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(en) Canada, Collectif Emma Goldman - Glossary: The Words of Male Domination (ca, de, it, fr, pt)[machine translation]

Date Sun, 29 Aug 2021 08:52:24 +0300

Many terms refer to the practices and attitudes that make male domination a still essential cog in many societies. Balises gives you some definitions to accompany the cycle "Feminism has never killed anyone", which is held in early 2021 at the Bpi. ---- Putting a word on sexist behavior or practice makes this attitude visible. When defining an inequality, a word designates it as such. It shows that it is not an isolated case, that it is a system. A word also makes it possible to retrace the history of a practice and to show that it is a socio-cultural construct. By circumscribing a problematic behavior, the word finally makes it possible to think about the means of struggling to be freed from it.

Text from the Balises magazine website.


This notion, developed by the American feminist Susan Faludi, means in French "backlash". In her book Backlash: The Cold War Against Women , initially published in 1991, she develops the idea that the feminist advances obtained during the 1970s led to a conservative reaction during the following decade, calling into question the achievements of women and men. feminist struggles. This backlash is encouraged by the dissemination of anti-feminist ideas in the media and popular culture. It is reflected in particular by the interruption of research on contraception during the 1980s in the United States.

This analysis would remain valid even today, in the aftermath of the #MeToo wave, as illustrated by the column defending "the freedom to annoy" published in the newspaper Le Monde on January 9, 2018.

Boys' club

Historically, boys' clubs are places that appeared at the end of the 19th century in England to allow rich, white and wealthy men from private schools in the country to meet each other outside the domestic space.

The principle is perpetuated through single-sex fraternities, within American universities for example, until the term includes informal networks, often exclusively male and socially homogeneous, whose members are chosen by co-option in order to join forces. help each other. This a priori solidarity mechanism is based on a logic of segregation and exclusion: the boys' club allows the power of its members to be developed to the detriment of those who are not part of it, in particular women, but also homosexual, racialized, or from other social backgrounds.

The LOL League, a private Facebook group created by journalist Vincent Glad, very active between 2009 and 2012 and whose actions were denounced in early 2019 on Twitter, then in an article in Liberation , is emblematic of the functioning of boy 'clubs. The LOL League brought together around thirty people, most of them men, who, under cover of humor, coordinated on the Internet campaigns of denigration and harassment against women, feminist and anti-racist activists, homosexuals, people of color, fat or outside the norms of dominant masculinity. Many members of the LOL League at the time held positions of responsibility in newspapers such as Slate , Les Inrockuptibles orRelease , communication or advertising agencies.

An episode of the Les Couilles sur la table podcast deciphers the logic of male domination aroused by the boys' club's inter-self, but also the norms of virility and masculinity allowing the development of these male socialization networks that structure many societies. .


Bropropriating refers to a situation in which a man appropriates a woman's ideas, consciously or not. The term was first used in 2015 by Time reporter Jessica Bennett . This situation is common in the world of work and often goes hand in hand with "manterrupting". The man does not let his collaborator express herself and takes up the idea she was trying to formulate. In addition, a woman's word or her work is taken less seriously, which gives her collaborators more credit.

See also "Matilda effect" and "Manterrupting".

Mental load or household mental load

Mental load refers to the cognitive load represented by the daily management of the household. The term does not refer to the performance of household tasks, but to the fact of anticipating and coordinating the performance of these activities. If the distribution of the mental load varies according to the family, professional and economic situation, it still falls mainly to women today within heterosexual couples. Not only do women continue to do more household chores than their husbands, but they also take more responsibility for the good running and functioning of the household.

This unequal distribution of roles constitutes a form of insidious oppression because men offload a responsibility onto their partner and expect from them a specific performance, an invisible, time-consuming and anxiety-provoking job. The concept of "mental load" was forged in sociology in the 1980s, but it was widely popularized in France in 2017 thanks to Emma's comic book Fallait Ask .

