Feminist Glossary

abstinence-based sex education
sex education curriculum emphasizing the benefits of abstinence but including information about other sexual behaviors, contraception, and disease prevention.
abstinence-only sex education
sex education curriculum emphasizing abstinence from all sexual behaviors and omitting information about contraception or disease prevention.
abstinence-only-until-marriage sex education
sex education curriculum presenting marriage as the only morally correct context for sexual activity; if contraception methods are discussed, failure rates are typically emphasized.
affirmative action
set of government or organizational policies and procedures intended to eliminate and prevent discrimination on the basis of gender, race, sexuality, creed, or nationality. In educational and employment settings, such policies and procedures are often used to increase representation of historically underrepresented groups and promote diversity and inclusion.
the practice of actively using one’s position (power, status, privilege) to fight for social justice and equity; includes continued maintenance of one’s personal accountability to the needs of marginalized groups.
someone who does not experience sexual attraction to others or has little to no interest or desire for sexual activity; asexuality may be considered a sexual orientation or the lack thereof, depending on personal identification.
Burwell v. Hobby Lobby
2014 Supreme Court case that ruled that closely-held, for-profit corporations could discriminate on the basis of sex by refusing to provide health insurance coverage for FDA-approved contraceptives in employee health plans, thus rolling back gains for reproductive healthcare made through the Affordable Care Act.
someone who experiences attraction to more than one gender.
bodily autonomy
the idea that individuals have the right to make decisions over their own lives and futures and should be enabled and empowered to do so.
buffer zone
area surrounding a clinic that provides legal protection from anti-abortion protesters so as to increase clinic safety; also refers to the laws establishing these zones.
crisis pregnancy center; an (often religiously-affiliated) establishment that poses as a comprehensive reproductive health clinic in order to deceive, delay, and intimidate people seeking abortion care.
Campus SaVE Act
Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act; a provision of the 2013 VAWA Reauthorization that strengthened Title IX and the Clery Act by requiring schools to create prevention programs, clarifying schools’ obligation to make survivors aware of their reporting options, and broadening the range of reportable crimes.
Clery Act
Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act; federal law passed in 1990 requiring all colleges receiving federal funding to report crime statistics for incidents occurring on and near campus, create proactive prevention education programs, publish all reported incidents in publicly-available annual crime reports, alert the campus of known public safety risks, and provide certain rights to survivors of sexual assault.
someone whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with the sex assigned to them at birth.
the societal concept of cisgender identity as the norm; relies on wide-scale acceptance of the gender binary and assumes being cisgender is the “default”.
clinic violence
targeted violence, harassment, and intimidation directed at abortion clinics, providers, and patients. Protestor tactics include: blocking, invading, burning, bombing, and/or threatening to bomb or commit arson of clinic(s); stalking, physical violence, gunfire, chemical attacks, murder, and/or the threat of any of these; harassing patients and staff with racial slurs; using deception to confuse and/or harass clinic staff; and using deception to confuse, harass, and/or lure patients away from clinics.
threatening or intimidating behavior intended to persuade someone to engage in sexual behavior.
comprehensive sex education
sex education curriculum that teaches age-appropriate, medically accurate information covering topics including sexuality, human development, decision-making, consent, abstinence, contraceptionbodily autonomy, healthy relationships, and disease prevention, while encouraging students to explore their own values, goals, and options.
the explicit, enthusiastic, and continued expression of mutual desire and permission between parties to participate in a sexual activity.
content warning
notice of upcoming sensitive content or imagery that might be upsetting and/or uncomfortable; similar to, but not the same as, a trigger warning.
umbrella term for the wide variety of intentional pregnancy prevention methods, including LARCs, medication, and barrier methods such as condoms.
cultural appropriation
the practice of members of a dominant culture adopting elements from a non-dominant and/or marginalized culture in a way that disrespects their meaning, does not credit the original source, and typically reinforces oppressive stereotypes.
