10 Actual Words and Phrases in a Feminist Alphabet

Cortney O'Brien
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Posted: Apr 14, 2015 12:00 PM
10 Actual Words and Phrases in a Feminist Alphabet

I learned a lot of new words at Virginia NOW's First Annual Young Feminists Conference in Richmond, Virginia, this weekend. Although I thought I'd heard and seen everything after witnessing feminist spectacles like SlutWalks and SexFests on my college campus, I knew I was mistaken once I picked up my conference materials. In my purple folder, complete with a "Keep Abortion Legal" sticker, was a list of terms from the VA NOW Social Justice Alphabet. Here were just a few of my favorites. 

  1. Birth Assigned Sex: The designation that refers to a person's biological, morphological, hormonal, and genetic composition. One's sex is typically assigned at birth and classified as either male or female. (It's no longer just someone's "sex," you see, since one can now choose their gender.)
  2. Cisgender: Individuals whose gender identity and expression line up with their birth-assigned sex.
  3. Cissexism: The system of oppression that values cisgender people, upholds the gender binary, and marginalizes, oppresses, and makes invisible the lives and experiences of transgender people.
  4. Collusion: Thinking and acting in ways that support dominant systems of power, privilege, and oppression. Both privileged and oppressed groups can collude with oppression.
  5. Horizontal Oppression: When people from targeted groups believe, act on, or enforce dominant systems of oppression against other members of targeted groups.
  6. Pansexual: An identity term for a person who is attracted to people of all genders: men, women, transgender individuals, and genderqueers.
  7. Safe space: Refers to an environment in which everyone feels comfortable in expressing themselves and participating fully, without fear of attack, ridicule or denial of experience. (Maintaining a 'safe space' was the reason one of the organizers asked us to turn off our audio recorders during Q & A sessions. I've read this description a few times and am still baffled.)
  8. Spotlighting: The practice of inequitably calling attention to particular social groups in language, while leaving others as the invisible, de facto norm. For example: "black male suspect" (versus "male suspect," presumed white.) 
  9. White Fragility: A state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation.
  10. White Savior Complex: White savior refers to western people going in to "fix" the problems of struggling nations or people of color without understanding their history, needs, or the region's current state of affairs.

Honorable Mention 

Reproductive Justice: This wasn't in the official social justice alphabet, but it was in a member survey NOW sent to attendees ahead of the conference. This is apparently the new preferred term for abortion. I guess it makes sense; 'murder' was taken. 

As you can see, the list of identities is becoming endless. At this point, I think liberal feminists are just making categories just so they have more opportunities to mark us as insensitive and intolerant. In fact, I found the alphabet little more than one giant, confusing guilt trip. How can you not feel like a bad person once you've read through these?

For more insight on my experience from the conference, check out my earlier post, where I explained why feminists accused the media of being sexist toward Hillary Clinton.

Delusional: Maintaining fixed false beliefs even when confronted with facts, usually as a result of mental illness.