There is a lot to learn about social justice, and one of the things than can easily trip people up is not knowing what common social justice terms are or how those terms are used in discussions. Many of the terms or phrases listed below you may find in use around the site. They are accompanied here by short, basic definitions and/or links that will lead you to more in-depth information. The following list is here to point anyone curious about such terms in the right direction.
-isms - refers to many, often all systemic and institutionalized powers that enable the oppression of marginalized people. (racism, sexism, ableism, etc.) The purpose of these forums being the discussion of social justice issues within the context of atheism, we use the social justice definitions of words like "racism", "sexism", and other -isms. You may have seen the terms "Institutional Racism", Systemic Racism, Institutional/Systemic Sexism, etc. The short version is -isms = prejudice + power. In social justice terms, marginalized groups cannot be guilty of -isms in regards to the axes of privilege that they fall low on, because they don't have the power to institutionalize their prejudices. We make this distinction for the sake of clarity and so that otherwise productive discussions do not degenerate into quibbling over definitions. (The A+ Primer)
101 , 101 Level - 101 stands for basic level or introductory level courses. Used primarily in the U.S.A. to denote a class, usually in college or university, in which a person would be able to have little to no knowledge of a subject going into it, and emerge with a basic understanding. There are a few areas around this site where 101 level knowledge is needed before engaging in a conversation. If a member has 101 level questions, the Information & Answers area of the forum aims to help point people in the right direction for their self-education. (Information & Answers)
Ableism - discrimination or social prejudice against people with disabilities. (Wikipedia - Ableism) (Important - See also: -isms)
Ally - a person who is not of a marginalized group, but who supports that group's fight for their rights. There is some contention about whether a person should self-identify as an ally or whether they should call themselves a supporter instead and allow people from that marginalized group to determine whether or not they are of ally status. (How to Be an Ally if You Are a Person with Privilege , The Wages Of Virtue) (See also: Supporter , Asking for cookies)
Agency - (having agency) capacity, power, ability (Example: Women have the agency to decide what is best for their health.) (Geek Feminism - Agency) (See also: Autonomy)
Ambivalent prejudice - Ambivalent Prejudice
Appropriation - See: Cultural Appropriation
Asking for cookies , Allies do not ask for cookies - allies who ask for praise, or reward for meeting the bare minimum standard of decency by doing the right thing in regards to social justice issues are not being allies. Allies will not ask for cookies or recognition, they will do what needs done because it is the bare minimum standard of decency. Important note: This type of "asking for cookies" is not to be confused with the common online interaction of offering a cookie (or baked goods or treats) to someone who is in pain or hurt, such as one might find in the Help & Support section. (You Don't Get A Cookie , The Wages Of Virtue)
Autonomy - freedom to determine one's own actions, behavior (See also: Agency)
Axis of privilege/oppression - (plural: axes) there are many different lines of privilege and oppression. An axis of privilege is one line or one area in which a person holds an advantage. Different advantages and disadvantages intersect, and oppression along these intersections often takes a different from from either individual axis alone. (Slideshow on the basic idea of Intersectionality , My Feminism will be Intersectional or it will be Bullshit!) (See also: Intersectionality , Privilege)
Benevolent -ism - the idea that oppressed groups need protecting or cherishing by the privileged group, such as by claiming that women are "pure" and must be defended, in the case of benevolent sexism. However, being put onto a pedestal is, in fact, restricting (like being locked in a cage in order to be looked at). (Wikipedia link, Benevolent Sexism Has Insidious Consequences for Women , ...Is it really a compliment?, Benevolent Racism or the ‘Miss Millie’ in Paula Deen)
CAB - Currently Able Bodied. Disability community expression for those either without chronic illness/physical disability or with controlled enough chronic illness that they've basically got able privilege in their day-to-day physical activities. Those with intermittent chronic illness and intermittent physical disabilities may be CAB one day but not another. It is the chronic illness and physical disability equivalent of NT, with "currently" emphasizing that anyone can find hirself dealing with physical disability or chronic illness at any phase in hir life.
Chilly climate - an environment that dampens marginalized people's self-esteem, confidence, aspirations and their participation in a particular activity. (Is it cold in here?)
Cisgender - (often shortened to cis - pronounced sis) adjective for a person who isn't transgender, derives from the latin prefix cis- meaning "on the same side as" , being the opposite to trans- which means "on the opposite side". Those who identify with their gender assigned at birth are cisgender. (Gender Wiki - Cisgender)(See also: Transgender for comparison.)