Equal Rights Amendment; a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would prohibit the denial of equal rights on the basis of sex.
emergency contraception
birth control method that can be used after having sex, in the case that no birth control method was used or there is concern it may have failed; often called the “morning after pill,” emergency contraception should be taken as soon as possible after sex.
emotional labor
the work of managing one’s feelings, expressions, and reactions as part of a job; often refers to the emotional work of interacting with customers in the service industry.
Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act; 1994 law that created federal civil and criminal penalties for the intentional use of force or threatening force to injure, intimidate, or interfere with access to reproductive health services.
Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF)
nonprofit founded in 1987 as a cutting-edge organization utilizing research and action to advocate for women’s equality, non-violence, and the elimination of social and economic injustice. FMF is the parent organization of Feminist Campus.
fake clinic
see CPC.
fear-based sex education
sex education curriculum designed to control young people’s sexual behavior by emphasizing abstinence and instilling fear, shame, and guilt via negative messages about sexuality, distorted information about condoms and STIs, and biases about gender, sexual orientation, marriage, family structure, and pregnancy.
the policy, practice, or advocacy of political, economic, and social equality of the sexes expressed especially through organized activity, research, education, and action.
any person who advocates feminism.
fetal personhood laws
laws that designate a fetus as a person and thus capable of holding rights, duties, and responsibilities of their own; includes “fetal heartbeat” laws, which ban abortion as soon as the embryonic or fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks.
Griswold v. Connecticut
1965 Supreme Court decision that granted married couples the right to access contraception, establishing the constitutional right to privacy and paving the way for subsequent Supreme Court decisions to extend the right to contraception to individuals.
form of emotional manipulation/abuse, usually constructed through an elaborate network of lies, that causes someone to question and doubt their perception of reality.
descriptor for someone who experiences attraction primarily to others of the same gender.
the socially constructed ideas of masculinity and femininity, and the physical, social, and behavioral characteristics associated with each.
gender binary
the social dichotomy of masculinity and femininity that allows for little divergence in understanding one’s own gender and enforces rigid societal gender roles.
gender gap
the measurable difference in the way women and men view and vote in elections dependent on the issues.
gender roles
the behavioral expectations assigned to individuals based on our relation to the gender binary; also called gender norms.
umbrella term for gender identities falling outside of the gender binary; sometimes used interchangeably with nonbinary, genderqueer is more likely to indicate a politically charged understanding of one’s identity.
glass ceiling
metaphor describing the invisible, intangible barrier preventing marginalized people from achieving success or advancing to higher levels in a hierarchal structure.
Helms Amendment
Helms Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act; 1973 congressional amendment prohibiting foreign aid from funding the cost of abortion or being used to motivate anyone to provide abortion care abroad.
Higher Education Act of 1965
law providing resources to colleges and universities and financial assistance to students of these institutions. In 1998, amendments to the law added a provision requiring schools to “make a good faith effort to distribute a mail voter registration from, requested and received from the State, to each student enrolled in a degree or certificate program and physically in attendance at the institution, and to make such forms widely available to students at the institution.“
Hyde Amendment
1977 congressional amendment that prohibits the use of federal (Medicaid) funds to pay for abortion, except to save the life of the pregnant person, or if the pregnancy arises from incest or rape.
the societal concept of heterosexuality as the norm; relies on wide-scale acceptance of the gender binary and assumes heterosexuality as the “default” sexuality.
intimate partner violence; actual or threatened physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional abuse by a current or former partner that can include physical violence, sexual violence, stalking, and psychological aggression.
internalized misogyny
women’s projection of misogyny onto other women/girls, or oneself, via behavior, attitudes, or words. Colloquially, internalized misogyny often presents as being “not like the other girls” or a “pick-me.”
term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989 to describe the framework in which different forms of social inequality and oppression exacerbate one another, creating new kinds of discrimination and privilege.
umbrella term for any variations in genitalia, hormones, internal anatomy, or chromosomes that do not fit within the gender binary‘s rigid biological expectations; also used to denote the diverse community of those with differences in reproductive anatomy or sex traits.
