About WMC
Unspinning the Spin
Wmc Website Homepage Book Promo 081617

Unspinning the Spin is a guide on the background, current uses, accuracy, nonbiased alternatives, and best practices for choosing and de-coding commonly used words and phrases. It goes beyond the scope of a dictionary or thesaurus to mine a wide variety of fields for accurate, inclusive, creative, and clear words and phrases. As a compendium that is easy to consult, practical, informative–and funny!–it is indispensable for everyday use.

Unspinning the Spin is a comprehensive, multidisciplinary guide to words and phrases—their meanings, sources, backgrounds, suggested uses, and nonsexist, nonracist alternatives. It’s a guide for journalists and editors in the United States and other countries, for bloggers creating their own media and for government officials creating policy, for students and teachers at all levels, for activists, workers in communication fields, and for any reader who loves the English language. The guide is organized alphabetically for easy use, with cross-references to related words, phrases, and issues.

Rosalie Maggio, a distinguished authority on language for more than 25 years, is the author of Unspinning the Spin. Women’s Media Center co-founders Robin Morgan and Gloria Steinem wrote the preface.

Order your own copy of UnSpinning the Spin here.


Bechdel Test

Created by American cartoonist, Alison Bechdel, this simple test is deisgned to raise moviegoers' awareness of gender dispartiy on screen. To pass the Bechdel test, a film must meet the following three criteria: 1) It must have at least two named female characters...2) who talk to each other>>>3) about something other than a man

Catfight

When women disagree with each other, the proceedings are sometimes sterotyped as a catfight. Men's disagreements are not called catfights or dogfights or anything else; they are simply arguments, disagreements, debates, discussions, conflicts, or disputes. 

Cuckold

Used to refer to one's partner as being unfaithful while the other is betrayed. Only used to describe men who have been cheated on. See also adulterer, philanderer. 

Emotional

In our culture, "emotional" is not an admired trait: the word is most often used as an antonym for "rational" or intelligent." Largely because of changing social attitudes toward women, "emotional" is not used as often as it once was to rebut a women's arguments or genearlly discount her as a thinking human being. Unfortunately, as M. Adam describes, the problem today is that "women can now wax logical while men look silly waxing emotional." Until men are free to wax emotional and "emotional" is a positive word for both sexes, use it cautiously.

Feminazi

Started when Rush Limbaugh started calling feminists facists, and then shortened it to feminazi. It is meant used to describe women who are perceived to be extreme, but it is often used to disparage anyone invested in women's rights 

Masturbation

The ultimate in safe sex, masturbation has been terms self-pleasure, self-stimulation, autoeroticism, and the witty menage a moi. Alternatives are given since the word and concept of "masturbation" have endured centuries of abuse and you might want to vary your terms.

Matronly

Replace this vague word with precise, inclusive terms: dignified, gracious, ponderous, heavy-set, established, grave, serene, slow-moving, well-dressed, mature, sedate. There is no such word as "patronly."

Seminal

"Seminal" is the adjectival form of "semen," which could not be more male, so the word is clearly sex-linked. Marie Shear says that usage of seminal in the media suggests that "intellectual and literary prowess flows from Man's Most Cherished Protuberance." She suggests synonyms such as: creative, pioneering, groundbreaking, trailblazing, precedent-setting, innovative, germinal, and germinative.

Suffragist

This term describes anyone of either sex who works for the voting rights of others, especially women's, but it most often refers to a woman. In 1912 Mark Twain wrotes of suffragists: "For forty years they have swept an imposingly large number of unfair laws from the statue books of America. In this brief time these serfs have set themselves free - essentially. Men could not have done as much for themselves in that time without bloodshed, at least they never have, and that is an argument that they didn't know how."