Emotional load

The emotional load consists in feeling responsible for the emotional comfort of his professional, friendly and family surroundings, very often to the detriment of his own. If emotional work is part, without distinction of gender, of many jobs that involve social interactions (care jobs being nevertheless mainly occupied by women), the emotional load is mainly borne by women, and particularly unevenly distributed across the board. breast of heterosexual couples.

In this context, the emotional load consists of preventing the needs and desires of one's spouse and of minimizing one's own so as not to make him bear them. The emotional load therefore extends to all areas of married life, such as health, leisure or sex. Carrying the emotional burden of the couple supposes more broadly for women to take responsibility for the emotional bond on which married life is based, without receiving in return from their partner the attention necessary for their well-being or persistence of their own feelings. Cartoonist Emma illustrated many aspects of this logic of male domination in her blog The Power of Love in 2018.

Rape culture

The concept of "rape culture" designates a set of behaviors and discourses, very widespread and socially accepted, which minimize, trivialize or even encourage sexual violence. Anthropological studies show that there are societies without rape and others prone to rape, including Western societies. For example, in France, while around 16% of women have suffered at least one rape or attempted rape in their lifetime, what amounts to a real social phenomenon remains largely ignored.

The culture of rape manifests itself through sexist stereotypes which make the victim bear responsibility for sexual assault (skirts that are too short, night out, bad company, etc.). Non-consent is thus questioned and the trauma minimized. Many situations of rape are denied: for example, rape by a spouse or an acquaintance, which are however the most frequent cases. At the same time, male stereotypes excuse or value violent behavior and insulting remarks in the name of "seduction" or "desire".

Heterosexual sexuality thus remains widely regarded as a relationship of domination of the man over the woman whose violence cannot be excluded, while the need for consent is denounced as a new puritanism.

Matilda effect

This sociological concept analyzes the systematic denial or minimization of the contribution of women scientists to research. This phenomenon of invisibilization was theorized in 1993 by the historian of science Margaret Rossiter, in reference to Matilda Joslyn Gage, an American feminist activist who had denounced, as early as the 19th century, "the tendency of men to claim inventions. technological women ".

Margaret Rossiter traces her theory back to the 12th century with the female physician Trotula of Salerno, whose reference works on women's health have often been attributed to men because of their intellectual quality. Among the forgotten by science, we can also cite Nettie Stevens, who identified the XY chromosome characters, Rosalind Franklin, discoverer of the double helix structure of DNA, Marthe Gautier, who detected the supernumerary chromosome at the origin. of Down's syndrome.

This erasure in favor of all male posterity is illustrated by a number: women represent only 3% of Nobel laureates in science. Beyond the world of research, the Matild effect concerns all fields, artistic, literary or sporting, and contributes to fostering institutionalized sexism.

See also "bropropriating".

Feminicide, femicide, gynecide or gynocide

Femicide is the murder of a female person because of her sex.

The term appears in the 19th century in the French language. In the 1960s, in Latin America, a reflection on the specific nature of violence against women began, in particular following the triple murder of the Mirabal sisters on November 25, 1960. In their honor, the day of November 25 has since been dedicated. 1999 to the fight against violence against women. In English, the term "femicide" was popularized in the early eighties by Jill Radford and Diana Russell .

The concept is used by feminist movements to highlight the specific violence of men against women. The definition given by the World Health Organization in 2012 includes homicides committed by a woman against another woman. In France, the use of the term has been recommended in the field of law since 2014. "Feminicide" entered the Le Robert dictionary in 2015 but, in 2020, it is still not recognized by the French Academy.

Since 2016, a census of women presumed victims of conjugal crimes has been carried out by the collective Feminicides by companions or ex. It lists 128 suspected conjugal feminicides in 2016; 138 in 2017; 120 in 2018 and 152 in 2019. Agence France Presse (AFP) keeps its own counter of suspected cases by conducting additional investigations. The existence and the particularity of this crime have also been highlighted in recent years in France by several national dailies such as Le Monde or Liberation , which have published both regular counts of victims, portraits and in- depth investigations .