invisible labor
unpaid, unnoticed, and unacknowledged labor; often refers to household maintenance and childcare done by women.
judicial bypass
the process through which a minor can be excused by a judge from a state’s parental consent and/or parental notification laws.
long-acting reversible contraception; includes implants and IUDs (intrauterine devices).
term often used for a woman who experiences attraction primarily to other women.
the relegation of a person, group, or idea to a powerless and/or insignificant societal position, or to the “margins” of a society.
medication abortion
often called the “abortion pill,” this is an abortion option for pregnancies earlier than 11 weeks. Medication abortion actually consists of two pills: mifepristone, which blocks the hormone needed for the pregnancy to develop, followed shortly after by misoprostol, which induces bleeding and cramping to empty the uterus and expel the pregnancy.
menstrual equity
the idea that menstrual products should be affordable, accessible, and safe for all who need them; also called period equity.
mental load
invisible labor that is mental and not physical; the thought and planning needed to run a household.
slights towards marginalized groups that are unintentional, indirect, and/or subdued, and thus commonplace.
the social practice of enforcing and upholding patriarchy.
a relationship practice in which someone partners with only one other person at a time.
NIFLA v. Becerra
legal case brought by the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), an anti-abortion organization dedicated to protecting its network of fake clinics, to challenge the legality of California’s “FACT (Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency) Act” of 2015, which was designed to mitigate the deception of fake clinics; the 2018 Supreme Court ruling decided that California’s state-mandated notices infringed on fake clinics’ freedom of speech rights.
umbrella term for any and all identities that fall outside of the gender binary.
Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey
1992 Supreme Court case that upheld Roe v. Wade and established the “undue burden” standard for state laws restricting abortion access.
someone who experiences attraction to others regardless of their sex or gender.
parental consent laws
state laws requiring minors to obtain permission from a parent or guardian to have an abortion.
parental notification laws
state laws requiring minors to notify a parent or guardian that they are having an abortion.
the social system that privileges men—politically, financially, morally, and socially—so as to establish a society in which power and wealth are predominantly controlled by men.
pink tax
the gender-based pricing system that charges more for items marketed to women than similar or identical products marketed to men.
a relationship practice in which people may partner with multiple people in varying ways.
a position of social or cultural power someone is born with (e.g. white privilege, male privilege, cis privilege) or otherwise obtains (e.g. education or wealth status).
psychological aggression
the use of verbal and non-verbal communication with intent to emotionally or mentally harm or exert control over another person.
a reclaimed term sometimes used by members of the LGBTQIA+ community to identify their sexuality or gender, or as an umbrella term to refer to the community as a whole.
Roe v. Wade
Jane Roe, et al. v. Henry Wade, District Attorney of Dallas County; 1973 case that ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects a pregnant individual’s right to privacy, including whether or not to have an abortion, without excessive government interference.
rape culture
complex set of beliefs that create a social environment in which sexual violence and coercion are pervasive and normalized.
reproductive justice
the framework designating personal bodily autonomy, the choice to have or not have children, and the ability to parent children in safe and sustainable communities, all as human rights. Created by a group of Black women in 1994, reproductive justice specifically addresses the needs of women of color and other marginalized groups that had been ignored and neglected by the reproductive rights movement.
reproductive rights
the framework working to secure individual, legal rights to reproductive healthcare, primarily focusing on keeping abortion legal and increasing access to birth control.
SANE nurse
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner; registered nurse or nurse practitioner with specialized training to assist survivors of sexual assault. SANE nurses are only available in some hospital emergency rooms.
