Friday, September 14, 2012

Atheism+: A Glossary of Terms

The following material is flagged Yellow Level. It contains material that is disputed by some experts but accepted by others. Caution is advised when deciding whether you personally choose to believe it.

So, some of you (especially the atheists among you) may have heard about Atheism+. Some of you (if there's even any of you who read this thing) may be wondering what my own position is on it.

I'm for it.

The "'Guys, Don't Do That' Incident" made it clear that the atheist movement has some problems when it comes to social justice issues. More recent events have shown that the problems are fairly pervasive. So, a new branch of the movement is necessary. If we want to be better than the religions we oppose, we must move beyond their mistakes. We must take an active stand against the traditions of bigotry that our societies have inherited from their religions. Otherwise, we are only better than they in that we know that evolution works and homeopathy doesn't.

As my first contribution to the movement (and in keeping with this blog's tendency to be Things I Find Interesting 101), I am posting some jargon for newcomers to the Atheism+ movement to help them understand discussions.

Note: If you can't find a term in its alphabetical section, look under "*" first, then go through the "Common variants" listing of similar terms.

*H*T: Acronym: (foo) Hurts (bar) Too. The fact that members of privileged groups can suffer as a result of the underlying systems resulting in their privilege, often as a result of deviation from the expectations of that system or the forbiddance thereof. See Also: MRA. Common variant: PHMT (Patriarchy, Men)
*ism: Institutionalized oppression of or bias against an unprivileged group by a society. Differs from the colloquial definition in that the bias or oppression must be systematic or institutionalized and must be supported by the society. Common variants: sexism, racism, ableism.
*splain: To assume that one's position of privilege grants one better knowledge of a subject than less privileged persons, and to attempt to educate them on the subject unasked, esp. on issues related to privilege and/or in defiance of statements that they already understand the subject. Not simply an explanation or correction to an error of fact issued while a member of a privileged group; *splaining must include an assumption without reason that a member of the non-privileged group is lacking in the knowledge presented, or, in the case of a dispute over a point of fact, an assumption without reason that a member of the non-privileged group is incorrect rather than oneself being in error. Common variants: mansplain, whitesplain, condesplain.
Atheism: A position of disbelief in deities. Ranges from lack of belief in a deity to belief that the existence of a deity is impossible. Typically associated with skepticism. 
Atheism+: 1. A position of belief that combines atheism and fully intersectional social justice. Usually includes a belief that the latter is necessary to or an inevitable conclusion of the former or that both are conclusions of skepticism. 2. A political and social movement based on def. 1, composed exclusively of persons accepting the position of belief but not containing all such persons.
Cisgender: Having an assigned gender role and anatomy at birth consistent with one's psychological gender and body image.
Egalitarianism: A belief that people should be treated equally; that every person should have an equal chance of success, however "success" is defined. Reasons for this vary from simple fairness to the idea that equality benefits everyone.
Intersectional:  Taking into consideration that multiple forms and types of prejudice and privilege may feed into or support one another. For instance, intersectional feminism is likely to take into consideration the ways in which misogyny and homophobia are connected.
Kyriarchy: The social structure that enforces privilege. Common variant: patriarchy.
LGBTIQAAN&C: Acronym: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer/Questioning, Asexual, Agender, Nonconforming, and Cetera. Catch-all term for persons who do not fit the social norm of cisgender, heterosexual, and conforming to typical gender roles. Common variants: Too many to list, but most begin with LGBT or GLBT. Another common variant is QUILTBAG.
MRA: Acronym: Men's Rights Activist. Alternately formulated as Misogynist Raving *******. A person, often male, who believes that effects resulting from PHMT instead result from feminism, and who seeks to reverse the effects of the latter.
Microaggression: The most common manifestation of privilege and *ism. A seemingly-trivial decision, often unthinking, that due to being informed by *ist perspectives harms a member of an unpriviliged group. These decisions may even appear trivial to the person harmed, but add up to form larger problems.
PC: Acronym: Politically Correct. Common denigration of egalitarian movements and ideas, implying that they are a result of conformity to society. Contrasted with Politically Incorrect, which is often used to mask *ist attitudes as "thinking for oneself".
Prejudice: The act of making generalizations or unfounded assumptions about a group of people, typically harmful generalizations or assumptions about a non-privileged group. Often includes applying a generalization or assumption to each member of the group. Unlike *ism, prejudice can be against either privileged or unprivileged groups.
Privilege: A benefit or set of benefits socially granted to one group at the expense of another. Typically takes the form of traditions opposing one group, assumptions about a group or its individual members, and/or socioeconomic factors that for historical reasons place unequal pressures on a group or its members.  Opposed by egalitarianism and social justice. Note that lacking one type of privilege does not mean that one lacks all types; multiple types exist. Also note that simply having privilege is not in itself a negative trait and does not inherently make one's opinions worthless.
Privilege blindness: The tendency of a privileged individual, especially one new to social justice, to not be aware of privilege that has not been pointed out. May involve a belief that certain rights are "zero-sum", or that granting a right to a group currently lacking it will result in the denial of that right to a group currently possessing it; and may be accompanied by a belief that one's own lived experiences are universal. Note that being aware of one type of privilege does not make one aware of others.
Skepticism: A belief that knowledge is best obtained by rational inquiry and the scientific method. Typically associated with atheism.
Social Justice: A belief, almost always associated with egalitarianism, that a) people are not currently equal, and b) that the group most harmed by this should be harmed less or not at all. Typically, it is believed reducing the harm to the most-harmed group, or more accurately dismantling the socioeconomic structures causing the harm, will benefit all people.
Trigger:  1. n. A situation, including written descriptions of situations, that can result in stress responses in persons who have experienced the same or a similar situation. 2. v. To cause such a stress response. Common triggers include war, violence, and abuse.
TW: Acronym: trigger warning. See Also: trigger.
Xe: Gender-neutral pronoun, used for persons whose gender is unknown or neither male nor female. Common variants: ze, singular they. Possessive form: xir. Direct object form: xim.

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