Words for Liberation

I love words and believe they have power. Especially when you are desperately trying to understand a  situation where a person, group, or system has power over you: words can liberate. So here are some words for liberation. 

This is an ongoing post. I want to add more words and terms. I plan to write at least one blog posts for each. I’m looking for other articles that discuss and explain the words. I’m also looking for concise definitions that get to the essence and liberating significance of the word.

Please feel free to offer you definitions, thoughts, articles about the words, and more words to add to the list!

Thank you in advance.


micro aggression from the Wikipedia article: “Psychologist and Columbia University professor Derald Wing Sue defines microaggressions as “brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to certain individuals because of their group membership.” Sue describes microaggressions as generally happening below the level of awareness of well-intentioned members of the dominant culture. Microaggressions are considered to be different from overt, deliberate acts of bigotry, such as the use of racist epithets, because the people perpetrating microaggressions often intend no offense and are unaware they are causing harm.”

covert aggression – attacking people in a subtle or sneaky way that is hard to recognize and often very upsetting, confusing, and effective in getting what they want without being held accountable; often used by people in power with privilege – often confused with “passive aggression”

My blog post and an article from Dr George Simon who coined the phrase.

gaslighting – my own very broad definition: abusing someone and then trying to give the impression that abuse hasn’t happened, with the intent of avoiding accountability and/or causing the victim confusion and disempowerment; the Wikipedia definition is more common: a form of mental abuse in which information is twisted or spun, selectively omitted to favor the abuser, or false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity. Instances may range simply from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim. 

Excellent article by Dr. George Simon about gaslighting: here.

derailment – definition from the Geek Feminism Wiki: occurs when discussion of one issue is diverted into discussion of another issue, often by the group who were being called out about their bad behaviour in the first place.

extractive – from Google: of or involving extraction, especially the extensive extraction of natural resources without provision for their renewal. “Extractive” can also be used to refer to human beings: using their labor in a way that benefits those in power without concern for renewal or sustainability.  Therefore, those human beings will eventually burn out and be disposed of while those in power move on to other people to exploit. This is the hallmark of capitalism as we know it. It can also be found in social justice non-profits and movements.

inclusive – 

intersectional – 

straw man – type of derailment: while arguing over ideas, attacking and taking down an argument that was not made – gives an apparent win while diverting attention from the actual content of the argument

playing the victim – 

blaming the victim –

useful idiot –

cognitive dissonance – 

ad hominem argument – type of derailment: while arguing over ideas, attacking an individual’s character to avoid facing the content of the argument

astroturf – 

dog-whistle politics – 

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