Safer Spaces Glossary

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Glossary of sometimes-difficult-to-understand terms related to holding a safer-space.

Ableism
Is a form of discrimination and social prejudice towards ‘disabled’ persons. It is apparent in many ways, i.e. the idea that ‘disabled’ persons are less worthy than ‘able-bodied’ persons, the idea that ‘disabled’ persons are unable to make decisions for themselves, a patronizing behavior or pitying behavior towards ‘disabled’ persons, lack of access to services, venues etc. for ‘disabled’ persons, and others.
Active listening
Is the act of being fully present and available to somebody when they are speaking to you as opposed to merely conjuring your next argument against them while disregarding the validity of what they are expressing (i.e. cooperative inclusive dialog instead of dominating conversation, “argument winning”, or unsolicited monologue).
Ageism
Is stereotyping and discriminating against individuals or groups on the basis of their age. This may be casual or systematic. Examples of this can be prejudicial attitudes towards older people and the aging process and institutional practices and policies that perpetuate stereotypes about and discrimination against older people or people of any specific “age group”.
Butch
A person who is expressing or identifies (whether physically, mentally, or emotionally) as what can be described as ‘masculine’ according to societal norms regardless of their gender/sex. Butch expression may or may not be perceived to be more exaggerated than expected by societal norms.
Cis
Refers to a person whose gender identity matches the sex officially assigned to them at birth based on their sex chromosomes, external genitalia, internal reproductive systems, or hormones.
Classism
Is a differential treatment towards others based on social class or perceived social class. Classism is the systematic oppression of subordinated class groups to advantage and strengthen the dominant class groups. It is the systematic assignment of characteristics of worth and ability based on social class. This includes: individual attitudes and behaviors; systems of policies and practices that are set up to benefit the upper classes at the expense of the lower classes; the culture that perpetuates them. Classism is held in place by a system of beliefs and cultural attitudes that ranks people according to economic status, family lineage, job status, level of education, and other divisions.
Is an act of actively and consciously saying YES to something. This means that a person who gives consent has to be conscious, fully aware and understanding, sober, under no threat, coercion or deception and has to verbally and clearly indicate that they agree to whatever it is they are consenting to. Consent is often talked about in context of sexual acts, touching etc. In relation to this, it is important to understand that nothing but a verbally given YES means consent (i.e. silence, drunkenness, body language, flirtatious behavior, ‘not sure’, ‘maybe’, previously given consent etc. are NOT consent).
Cultural appropriation
Is the adoption of some specific elements of one culture by a different cultural group/individual. It can include the introduction of forms of dress or personal adornment, music and art, religion, language or social behavior. These elements, once removed from their indigenous cultural contexts, can take on meanings that are significantly divergent from, or merely less nuanced than those they originally held.
Femme
A person who is expressing or identifies (whether physically, mentally, or emotionally) as what can be described as feminine according to societal norms regardless of gender/sex. Femme expression may or may not be perceived to be more exaggerated than expected by societal norms.
Gender
Is a range of physical, biological, mental and behavioral characteristics that comprise an identity, which in the current societal binary way of perceiving gender, is either masculine or feminine (while these are the only officially recognized genders, many people identify as i.e. both, neither, genderqueer). This term is also being used to refer to biological sex and sex-based social structures (including gender roles and other social roles). An individuals gender is something only they may define for themselves. Gender is not the same as whatever sex someone has been assigned with at birth.
Homophobia
Encompasses a range of negative attitudes, feelings and behaviors towards homosexuality or/and people who identify or are perceived as being lesbian, gay, bisexual. This includes both interpersonal and institutionalized discrimination. This can be expressed as antipathy, contempt, prejudice, aversion, hatred, hostile behavior and violence.
Intersex
From a medical perspective this is a naturally occurring state that affects the reproductive and sexual system. Intersex people are born with sex chromosomes, external genitalia, internal reproductive systems, or hormones that a doctor has a difficult time categorizing as either male or female as they differ from expected patterns. The existence of intersexuals is evidence of the reality that there are not just two sexes and that binary ways of thinking about sex (trying to force everyone to fit into the male or female box) are socially constructed.
Misogyny
Is the hatred or dislike of women. This can be manifested in numerous ways, including sexual discrimination, violence against women and sexual objectification of women.
Non-hierarchical
Refers to the conscious act of creating equitable relations and/or organizational structure through dismantling existing social and structural norms that facilitate and reinforce power over others, oppression of others, and privilege. In practical terms this also means working to create and use horizontal organizational structures, recognizing unspoken social and organizational hierarchies and exposing them, learning about power dynamics and how to create healthier ones, actively reflecting on and addressing internalized patterns of dominance and control with specific devotion of personal time and energy to positively change them (i.e. self monitoring), being mindful of how you react to other people and how they react to you, learning about your privilege and undermining it intentionally. Its means supporting everyone to be empowered. ☺
Non-neurotypical
Is a person whose brain does not work in the way that is considered “normal” i.e. atypical neurology. Examples of what is currently considered non-neurotypical include: autism spectrum, dyslexia, developmental coordination disorder, ADD/ADHD. Although this term is most commonly used with regards to autism spectrum its definition has broadened in more recent times.
