Note on source information: You will notice that while some of the definitions that we provide are pulled word for word from the source that we link to, others are not. The Burden of Proof founders have modified and added to, and in some cases written ourselves entirely from scratch, some of these definitions based on our own combined knowledge. You can think of source links as foundational texts and additional article links as articles that will help you dig deeper into the topic.


A person who supports the advancement of groups of people of which they might not necessarily be a part. For example, a straight ally is a heterosexual person who supports the equal civil rights of gay people, gender equality, and LGBT social movements and challenges homophobia and transphobia.

Source: Wikipedia article on “Straight Ally”

Check out this article to learn more: 8 Ways Not to be an “Ally”: A Non-comprehensive List by Mia McKenzie at Black Girl Dangerous

Assigned sex refers to the sex you were interpreted as at birth, which usually corresponds to the gender identity you were raised as and assumed to have had in childhood. In cultures with a gender binary, assigned sex is either male or female.

The phrase "assigned sex" refers to the sex that was put on someone's birth certificate and doesn't make any assumptions about their actual/current sex, body, or identity. For example, the delivery doctor and parents might assigned the female sex to a baby based on the baby's chromosomes and genitalia, but that baby might grow up to realize he is male. In this example, the baby is assigned female, but his actual gender identity is male. 

You may sometimes hear people refer to assigned sex as "genetic," "biological," or "birth" gender. These phrases are insensitive to trans people because they can imply that trans identities are less real than those of cisgender people. Thus, many people prefer to use the term assigned sex.

Assigned sex is also a useful phrase when discussing intersex people. Intersex people are sometimes subject to non-consensual medical treatments to change their genitalia so that it fits into a binary, often in childhood without their knowledge or permission.

Assigned sex is often referred to using the acronyms AFAB/AMAD (assigned femaile/male at birth), FAAB/MAAB (female/male assigned sex at birth), DFAB/DMAB (designated female/male at birth), or CAFAB/CAMAB) coercively assigned female/male at birth). CAFAD and CAMAB are particularly used within the intersex community.

Source: Gender Wiki article on "Assigned Sex"

Check out this article to learn more: Corsea video on the difference between sex assigned at birth and gender identity

Black feminist theory is based on the notion that black women are positioned within structures of power in fundamentally different ways than white women. Black feminist theorists such as Angela Davis, bell hooks, and Patricia Hill Collins have argued that black women, unlike many white women, are marginalized along lines of race, class, gender, and sexuality. Mainstream white feminist theory has not comprehensively accounted for the economic, racial, and gender realities of black female experience, nor, in many cases, has it tried to. As black feminist legal studies scholar Kimberle Crenshaw notes, “Black women are sometimes excluded from feminist theory and antiracist policy discourse because both are predicated on a discrete set of experiences that often does not accurately reflect the interaction of race and gender” (The Black Feminist Reader, Crenshaw 209).

Source: Wikipedia article on "Black Feminism"

Check out this article to learn more: Melissa Harris-Perry’s Black Feminism Syllabus

Legal definition: The obligation resting on a party in a trial to produce the evidence that will shift the conclusion away from the default position to one's own position.

BOPM definition: A movement to build empathy and awareness for the daily burden of living in a society that normalizes gender-based violence.

Source: Wikipedia article on "Legal Burden of Proof"

Check out this article to learn more: Free Online Legal Dictionary

Someone whose gender identity is the same as the gender they were assigned at birth; someone who is not trans, nonbinary, or agender. Cisgender is often shortened to cis.

Source: Jess’ Big List of Gender Terms

Checkout this article to learn more: 30+ Examples of Cisgender Privilege by Sam Killerman in It’s Pronounced Metrosexual

An enthusiastic yes. NOT the absence of a no.

