5 Essential Feminist Words

Whether you are new to feminism or have been one for years, there are a lot of terms that get thrown around in the movement that you may not be familiar with.

feminism” by Jay Morrison is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Whether you are new to feminism or have been one for years, there are a lot of terms that get thrown around in the movement that you may not be familiar with. Here are 5 essentials:

1) Feminism is the idea that all people are equal and thus should have equal opportunities in life. Feminism seeks to identify and dismantle barriers to equality.

2) Intersectionality was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in the 1980s. Intersectionality is the idea that people have more than multiple identities that interact to create overlapping disadvantages.

3) Gender norms are the socially constructed ideas of how men and women should behave, dress, and interact. Those who challenge or do not adhere to gender norms can face negative consequences such as bullying, shaming, or ostracism.

4) Mansplaining is when a man explains a woman’s area of expertise to her, particularly when he is less educated about it.

5) Patriarchy is the system whereby men (usually white men) hold the power and authority. Patriarchy usually excludes or discourages women from gaining  any type of power. It interacts with gender norms to create a rigid system of behavior and roles for men and women that neither can escape easily.

Of course, these 5 terms are not an exhaustive list of feminist language. Share more below!

Feminist On Wednesdays We Smash The Patriarchy Feminism Ladies T-Shirt
Hallion Clothing on Etsy

Saturday Tea & Feminism

5 of the week’s best links about books and feminism.

I’m spending the whole weekend reading the Bailey’s Prize shortlist, probably at the park while Toddler goes down the slide for hours. Are you doing anything fun?


12 empowering children’s books with girl protagonists for your kids. How have I only read 3 of these? (Bust)

Book Rioter Alice compiled a list of 17 great books about women from Book Expo America. RIP TBR pile. (Book Riot)

How boobs, menstruation, and good looks get in the way of girls learning to code. (Adweek)

This “New” Feminism Has Been Here All Along. (Yes! Magazine)

Access to Digital Technology Accelerates Global Gender Equality. (Harvard Business Review)

The Challenge of Raising An Intersectional Feminist Son

I want my white, middle-class son to be an intersectional feminist.


My son is a white male born into a middle-class family. He will likely be straight and cisgender. He is at peak privilege. I struggle with how to teach my son about the privilege he was born with. I want him to an intersectional feminist and an ally. Luckily, there are a lot of great resources out there to help.

Intersectional feminism is the many injustices faced by people with multiple marginalized identities. The most common example used is a Black woman, who faces discrimination based on both her race and gender. But it can include race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and more.

For my son, I am seeking out books and TV shows with diverse characters. Many children’s books feature animals or inanimate objects, but when the main character is human, they are generally drawn as white. When the representation of “baby” is  white, or all of the characters in a story are identified as male – even when they are animals or trains – it becomes easy to slip into the idea that white and/or male is the norm. It takes an effort to seek out intersectional representation, but it’s important.

Some great resources include:

As he gets older, I will continue to find ways to make inclusion and understanding a part of his life. Obviously, exposure to different people, cultures, and ways of thinking will be a big part of that.

I have always been a feminist, but I didn’t always have the language to express it. My early feminism was much more from a place of privilege. In the past few years, I have started learning about intersectionality. I have committed to reading more books by women and people of color. I am seeking out online intersectional spaces and listening to the conversation. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable, but learning to face my privilege will only it easier for me to explain it to my son. I will never be done learning, but I hope we can learn together.


Saturday Tea & Feminism Links, Shakespeare’s Birthday Edition

5 links that will make you think

Happy 400th Deathday to the Bard! My Complete Works is still somewhere between the US and UK, but luckily there are lots of events to make up for it.

A good starting list of feminist books for children (Romper). I would add in anything from the Amelia Bloomer Project.

The transition from “gender mainstreaming” to “closing gender gaps” is difficult. (Independent Evaluation Group | World Bank Group). Something the gender team and gender champions at every international development organization struggles with. We know that it’s not that difficult. It just takes intention…and funding. All the high-level talk and strategy in the world won’t make actual on the ground change.

“Well, if there were ever evidence that feminism is a set of useless tropes for young women today, Orenstein’s Girls and Sex is it, though Orenstein herself does not know it.” (Commentary Magazine). I’m pretty sure this review misses pretty much the entire point of Orenstein’s book (which I admit I haven’t read yet). Yes, it is problematic that young women feel pressured into sex acts with their male friends, but that means they need feminism more, not less. And those young men definitely need feminism.

Paypal backpedaled pretty quickly on its all-male panel on gender equality (PayPal). You’d think people would have learned by now.

Indonesia’s feminist holiday on 21 April celebrates an inspiring woman. (Jakarta Globe)

Saturday Tea and Feminism Link Roundup

Welcome to a new weekly feature – 5 links I loved this week about feminism, books, and international affairs.

Welcome to a new weekly feature – 5 links I loved this week about feminism, books, and international affairs.

