Glossary

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A

  • Age of consent – The age at which a person is considered by law to be able to consent to sexual activity. Someone above this age who has sex with someone below it can be charged with statutory rape, even if the younger person wants to consent.

  • Adjudicate – The legal process by which a judge or arbiter reviews argumentation and evidence, by opposing litigants or parties, to come to a decision which determines the obligations and rights between the parties involved.

  • Affirmative consent – Explicit, informed, and voluntary agreement to participate in a sexual act. Shifts the measurement for consent from ”no means no” to “yes means yes.”

  • Agender – A chosen or felt lack of gender identity.

  • Anti-choice – Opposition to a pregnant woman’s choice of a medically induced abortion.

  • Asexual – In the context of human sexuality, someone who either does not experience or has not yet experienced any sexual desires at all, or who has experienced/does experience sexual desires, but not a desire to enact them with other individuals.

  • Autonomy – The state or condition of being independent and/or having the right to independence.

B

  • Binary – Made up of two things or parts; a system with only two possible options or parts

  • Bisexual – A term for sexual orientation which describes a person who can be sexually and emotionally attracted to people of more than one gender

  • Burden of proof – The requirement that the plaintiff (the party bringing a civil lawsuit) show by a "preponderance of evidence" or "weight of evidence" that all the facts necessary to win a judgment are presented and are probably true. In a criminal trial the burden of proof required of the prosecutor is to prove the guilt of the accused "beyond a reasonable doubt," a much more difficult task. In some issues it may shift to the defendant if they raise a factual issue in defense.

C

  • Campus judicial board – A college or university body which has two primary responsibilities: 1) Educational outreach to faculty and students, 2) Hearing and deciding cases of contested student misconduct.

  • Censorship – Government suppression or prohibition of any parts of social media, Internet sites, books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene or politically unacceptable.

  • Cisgender – Describes people who have a gender identity which is traditionally thought to “match” their assigned sex as birth. 

  • Classism – Prejudice, discrimination and oppression based on the social or economic class/status or perceived or assigned social or economic status.

  • Clear and convincing (burden of proof) – Means that the evidence is highly and substantially more likely to be true than untrue; requires roughly a 75% likelihood of guilt, or approximately 75% confidence that the facts support the decision.

  • Comprehensive sex education – Medically accurate curriculum that provides young people with positive messages about sex and sexuality as natural, normal, healthy parts of life.

  • Consent – To agree to do something or give permission. In the context of sex, a person is giving full consent/is consenting when they freely and actively agree to do something sexual with someone else; however, the person still has the right to change their mind at any point. A person is NOT consenting if they do not actively agree, have been forced or pressured in some way or are in a state where they are incapable of full consent (such as when asleep, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or below the legal age of consent).

  • Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) – Organizations that seek to intercept women with unintended pregnancies who might be considering abortion. Their mission is to prevent abortions by persuading women that adoption or parenting is a better option. CPCs generally provide peer counseling related to abortion, pregnancy, and childbirth, and may also offer additional non-medical services such as financial assistance, maternity clothes, and adoption referrals. CPCs have frequently been found to disseminate false medical information, usually about supposed physical or mental-health risks of abortion, but sometimes also share misinformation regarding the effectiveness of condoms and preventing sexually transmitted infections. 

D

  • Data – Characteristics or information, usually numerical, that are collected through observation. In a more technical sense, data is a set of values of qualitative or quantitative variables about one or more persons or objects, while a datum is a single value of a single variable.

  • Dating violence/dating abuse – Dating violence is a pattern of assaultive and controlling behaviors that one person uses against another in order to gain or maintain power and control in the relationship. The abuser intentionally behaves in ways that cause fear, degradation and humiliation to control the other person. Forms of abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional and psychological.

  • Deepfakes – Synthetic media in which a person in an existing image or video is replaced with someone else's likeness. Deepfakes have garnered widespread attention for their uses in celebrity pornographic videos, revenge porn, fake news, hoaxes, and financial fraud.

E

  • Enthusiastic consent – The model of consent that encourages people to make sure the person they're about to have sex with is enthusiastic about the sexual interaction and wants to be there.

F

  • Feminism – Feminism is a range of social movements, political movements, and ideologies that aim to define, establish, and achieve the political, economic, personal, and social equality of the sexes.

  • Free speech – The freedom of individuals or communities to articulate their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or legal sanctions by the government. 

G

  • Gay – In the context of sexuality, a word for sexual orientation which either describes a man who is sexually and emotionally attracted to other men, or a person of any sex or gender who is socially and emotionally attracted to people of the same or a similar sex or gender.

  • Gender – Characteristics that are seen or presented as distinguishing between male and female in a society. Gender may or may not include assigned or chosen: social roles, feelings, behaviors and/or presentation or appearance.

  • Gender expression – The way people externally communicate gender identity to others through their behavior and their outward, chosen appearance.

  • Gender fluid – A nonbinary gender identity that is not fixed and is capable of changing over time.