Source: Only “Yes” Means Yes: What Steubenville’s Rape Trial Reminds Us About Sexual Consent by Jessica Valenti and Jaclyn Friedman in The Nation

Check out these articles to learn more: This is How I Realized I Had Not, In Actual Fact, Been “Asking For It” in The Vagenda and Boundaries/NO (Part III) – Push Past the ‘Patronizing Argument’ by Rebecca Flin on Disrupting Dinner Parties

The negative aspects of someone’s daily experience living in an oppressive society. An accumulation of violating and dehumanizing experiences can creates a state of mind in which each new experience can trigger the memory of others, so that all interactions have the potential to feel unsafe or simply just exhausting.

“The most relentless kind of assault and harassment women experience every day is non-criminal. It’s the kind of harassment that police officers will refuse to even record because they consider it a waste of police time. It’s the kind of harassment that chips away at women’s ideas of what’s okay and what’s not, to the point where they leave the house armed to protect themselves while simultaneously questioning whether or not they’re overreacting or being hysterical or being indirectly insulting to a man who’s just trying to be nice.”

Source: The Burden of Proof Movement’s own definition plus a quote from the article Rejecting the Concern Troll by Clementine Ford in Daily Life

Check out these articles to learn more: The Everyday Sexism Project and Why growing up as an American female has left me wary of men in The Biology Files

The feeling that you understand and share another person's experiences and emotions; the ability to share someone else's feelings

Source: Brené Brown and Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online

Check out these articles to learn more: “Rich People Just Care Less” by Daniel Goleman and “The Compassion Gap” by Nicholas Kristof, both in The New York Times

A collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women.

“Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.” Cheris Kramarae, Paula Treichler, and Ann Russo in A Feminist Dictionary (1996)

“Simply put, feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.” bell hooks in Feminism is For Everybody (2000)

Source: Wikipedia article on "Feminism" and Feminism 101 in Shakesville

Check out these articles to learn more: My liberation as a man is tied to your liberation as a woman in Shakesville; Feminism is important for men, too by Nehemiah Nelson in The Northern Iowan; 10 Reasons Why Feminism is Good For Boys and Men by Soraya Chemaly in The Huffington Post; Feminism: A Primer for Men in NOLA Feminism Allies; and Who Needs Feminism? Tumblr

Any person who believes in the social, economic, and political equality of the sexes.

Source: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talk at TEDxEuston

Check out this article to learn more: ***Flawless by Beyoncé

The extension of feminism into theoretical or philosophical discourse. It aims to understand the nature of gender inequality

Source: Wikipedia article on "Feminist Theory"

Check out these articles to learn more: Three Waves of Feminism by Charlotte Krolokke and Ann Scott Sorenson in Gender Communication Theories and Analyses; Agenda Feminist Media; and Feminist Review

Manipulative behavior used to confuse people into thinking that their reactions are so far off base that they’re crazy. Gaslighting is intended to create self-doubt in the person who is being manipulated and to convince them that their opinions are invalid because they are irrational, overly emotional, or unreasonably reactive—all traits which are considered to be stereotypically feminine and that have negative connotations. People who engage in gaslighting often do so because they do not want to acknowledge their own culpability in the situation. Here is a very common example of gaslighting: After his girlfriend breaks up with him, a man explains to his buddies why the relationship ended by saying, “Bitches be crazy!”, pathologizing his ex girlfriend’s behavior to avoid examining what he might have done to make his ex girlfriend want to break up with him.

Source: A Message To Women From A Man: You Are Not “Crazy” by Yashar Ali in The Huffington Post

Check out this article to learn more: Gaslighting explained in GIFs from Clueless in The Millikan Daily

A socially-constructed spectrum of identities comprised of expected behaviors, appearance, attitudes, skills, and values.

Source: Gender Spectrum

Check out this article to learn more: The Genderbread Person 2.0

Any act of violence, whether interpersonal or structural, that is enacted against a person based on their real or perceived gender identity.

GBV is often divided into two interlinked categories, interpersonal and structural/institutional violence. Interpersonal violence refers to an act of economic, sexual, psychological, or other type of violence that is perpetrated by an individual against another individual. Structural/institutional violence, on the other hand, refers to ‘any form of structural inequality or institutional discrimination that maintains a person in a subordinate position, whether physical or ideological, to other people within her family, household or community’ (Manjoo 2011). Both types of violence involve the prioritization of hegemonic masculinities above the rights of other gendered identities, including women’s.