Non-violent communication
Is the practice of self-awareness in relation to communication with others. It places importance on constructive dialog, deescalation of unnecessary aggression, consideration of situational context, trying to understand where others are coming from, respecting each other’s limitations, being aware of how your tone or volume may be interpreted by others, listening actively, relinquishing selfishness while giving respect to both yourself and others.
Objectification
Means treating a person as a thing, without regard to their dignity. This is both on interpersonal and societal level. This includes using a person as a tool for another’s purposes; as if lacking in agency or self-determination; as if owned by another; as in interchangeable; as if permissible to damage; as if there is no need for concern for their feelings and experiences. Sexual objectification means treating a person merely as an instrument of sexual pleasure and is most commonly directed at women; it is also perpetuated by societal norms, media, ‘rape culture’, institutions etc.
Patriarchy
An overarching hierarchical structure within society that is perpetuated by both individuals and institutions in which male-presenting/male assigned at birth individuals tacitly benefit and/or are overtly rewarded by the existing inequalities and power dynamics inherent in structures made by cis-men for their specific benefit and maintenance of power over all others (this exists despite tokenistic inclusion of non-cis men within their realms of acceptance). Male privilege is a product of this dynamic (as well as others). This issue is further obscured in official education/propaganda on the matter with insufficient and/or inaccurate information readily available to the general public. When ‘male privilege’ is invisible to cis-men it is generally because they are either benefiting from it or otherwise not recognizing its negative impacts.
Predatory behavior
A type of behavior used by someone who knowingly or unknowingly uses circumstances of age difference, being new to an organization or organizing in general, and other assumptions of unconsented invitations to be taken advantage of, to gain sexualized power and control over another person in a demeaning and non-consensual way.
Pronouns
There are more pronouns than the masculine and feminine and that they don’t have to be gender-specific. Examples of gender-neutral pronouns are: singular they; co; phe; ‘e (with ‘s instead of his/hers and ‘h instead of him/her); zhe, ze or zher, zer, zir (with shi or hir instead of his/hers and zhim or mer instead of him/her); hu (with hus instead of his/hers, hum instead of him/her and humself instead of himself/herself). Those pronouns may be used when talking about genderqueer persons, when gender is not known or in order not to differentiate genders at all. It is a good idea to ask others what pronoun they would like to be referred to with, instead of assuming it.
Queer
Is an umbrella term for LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, intersex, queer, questioning) community and the term used by some individuals in that community to describe themselves and/or show affinity with others of that community. To identify as queer can as well be a political statement against hetero-normativity, hetero-sexism, socially proscribed gender roles and/or relationship structures (i.e. monogamy). However, it is important to understand that not everybody who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, or intersex will identify as queer.
Queerphobia
Refers to a range of negative attitudes, feelings and behaviors towards queerness or/and people who identify or are perceived as being queer, gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, intersex and generally not hetero-normative. This includes both interpersonal and institutionalized discrimination. This can be expressed as antipathy, contempt, prejudice, aversion, hatred, hostile behavior and violence.
Racism
Is generally defined as interpersonal and institutional actions, practices, beliefs as well as social or/and political systems that are based on the idea that the human species are divided into ‘races’ with shared traits, abilities, qualities, or other cultural behavioral characteristics, and especially that those ‘races’ can be ranked as inherently superior or inferior to others or/and that members of different ‘races’ should be treated differently. This includes violent, symbolic, normalized (i.e. jokes, stereotypes) as well as institutionalized discrimination against a particular group of people defined as one ‘race’ or another.
Rape
Is an act of forcing on another person a sexual contact or/and penetration without consent or with use of physical force, coercion, or deception. Rape is considered a crime in most places, however it is defined differently in various so-called countries and states. Its legal definitions are often incomplete. What specific sexual contact and/or what specific way of penetration is and is not considered rape may also vary from person to person, which means it is difficult to propose a specific and detailed definition. However, we believe that in cases of acts of sexual assault it is the survivors of such acts whose definition and experience of it is most important in considering given act as rape or not.
Sex
Is a biological trait based on differences in gametes (genetic trait that individual organisms inherit from parents) and combinations of chromosomes and reproductive organs. Organisms of many species, including humans, are born ‘with’ a sex. Those sexes are: female, male and intersex (in dated terms hermaphroditic), which is when an organism produces both male and female gametes. Sex is a medical specification and is not the same a gender.
