Gender 201

Here are some vocabulary terms that you may have seen or may see in discussions about gender. I have tried to simplify the definitions as much as possible, because some of them are very jargon-y and that can feel very inaccessible as a reader, and I think everyone should be able to read and comprehend gender theory, even when people are using big buzz words.

I’ll also issue the disclaimer that there is some debate on these terms, (especially the various major ‘types’ of feminism) and I will absolutely own up to any subjective opinions that have certainly crept into my language choice in the definitions. I welcome discussion and debate on definitions other terms people think are important to discuss. Please enjoy and I hope this is helpful!

Androgyny: A form of gender expression that is either a mix of traditional male and female characteristics or something between the two not easily recognized as masculine or feminine.

Class: Usually understood to describe the economic standing of a person, also used as a synonym for a social type of people, i.e. women are a class

Consciousness Raising: A form of discourse, usually done within a group, where participants expand their understanding of their oppression

Cultural Feminism: A form of feminist theory that believes in the concept of gender essentialism and ‘women’s culture’ and that the values usually ascribed to women are positive and should be celebrated.

Eco-Feminism: A form of feminist theory that believes that women have a special connection to the earth and that how our culture treats the earth is a reflection of how our culture treats women and all things associated with women and femininity and puts equal importance to protecting the environment to fighting gender discrimination and misogyny.

Gender Constructivist: One who believes that gender identity is socially constructed

Gender Discrimination: A form of negative treatment based on the gender of the target of ill treatment.

Gender Essentialist: One who believes that there are two sexes, male and female, two gender, women and men and that they are fundamentally different due to their internal essence.

Gender Stereotypes: The word stereotypes literally means picture in the mind, gender stereotypes refer to negative, or at least untrue for an entire gender, images and concepts about a particular gender

Hegemon/Hegemony: The over-arching system of social organization or large social force. The United States is sometimes referred to as the hegemon and social stratification could be termed a hegemonic form of social organization under capitalism.

Identity Politics: A form of politics that rose out of ideologically based political movements that focuses on liberation for those who are members of a particular social identity.

Liberal Feminism: A form of feminist theory that believes that women are equal to men and should therefore have equal access to rights and responsibilities.

Marxist Feminism: A form of feminist theory that focuses primarily on women’s economic experiences of oppression and social stratification.

Misogyny: The literal translation is hatred of women, also understood as hatred of anything associated with women and femininity.

Oppression: A social phenomena in which a society does not allow a certain group access to various rights and privileges

Objectification: To think of or treat a human being like an object

Patriarchy: The literal translation is rule of the father, and can be used to describe property being passed along the male line, it is a broader term that describes society is organized along males either exclusively, or having an easier avenue to, power.

Pedagogy: A fancy word for teaching ;)

Person as ‘Other’: When a culture puts one type of identity as the norm, all other identities are conceptualized as other

Phallocentric: The phallus is not literally conceptualized as a penis, but more as a symbol of maleness and masculinity. Phallocentrism is a way of putting men, maleness and masculinity as central.

Post-Modernism: A form of thought that rejects traditional concepts of truth, reality, knowledge, and instead of the belief of one truth, one reality honors a pluralistic view.

Post-Structuralism: A form of thought that rejects the notion that all cultures have universal and unchanging social structures.

Privilege: Access to rights and rewards that are only available to a particular group.

Radical Feminism: A form of feminist theory that posits that women are the first and foremost oppressed group and that nothing short of a cultural revolution, not simply a redistribution of rights and responsibilities, will liberate women.
Standpoint Theory: The belief that based on one’s standpoint socially, this will influence the way they see the world.

Sexual Objectification: This is the most common form of objectification discussed when gender is the topic – it is a form of thinking of or treating a person like a purely sexual object

Social Stratification: A form of social organization that involves a hierarchy.

Stratification: A form of organization that involves a hierarchy.

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