Colorblind racism - a term used to describe situations in which white people claim that they are not racist, because they "do not see color" or they "only see people" or who go around saying things like "there is only one race, human". While said white people believe they are being less racist by claiming not to see color, they're actually perpetuating racism by purposefully ignoring the differences in people thus erasing different cultures and whitewashing the world around them. (Colourblindness - Not A Virtue , When The Goggles Come Off , Colorblind Ideology Is a form of Racism)
Compassion fatigue - Becoming Compassionately Numb , On compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma & burn out
Condesplaining (aka 'Splaining) - a) the act of explaining a life experience down to a marginalized person, and assuming that a marginalized person's experiences are incorrect due to the fact that they do not fit into the "default experience". (Example: A white person explaining to a PoC that their experience with racism is incorrect, or that the PoC has simply misunderstood a situation.)
b) the act of assuming, intentionally or not, that a marginalized person is not an expert in a field of study due to their status as a marginalized person or that they do not already understand complex ideas. (Example: A man at a biology conference explaining what biology is to a woman who is also there to attend the conference. Bonus points if the woman is an invited speaker there to hold the lecture.)
Mansplaining, whitesplaining, cissplaining, straightsplaining, etc are all forms of condesplaining. (Men Explain Things To Me , A Cultural History Of Mansplaining , If I Were A Rich White Man Pretending To Be A Poor Black Kid , The Original Article "If I Was A Poor Black Kid" is a classic example of whitesplaining.)
Confirmation bias - a tendency of people to favor information that confirms their beliefs or hypotheses. (Confirmation Bias)
Consent - a mutual verbal, physical, and emotional agreement that happens without manipulation, force, threats, or head games. (Yes Means Yes)
Cookie begging - See: Asking for cookies
Cultural Appropriation - divorcing a concept or idea from its original cultural context, and using it to mean something else often times superficially and without referencing back to its origins. Within social justice it is usually seen as a negative. (Wikipedia - Cultural appropriation , Open Letter to the PocaHotties and the Indian Warriors this Halloween , Homage or Insult?)
Default experience - See: Normativity
Dog-whistle politics - the use of certain code words or phrases that are designed to be understood by only a small section of the populace. In reality, those words aren't as coded as people think they are, and we know what is truly meant by them. (Wikipedia - Dog-whistle politics , Rational Wiki - Dog-whistle politics)
Dunning-Kruger Effect - a cognitive bias in which the less skilled or knowledgeable a person is the more skilled or knowledgeable they believe themselves to be. (Wikipedia - Dunning-Kruger effect)
Feminism - the advocacy of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.
Feminisms - feminism is not a monolith. There are different types of feminism, because women are not a monolith. (Why Do Some People Talk Of Feminisms?)
Femmephobia - a particular subset of sexism that suggests that femininity and things regarded as feminine are inherently inferior, bad, non-preferable, valueless, disempowering, etc. (Guyliner, Murses, Bromance And Femmephobia , Toxic Masculinity , On Femmephobia)
FreeThoughtBlogs (FTB) - FreeThoughtBlogs
Gender binary - the idea that there are two rigidly opposing genders, masculine and feminine, and nothing more. This idea discourages people from crossing or mixing gender roles. It also discourages people from identifying with a third (or more) forms of gender expression altogether. (Wikipedia - Gender binary) (See also: Gender essentialism)
Gender essentialism - the idea that gender differences between women and men are a result of biology, and not socialization. (Finally Feminism 101 - But Men & Women Are Born Different , No More Gender Essentialist Comments , Gender Essentialism is Essentially Sexist) (See also: Gender binary)
Gender expression - the external manifestation of one’s gender identity, usually expressed through “masculine,” “feminine” or gender-variant behavior, clothing, haircut, voice or body characteristics. Important note: Gender expression is NOT gender identity. (Gender Expression And Gender Identity Are Two Separate Concepts)
Gender identity - one’s internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman, or neither or both or any variation of genderqueer. Important note: Gender identity is NOT gender expression. (Gender Expression And Gender Identity Are Two Separate Concepts)
Gender-neutral pronouns - pronouns which do not denote a gender. Useful in situations where the gender of a person is unknown, or if the person identifies with no gender or several genders. Also useful to prevent male from being the default. (Examples: singular they, ze / xe , zir / xir / hir.) (Gender-neutral Pronoun Chart , Gender-neutral pronoun FAQ)
Genderqueer - a broad term for a person who rejects the gender binary and identifies as neither male nor female, usually somewhere in-between. (Gender Wiki - Genderqueer)
Implicit bias - See: Unconscious bias
Inclusivity , Inclusive Environment - this site is a safe space, therefore here inclusivity is welcoming and accepting those who are normally marginalized in many other places in the world and giving them a platform to feel safe and able to express their ideas and feelings about subjects where their voices are often ignored. We are inclusive first to the marginalized, because nearly every other space is inclusive to people who are privileged along many axes. (See also: Safe Space)
Intent! It's fucking magic! - while having good intentions is nice, it does not magically undo harm caused from an action. If someone has caused harm, it is unwise to simply state or 'splain away their actions by using "intent" as the reason why someone else should not feel hurt or harmed. (Intent! It's Fucking Magic!)