Feminist cookie

The feminist cookie designates, symbolically, the reward that some men think they deserve who pride themselves on behaving well with women. Denouncing street harassment, making a speech in favor of equality between women and men, or even sharing domestic tasks are basic acts that are certainly beneficial to feminist struggles, but should we therefore thank their authors? The feminist cookie is an ironic answer to this question.

Fisha, or Ficha

Fisha accounts (from verlan "poster") are accounts opened on social networks to host content that is akin to revenge porn (or "pornodisclosure". They complete the arsenal of sexist harassment online. fisha accounts appeared in 2018 and multiplied during the confinement of March 2020, as did sextortion (blackmail in the dissemination of images of a sexual nature) as indicated in this article from Le Monde , from April 7, 2020 .

The victims are generally women, often minors who are "displayed" as easy girls by posting selfies, photos and videos of a sexual nature taken in the private sphere, often accompanied by the girl's contact details.

See also "Slutshaming".


The term forcer designates someone who, in a relationship with a woman, rejects any refusal on the part of his interlocutor to enter into a relationship of seduction. Her attitude is akin to harassment through the denial of consent that she shows. Convinced of being within his rights by his repeated and insistent requests, the forcer uses all means to achieve his ends: hearing yes when he is told no, refusing to take into account the gene he causes, making those who do not feel guilty. do not fit into his game, etc.

Audio link: Right away the big words .

Gender gap

The "gender gap" designates all the social and legal inequalities which, in many societies, favor men to the detriment of women. For example, there is a recognized gender gap in the salary treatment between men and women, the former being better paid than the latter with equal skills and experience, but the gender gap is also illustrated by unequal access to education, or even by an unequal representation of women in certain professions, certain fields or at certain levels of responsibility.


The term "rubbing", originally designating the one who scrubs parquet floors and floors, has become generalized in recent years to designate a person, often a man, who takes advantage of the proximity in public transport to rub his feet. genitals on another person, sometimes until ejaculation. A column signed by a collective of one hundred women in Le Monde of January 9, 2018 on the "freedom to annoy", affirmed that being the victim of a rubbing in the metro can be considered as "the expression of great misery sexual, even as a non-event ". It is in reality a characterized sexual assault punishable by five years in prison and up to seventy-five thousand euros in fines.

Street harassment or street harassment

Street harassment is a form of sexist harassment of which women are victims in the public space. Stranger people send crude compliments, inappropriate remarks, whistles or sexist, racist or homophobic insults to passers-by that they obviously did not ask for and which redouble in intensity when the victim answers or tries to avoid them. .

Often put into perspective and considered as a clumsy seduction practice, this inadequate behavior nevertheless aims at the sexual objectivization of women and the male appropriation of public spaces by contributing to the climate of insecurity.

The study of this phenomenon began in the nineties mainly in the United States. Filmmaker Maggie Hadleigh-West made it the subject of her 1998 documentary War Zon e. She films stalkers and their responses to her questions about their behavior. In France, the term is used in feminist circles but only received media attention in 2012. That year, Anaïs Bourdet opened her tumblr Paye ta shne k in 2012 and collected fifteen thousand testimonies from women victims of sexist harassment in the public space, which attest to the generalization and violence of the phenomenon.

It was not until July 2018 that a law was passed in France to sanction sexist outrage, including street harassment.

Gradually coercive sexual interactions

" No is no!»Claim many participants in feminist demonstrations in order to denounce the sexual assaults of which women are the majority victims. For Noémie Renard, who runs the blog antisexisme.net and published To end the culture of rape(2018), the question of consent during sexual relations must be considered in a more complex way. Indeed, the modalities of coercion to access a sexual interaction do not pass only through physical or verbal violence. Economic constraints, blackmail, very insistent proposals, the timidity of the victim, etc. can be exploited. Moreover, the astonishment in the face of the violence of acts prevents many victims from opposing their aggressor... and even during sexual relations a priori desired by both partners, consent must be constant over time.

The author therefore develops the concept of "gradually coercive sexual relations". It allows us to define the violence occurring during a sexual interaction that began in a consensual manner or through insidious constraints. The aggressor deploys his violence gradually, taking advantage of the presence and initial consent of his victim to commit unwanted acts against him. Many testimonies of gradual coercion can be read on antisexism.net .