GBV is manifested through a multitude of actions, including forced marriage of young girls, trafficking in persons, female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), female infanticide, male rape, purdah, violence directed at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals, sexual violence, verbal abuse, and laws and regulations that limit women’s and girls’ rights and access to services in relation to men’s. These practices are not only violations of the human rights of the individuals affected, but they are also an instrument used to sustain the status quo and the hierarchy of gender identities. Women living in poverty are particularly vulnerable to GBV as they face high levels of structural violence, including difficulty accessing the health and legal services needed to address the effects of interpersonal GBV.

Even though in every day language the word "violence" usually only refers to someone being physically harmed, the word "violence" within the term "gender-based violence" is a very general word that means any experience that you perceive to be devaluing of you because of your gender, that makes you feel unsafe or disrespected, that is nonconsensual, or that reflects a larger system of unfairness or injustice. For example, when a female student feels unwelcome in her engineering class because the majority of the students are male and the professor frequently makes jokes about the frailty and stupidity of women, she is experiencing a form of violence even though no one is physically harming her. For many people, they most often experience gender-based violence in the form of street harassment, like, for example, strangers making kissing noises at them or yelling unsolicited remarks at them as they walk down the street.

Source: Governance and Social Development Resource Center (UK) Applied Knowledge Services

Check out this article to learn more: The Danger of a Gender Essentialist Approach to Sexual Violence by Jos Truitt in Feministing

A societally-constructed system of viewing gender and sex as consisting solely of two categories, termed "male” and “female," in which no other possibilities for gender or anatomy are believed to exist. This social system requires that everyone be raised as either a boy or girl (depending on what sex you are assigned at birth), which in turn forms the basis for how you are educated, what jobs you can do (or are ex­pected to do), how you are expected to behave, what you are ex­pected to wear, what your gender and gender presentation should be, and who you should be attracted to/love/marry, etc. The gender binary excludes people who are trans*, intersex, two spirit, androgynous, agender, nonbinary and anyone else who is gender-variant or does not fit neatly into the categories of male and female. 

The gender binary is ubiquitous in Western culture but does not exist in many other cultures throughout history. The below is a summary of the assumptions within the gender binary, which are socially constructed and are not reflected in lived experience or even science:

- Gender and sex for all people are rigidly fixed between two poles: boy and girl, male and female, man and woman, masculine and feminine

- Sex is determined at birth

- Sex assigned at birth depends on the appearance of one's genitals at birth

- Gender depends on assigned sex at birth

- No variation exists in sex and gender

- You should not change your sex or gender

- You should act according to your assigned sex and its correlating gender-appropriate behaviors

Source: Redefining Realness by Janet MockTrans Student Equality Resources Dictionary; and Beyond the Binary: Gender Identity Activism in Your School by the GSA Network

Check out this article to learn more: The Fertilization Fairytale: “Knight in Shining Armor” Sperm and “Damsel in Distress” Eggs by Lisa Campo-Engelstein in Bioethics Today; Pink, Blue, or Yellow? Musing on the gendering of a baby bump by Slaskey in National Sexual Violence Resource Center; How common is intersex? by The Intersex Society of North America; and Our Evolving Multi-Gender Society by Dana Beyer in The Huffington Post

The way that people outwardly express their gender identity. Most people express their gender in some way through how they style their hair, the clothes they wear, the way they walk and talk, or their name.

Source: Beyond the Binary: Gender Identity Activism in Your School by the GSA Network

Check out this article to learn more: Switcheroo portrait project by Canadian photographer Hana Pesut

Gender identity can refer to a person’s own sense of their gender, the way a person’s gender is perceived by others (including gender recognition or misgendering), or a person’s behavior, expression, and/or role. There are both psychological (arising in the mind) and socio-cultural (determined by others, ideas about what is masculine and feminine, and role expectation) aspects of a person’s gender identity.