Intersectionality - the idea that privilege/oppression has many axes that intersect. A person might be high on one axis, while they may be severely disadvantaged along another axis. Note that the expression of a person's oppression stemming from a given axis can be substantially altered based on their position along another axis. (Slideshow on the basic idea of Intersectionality , My Feminism will be Intersectional or it will be Bullshit!) (See also: Axis of Privilege/Oppression)
Kyriarchy - an extension of the idea of Patriarchy, used by intersectional feminists to explain that privilege operates on different axes. The idea of a Kyriarchy aims to take into account different axes of privilege and oppression. (Wikipedia - Kyriarchy)
Male By Default - See: Normativity
Microaggressions - demeaning implications and other subtle insults against marginalized people, that may be perpetrated against those due to race, gender, sexual orientation, ability status, etc. Little demeaning comments or behaviors that may seem mild on their own, but given how they add up daily and are everywhere they reinforce stereotypes. (Microaggressions , Wikipedia - Microaggression , The Little Chill)
Misandry - hatred of or hostility towards men. Misandry is not reinforced systemically nor institutionally. (See also: Sexism)
Misogyny - hatred of or hostility towards women, often seen as contempt. Misogyny is reinforced systemically and institutionally. (See also: Sexism)
Neurotypical (NT) - Wikipedia - Neurotypical
Neutrois - a person who identifies as having no gender. (Neutrois)
Nonpology , Notpology - an apology given that usually isn't an apology at all. Rather it tends to blame the person who is offended, over-explain the speaker's intent, and/or use phrases such as "I'm sorry if what I said caused offense".
Normalism - a) The belief that whatever is unusual or different is pathological. b) The rejection of and/or pathologization of the natural spectrum of human diversity. c) The pathologization of human difference. (Normalism)
Normativity - the assumption that someone in the privileged position is the default "normal". (Example: Wikipedia - Heteronormativity)
Patriarchy - a social system that aims to keep men in positions of authority and power. Important note: mentioning that something is the fault of the patriarchy does not blame all men. Women can be agents of the patriarchy, too. Blaming the patriarchy is blaming the system, and wanting to dismantle the system. (Wikipedia - Patriarchy)
Patriarchy Hurts Men Too (PHMT) - while patriarchy often aims to keep men in positions of power and privilege, it also causes a lot of harm to men and boys especially due to rigid gender roles that do not allow for men to take part in anything considered feminine without ridicule. (Toxic Masculinity) (See also: Femmephobia)
Politically Correct (PC) - the term is primarily pejorative, and using it to describe words, phrases or interactions on this site is severely frowned upon. While the idea behind being politically correct is positive it has unfortunately come to be seen as something that is negative. These days it's a dog-whistle and buzzword that really means "respecting others is beneath me" or "I'm extremely privileged!". (Geek Feminism - Political Correctness) (Trigger warning for lots of slurs used: Urban Dictionary - Politically Correct)
People of Color (PoC) - a term used to describe people who are not white. It is needed in conversations to discuss issues that affect non-white people often in areas where white privilege and domination are prevalent. Loretta Ross on the Origin of Women of Color
Preferred pronoun - a pronoun that a person has chosen to best fit their gender identity. If someone asks that you refer to them as he , she , they or another gender-neutral pronoun, then please respect their wishes. (See also: Gender identity , Gender-neutral pronouns)
Prejudice - refers to preconceived, usually unfavorable, judgments toward people or a person because of gender, social class, age, disability, religion, sexuality, race/ethnicity, language, nationality or other personal characteristics. For the purposes of discussions on this site a marginalized person on one axis cannot be an -ist along that axis, but they can be prejudiced. (See also: -isms , The A+ Primer)
Privilege - an unfair advantage or power that is not earned through an individual's own actions or merit, but rather is given and reinforced systemically due to a personal characteristic. (Of Dogs and Lizards: A Parable of Privilege , Introduction to Privilege) (See also: Intersectionality , Axis of Privilege/Oppression)
People with Disabilities (PwD) - A term used to describe people who have disabilities. It is needed in conversations to discuss issues that affect people with disabilities often in cases where such things do not affect able-bodied people.