Symm v. United States
1979 Supreme Court case that affirmed students’ right to register and vote where they go to school, even if they live in a residence hall or do not intend to reside in the area permanently.
second shift
term referring to the invisible labor that is expected to be done by women after finishing work at a “visible” job.
the act or practice of taking steps to honor your physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, or spiritual well-being.
socially-constructed categories of male, female, and intersex that are determined by physical differences.
the social ideology supporting and upholding patriarchy.
sexual abuse
any situation in which someone is forced to participate in a degrading sexual activity; this term typically refers to behavior committed on or towards a minor.
sexual assault
umbrella term for any non-consensual touching or sexual activity, including rape and some forms of sexual harassment; legal definitions of sexual assault vary among states and the federal government.
sexual harassment
unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
sexual objectification
the act of viewing and/or treating someone solely as an object of sexual desire.
the practice of criticizing others—often women and girls—to make them feel bad, guilty, or inferior for their actual, alleged, or perceived sexual behavior.
repeated, unwanted attention and/or contact that causes fear or concern for someone’s safety.
surgical abortion
also called “in-clinic abortions,” this is an abortion option for any length of pregnancy.

First/early second trimester: D&C’s (dilation and curettage) use gentle suction (also called vacuum aspiration) or a curette to empty the uterus.

Second trimester: D&E’s (dilation and evacuation) use suction and medical tools to empty the uterus.

Late second/third trimester: D&X’s (dilation and extraction) remove an intact fetus and placenta. D&X procedures are rare, comprising less than 1% of all U.S. abortions, and are typically reserved for cases of fetal anomaly, danger to the pregnant person’s life, or miscarriage late in pregnancy.
TRAP laws
Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers; any laws that impose burdensome regulations on abortion providers, intentionally making it difficult for clinics to stay open.
Title IX
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; federal civil rights law prohibiting sex and gender discrimination in education programs or activities that receive federal funding. Title IX requires schools to remedy and prevent sexual violence, including sexual harassment and gender-based harassment, as well as take measures towards gender equity in school-sponsored athletics.
Title X
Title X Family Planning Program; program established in 1970 through the Public Health Service Act to fund preventative care for millions of low-income Americans. Title X is the only federal grant program dedicated to comprehensive family planning services.
tampon tax
actual sales tax on menstrual products due to their classification as “luxury items”.
toxic masculinity
the concept that patriarchal stereotypes/norms of masculinity are damaging because they encourage men and masculine people to repress emotions and promote violence and bigotry.
umbrella term for the community of people whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with the sex assigned to them at birth or the gender binary; additionally, an adjective used to describe someone who is a member of this community.
trigger warning
notice of upcoming sensitive content or imagery that might elicit a negative physical and/or mental reaction due to past trauma; related to content warning.
undue burden
standard used to determine the legality of state laws restricting access to abortion; defined as a “substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability.”
Violence Against Women Act; subset of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act first passed in 1994 to address domestic violence. VAWA currently provides legal assistance and protections for survivors of abuse, as well as funding for domestic violence shelters, outreach organizations, youth education programs, and a national domestic violence hotline.
victim blaming
the practice of making victims of crimes feel responsible for what they’ve experienced; occurs frequently in response to sexual assault, in which survivors are often asked about “what they were wearing” or “why they chose to walk home alone” as if their behavior or appearance warrants sexual violence against them.
voter disenfranchisement
the practice of restricting the voting rights of a person or group of people, or preventing them from exercising their right to vote.
voter intimidation
the act of using threats or harassment to interfere with someone else’s right to vote for whom or what they want to; a tactic of voter suppression.
voter suppression
strategy utilizing anti-democracy tactics to discourage or prevent specific groups of people from voting in an election.
Women’s Health Protection Act; introduced in 2013, WHPA is current federal legislation that would protect the right to abortion from restrictions impacting both patients and providers, such as six-week bans, 20-week bans, mandatory ultrasounds, waiting periods, and TRAP laws.
wage gap
the unequal difference in earnings/wages due to race, gender, and/or other identity or status, which most negatively impacts those who are most marginalized due to intersectionality of oppression.
wealth gap
the unequal distribution of assets—including ownership of property, businesses, and investments, as well as debt obligations—typically along lines of race and gender inequality.