  • Gender identity – A person’s own sense of whether and in what sense they feel they might be a woman, a man, neither, a mixture of genders, or another gender entirely.

  • Gender nonconforming – People who do not adhere to or protest cultural rules or norms about dress, behaviors or activities for people based on their sex.

  • Gendernormative – What is socially and culturally considered “normal” for a given sex or gender, even if it isn’t. These ideas may be widespread, or may be specific to a given area, group, or historical period of time.

H

  • Heteronormative – The belief that heterosexuality, predicated on the gender binary, is the norm or default sexual orientation. It assumes that sexual and marital relations are most fitting between people of opposite sex.

  • Hookup culture – A culture that accepts and encourages casual sexual encounters, including one-night stands and other related activity, without necessarily including emotional intimacy, bonding or a committed relationship.

I

  • #iwillspeakup – In the immediate aftermath of #MeToo, A CALL TO MEN launched the #IWillSpeakUp campaign in collaboration with Joyful Heart Foundation. The campaign implores men to speak up and support survivors of sexual assault, abuse, and harassment.

  • Intersex – A general term used to describe a variety of conditions where a person is born with reproductive and/or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to, or isn’t understood to, fit the typical definition of female or male, and/or is born with a chromosomal combination other than XX or XY. 

  • Intersectional – A theoretical framework for understanding how aspects of a person's social and political identities might combine to create unique modes of discrimination.

J

K

  • Kink – Describes sexual practices or activities which a person or group of people considers to be outside “the norm.”

L

  • LGBTQIA+ – L = lesbian, G = gay, B = bisexual, T = transgender, Q = queer/questioning, I= intersex, A = asexual (or ally), + = additional letters that are sometimes added and include: U = unsure, P = pansexual, S = straight allies.

M

  • Man Box – A rigid set of expectations, perceptions, and behaviors of what is “manly” behavior.

  • Mandated reporter – Some university faculty and staff who are required to promptly report to the campus Title IX officer or a Title deputy coordinator when they become aware of- or witness sex or gender-based discrimination, harassment, sexual misconduct or retaliation.

  • #MeToo – A social and political movement against sexual harassment and sexual abuse where people publicize their allegations of sex crimes committed by powerful and/or prominent men.

  • Moral panic – A widespread fear, most often an irrational one, that someone or something is a threat to the values, safety, and interests of a community or society at large. Typically, a moral panic is perpetuated by the news media, fueled by politicians, and often results in the passage of new laws or policies that target the source of the panic. In this way, moral panic can foster increased social control. They are often centered around people who are marginalized in society due to their race or ethnicity, class, sexuality, nationality, or religion.

N

  • Nondisabled – A person who does not have a disability.

  • Nonbinary – Refers to individuals who may identify as gender fluid, agender, third gender, or something entirely different.

O

  • Orgasm – A climax of sexual excitement and arousal.

P

  • POC (person of color) – Usually refers to all and any peoples of African, Latino/Hispanic, Native American, Asian or Pacific Island descent; the intent of the term is to be inclusive. Replaces the term “minorities,” which can be demographically and numerically inaccurate.

  • Preponderance of the evidence (burden of proof) – One standard of evidence; the burden of proof is met when the party with the burden convinces the fact finder that there is a greater than 50% chance that the claim is true; requires at least 50.1% confidence that the facts support the decision, or just over a 50% likelihood of guilt. Sometimes referred to as “50% and a feather.”

  • Prostate – A walnut-sized gland located near the bladder.

Q

  • Queer – An umbrella term of liberation and self-description for those who do not identify as cisgender and/or heterosexual and/or heteroromantic.

R

  • Rape culture – A society infused with social attitudes that normalize or trivialize sexual assault and abuse.

  • Reproductive justice — The human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.

  • Revenge porn – Explicit sexual images or videos of a person nonconsensually posted on the Internet, usually by a former sexual partner and intended to cause distress or embarrassment. More accurately called online sexual abuse.

S

  • Safer sex – Practices and activities that lower risk to sexually transmitted infections (STI’s). Sometimes called “safe sex,” but no sex is 100% safe due to transmission risks, asymptomatic partners, etc.

  • Sex (as opposed gender) – The classification of a person as male or female; a combination of bodily characteristics including: chromosomes, hormones, internal and external reproductive organs, and secondary sex characteristics.

  • Sexual assault – Acts of sex-based violence ranging from verbal to physical acts (e.g., groping, grabbing, fondling, rape).

  • Sexual orientation – A person’s sexual identity in relation to the gender(s) to which they are attracted.

  • Sexual politics – Analysis of relations among sexes in terms of power, policy, and outcomes.

  • Sexual violence – See sexual assault.

T

  • Title IX – Part 9 of a federal anti-discrimination law passed as part of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX states that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

  • Transgender [Trans* or Trans] – An umbrella term for people whose gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth.

U

V

  • Vulva – The external part of female genitalia. Often incorrectly referred to as the “vagina.”

W

  • WOC (woman or women of color) – A term used to describe female people of color.

X

Y

Z