’ feminism?
Should feminism be associated with a particular lifestyle? BELL HOOKS argues that it should not as such ‘lifestyles’ are not accessible to all women.

1. https://afeministtheorydictionary.wordpress.com/
2. http://everydayfeminism.com/
3. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=n3UcEPka69c (explores the debate about whether feminism is for just women or all people)
4. https://www.ted.com/…/chimamanda_ngozi_adichie_we_s…/up-next(TED talk)
5. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=apfuqpFQPmg (really interesting for exploring the popular perception of the term, and the negativity sometimes associated with it)

(Also HUGE s/o to CUSU for providing some of the sources for this definition)


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