Centering the Margins is a unique initiative aimed at addressing the particular needs of survivors from marginalized communities. However, some language used to describe people of different identities and sexual violence is not common knowledge. As a way to bridge the gap between academia and the general public, we have decided to include definitions of jargon and concepts commonly used in our work that students may not know.
Ableism - Negative attitudes, prejudices, and/or discrimination against people with disabilities. Such examples include mass media portraying those with mental illness as being violent, barriers to prevent people in wheelchairs from accessing buildings, and denial of basic services to those who have a mental handicap. Practices also include exclusion or lack of consideration towards people with disabilities in the form of assuming that all people have certain abilities, or not altering a space to be accessible to people with disabilities.
Capitalism - An economic and political system based on productivity and corporate profit. It’s also organized for very few people to hold wealth and power based on the work and labor of everyone else for others to be in poverty. For example, chattel slavery and prison are examples of institutions rooted in capitalism, where people are harshly treated, only valued based on their productivity with little or no pay. Usually pushing marginalized people further toward poverty.
Cishet - Shorthand for a person who is both cisgender and heterosexual.
Cisgender - A gender identity, or performance in a gender role, which describes people whose gender identity matches the one they were assigned at birth.
Class - A social hierarchy based on economic status where those who are wealthy hold the most power — usually white people, mostly men — and those who have less wealth also have less access to resources and basic necessities. For many people in poverty and come from low income backgrounds, class determines social mobility and often prevents low income communities and people in poverty from moving upward financially and in society.
Classism - A set of laws, practices, and beliefs that gives unearned benefits to the wealthy (ie. tax breaks) while disadvantaging low-income/working class people. In conjunction with capitalism, a classist society values people based on their wealth while demonizing the poor and those who need additional government support (ie. people on welfare). It also perpetuates disparities in access to wealth, quality education, opportunity, and government safety nets and resources.
Colonization - The domination of a particular nation, community, society, or group of people by a foreign or outside nation, force, or country. For example, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands are US colonies or territories.
Decolonization - Decolonization refers to the process of rejecting colonial authority, beliefs, and discriminatory systems which oppresses the colonized people while reclaiming their practices, customs, and decolonized systems. When activists use this term, usually it is meant to deconstruct the ideas, social hierarchies, and images that colonization brought such as ideologies that reinstate images of darker skin being inferior to lighter skin.
Ethnicity - refers to cultural traits shared between groups such as religion, language, national origin, etc. Many people integrate ethnicity as part of their identity, however it’s important to distinguish between race and ethnicity. For example, many people from Latin America identify as Latinx, however Latinx come from different racial backgrounds such as Black Latinx, who derive from enslaved Africans brought to Latin America, and White Latinx, who derive from European colonizers who enslaved Africans and stole land from the Indigenous people living in Latin America.
Gender - refers to the social and cultural distinctions usually associated with being male or female due to the common societal practice of assigning a person’s gender based on their sex without regard to how the individual identifies. Gender is an expression of oneself based on notions of masculinity and femininity.
Gender Identity - refers to how people identify or express themselves based on their gender, either assigned from birth or not. Synonymous with gender, gender identity, is usually used as a way to verbally challenge the notion that gender has been socially constructed into a static binary. For instance, people will refer to trans or non binary people as having a “gender they identify with” which verbally invalidates their gender, whereas cisgender people are referred directly as men or women. For the purposes of EROC, “gender identity” is used to validate those whose genders have been determined by themselves (not by a doctor at birth) and give students the language to define discrimination on the basis of being TGNB and a student’s gender identity.
Gender Fluid - A gender identity that lies outside man or woman which embraces a flowing and changing quality to the expression of one's masculinity and femininity. It has also been known to be expressed through having changing levels of overt masculinity and femininity or by switching between different genders as one pleases.
Gender Non Conforming - a term that can be used to describe one's gender either in the sense of that person does not identify within the binary of man and woman, and they are agender, or genderfluid, etc.; or that is how they have so named their gender and don’t identify with genders of another name.
HBCU - An acronym for “historically Black colleges and universities”
Heterosexism - The system that gives unearned privileges to heterosexual people while discriminating against homosexual people, usually by portraying heterosexuality as the standard and other sexual orientations as “other.” One prime example, is the previous debate around same sex marriage before the 2014 Supreme Court decision.
Homophobia - Negative attitudes, prejudices, and/or discrimination towards individuals/groups who identify as LGBQ+. Such examples include portraying queer people as being sexually deviant and heterosexual people as “normal”, religious groups condemning homosexuality, and employers turning away queer people from work on the basis of sexuality.
Identity - The qualities, beliefs, and expressions of any individual and/or group.
Institutional Betrayal - Acting in ways that inflict harm perpetrated by an institution (ie. schools, military, government) against individuals who are dependent on it for safety and well-being.
Institutionalized - Something that is established in practice or custom.
Intersectionality - A womanist/Black feminist sociological theory first coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw which studies overlapping or intersecting social identities within the context of social hierarchies and related systems of oppression, domination, and discrimination. One issue in which intersectionality unpacks is the gender and racial wage gap in which most women of color earn the least amount of money compared to men of color, who earn less than white women, who earn less than white men. Intersectionality explores the larger trends behind the compounded inequalities Black women face in comparison to other women of color, white women, and men. For more information please watch this video from the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture titled “The ABCs of Intersectionality.”
Intersectional Feminism - Or women of color feminism, views the world with consideration to how intersectional identity interacts with and stems from multiple systems of oppression. Intersectional feminism promotes activism not just for women, but acknowledges how race, ability, economics, gender, institutionalized systems of hierarchy, etc. contribute to and affects all peoples.
