As we anticipate to have a range of readers from varying backgrounds, we wanted to provide definitions of some terms that are common in feminist discourse but which not everyone may be familiar with.  We will continue to update this page as we come across new terms and definitions.


Used to describe an individual whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth. For example, an individual with male reproductive organs who identifies as a man.

Emergency contraception (EC):
Commonly known as “the morning after pill,” this term refers to birth control measures which, when taken after sexual intercourse, may prevent pregnancy.  EC is often misconceptualized as “the abortion pill,” but they actually work by disrupting ovulation or fertilization.

The socially constructed roles, behaviors, and characteristics that society assigns men and women

Gender identity:
An individual’s self-conception of being either male, female or neither.

An institutionalized ideological system that naturalizes heterosexuality as the normal, default sexuality. It creates a hierarchy in which heterosexuality is the superior form of sexual orientation, thus marginalizing individuals who identify with alternate sexual orientations.

The study of the interactions of multiple systems of oppression or discrimination. For example, the experience of being a black woman cannot be understood simply in terms of race or gender, but must take into account the multiple forms of oppression that an individual experiences due to being both black and female.

Late term abortion:
An abortion procedure which occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy.

An acronym standing for “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning.” It is often used to describe the community of individuals who do not identify as heterosexual or cisgendered.

Socially or institutionally supported exploitation and mistreatment of a particular group which leads to social inequality and marginalization.

Refers to the system of male oppression of women through political, economic, social, and discursive structures

Advantages afforded to a certain social group which are not afforded to others.  Privilege is distributed unequally along lines of gender, race, class, sexuality, among others.

A term used to explore the ways that different groups are depicted in society, media, etc.

The biological and physical characteristics that define men and women

Shaming or attacking an individual (particularly a girl or woman) for their sexual behavior. Women in particular are often slut-shamed for being sexually active, having multiple sexual partners, dressing in a manner that is considered provocative, requesting access to birth control, and even being raped or sexually assaulted.

Used to describe an individual whose gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth.  For example, an individual with male reproductive organs who identifies as a woman.



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