Feminist Friday: What does it all mean?

In lieu of a truly original FF post, which has typically meant a foray into feminist history, I’m going to share an August article from Beulah Devaney posted on Buzzfeed.

Devaney chose to enlighten the world on the meaning behind some of the most common feminist terminology by explaining ten contemporary feminist terms. They include: feminism, intersectionality, privilege, transmisogyny, cis/cisgender, radical feminism, TERF, SWERF, #NotAllMen, and Mansplaining. As applicable, Devaney makes sure to share true and verifiable resources for the words chosen, although some are not found in the dictionary at this point.

The full article is linked here: A Beginners Guide to Contemporary Feminist Language

If you’re feeling adventurous, you may want to scroll through some of the feedback comments. As usual there are a few “haters” present, as well as some rational responses.

Whether you identify as a feminist or not, how familiar are you with this list of terms?

I knew all but TERF and SWERF in this particular group, and I would venture to guess that there are others out there that I’m not cognizant of as well.

I do realize that radical feminism is an umbrella term housing varied factions or sub-groups. I found this clearly to be a thing during capstone research on rape myth attitude amelioration. In-fighting among feminists, in my opinion, was (is) a key component to the languishing work toward change. The term TERF, or trans exclusionary radical feminist, is disturbing. Who are these feminists that profess the non-existence of transgender individuals, or believe that they have the ability to disallow a trans individual to voice their affiliation with feminism?

Then there is the SWERF, or sex-worker exclusionary radical feminist. While I am not generalizing SWERF opinions to all radical feminists, I am again pissed off that a self-appointed group passing judgment under the guise of a movement I feel strongly about is adding fodder to those who seek to criticize feminists.  Aren’t we supposed to be about stopping that crap. Unfortunately, I think that there will always be the extreme sub-groups lurking in the shadows of any recognized, and organized activist organization, being about the purpose to promote their own skewed agendas.

If you’d like, why not share some of your most liked, most misunderstood, or most unfamiliar feminist terminology in the comment section. I have no doubt that I’ll learn something new, and I hope you will as well.


8 thoughts on “Feminist Friday: What does it all mean?”

    1. Appropriate word I believe, as it is used by Bailey. By chance have you read any of Patricia Hill Collins? She has come up quite a bit in courses on feminism and gender speaking on intersectionality as well as the black woman experience in contrast to the forms of oppression white women encounter


  1. Another term I find incredibly useful is misogynoir. It’s a portmanteau coined by Moya Bailey that refers to the way racism and misogyny are enmeshed when it comes to black women specifically.

    I’m curious about your identifying as a “radical feminist”, if you’re willing to say more about the definition you feel allied with? I know SWERF and TERF wouldn’t be terms if ALL rad fems were united in these beliefs–but these certainly seem the most vocal (and thus most visible) aspects. Not to put you on the defensive! I actually ask this question a lot, because I want to understand.


    1. In trying to find a good resource, and a succinct definition of radical feminist to share, I have come to the conclusion (although I already knew this, which is why I keep telling myself to go back to college-again) that my alignment with the original theory of RF holds true, the number of “new” feminist labels has outpaced the three or four I am most familiar with.
      My POV regarding feminism has always been based on 4 types or labels of feminist: radical, liberal, Marxist/socialist, and eco. I won’t turn this into a lecture by defining each of them, but this passage fits well my reason for claiming the RF title:

      “Radical feminism promotes the basis for many of the ideas of feminism. They usually clash with the ideals of the liberal feminist, because radical feminists believe that society must be changed at its core in order to dissolve patriarchy, not just through acts of legislation. Unfortunately, this type of feminism also attracts a lot of negative media attention creating a backlash of feminism. Radical feminists believe that the domination of women is the oldest and worst kind of oppression in the world. They believe this because it spans across the world oppressing women of different races, ethnicities, classes and cultures. Radical feminists want to free both men and women from the rigid gender roles that society has imposed upon them. Sometimes radical feminists believe that they must wage a war…against patriarchy, and the gender system which confines them to rigid social roles. They completely reject these roles, all aspects of patriarchy, and in some cases, they reject men as well. ***I don’t agree with the rejecting men part**
      This type of feminist highlights the importance of individual feelings, experiences and relationships.”

      *the quote taken, with modifications, from http://www.caragillis.com/LBCC/Different%20Types%20of%20Femini.htm
      **Interesting that the site noted lists Mary Daly as their example of a RF

      With all that said, I do feel truly out of the loop when it comes to where feminist affiliations are placed in 2014, and this is why I wanted to do these FF posts, hoping to learn more. Perhaps, as many of the sites I found while searching for an appropriate definition state, RF has either been done away with in its original form, or so modified by so many of these sub-groups that it is unrecognizable from it’s original theory and structure. I think the basis is sound however and firmly believe that patriarchy is the root of all evil, so to speak 🙂 but how we go about effectively changing that is the issue in a society where men dominate. That also doesn’t mean that I advocate for matriarchy either. Could we possibly return to the days of egalitarian hunter-gatherers who foraged in relative equality–you know, just prior to males becoming chiefs and tribes deciding that they had to trade and expand and keep their women to home having babies and what not…

      I hope this gives you some idea of my place in feminism-I am grateful that you asked this question and please keep asking whatever comes to mind.


  2. I don’t see the point of being an ist of any kind..but I would say i am a basic feminist. And so, I’m pleased to say, is my 17 year old daughter. But once I start having to remember acronyms, I give up. Why can’t one be just an indignant prostitute (plenty of reasons to be) without having to be part of a whole group (SWERFS).


    1. I think one of the major reasons that anyone becomes any sort of “ist” is for the solidarity of being with a like-minded cohort. For some this may lead to activism, for others it means a quiet presence in their own personal form of involvement. I identify as a radical feminist based on the definition, and because I blog and write about feminist issues, I like having the backing of other feminists words to use and share.
      The great thing is that you don’t have to identify to have convictions regarding patriarchy, oppression, and equality 🙂
      Thanks for your comment.


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