Feminism 101: A Beginners Guide to Feminist Terminology

If you are here reading “Shoutout!”, chances are you consider yourself a feminist. Or maybe you don’t like labels, but you do believe that regardless of gender or sex, everybody deserves equal opportunities- especially those who have been historically and institutionally oppressed.  Regardless, like any movement, Feminism has a lot of jargon and topics that can spark confusion. Heck, I still find myself secretly googling definitions during class discussions on feminism and sexuality. We are all in a constant state of learning and growing, regardless of where we stand in our journey with feminism. Hence, I decided to put together a list of beginners’ terminology. Consider this blog post a crash course on feminism, and hopefully- you learn something new!

First, a Foundation on Feminism.

Feminism: The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. Feminism encompasses and encourages social, political and economic equality of the sexes, while advocating for women’s rights on the basis of equality.


Patriarchy: A system of society or government in which men traditionally hold more power, and women and other minority groups are largely excluded from holding power.

Sexism: The belief that females are less intelligent, able, skillful, etc. than males. The idea that women are inferior to men.

Internalized sexism: When the belief in women’s inferiority becomes part of one’s own worldview.

Objectification: the treatment and portrayal of someone (particularly women) as an object instead of a human.

Misogyny: The hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women or girls.

Internalized Misogyny: An involuntary internalization of sexist messages that are present in society and culture. The way in which women reinforce sexism by utilizing and relaying sexist messages that they have internalized.

Misandry: The hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against men or boys.

Double standard: a set of principles that applies differently and usually more rigorously to one group of people or circumstances than to another; especially a code of morals that applies more severe standards of sexual behavior to women than to men

Photo by Chloe S. on Unsplash

Let’s Talk About Sexuality, Baby.

Gender Binary: The classification of gender into two distinct, opposite, and disconnected forms of masculine and feminine, whether by social system or cultural belief.

Cisgender: A person whose gender identity conforms with their assigned biological sex.

Transgender: A person whose gender identity differs with their assigned biological sex.

Transphobia: Prejudice toward transgender people.

Transmisogyny: A blend of transphobia and misogyny, and describes the prejudice and discrimination against trans women and gender non-conforming people on the feminine end of the gender spectrum.

Heteronormativity: The attitude or belief that heterosexuality is the normal and natural expression of sexuality.

Heterosexual: The sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex.

Homophobia: Irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals.

Homosexual: The sexual attraction to people of the same sex.


Gender fluidity: The idea that one’s gender lies on a spectrum, and is not a single, fixed entity.

Non-binary: An umbrella term for people who don’t identify as female/male or woman/man.

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Consent, Trigger Warnings, and Rape Culture.

Consent: The explicit, enthusiastic, mandatory, and consistent agreement to participate in a sexual activity.

Yes means yes: A shift in the way we look at rape, moving beyond “no means no” toward the idea that consent must be explicit.

Rape Culture: A society in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender, sex, and sexuality.

Victim-blaming: The scenario in which the victim of a crime or maltreatment is held fully or partially responsible for it. If someone questions what a victim could have done to prevent a crime from being committed against them is victim blaming.

Trigger: Something that forces one to relive a trauma.

Trigger warning: A statement that someone is about to experience challenging material that could potentially be disturbing (graphic, racially-insensitive, sexually explicit, etc.)

Slut-shaming: Attacking a woman or a girl for being sexual, having one or more sexual partners, acknowledging sexual feelings, and/or acting on sexual feelings

Toxic Masculinity: socially-constructed attitudes that describe the masculine gender role as violent, unemotional, sexually aggressive, etc.

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Checking Your Privilege.

Privilege: A set of advantages enjoyed by a majority group. The idea that some people in society are advantaged over others.

White Privilege: The societal privilege that benefits people who are white. This set of privileges are beyond what is commonly experienced by non-white people under the same social, political, and economic circumstances.

Women of color: A political term to unite women from marginalized communities of color who have experienced oppression. It could include women of African, Asian, Latin or Native American descent.

White Feminism: A set of beliefs that excludes the issues that specifically affect women of color; a “one size-fits all” feminism, where middle class white women are the mold that others must fit.


Intersectionality: A theory that describes how interlocking systems of power impact those who are most marginalized in society. The idea that the overlap of our social identities, such as race, gender, sexuality, and class, contribute to the specific type of systemic oppression and discrimination that we experience.

Intersectional feminism: The understanding of how women’s overlapping identities — including race, class, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and disability status — impact the way they experience oppression and discrimination.

And finally, terminology that I wouldn’t understand if I didn’t have the internet.

Bropropriating: When a man steals a woman’s idea and puts it into the world as his own.

Brogressive: A liberal-leaning man, usually cisgender, straight, and white, who supports certain social issues, but still uses problematic language and believes problematic ideas. (We all know one!)

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Nice Guy™: Not to be confused with a nice guy (a male that is genuinely nice), Nice Guy™ describes a man who believes that his “nice deeds” deserve romantic or sexual reward. Nice Guys™ are typically motivated by attempts to passively please women into having sex with them, and often get angry when they don’t get what they want.

Mansplaining: When a man explains something to a woman in a condescending way when he either 1) doesn’t know anything about it or 2) knows far less than the woman he is talking to.

Manspreading: When men take up excess space by sitting with their legs far apart.

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Manterrupting: When a man excessively interrupts a woman. (Example: Kanye West’s infamous “Imma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time.” during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. Or, during one of the 2016 presidential debates, where Donald Trump interrupted Hillary Clinton 22 times in the first 26 minutes.)


Feminazi: A derogatory term that paints all feminists to be radical, man-hating beings.


5 thoughts on “Feminism 101: A Beginners Guide to Feminist Terminology

  1. SLAY MY LIFE QUEEN. For starters, the GIFs, ugh yes!! Secondly, this is an amazing crash course for anyone who is starting to become a feminist, continue working to become a better feminist, or just some good light night reading before bed. Your posts have continually kept me so engaged.

    Liked by 1 person

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