International Women’s Day glossary
Today is International Women’s Day, which means your timelines and Twitter feeds will be flooded with various femme-positive hashtags and trending feminist lingo.
For those of us who have not taken gender studies courses, understanding this terminology can be overwhelming and confusing. To help you navigate through your social media outlets and to save you the Google searches, here is a quick guide to all things #internationalwomensday:
International Women’s Day
According to the official International Women’s Day website, International Women’s Day is “all about unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action – whatever that looks like globally at a local level.” It began in 1908 after 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights. International Women’s Day was celebrated across the globe on different days for several years; however, in 1913 March 8 became the internationally recognized date.
According to Merriam Webster, a woman is an adult female person. The word has evolved from its initial Old English spelling of “wifmann”, with the prefix “wif” meaning “female” and “man” meaning “human,” which translates to “female human.” Whereas at one point the term was used to refer to a female servant (among other things), “woman” has since come to be used in modern English as an interchangeable word for female. In an effort to achieve female independence from patriarchal linguistic norms, alternative spellings of this word like “womyn” and “womxn” remove the “-men” or “-man” suffixes
This term was first recorded in 1975 in Lesbian Connection magazine. It published an announcement for the Wolf Creek Womyn’s Festival, or today’s WoLF Fest. Among its principles, the Women’s Liberation Front proclaims, “We are a women-only organization: We are females who survived girlhood,” meaning that this term excludes transgender women. Because of this, “womyn” is becoming a term of the past and more feminists are instead using the term “womxn”.
This term refers to all female-identifying people, no exclusions. While not yet a dictionary-recognized word, “womxn” is used to promote inclusivity of cisgender and transgender women as well as individuals who identify as genderfluid, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, or non-binary. It comes from the same wave of feminism that created terms like “Latinx” and “Filipinx,” however unlike those terms “womxn” has been declared purposefully unpronounceable.
Intersectionality identifies how interlocking systems of power and the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender overlap and impact those who are most marginalized in society.
Feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes. (Not to be confused with man-haters, who are called misandrists)
A patriarchy is a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it. Women taking their husbands’ last names and men holding most positions in government are examples of patriarchal American society.
The #metoo hashtag spread online in October 2017 on social media to help demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace. It went viral soon after the public revelations of sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein. It has since developed several movements to promote awareness of sexual assault, harassment and violence.
Time’s Up Movement
Thanks to the international traction of #metoo, the Time’s Up Movement began in January of 2018 as a direct response to the Weinstein effect. The movement was founded by Hollywood celebrities and has raised $20 million for its legal defense fund as well as gathered over 200 volunteer lawyers.
The Weinstein Effect
The “Weinstein effect” is the term used to refer to the recent global trend in which people have come forward to accuse famous or powerful men of sexual misconduct. After media outlets reported on the numerous sexual abuse allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein, a wave of allegations against men in prominent positions came forth.