It’s Women’s History Month and here at Bookstr, we’ve made it our mission to take advantage, to present articles and graphics that highlight women in all their glory. From breakers of glass ceilings to activists, artists, and authors, we’ve written about the women who have made a difference in humanity, no matter the scale of impact.
As a company dedicated to all things bookish, we recognize that words are some of the most powerful tools at our disposal. Words define how we perceive the world and how the world perceives us. We’ve gathered a few impactful words that have sprung forth through the struggles that women have faced over the course of human history. These words have significance; they have power. Many of them have been used derogatorily by groups opposing the activism of women throughout history.
Definition: The advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.
“She had a lifelong commitment to feminism.”
Synonym: women’s liberation
This word is the most misunderstood word on our list. Almost 200 years old, it has been used as a slur against women, as a throwing stone lobbed at those who want political and social equality as a defamation of character. To be a feminist — the patriarchy states — is to hate men. A radical intentionally-coined definition by those who want to further suppress the equality of women’s rights.
Definition: Dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.
“She felt she was struggling against thinly disguised misogyny.”
Misogyny can be the hidden skeleton in the closet that many do not even realize they partake in. While there is outright misogyny happening all the time, it’s the internalized misogyny that hits the hardest sometimes. An ingrained idea that somehow women are lesser than, weaker than; a view pushed onto one by their society and history.
Definition: Related to the way in which different types of discrimination (such as sexism) are connected to and affect each other.
“Intersectional feminism includes all women.”
While feminism is a term coined to group all women together, intersectional feminism understands that the term woman is an umbrella that houses many diverse groups of women. Intersectional Womanhood was a term utilized by Audre Lorde throughout the 1970s-1990s to describe women such as herself, a black lesbian, who needed further representation.
Definition: (of a man) explain (something) to someone, typically a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.
“I’m listening to a guy mansplain economics to his wife.”
There is nothing more frustrating than a man disrespectfully explaining something he has little knowledge of to someone who knows the material better. This happens whether the subject is economics or female bodily functions. Somehow having the (Y) chromosome automatically raises the superiority complex men have when it comes to the dissemination of knowledge, understanding be damned.
Definition: A woman who is the head of a family or tribe.
“In some cultures, the mother proceeds to the status of a matriarch.”
Synonym: Female leader
First used in 1606, this term expresses a power dynamic vastly different than the current society in which we are embroiled. In fact, other than in a few small areas around the world, human history has been overly patriarchal. Whereas men are the power holders in many organizations, in a matriarchal society women would hold sway, and power shifts would see more women at the helm.
Definition: The right to vote in political elections.
“Women in the United States were granted suffrage in 1920.”
It has only been 103 years since the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified giving women the right to vote in the United States. Given the current political climate and the decimation of women’s rights happening in the US, we can only hope that this right isn’t stripped, as well.
The process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in one’s life, and claiming one’s rights.
“Political steps for the empowerment of women.”
This one means many things to women. From the political equality gained in the codifying of laws to the selfless act of straightening another woman’s crown. Empowerment is the bolstering of women and their rights. It is the reinforcement that women belong at the top alongside their male counterparts. It is the enabling of independence and self-sufficiency without the approval of man.
Definition: A special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group.
“Our current society is set up to privilege opne viewpoint over another.”
Synonym: advantage, benefit
Those who state that there isn’t a privilege inequality are clearly the ones with privilege. A man of any class, though especially white men have the unique privilege of open-door access to almost anything they may want. For example, they are more likely to be hired for a job or would have had a higher salary for the same job as a woman.
Definition: A term coined by Black feminist scholar Moya Bailey “to describe the anti-Black racist misogyny that Black women experience.”
“Misogynoir shows how sexism and racism manifest in Black women’s lives to create intersecting forms of oppression.”
Synonyms: sexism, racism
A term expressing discrimination against women, specifically Black women. Women are categorically given fewer opportunities than men, but Black women and women of color are given even fewer opportunities and recognitions than white women. Watch this clip by EGOT Viola Davis on the racial-gender inequality that is prevalent in job opportunities and wages.
Definition: Right disposition; balance.
“Gender equality is the theoretical state of equanimity between men and women or boys and girls.”
Men and women are different biologically; we can all agree on that fact. But, that difference should place no burden on the equality of men and women in the social, economic, and political spheres. Equanimity must be reached for a more harmonious positive environment.
Definition: Dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against men.
“Poorly disguised misandry.”
Synonym: hatred of men
Compounded from millennia of inequality and the forced second-class status that women have received by the patriarchy has led to the destruction of the woman’s belief in their male counterparts. Actions speak louder than words, and the actions of billions of men over the course of human history have led to this outcome for many women.
Definition: A man who comes across as a feminist due to his sensitive emo demeanor but who is in fact emotionally immature and adheres to unrealistic fantasies of women.
“He said he was breaking up with me because he couldn’t give me the love I deserved.”
“God, what an emosogynist.”
Often disguised as the man who understands but ultimately finds that the woman he thought you were is in fact too much for him. He’ll disguise his hurt as something he is lacking but it’s a backhanded way of saying he can’t handle you. As Elise Meyers says, “Go find less.”
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