Unicorn law

This law refers to Godwin's Law which states that "the longer an online discussion lasts, the closer the probability of finding a comparison involving the Nazis or Adolf Hitler to 1.".

The law of the unicorn states that "the probability that a woman in open source ends up giving a lecture on the fact of being a woman in open source, approaches 1." Here, the word "unicorn" embodies the exceptional and refers to the IT environment from which the author of the formula, Emma-Jane Hogbin, comes, but the law can be extended to all areas in which women are still in the minority. When a woman excels in these circles, she will end up being locked into her role as a woman and reduced to talking about her relationship with the field rather than sharing her expertise.

Male gauze or male gaze

Male gaze is a general attitude in audiovisual works (films, series, advertisements, etc.) which invites us to adopt the point of view of a heterosexual man, by systematically sexualizing women and their bodies and transforming them into objects. This phenomenon is particularly visible when the camera focuses on the forms of the female body (as for example in the films of Abdelatif Kechiche) or when the women are presented as passive in the scenes of sex with a man.

The concept of "male gaze" was invented by film critic Laura Mulvey in her essay Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinem published in 1975. She thus denounced the violence exerted on women by patriarchy and capitalism through a form of voyeurism but also narcissism.

Male tears or tears of a man

The male tears, literally the tears of a man, refer to the complaints of cisgender men who victimize themselves by evoking the difficulties they encounter in society because of their position, while simultaneously reducing the difficulties encountered by women. Male tears, for example, refer to remarks accusing feminists of hating men, of taking power over them or of making any heterosexual seductive relationship impossible. The definition was coined by Anglo-Saxon feminists, the term originally referring to sperm in slang.

Manspreading or male spreading

Manspreading is the behavior of a man sitting in public transport occupying more than his seat by ostensibly spreading his legs, leaving very little room for other passengers present, and more particularly for women.

Photo by WNYC New York Public Radio[CC BY-NC 2.0]on Flickr.


[From "man" and "interrupt"]

In the same vein as mansplaining, we can evoke manterrupting, which refers to situations in which a man interrupts a woman during a discussion or debate. It is Jessica Bennett, columnist for Time magazine , who used this term for the first time in 2015. In either case, the man assumes that he has a priori more legitimacy than the woman to speak. and occupy the sound space.


[From "man" and "slam" (to hit, crush)]

Manslamming is a male behavior that consists of occupying space and considering that it is up to women to deviate from their path to avoid a collision. It was the American Beth Breslaw who popularized this term in 2015 following an experiment she carried out: she did not deviate from her trajectory, leaving the other to avoid it. According to these calculations, the collusions were mainly due to men. This very controversial experiment undoubtedly involves many biases but the term has imposed itself and complements the concept of manspreading. See also "Manspreading".

See also "Manspreading".

Mansplaining or mecsplication or penisplicate

[From "man" and "explain"]

A misplication occurs when a man explains to a woman something the latter already knows, or even when he brings up a subject she knows better than him, all in a generally condescending tone. This recurring practice was first described in 2008 by American author Rebecca Solnit in an article published by the Los Angeles Times , " Men Who Explain Things ".


This term, used for the first time in 1914 by the activist Charlotte Perkins Gilman, indicates the movements of men hostile to the rights of women. Masculinists claim that equality between women and men has now been achieved and that power has passed into the hands of women. These developments would call into question the difference between women and men, which they consider to be natural. Men, victims of the excesses of this new social order, would no longer know how to be men.

One of the best-known masculinist movements is the movement of separated fathers, presented as the victims of their ex-spouses. Born in the United States in the 1950s, his development corresponds to the increase in the number of divorces in the West. Initially focused on the division of property and the amount of alimony, since the 1980s it has focused on the allocation of custody rights for children. This movement also appeared in Europe in the 1980s.