Sex-negativity
Refers to opposition to one or more aspects of human sexuality or/and sexual behavior on social or religious grounds. This means generally perceiving sex as destructive, degrading, ‘sinful’ etc. as well as ranking sexualities and sexual acts hierarchically, with procreative marital heterosexuality at the top and masturbation, homosexuality and other sexualities and sexual acts and behaviors at the bottom. This includes prohibitionist approach, puritan approach and other personal beliefs and attitudes that are in opposition to any or more than one specific sexuality or/and sexual behavior.
Sex worker
Can include anyone who does any of the following work for some kind of reward (cash or otherwise agreed): phone sex operator, sexy web-cam operator, street based sexual service provider, brothel based sexual service provider, private escort, peep-show dancer, stripper (in strip clubs, or privately e.g. strip-o-grams), sensual massage servicer who also provides (most often) limited sexual services, porn star, live sex show provider; some services and work carried out in professional BDSM dungeons or by BDSM professionals may also be considered sex work. This is not to be considered an exhaustive list. People who own or manage establishments where such services are offered are not themselves sex-workers, nor are writers about (real or fiction) or other documenters of aforementioned sexual service providers.
Sexism
Is a prejudice, beliefs, practices, discrimination and stereotyping behaviors against a person of specific sex or/and gender. These are personal beliefs and prejudices, interpersonal behaviors as well institutional, societal and political discrimination (typically against wimmin). Sexist attitudes may stem from traditional stereotypes of gender roles, cultural or/and religious beliefs, or misogyny. They may include the belief that a person of one sex is intrinsically superior to a person of the other. They may result in sexual harassment, rape and other forms of sexual violence (typically against wimmin).
Sexual assault
Is an act of forcing on another person a sexual act without their consent or/and against their will or/and with use of physical force, coercion, deception. Boundaries of what may be named sexual assault and what may be named rape are a gray area and difficult to define specifically and in detail. Similarly boundaries of what may be named sexual assault and what may be named sleazy or inappropriate behavior are a gray area and we believe that the definition and experience of survivors of those acts are most important in considering given act as either. The best way to make sure that sexual assault is not committed in any situation is to ALWAYS ASK and get CONSENT for everything and anything considered sexual or potentially crossing others’ boundaries.
Sizeism
Is a discriminatory behavior and attitude based on the belief that certain ‘size’, weight or height is better than another. It also includes stereotyping about size (i.e. ‘overweight people are lazy or less attractive’, ‘skinny people are mean or sick’ etc.). This type of discrimination can take a number of forms, ranging from refusing to hire someone because they are too short, too tall, too small or too big, treating overweight and underweight individuals with disdain, laughing and joking about someone’s ‘size’, weight or height etc.
Sleazy behavior
TODO
Tokenism
Is a symbolic gesture to or inclusion of excluded specific groups of people or an individual with the covert aim of diffusing validity of criticism or action against whomever is offering said gesture or inclusion. This strategy has been and is also commonly used by powerful individuals and organizations (such as governments and corporations) to destroy large-scale resistance by offering largely useless reform in place of social revolution or affirmative action (generally by co-opting the allegiance of prominent but often benign adversaries).
Trans*
Refers to a person whose gender identity does not match the sex officially assigned at birth based on their sex chromosomes, external genitalia, internal reproductive systems, or hormones. A person who identifies as trans* may or may not decide to or have gender (sex?) re-assignment surgery/gender affirming surgery to change their physical appearance.
Transmisogyny
Is a term that describes how traditional sexism - the belief that ‘maleness’ and ‘masculinity’ are superior to ‘femaleness’ and ‘femininity’ - is applied to transgendered wimmin in the attempt to enforce the traditional patriarchy. It includes antipathy, discrimination, hatred, violence, ridiculing or otherwise sanctioning transgendered wimmin for expressing their ‘femaleness’ or ‘femininity’.
Transphobia
Encompasses a range of negative attitudes, feelings and behaviors towards people who identify or are perceived as trans*. This includes both interpersonal and institutionalized discrimination. This can be expressed as antipathy, contempt, prejudice, aversion, hatred, hostile behavior and violence. It also includes an idea that the sex officially assigned to a person at their birth must be their gender and what they identify with.
White supremacy
Includes both institutional as well as interpersonal racism perpetrated and perpetuated by white people and institutions created by and for the benefit of white people only (this exists despite tokenistic inclusion of non-white people within their realms of acceptance).
Whorephobia
Is the fear or the hate of and discrimination or prejudice against sex workers. It also embraces paternalistic attitudes that deem sex workers a public nuisance, spreaders of disease, offenders against decency or unskilled victims who don't know what is good for them and who need to be rescued. It also shows in disrespect and violence towards sex workers.