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Poster Terms

There are a lot of terms associated with Feminism and Gender issues which can make it easy to feel overwhelmed when trying to decipher what they mean. We've compiled some definitions to make this language more accessible for those starting out on their Feminist journey.


Feminism is a social and political movement that advocates for equality for all, regardless of gender. It seeks to challenge the patriarchal structures in which society operates and dismantle the systemic oppression and discrimination that women and other marginalized genders face. Feminism aims to achieve gender equality in all aspects of life, including politics, economics, and culture.

As said by Laura Bates in her book ‘Everyday Sexism’, “This is not a men vs. women issue. It’s about people vs. prejudice.”

Feminism has evolved through different waves over the past three centuries, each with its own focus and goals which reflected the societal and political views of the time. First wave feminism, which began in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, focused on securing women's right to vote and access to education. The second wave, emerging in the 1960s and 1970s, tackled issues such as reproductive rights and equality within healthcare systems, discrimination in the workplace, and domestic violence. In the 1990s, third wave feminism emerged and focused on intersectionality. Third wave feminism recognised that women's experiences are shaped by factors such as race, class, and sexuality.

Feminism comes in many forms, including liberal feminism, which focuses on achieving gender equality through legal and political reform; ecofeminism, which explores the connections between the oppression of women and the exploitation of the environment. Other forms of feminism include socialist feminism, which links gender oppression to capitalism, and postcolonial feminism, which examines the intersection of gender and colonialism.

At Fem Soc, we believe Feminism is anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic, anti-transphobic, anti-ableist, anti-classist, and pro-choice. 


Unconscious bias

An unconscious bias is a tendency to favour or dislike certain people or things based on preconceived ideas or prejudice, and such beliefs or tendencies are hidden in our subconscious. Everyone has this kind of bias without realising it, and the effects might be particularly damaging when decisions need to be made, for instance, when hiring or promoting someone.

Due to the hidden nature of these biases, it is very difficult to identify them; the only way to reduce them is by becoming more aware of their existence. Read this article with some examples to increase your awareness. 

The Power of Stereotypes

The power of stereotypes affect everyone, regardless of gender, race, sexuality or age. The present is affected by the stereotypes of the past which were used to exert power and control over marginalized groups.

These stereotypes have a profound impact on individuals, for example intellectually and behaviourally. Studies have linked stereotype threats with women’s underperformance in maths and leadership aspirations. A study showed that men performed worse when decoding non-verbal cues when the test was described as measuring “social sensitivity”, which is stereotypically considered a feminine skill. However, when the task was given as an “information processing test”, they performed much better. Stereotype threats have also been shown to affect educational underachievement and memory performance of the elderly.

Stereotypes lead to a vicious circle as stigmatized individuals experience anxiety, depleting their cognitive resources which leads to underperformance. This “confirms” the negative stereotype and reinforces the fear the individual has.

The Patriarchy

The patriarchy is the dominant social structure in the vast majority of modern societies. Under a patriarchal system, positions of power and privilege are held by men. Patriarchy attempts to justify the dominance of men over women and other gender identities on the basis of biology, despite the fact that many of these outdated suppositions about biology have been disproved many times over.

As sociologist Sylvia Walby writes, patriarchy is “a system of social structures and practices in which men dominate, oppress, and exploit women.”

Such a system can be seen in many different forms in many different areas of life. From politics, to religion, to economics, to societal relations at large, it’s hard to deny the overwhelmingly male influence and often outright ignorance of the issues of women and other minority identities.

It is important to note that patriarchy often works hand-in-hand with other forms of societal oppression such as white supremacy and heteronormativity in order to oppress minority groups. This is why it is crucial to always be mindful of intersectionality and intersectional oppression. 

Reclaim the Night

Reclaim the Night is a movement started by English feminists in the late 1970s to rebel against the fear women and other female-presenting people often feel when walking alone at night. Following the murder of 13 women in Leeds in 1977, women in the area were requested to stay home after dark for their own safety. Feminists fought back against this misogynist, victim-blaming approach by holding the first ever Reclaim the Night march. Such marches are now held regularly worldwide to raise awareness of issues such as femicide and sexual violence.

On March 8th at 6pm we will march from Eyre Square to the Spanish Arch for ‘Reclaim The Night’ demanding an end to the high rates of sexual harassment and gender based violence against women, girls and marginalised genders. We invite you to join us in an act of solidarity, empowerment and inclusivity. It is our birth right to walk safe and secure streets! Reclaim the night!



Coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw (1989), a Black feminist legal scholar,  intersectionality represents a metaphor to examine how different aspects of one’s identity, such as race, gender, sexuality, ability, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status, etc.,  can compound and result in further levels of social disadvantage or oppression.


Historically, feminist theory and developments failed to study gender and the experiences of women with an intersectional focus, which resulted in the alienation of women who did not embody a white, middle-class, cisgender, heterosexual identity, such as women of colour, transgender women, or working class women.

Crenshaw (1989) noted that inequalities were not merely additive but constitutive, giving the example that a Black woman cannot separate her experiences of being a woman from being Black - she experiences inequalities that sit in the intersection of these aspects of her identity.

Taking an intersectional approach to understand inequalities is absolutely crucial, as it allows us to understand that people’s experiences differ immensely as a result of their unique identities and characteristics, and so allows us to challenge structural and social inequalities, from a person-centred perspective. 


Internalised misogyny

Internalised misogyny refers to the acceptance or internalisation of negative attitudes and beliefs about women by individuals, including women themselves. It is often a result of socialisation and exposure to gender norms and stereotypes. 

As Nina Cherry explains “As feminists, we confidently believe that we view everyone equally, but internalized misogyny sits somewhere in most of us".

Every day we see women subconsciously project sexist ideas onto other women and even onto themselves – especially in the media, which makes it easier for us to normalise it and not see it for what it is.   

It can be really difficult to identify it but here are some tell-tale signs: prioritising male opinions, conforming to traditional gender roles, discrediting feminist ideals (like gender equality), negative feelings about yourself and hostility towards other women, ESPECIALLY when men are around.  

Recognising internalised misogyny involves self-reflection and a willingness to learn.  Engaging in conversations about gender roles, stereotypes, and feminism can help raise awareness and challenge internalised misogyny.  


Weaponised Incompetence

Weaponised incompetence when viewed from a feminist perspective in when people, usually men, pretend to be less capable than they truly are.  They do this by playing into stereotypes that suggest women are naturally better at certain tasks, like housework and caregiving.  This reinforces the idea that women should take on certain roles, while men can avoid these responsibilities without consequence.   

This tactic harms progress towards gender equality by perpetuating unfair expectations and limiting opportunities for women.  The comedic aspect of this issue hides a serious issue – the imbalance of emotional and physical labour in heterosexual relationships.  

To address weaponised incompetence we need to challenge these stereotypes and create an environment where this behaviour is not accepted and people are not expected to do certain tasks based solely on their gender identity.  We need to break down this idea from the ground up so kids don’t think it’s normal that one parent does all of the laundry, cooking and cleaning.  We need to break this endless cycle and work towards a society where everyone can thrive regardless of stereotypes.  


The Male Gaze

The theory of the ‘Male Gaze’, as Laura Mulvey (1975) established in studying how women were portrayed in old Hollywood cinema, describes how women appear as objects and not an active agent in visual arts, such as film and television, and in literature, under the male heterosexual perspective that dominates over media. Male Gaze theory suggests that women are placed as sexual objects for the pleasure of the male audience, and can produce negative stereotypes of women, of being voiceless and passive, existing solely to accompany the male character.

This is incredibly harmful and takes agency from women. It is an extremely heteronormative concept, focusing on heterosexual male gratification and the objectification of women.

Take for example, one of the women in the James Bond films, Pussy Galore. Pussy Galore, is highly sexualised by Bond, who forcibly tries to kiss her, despite knowing that she is a lesbian. The very fact that Galore is there is to indicate how powerful and domineering Bond is.

The Male Gaze theory is an interesting perspective from which to view visual media, to deepen understandings of oppression and misogyny that are experienced by women, and how stereotypes and objectification can become commonplace as a result of the male gaze being prominent in popular culture.

Substantive Equality 

Substantive Equality

The principle of substantive equality refers to the achievement of true equality of result and equality of opportunity. It is achieved through equal access, equal opportunity and, most importantly, the provision of services and benefits in a manner and according to standards that meet any unique needs and circumstances of individuals. It has a focus on addressing the structural obstacles and barriers which led to inequality in the first instance. It aims to bring all people, regardless of their disadvantage, to the same starting point and to give people to chance to compete equally to achieve the same result. It recognises the importance of redistribution of power, representation, and recognition as significant foundations on the way to achieving substantive equality in society.