Misogyny is a feeling of contempt or aversion for women because of their gender. This phenomenon of sexist discrimination is not exceptional, it is built in a context of systemic and patriarchal oppression according to feminists. We find traces of it even in the French language (read the article Dear readers, in Balises ).

Misogyny can lead to verbal or physical violence against women and even feminicide.

See also "Patriarchy" and "Feminicide".

Nice guy, or "nice boy syndrome" or wokefishing

The nice guy is a polite and caring straight man who condemns the male chauvinist attitude. He presents himself as a woman's best friend, but his behavior is more akin to a strategy of seduction, conscious or unconscious. Indeed, the nice guy expects an emotional or sexual return from the woman as a reward for his courteous and understanding attitude. As a macho who ignores himself, he does not conceive of other relationships between man and woman. If this super hero of the feminine cause is rejected, inevitably the woman is ungrateful and mean because she refuses him his due.

A variant of the nice boy syndrome is wokefishing , which involves deceptively claiming progressive political views (especially feminist and anti-racist) to win the heart of your future partner. The term was coined in 2020 by journalist Serena Smith by contracting two words. On the one hand, "wokism" means showing awareness of the system of oppression that weighs on minorities. The term originated as part of the Black Lives Matter movement and is mostly used by people of color. On the other hand, the term "fishing" comes from the expression "catfishing", that is to say identity theft.

See also "Feminist cookie".


According to the Larousse dictionary , "the patriarchy is a form of social organization in which the man exercises power in the political, economic, religious fields, or holds the dominant role within the family, in relation to the woman". In a patriarchal system, the masculine is superior to the feminine, but it is also a reference figure by being assimilated to the universal, thus doubly invisible to women.

Patriarchy is based on the material domination of women, through a gendered division of tasks, income, property, etc. But it is also based on a symbolic domination, which is based on a sexist ideology consisting in valuing activities and behaviors assimilated with the masculine and in despising or even prohibiting those which are assimilated to the feminine, without assimilation to the one. or the other genre is based on an external logic in search of domination itself.

The concept of patriarchy was founded in the 1970s by feminist movements to demonstrate that male domination and the resulting oppression of women in the vast majority of societies historically had social and cultural foundations, and in no case biological. Definitions of the term have since been refined and nuanced. Other feminist authors have also demonstrated the historical intricacies between the development of the patriarchal system and that of capitalism (for example, ecofeminist activists like Françoise d'Eaubonne), or between patriarchy and racism (Audre Lorde, in particular).


This term is used by feminists during the sexual revolution of the sixties and seventies to denounce the social, cultural and symbolic domination exercised by men over women. It also designates the system put in place to ensure this domination by hijacking all available institutional and ideological mechanisms. This word, synonymous with the patriarchal system, fell into disuse in the 1980s.

Glass ceiling

This term refers to the invisible brakes that prevent women from accessing positions of responsibility or that hamper their careers. It was invented by feminist sociologists in the 1970s and is still relevant today. Hillary Clinton mentioned it in a speech following her loss to Trump in 2016.

It covers a reality, verified by the figures: women are rare at a certain level of responsibility. With equal skills and qualities, men are privileged because of ingrained prejudices, according to which women are less competent, less available, do not excel in science or in politics. They must fight against male inter-self, a gendered vision of the distribution of tasks and other legacies of our patriarchal societies, and always redouble their work to legitimize their place. These invisible barriers sometimes materialize in sexist remarks when women interfere in areas preempted by men, such as the political sphere. It will suffice to recall Laurent Fabius' question: "Who's going to look after the children?»When Ségolène Royale began a political career at the same time as her companion François Hollande or the whistles that greet Cécile Duflot when she entered the hemicycle in a floral dress.

By extension, the term glass ceiling is used for people discriminated against for other reasons such as the color of their skin, their origin or a disability. We also speak of glass walls, a term used in 1997 in a report by the International Labor Office to illustrate the feminization of certain sectors, often non-strategic in the company, which constitutes an additional obstacle to access to managerial positions.


Sealioning is a form of harassment, during which the aggressor feigns ignorance on a given subject to multiply questions and requests for justification from his victim in a very polite tone, to the point of positioning himself as victim and discredit the speech of his interlocutor, once he or she has pushed the latter to anger and / or to ask for the end of the discussion.