Race (aka Yes, we already know that on a genetic level humans aren't really all that different) - discussing race in terms of different cultures, ethnicities, communities, etc. is an accepted use of the term race. We're already well aware that there are only minimal differences between humans on a biological level, and trying to add that very well-known fact into a discussion about race is derailing. Coming into any discussion on this board and claiming that "there is only one race, human" is colorblind racism and isn't tolerated. (See also: -isms, Colorblind racism, Racism)
Racism - discrimination or social prejudice against People of Color. (Important - See also: -isms , Colorblind racism)
a form of sexual assault. Rape is the compelling of a person through physical force, duress, or manipulation to have sexual intercourse, regardless of whether that intercourse involves penetration, and regardless of the genders of the victim(s) or rapist(s). In order to not rape a person, one needs to have their ongoing and willing consent through all sexual activities.
(RAINN - Types of Sexual Violence) (See also: Consent)
Rape culture - a concept used to describe a culture in which rape and sexual violence are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media normalize, excuse, tolerate, or even condone sexual violence. (Wikipedia - Rape culture)
Reverse racism - is not an actual thing. "Reverse racism" does not exist. (Too Hard on the White Folk) (See also: -isms , Racism)
Safe space - a term for an area or forum where either a marginalized group are not supposed to face standard mainstream stereotypes and marginalization, or in which a shared political or social viewpoint is required to participate in the space. This site is a safe space. We are not interested in hearing from people who would question the need for this space. Nor are we interested in arguing for our right to exist. (Geek Feminism - Safe space) (See also: Inclusivity)
SAWCASM - an aconym for "straight, affluent, white, cisgender, able-bodied, sexual male," often invoked because each of those group statuses confers privilege.
Selection bias - Wikipedia - Selection bias
Sexism - discrimination or social prejudice against women. (Important - See also: -isms)
Social Justice (SJ) - an interactive process whereby members of a community are concerned for the equality and rights of all people.
'Splaining - See: Condesplaining
Spoon Theory - The Spoon Theory
Spoons - See: Spoon Theory
Stereotype threat - the experience of anxiety or concern in a situation where a person has the potential to confirm a negative stereotype about their social group. Stereotype threat has been shown to reduce the performance of individuals who belong to negatively stereotyped groups. (Wikipedia - Stereotype threat)
Supporter - a person who is not of a marginalized group, but who fights for the rights of that marginalized group. (The Wages Of Virtue) (See also: Ally)
Tone argument , Tone-policing - (also sometimes just called "tone") a derail tactic used to silence marginalized people by telling them a) that one does not have to listen to them when they are angry, and/or b) that they are damaging their cause by acting angry, and/or c) that they are "just as bad" as the people who are oppressing them due to their anger. (Geek Feminism - Tone argument , Derailing for Dummies - I don't have to listen , Derailing for Dummies - Damaging your cause , Derailing for Dummies - You're just as bad)
Trans* - What Does the Asterisk in Trans* Stand For?
Transgender - (often shortened to trans or trans*) adjective for a person who isn't cisgender. An umbrella term referring to anyone whose behavior, thoughts, or traits differ from the societal expectations for their sex. People who were assigned a gender, usually at birth and based on their genitals, but who feel that this is a false or incomplete description of themselves. (PSA About Transphobic Language , What Does the Asterisk in Trans* Stand For?) (See also: Cisgender for comparison)
Trigger - something that sets off a flashback transporting a person back to the event of their original trauma. In order to help prevent a person from becoming accidentally triggered by a discussion trigger warnings are used. (What Is A Trigger?) (See also: Trigger warning)
Trigger warning (TW) - a content note used to warn readers that a specific subject which may cause a person to be triggered is being discussed. We use trigger warnings to help people who deal with triggers to better navigate through the content of posts or blogs or other media. (Geek Feminism - Trigger Warning) (See also: Trigger)
Unconscious bias - (aka Implicit bias) social behavior driven by learned stereotypes that operate automatically – and therefore unconsciously — when we interact with other people. (What is Implicit Bias?)
Woo , Woo-woo - refers to ideas considered irrational or ideas based on extremely flimsy evidence or that appeal to mysterious occult forces or powers.
This glossary may be edited to add more links, terms or to clarify definitions as time goes by.
A big thanks to every single person who contributed words, phrases, definitions, links, sources and to everyone who took the time to help me edit the piece by being nitpicky
Mod Edit: Questions? Suggestions? Click here.