Source: Genderqueer Identities

Check out this article to learn more: The Midwest Trans* & Queer Wellness Initiative’s Trans*, GenderQueer, and Queer Terms list includes explanations of many different gender identities

A worldview that promotes heterosexuality as the normal or preferred sexual orientation. Heteronormativity may also promote as normal or preferred the traditional male and female gender roles entailed by heterosexuality. Heteronormativity also promotes the idea that there are only two genders, that men are masculine, that women are feminine, and that a single masculine man and a single feminine woman are the necessary and normal elements of a proper relationship.

Source: Wikipedia article on "Heteronormativity"

Check out this article to learn more: Getting Straight: Myths and misconceptions about queer sex lives by Arabelle, Krista, and Tyler in ROOKIE magazine

The way that any number of social, cultural, and economic categorizations may intersect to impact an individual’s experience with oppression. For example, women experience oppression in varying configurations and in varying degrees of intensity based on any number of variables including but not limited to race, age, body image, disability, and sexual orientation. The term is particularly prevalent in black feminism, which argues that the experience of being a black woman cannot simply be understood in terms of being black and of being a woman, considered independently, but must include a consideration of how these factors interact and reinforce each other.

Source: Wikipedia article on "Intersectionality"

Check out this article to learn more: In Defense of Intersectionality – One of Feminism’s Most Important Tools by Eleanor Robertson in The Guardian; My Feminism Will be Intersection or It Will Be Bullshit by Flavia Dzodan in Tiger Beatdown; and Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color by Kimberle Crenshaw

A condescending and patronizing manner of speaking based on the assumption that you know more than your female audience because you’re male. Mansplaining is different from ordinary condescension—or over-explanation by men to other men, or by women to other women, or by women to men—in that it is based on internalized male superiority and perpetuates sexism.

Source: My year in Mansplaining by Paige West

Check out these article to learn more: Academic Men Explain Things to Me Tumblr and Mansplaining 101: How to Discuss Politics and Feminism Without Acting Like a Jackass by Ann McCarthy in PolyMic

A hatred of men. NOT feminism.

Source: Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

Check out this article to learn more: Misandry Archives in The Toast

A hatred of women.

Source: Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

Check out this article to learn more: Wikipedia article on "Missing Women of Asia" and Confessions Of A Former Misogynist by Ben in Purely a Figment of Your Imagination

A guy who has declared himself to be nice and who thus expects positive attention (usually sexual) from women. He is convinced that women don't date "nice guys"—they only date "bad boys"—and that because he's "too nice," women only view him as a friend.

Source: Explainer: What is a “Nice Guy” by Jeff Fecke in Shakesville

Check out this article to learn more: A Field Guide to 'Nice Guys' by Erin Ryan in Jezebel

Anyone whose gender identity does not fall within the gender binary.


Check out this article to learn more: Poetry by Darkmatter; 10 Myths About Non-Binary People It's Time to Unlearn by Adrian Ballou; Too Queer for Your Binary: Everything You Need to Know and More About Non-Binary Identities by Kaylee Jakubowski

The systematic subjugation of one social group by a more powerful social group for the social, economic, and political benefit of the more powerful social group.

Rita Hardiman and Bailey Jackson state that oppression exists when the following 4 conditions are found:

1.     The oppressor group has the power to define reality for themselves and others,

2.     The target groups take in and internalize the negative messages about them and end up cooperating with the oppressors (thinking and acting like them),

3.     Genocide, harassment, and discrimination are systematic and institutionalized, so that individuals are not necessary to keep it going, and,

4.     Members of both the oppressor and target groups are socialized to play their roles as normal and correct.

Oppression = Power + Prejudice

Source: Racial Equity Institute

Check out these articles to learn more: Five Faces of Oppression by Lisa Heldke and Peg O’Connor in Oppression, Privilege, and Resistance; Levels and Types of Oppression by Judith Katz in White Awareness: Handbook for Anti-Racism Training; and Forms of Oppression by Morton Deutsch in Beyond Intractability   