Gender: A Social Construct

 The idea that gender is a social construct outlines that gender is something that is not connected to sex, or one’s body, but can be described as a subjective state in which one perceives themselves as a certain gender, such as man or woman.


As a social construct, gender is made real by convention or collective agreement by society, as seen through gender roles, which refer to learning and performing socially accepted characteristics for a given gender, for example, dressing, acting, speaking, and conducting ourselves in a certain way (such as girls wearing skirts, and boys wearing trousers, or girls playing with dolls and boys playing with cars), and gender norms, which refer to social principles that govern the behaviour of people, such as women being passive, and men being assertive.


Gender is taught to us through the process of socialisation, from birth, whereby these gender roles and norms are taught to us from the world around us, by parents, teachers, friends, and wider society. Therefore, it is socially constructed, because of how we act out gender by the way it is taught to us. It is not biologically determined and is different to one’s sex.

Image Based Abuse

This term refers to violence and abuse carried out through digital or virtual means. Acts covered under image based abuse include image based sexual abuse, which refers to sharing intimate images of another person without consent. Other examples include possessing or sharing non-consensual images of a sexual nature. Virtual flashing, sending sexual images or videos to another person without consent  and taking intimate images of another without consent are other examples. Using AI technology to project someone's likeness onto sexual imagery is a new development under image based violence or abuse. This is colloquially known as creating “deep fakes”.  Image based sexual abuse was introduced into Irish Criminal Law under the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Act 2020.

Coercive Control

Coercive Control refers to a persistent pattern of coercive, controlling or threatening behaviour perpetuated by an intimate partner. This can include some or all forms of domestic violence. Types of Domestic abuse seen within coercive control include emotional or psychological, physical, financial or sexual abuse. This can be perpetuated by a current or past partner. Coercive Control has a severe impact on the victim, creating a culture of fear and distress. The impacts of these acts can result in a person being isolated from family and friends, changing their routines, and causing disruption and distress to their daily lives.  Coercive Control severely harms the victim’s physical and emotional health and wellbeing. Coercive Control is criminalised under the Domestic Violence Act 2018, which commenced in January 2019. 


The Invisible load (incl. Domestic and emotional labour)

The invisible load refers to the unseen and unpaid labour carried out in society. This labour is not financially rewarded and is often performed by women in households. The invisible load in a general sense can be characterised as the stress that persons carry that no one sees and that drives our emotional state. The invisible load creates stress and mental strain as various duties and responsibilities outside of the work environment weigh on a person’s mind. Often this load is in relation to emotional and domestic labour.


Domestic Labour can be described as the performance of household tasks that are necessary for a functioning household or family. Tasks that fall under this bracket include childcare, cooking, cleaning, maintenance of a household and caregiving for children or dependent family members. Despite society having modernised beyond expecting women and mothers to abstain from employment in order to run households, the role of domestic labour still falls heavily on women. Society continues the expectation of women carrying out the majority of these household duties, despite commitment to outside employment. 


Emotional Labour was initially coined to describe the work involved in managing your emotions and mental wellness while maintaining a career or employment. In modern society, emotional labour has evolved into a phenomenon highlighting the stark difference in how this labour is managed, based on societal gender roles. This links with domestic labour as women continue to bear the majority burden of emotional and domestic tasks within their households. Examples of emotional labour performed in households include, maintaining relationships and social contact with extended family, organising recreational activities for children, providing emotional support to family members, anticipating needs of family members, organising events and activities and expressing affection to family members. The expectation that women must bear this load stems from the characteristics we associate with different genders under a patriarchal society. The preconceived notion that women are inherently more equipped to deal with matters of emotion, planning and organising creates these gender roles and expectations. 

Intimate Partner Violence

Intimate Partner Violence refers to behaviour within an intimate relationship that causes psychological, physical, sexual or emotional harm to the victim. This includes physically violent acts such as beating, hitting and slapping. Sexual Violence includes forms of sexual assault, forced or coerced sexual acts and/or intercourse. Emotional or psychological abuse includes acts such as verbal abuse, gaslighting, negging, continuous insults, humiliation, intimidation and threats. Coercive Control is also included under the umbrella of intimate partner violence. Controlling behaviour such as isolation from family and friends, restricting access to finances and monitoring the victim’s location. Intimate Partner Violence is an appropriate term to use when referring to violence in relationships between young people who are not cohabiting or married. This is because the term domestic violence often fails to resonate with younger people, based on the misconception that domestic violence only refers to married couples or cohabiting couples.

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