World Bank Group, SVRI Give Awards for Innovations to Prevent Gender-Based Violence(The World Bank Group)

First Lady Michelle Obama says “Let Girls Learn” at the World Bank Group. (The World Bank Group)

“Denying women their humanity costs humanity a lot.” Why aren’t corporations defending reproductive rights? (The Establishment)

File under “unclear on the concept”: The Nigerian “Senate rejected the Gender Equal Opportunities Bill because some lawmakers feared the legislation because…women would ignore their immediate responsibilities and turn to prostitution and homosexuality.”(Premium Times)

Excellent analysis of the commodification of “empowerment.” (The New York Times)


Until all women worldwide enjoy the same rights and ability to participate in society as men, we need International Women’s Day.

Every year on International Women’s Day a few people come out to ask why there is a whole day dedicated to women. A whole month for Women’s History. “Where is international men’s day?” they ask. “Where is men’s history month?”

According to recent estimates, women will not be equal with men for 117 years. Between the gender wage gap, the gap between men and women in political and professional leadership roles, and everyday sexism, women do not feel equal. Inequality between men and women is exacerbated for racial and sexual minorities, persons with disabilities, and other intersecting identities that are not “mainstream.” For example, the pay gap between men and women in the United States doing the same work is 79%. The gap between a white man and a Hispanic/Latina woman is 61%. If that Hispanic woman were also disabled and/or transgender, the gap would he even greater still.

Women like Margaret Hamilton, who wrote code that put men on the moon, or Pauli Murray, a legal scholar, civil rights activist, and priest, are only just now being recognized for their contributions – contributions used by men, without credit in many cases. Until women’s historical and contemporary achievements are recognized, we need Women’s History Month. Until all women worldwide enjoy the same rights and ability to participate in society as men, we need International Women’s Day. Join me in the #PledgeforParity. Work to include women equally in the workforce, community, politics, and any other space traditionally inhabited by men. Let’s reach equality now, not in 117 years.

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity – Part I

Trigger warning: Discussions of rape, sexual abuse, and human trafficking.

On Monday, October 1, Half the Sky, the companion documentary to the book of the same title by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, premiered on PBS.  It starts with George Clooney, Meg Ryan, and other celebrities talking about the women and girls they met around the world, and learning about the issues they face. The film immediately explains it’s reasoning for using celebrities: they are more recognizable than journalists, and thus any project with them attached will automatically get more attention. As Kristof explains the background and situation of each country and issue to the celebrity in each segment, he educates the viewer as well.

If you have not read the book, you should stop here, go get it, read it, and then come back.  Of course, the documentary is stand-alone, but the book is a powerful introduction to women’s issues around the world, and to some of the major players featured in the documentary.

The documentary is a powerful visual complement to the book.  It’s one thing to read about the difficulties raiding a brothel to rescue girls enslaved there – it’s another to watch the raid as it unfolds and see the faces of the victims and their abusers, hear victim’s voices as they tell their stories.

Gender-based violence (GBV) is highlighted in the first segment by introducing women in Sierra Leone, where rape is a culturally accepted practice. It’s more effective for change to come from inside a culture, rather than people from the outside telling them everything they do is wrong, Kristof notes. Amie Kandeh, an International Rescue Committee director of several shelters for sexually abused women is Leonese herself, and therefore is effective to some extent, because she is a member of the culture and community.  She supports those who have been raped and assaulted and reassures them despite the stigma of being a victim. The  social and family consequences of victims are hard – loss of home, educational opportunity, and the ability to marry. Although the police may arrest a suspect, there is very little prosecution or conviction of rapists.

The story continues with Somaly Mam, who rescues and teaches sex slaves in Cambodia.  Her goal is to educate, find employment for, and empower the girls to “say no, if they want to say no.”  Meg Ryan joins Kristof in Cambodia for this segment, which highlights Mam’s mentees and the challenges they face as they recover from the abuse and trauma they faced daily in the brothel.  The segment features a daring raid on a brothel near the Thai border involving Mam, Kristof, and police. What is great about Mam’s story, and the stories of her girls is that they have come from nightmares and now can run, laugh, and play.  They are able to give and receive love and affection.

The episode concludes with a less traumatic segment about educating girls in Vietnam with Room to Read. Educating girls around the world is challenging, but in Southeast Asia, as much of East Asia and India, girls are not valued the way boys are.  Many families do not see the point of educating a girl, yet educating girls is one of the strongest correlations to improved livelihood for both genders. Although girls face opposition to their education, they will do whatever it takes to go to school – bike 17 miles each day or rise at 3AM to do housework before school.

Each segment highlights a particular story, drawing in the viewer to be an intensely personal part of the challenges women face around the world. Gender-based violence, sexual slavery and trafficking, and education are issues everywhere, not just in the countries used as examples.  Raising awareness through the documentary and the book is only the first step.  Shining the light on these issues will hopefully spur others to action against the cultural, structural, economic, and legal opposition to women’s empowerment and women’s rights.

What I like about the structure of the film is that international “experts” like Hillary Clinton, Gloria Steinem  and Melanne Verveer speak about each issue following the personal stories.  They bring it from the personal to the high level, linking an individual’s situation to the international situation and what a person from the United States can do, whether celebrity or just ordinary citizen.

Come back next week for an overview of Part II!