Any action by which an individual or group becomes mentally classified in someone’s mind as “not one of us”. The othering process is the human tendency to believe that the groups to which we belong (possibly based on race, religion, ethnicity, culture, gender, country, sexual orientation, etc.) are the inherently ‘right’ or ‘normal’ way to live or be in the world.  As an extreme consequence of this, people who other consciously, or subconsciously, tend to believe that anyone who is not a part of their group is a threat, an enemy, or a liability that must be converted to conform to the norms and standards of their group, subjugated permanently, or eradicated completely. Othering can also lead to more subtle forms of exclusion or alienation and thus can reinforce and help perpetuate long held beliefs about certain groups. A great deal of othering happens in ways that are far more common and far less obvious to many people, and due to this invisibility can be extremely damaging.

Source: The “Othering” Process in Sociology is Power

Check out this article to learn more: Othering 101: What is "Othering"? in There Are No Others: A Catalogue of ‘Othering’

A system of oppression that cuts across race, culture, and class in which social, legal, political, and economic mechanisms reproduce and exert male privilege and dominance. A patriarchal society, community, or country is one in which males are the primary authority figures central to social organization, occupying roles of political leadership, moral authority, and control of property, and where men generally hold authority over women, children, and nonbinary people. 

Source: Wikipedia article on "Patriarchy" 

Check out these articles to learn more: If Men Could Menstruate by Gloria Steinem and It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way: The Infuriating Reality of Womanhood by Sascha Alexander in Jezebel

Any benefit or advantage one receives in society by nature of their identity. Examples of aspects of identity that can afford privilege include race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, class/economic wealth, ability, or citizenship status.

Source: How To Talk To Someone About Privilege Who Doesn’t Know What That Is by Jamie Utt in Everyday Feminism

Check out this article to learn more: 4 Ways to Push Back Against Your Privilege by Mia McKenzie in Black Girl Dangerous

Racism = social and institutional power + race prejudice

Racism = a system of advantage based on race

Racism = a system of oppression based on race

Racism = a white supremacy system

Racism is different from racial prejudice, hatred, or discrimination. Racism involves one group having the power to carry out systematic discrimination through the major institutions of society.

Source: Racial Equity Institute

Check out these articles to learn more: Among many other indicators, racism can be seen in the U.S. criminal justice system (Masked Racism: Reflections on the Prison Industrial Complex by Angela Davis in ColorLines), economic inequality (Racial Wealth Gap Tag in The Huffington Post), the school system (14 Disturbing Stats About Racial Inequality in American Public Schools by Steven Hsieh in The Nation), and in health disparities (Study: Racist Experiences Speed Aging Process in Black Men by Nick Chiles in The Atlanta Black Star) .

1. The unlawful compelling of a person through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse.

2. Any act of sexual intercourse that is forced upon a person.

The U.S. Department of Justice defines rape as, “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”  

Source: U.S. Department of Justice

Check out these articles to learn more: Statistics by RAINN and Wikipedia article on "Rape Statistics"

A culture in which sexual violence is considered the norm — in which people aren’t taught NOT to rape but are instead taught not to BE raped. Rape culture is a social system that has normalized rape and sexual assault through the bombardment of images, language, laws, and social attitudes. At best, it views such violations as an inevitable part of life and therefore considers all efforts to stop it futile. At worst, it’s a culture in which victim blaming is not just present but common, and standard caveats are invoked to excuse perpetrators for being unable to help themselves.

Source: What Is Rape Culture? by Ryan Broderick, Heben Nigatu, and Jessica Testa in BuzzFeed, Rape Culture 101 by Melissa McEwan in Shakesville, and Rejecting the Concern Troll by Clementine Ford in Daily Life 

Check out this article to learn more: Ten Things to End Rape Culture by Walter Moseley and Rae Gomes in The Nation; 5 Mentalities that Perpetuate Rape Culture by Angela Page in This is Rape Culture; The two ways to dismantle rape culture by Clementine Ford in Daily Life; and FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture

Reverse racism does not exist because racism is a system of power and oppression that is institutionalized, systematic, hierarchical, pervasive, defines reality, and restrictive, thus it’s not something that can be enacted by someone who does not have racial privilege (i.e. it cannot happen in reverse). Oftentimes the term reverse racism is incorrectly applied to instances when a black person is acting bigoted toward a white person. Bigotry in any form is hurtful, but it is not the same thing as racism. While all people, regardless of color, can experience stereotyping (assumptions that all people in one group are similar), prejudice (dislike toward a group based on those stereotypes), discrimination (refusing access to resources based on that prejudice), and bigotry, only oppressed people experience all of that PLUS institutionalized violence and systematic erasure. Thus, black people (a group that experiences oppression because of their race) can be bigoted and prejudiced toward white people, but they cannot be racist toward white people (a group that experiences privilege because of their race.) 

Source: Why Reverse Oppression Simply Cannot Exist (No Matter What Merriam-Webster Says) by Melissa A. Fabello in Everyday Feminism

Check out these articles to learn more: Aamer Rahman (Fear of a Brown Planet) comedy video on reverse racism; How to Be a “Reverse Racist”: An Actual Step-by-Step List for Oppressing White People by Mia McKenzie and A.D. Song in Black Girl Dangerous; “That’s Racist Against White People!”: A Discussion on Power and Privilege by Jamie Utt in Everyday Feminism; and Why Reverse Racism Isn’t Real by Sarah Luckey in Feminspire


According to social norms, sex is determined at birth based on the appearance of one's genitals. In science, sex is a way to classify genetic and biological anatomy. Organisms of many species are specialized into male and female varieties, each known as a sex. In the majority of species with sex specialization, organisms are either male (producing only male gametes) or female (producing only female gametes). Exceptions are very common. Sometimes an organism's development is intermediate between male and female, a condition called intersex.

Source: Wikipedia article on "Biological sex" and Redefining Realness by Janet Mock

Check out these articles to learn more: Against the Sex/Gender Distinction by Rachel Williams

The cultural philosophy that safe sex between consenting adults has the potential to be shame-free, healthy, and a positive force in one’s life. Sex positivity can be contrasted with sex negativity, which sees sex as problematic, disruptive, and dangerous. Sex-positivity celebrates sexual diversity, differing desires and relationship structures, and individual choices based on consent. Sex positivity respects everyone’s unique sexual profiles (as long as they involve safe practices between consenting adults), including asexual or other people who choose not to have sex or who do not enjoy sex. Sex positivity acknowledges that some people might not have positive associations with sex because of experiences with sexual trauma or because they are part of a culture that tries to eradicate sexual difference and possibility. Because of its egalitarian nature, sex positivity brings with it anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-homophobia, anti-classism, and anti-sectarianism.  Sex positivity is especially beneficial to women because in a sex-negative patriarchal societ,y women’s sexualities are controlled through slut-shaming, limited access to birth control and abortion, and other measures designed to prevent women from enjoying the full rage of their sexuality. Sex positivity is also beneficial to polyamourous people, kinky people, LGBTQ people, nonbinary people, and other people who do not fall into society’s straight, monogamous, and heteronormative definition for proper sex.

Source: Sex Positive by Emily Nagoski in The Dirty Normal and Why I Identify as Sex-Positive, Despite Seeing Sex as Neutral in Shades of Gray 

Check out these articles to learn more: Cliteracy 101: Artist Sophia Wallace Wants You To Know The Truth About The Clitoris by Dominique Mosbergen in The Huffington Post and Sex-positive does not mean misogyny-friendly! in Official Blog

Sexual assault is a broad term that refers to any kind of nonconsensual sexual touching of a person. This includes rape (such as forced vaginal, anal, or oral penetration), groping, forced kissing, child sexual abuse, or the torture of the victim in a sexual manner. Sexual assault does not depend solely on contact with any specific part of the human anatomy.