Intersex - Describes someone whose sexual or reproductive anatomy differs from the typical definitions for male and female. They can possess different characteristics in their sex chromosomes, sex hormones, and sexual organs. More information here.
LGBTQ (QIP2SAA) - An acronym for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer.” There are also longer versions that can hold as many as 11 letters meaning “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, pansexual, two spirit, androgynous, and asexual.”
Male Privilege - Cisgender men, or those perceived to be male, have privilege which provides unearned advantages and rights to them on the basis of perceived gender at the expense of non cisgender men.
Marginalization - Systemic social exclusion and disenfranchisement of particular groups because of their identities ie. marginalized communities are people of color, LGBTQ folks, low income people, and people with disabilities.
Microaggression - A statement, action, or incident regarded as an instance of indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group
Nationality - Describes a person’s nation of origin. Many times people conflate race, ethnicity, and nationality with one another and use these terms as synonyms, however they are all different.
Non Binary - Describes people whose gender identity does not subscribe to society’s binary (two) genders of man and woman.
Oppression - The socially supported and enforced mistreatment and exploitation of a group of individuals solely based on their identity, which is maintained in society through laws, social practices, and customs. Oppression is based on social power dynamics which allows those with institutional power to assume a dominant position over other groups of people. Oppression is systemic and institutionalized.
Patriarchy - A set of beliefs, practices, laws, and institutions that privileges men over everyone else. A system in which men hold the most wealth and power in government, businesses, and property and corporation ownership. A few examples are the history of voting rights and property ownership only being afforded to men. Present day examples is the gender wage gap or the male dominated government making decisions on female reproductive health policies, funding, and rights.
Prison Industrial Complex - A term that refers to the rapid expansion of the US prison system for sole means of profit. Many scholars have found that the prison system unjustly imprisons Black and brown people. The prison industrial complex is one result of the interaction of the racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, and capitalist system in place in the US. These factors disproportionately criminalizes and funnels women of color, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ people into the prison system and forcing inmates to work for cents, while creating a violent environment that disregards the humanity of the inmates and often violates human and civil rights.
Privilege - Having unearned advantages and rights granted to certain people based on their identity or proximity to particular social groups at the expense of those without privilege. People can have privilege based on a number of social identities: men, cisgender people, people without disabilities, wealthy people, heterosexual people, etc. all have privilege based on their membership within these groups. See Male and White Privilege.
Pronouns - Words that can function itself as a noun such as a person. Typically, when people are assigned a gender at birth, the pronouns used to describe the person is cisnormative. For instance, people who are assigned to be boys are given he/him/his pronouns and girls are given she/her/hers. However, because everyone is not cisgender, neither pronouns nor gender should be assumed. Rather including your pronouns in introductions creates a culture where assuming pronouns less normalized.
Race - Describes a group of people of shared socially constructed characteristics (ie. skin color, hair texture, etc.). Although race is not grounded in science and biology, groups of people are treated different socially due to their membership to a particular race.
Racism - A set of practices, laws, institutions, and systems that are both institutional and personal which gives unearned advantages, rights, and privileges to white people while creating negative stereotypes against people of color to justify violence and discrimination. Examples of this include media portrayals of Black and brown people as being dangerous and police violating the civil liberties of Black and Latinx populations (i.e., stop and frisk and the War on Drugs, etc).
Rape Culture - A societal culture which normalizes rape, particularly sexual violence against women and girls.
Sex- A person’s sex is determined by their sexual organs and combination of sex chromosomes (testosterone, etc.) Sex does not always neatly correlate to a binary of male/female as there are people born with additional chromosomes. It is a normalized practice to erase the existence of intersex folks, and force infants into one of the binaristic categories. Sex, also does not need to align with the gender a person was assigned at birth.
Sexism - Negatives attitudes, prejudices, and/or discrimination against women based on sex while benefitting cisgender men at women’s expense. Such examples include wage discrimination against women for the same work as man’s, portrayals of women as being inferior or emotional, and rampant sexual violence towards them.
Transgender - Refers or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender do not align with their gender or sex assigned at birth. Additionally, some gender non-conforming and non binary people identify under the transgender umbrella, while others do not.
Transphobia - Negative attitudes, prejudices, and/or discrimination to individuals/groups who are transgender, while benefitting cisgender people. Examples include attempted legal defenses such as trans panic defense (i.e., “my client feared that this trans person was going to rape them”) - which is only banned in the State of California.
Toxic Masculinity - Refers to the harmful socialization of boys and men to be emotionless (except when expressing anger), violent, and sexually aggressive. It also pushes cishet boys and men to be apathetic and feel entitled to be dominant or in control over women and the LGBTQ community.
Undocumented Immigrants - People who do not have legal documentation to reside in the United States.
White Privilege - Unearned advantages, rights, and privileges given to white people on the basis of race at the expense of people of color. It is a structure wherein whiteness comes with political, financial, and social benefits through the dehumanization, genocide, and absence of these privileges and basic human and civil rights for people of color. A common misconception is that poor, disabled, LGBTQ white people and white people who experience hardship are not privileged, this is false. All white people have white privilege because all white people have the privilege of social acceptance, upward economic mobility, and representation and benefit from racism at the expense of people of color.
White Supremacy - The social and systemic establishment of whiteness as dominant, the norm, and more valuable than other races. White supremacy perpetuates ownership, genocide, and sexual violence over people of color.
Womanism - A field of study of Black women’s liberation which specifically addresses the role different identities play and how they interact with one another within the larger social structure of white supremacy.
Xenophobia - The distrust, unreasonable fear, or hatred of foreigners or anything perceived as foreign or different.