The term comes from a comic strip published by David Malki in 2014 , where a sea lion interferes in a conversation to insistently and absurdly ask two characters to justify their lack of interest in sea lions. The gaming community seized on the expression "sealioning" the same year, as part of a harassment case targeting game designer Zoë Quinn.


[From "slut" (bitch) and "shaming" (shame), translatable into French as "humiliation des salopes"]

Popularized by American and Canadian feminists, this expression designates a set of individual or collective attitudes consisting in demeaning, stigmatizing or making a woman feel guilty because of her sexual behavior (practices, clothes, speech, etc.). Slutshaming is based on the idea that sex is degrading for women, and refuses to see them as sexed and desiring individuals. Slutshaming is also part of what is called rape culture.

This phenomenon has taken on an unprecedented scale on social networks, where very young women are exposed to sexual harassment, sexist insults, degrading remarks about their person, their body or their sexuality. In protest, Slut Walks are regularly organized around the world to denounce ordinary sexism, sexual violence, the guilt of rape victims, and defend the freedom of women to live their sexuality as they hear it.


[From English "by stealth" (furtively)]

Stealthing is a sexual assault in which, during a consensual and protected sexual act, the aggressor removes his condom without the consent of his or her partner.

In 2016, the American lawyer Alexandra Brodsky alerted public opinion by publishing an investigation in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law which defined the mode of aggression and heard testimonies. It shows that stealthing can have more or less serious psychological consequences on the victims. In addition, all fear an unwanted pregnancy or the contraction of an STD or STI. Stealthing fuels rape culture.

In the United States, where the practice is prevalent especially among students, stealthing has no legal status and abusers are rarely convicted. In Switzerland in 2017, a forty-seven-year-old man, who had removed his condom during intercourse without the consent of his partner, was sentenced for rape to a suspended 12-month prison sentence.

Smurfette Syndrome or Stroumpfette Principle

The Smurfette is the only female character in the male universe of Peyo's comics. The principle was stated for the first time in 1991 by an American critic, Katha Pollitt, to denounce the over-representation (conscious or unconscious) of men in works of fiction. Not only does the female character exist only by reference to the male or serves as an alibi, but he alone embodies the female gender, which inevitably leads to gender stereotypes for lack of diversity.

To determine if the female characters in the films are not the foils of male heroes, a comic book author proposed in 1985 the "Bechdel-Wallace test".

Bechdel-Wallace test

The "Bechdel test" was theorized by comic book author Alison Bechdel in 1985 in Lesbiennes à porter , a comic book series about female homosexuality that began in 1983 and ended in 2008. In a page from the series entitled "The Rule" , Alison Bechdel discusses cinema with her friend Liz Wallace and sets out the principles of what will later be known as the "Bechdel test", or "Bechdel-Wallace test". She says that she only allows herself to go see a film if it meets three criteria:

1. You need two female characters

2. who talk to each other

3. and that their conversation is not about a man.

This test, which has neither scientific value nor vocation to measure the quality of a film, served to bring to light the sexism and the lack of representativeness of female characters in audiovisual productions.

Tone policing or Tone argument

The tone policing or tone argument (literally, the "tone police") consists in criticizing the emotion put in the statement of an argument, rather than debating the substance of a subject. It is a feigned rhetoric intended to discredit a speech by attacking the person rather than his arguments, and by questioning the legitimacy of his revolt. Tone policing is also a particularly misogynistic practice in the sense that it defends the idea that women, being dominated by their emotions, are not in a position to hold a rational discourse - a fallacy which makes the fundamentals depend in a fallacious way. an argument of the form of the statement.

Tone policing is not specific to the trolls who intervene in feminist debates: it is a diversionary tactic for anyone who wants to discredit a minority discourse and establish their dominant position without trying to justify it. The cartoonist Emma explains in this comic how it is a recurring strategy of some in order to maintain a form of male domination.

by Collectif Emma Goldman

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