Source: What is Sexual Assault? by the Edmonton Police Service and the Wikipedia article on "Sexual assault"

Check out these articles to learn more: Sexual Assault by The Boston Women's Health Book Collective in and The Context of Rape and Sexual Assault by Yarrow Place Rape and Sexual Assault Service

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other nonconsensual verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Often, individuals must submit to sexual harassment to obtain something they need or desire, such as housing, access to an academic conference, a job, or simply walking down the street. Sexual harassment can create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for its targets. The primary characterization of sexual harassment is that it is unwelcome sexual attention. A victim of sexual harassment may agree to certain conduct and actively participate in it even if they find it offensive and objectionable because they might need access to something which requires the submission to sexual harassment. 

Source: Sexual Harassment Policy by The University of Illinois Office of Diversity, Equity and Access and What is Sexual Harassment by the United Nations

Check out these articles to learn more: Sexual Harassment Fact Sheet by the Feminist Majority Foundation and This is Because I’m a Woman: How Sexual Harassment Invaded My Life by Morgan M on Autostraddle

A person’s physical, romantic, emotional, and/or spiritual attraction to others. Gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same. For example, trans people (a gender identity) can be heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, queer, etc. (sexual orientations).

Source: Trans Student Equality Resources Dictionary

Check out this article to learn more: Bill Roundy Showcases Mini-Comic 'Orientation Police' by James Nichols in The Huffington Post

The societal tendency for groups or individuals to openly shame women who are sexually liberal or expressive by labeling them as “sluts,” a derogatory term that directly links a woman’s personal dignity and virtue to her sexual chastity. Patriarchal societies have a double standard for men and women, extolling men for their sexual exploits and shaming women for theirs. In a slut-shaming culture, it’s more shameful to be raped than to be a rapist.

Source: Wikipedia article on "Slut shaming"

Check out this article to learn more: I’m The Duke University Freshman Porn Star And For The First Time I’m Telling The Story In My Words by Bell Knox in xoJane and In Rape Tragedies, The Shame is Ours by Jessica Valenti in The Nation

Unwelcome words and actions from people in public places which are motivated by gender bias and invade a person’s physical and emotional space in a disrespectful, creepy, startling, scary, or insulting way.

Source: Stop Street Harassment

Check out this article to learn more: ‘Smile Baby’: The Words No Woman Wants to Hear by Soraya Chemaly in Salon; 8 Reasons a Catcall is Not a Compliment by Arianna Rebolini in BuzzFeed; and Tips for Improving Street Harrassment by Mallory Ortberg in The Toast 

An umbrella term for people whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. The term can also include people whose gender expression differs from what is culturally expected of them as well as people who do not identify with either female or male genders. The term transgender is not indicative of sexual orientation, hormonal makeup, physical anatomy, experience with surgery or hormone therapy, or how one is perceived in daily life.

Source: Trans Student Equality Resources

Check out this article to learn more: It’s Time to End the Long History of Feminism Failing Transgender Women by Tina Vasquez in Bitch Magazine

Victim blaming occurs when the victim of a crime or any wrongful act is held entirely or partially responsible for the harm enacted against them. Victim blaming is often employed in situations of power imbalance, such as in the case of gender-based violence. For example, there is a greater tendency to blame victims of rape, which are usually women or other minorities, than victims of robbery, particularly in cases where victims and perpetrators know one another.

Source: Wikipedia article on "Victim blaming"

Check out this article to learn more: Telling women to get a gun is not rape prevention by Zerlina Maxwell in Feministing; Blame Rape’s Enabler’s, Not the Victims by Alexandra Brodsky in the New York Times; New study finds that drinking doesn’t cause sexual aggression, predators target drunk women by Maya Dusenbery in Feministing; and Your vagina is not a car by Clementine Ford in Daily Life

Even though in common language the word "violence" usually only refers to one person physically harming another, there are actually many different types of violence, including:

  • Structural violence - Systematic ways in which social structures harm individuals or groups of individuals such as intergenerational poverty, institutional racism, and environmental racism.
  • Physical violence - When someone uses a part of their body or an object to hurt another person or to control another person’s actions.
  • Sexual violence - When a person is forced to unwillingly take part in sexual activity.
  • Emotional violence - When someone says or does something to make another person feel stupid or worthless.
  • Psychological violence - When someone uses threats and causes fear in another person to gain control.
  • Spiritual violence - When someone uses an individual’s spiritual beliefs to manipulate, dominate, or control that person.
  • Cultural violence - When an individual is harmed as a result of practices that are part of her or his culture, religion or tradition.
  • Verbal abuse - When someone uses language, whether spoken or written, to cause harm to an individual.
  • Financial abuse - When someone controls an individual’s financial resources without the person’s consent or misuses those resources.
  • Neglect - When someone has the responsibility to provide care or assistance for an individual but does not.

