I've noticed there is fairly extensive use of the language of academic feminism (including by me)—"enacting" things, tone policing, silencing, signifier/signified, dominant discourse and so on and so forth. I think there is this tension that exists here among social justice oriented people and spaces (and there is a part of that here).

First the pervasive use of this language allows for precision in communication. It brings concepts that aren't spoken about in the mainstream into being and in that way, it challenges dominant power structures around things like interpreting interpersonal events and social phenomena. New language can destabilize conversations that are almost always reenactments of scripts based on power dynamics in our society. These ideas seem hard and wordy because they are speaking to things that have not been allowed to be spoken of, making these concepts elusive.

On the other hand, using academic feminist concepts speaks to a group that itself has a degree of power and part of that power is their use of esoteric terms. When you enter into that world, your ability to use the language of that power structure and adopt their language determines your worth in many ways. It is language that has power in itself, signifying something about the knowledge of the speaker. As a result, people who are outsiders are often left out because they have not been socialized in this rarified world. It seems classist. I remember my first time encountering academic feminism in college— I was not as valued because I was from a working class family and did not have the right words. Therefore I was not seen as able to challenge the dominant power structure. It is actual bullshit and I think online, it can keep people out who are not versed in the vocabulary. It marginalizes people not familiar with this way of speaking.

So it's this push/pull, I think that is difficult to know what to do with in certain circles. What do you guys think?