Source: The Violence Prevention Initiative of the Government of Newfoundland

Check out this article to learn more: Interpersonal and Structural Violence in The Cranky Sociologists

Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women. Violence again women can including threats of violence, coercion, or arbitrary deprivation of liberty both in public or in private. Violence against women is a global phenomenon, though it does not affect all women equally. A 2011 study by the Violence Policy Center revealed that black women in the United States were murdered by men at a rate of 2.61 per 100,000 in single victim/single offender incidents, whereas the rate for white women in the U.S. was 0.99 per 100,000. Other examples of the epidemic of violence against women include the rampant rates of rape of women in the Congo.

Source: Violence against women by The World Health Organization

Check out this article to learn more: Violence Against Women Fact Sheet by The World Health Organization

The pervasive idea that women fit neatly into the role of either an innocentpassive, selfless good girl or a hedonistic, morally void, sensual bad girl. Unsurprisingly, these roles do not reflect reality, nor do they provide a sustainable framework from which we can appreciate the immensely nuanced lives of women. The virgin/whore dichotomy equates a woman’s “goodness” with virginity, “sexual purity,” and submissiveness and equates a woman’s “badness” with sexual promiscuity and rebelliousness. Men are not usually held to this same double standard. Instead, men are usually encouraged to be sexually promiscuous. Men who have internalized the virgin/wrote dichotomy often search for a “whore” to hook up with and a “virgin” to marry.

Source: Examining Cultural Stereotypes: Who’s The Bravest Of Them All? by Stephanie Stroud in Miss Representation; Sluts on Halloween: The Virgin-Whore Dichotomy in ShoutOut! JMU; and The Madonna-Whore Complex and You by Dr. Nerdlove in Paging Dr. Nerdlove

Check out these articles to learn more: Swift Judgment in Female Gazing; Dan Savage video; and Newsflash, Guys: There’s No Such Thing as a “Good Girl” by Dodai Stewart in Jezebel

A societally ingrained yet false and unsubstantiated belief that white people and the ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions of white people are superior to people of color and their ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions. Our society's policies and social systems tend to be structured around white supremacy, though there is no factual basis for it. Because of the systemic oppression created by the embeddedness of white supremacy in our society, people of color are underrepresented in positions of power and leadership, there are significant racial disparities in health and income, and people of color tend to be presented in the media in accordance with negative stereotypes. White supremacy is so ingrained in our society that most people, including white people who do not consider themselves to be racist as well as people of color themselves, tend to unconsciously think and act in ways that are consistent with white supremacy.

Source: Racial Equity Institute

Check out these articles to learn more: 63 Black Harvard Sudents Share Their Experiences In A Powerful Photo Project by Alison Vingiano in BuzzFeed and When Your (Brown) Body is a (White) Wonderland in tressiemc


  • “An invisible knapsack of special provisions and blank checks” (Peggy McIntosh)
  • The default; “to be white in America is not to have to think about it” (Robert Terry)
  • To be able to expect to be seen as an individual; what you do never reflects on the white race
  • You can choose to avoid the impact of racism without penalty
  • You live in a world where your worth and personhood are continually validated
  • Although hurt by racism, you can live just fine without ever having to deal with it

Source: Racial Equity Institute

Check out this article to learn more: White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh; White Feminists: It’s Time to Put Up or Shut Up on Race by Avory in Radically Queer; Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person by Gina Crosley-Corcoran in The Feminist Breeder; and Resource Guide on White Privilege by vasundharaa in sj warrierz rawr