Some Useful Definitions & Resources for Facilitators and YOU!

by Reid on June 8, 2024

Some Useful Definitions & Resources for Facilitators and YOU!

Open book, books on the table in the library, old books on table with blurry background of bookshelves, university bookstore, Stack Of Old Books in the library, Stacked Books, library concept,

Originally from Sex Geek Summer Camp’s Workbook… Scroll down LIVE links to audio/video/text resources at the bottom.

NOTE: This is not a complete list… May these concepts and links be just the beginning of much, much more #BrainSex & Geekery!

Resiliency: One’s ability to recover from a difficult experience. The difficult experience might be a one-off situation, an emotion(s), or a time-period in one’s life. According to shame resiliency researcher Brene Brown, the most common trait shared by resilient people is the ability to tolerate emotional discomfort. 

Harm Reduction: Taking specific steps to reduce the negative consequences of something already known have a high risk of negative consequences that you are unable or unwilling to stop engaging with. This term originates in relation to drug and substance use but has been adopted by many different spaces. 

Privilege: The ways in which the world is already stacked in one’s favor. 

Normativity: What is taken as average, standard, or baseline by society.  Also, what is upheld by society as through cultural norms and values. 

Prejudice: Discrimination, dislike, or poor treatment towards an individual someone(s) or group based on their traits, characteristics or identities. 

Self-Referential Reality or “Reality Tunnel:” Using one’s own personal experience as a reference point how “everything” is. Similar to the idea of representative realism, coined by Timothy Leary, the theory states that, with a subconscious set of mental filters formed from a person’s beliefs and experiences, every individual interprets the same world differently, hence “Truth is in the eye of the beholder”. Key to note: Most people don’t realize that they’re  “in a tunnel,” and their tunnel makes it hard to “see” other people’s tunnels/experience as valid. 

We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are. – Anaïs Nin 

Fragility: In a social justice context, fragility refers to the emotional response from someone whose privileges have kept them sheltered from difficult conversations that challenge their perception or experience of the world. When confronted with these conversations, individuals struggling with fragility are easily overcome by emotional discomfort (feelings of shame, guilt, fear, anger, or other hard-to-hold emotions) and react in a variety of defensive ways that shut down the conversation. 

The term “white fragility” was coined by Robin DiAngelo, and specifically refers to the fact that whiteness acts as protection against difficult conversations about race.  

***isms: Prejudices at play on a systemic, institutional, or society-wide scale – at this level it impacts how easy or difficult it is for one to move through the world based on their intersecting identities. 

Ableism: Discrimination or privileging rooted in bodily ability 

Sizeism: Discrimination or privileging rooted in one’s size 

Sexism: Discrimination or privileging rooted in the perception of another as masculine or feminine

Racism: Discrimination or privileging rooted against a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized

Cissexism: Discrimination or privileging rooted in one’s (perceived) gender identity/status

Heterosexism: Discrimination or privileging rooted in one’s (perceived) sexual orientation

Ageism: Discrimination or privileging rooted in one’s age 

***Phobia: Irrational fear or hatred of others based on their being non-normative or devalued by society at large. Example: Homophobia 

Brave Space:  Spaces that recognize risk-taking and discomfort are part of growing our competency. Some tenets of Brave Spaces often include: practicing self-reflection about the root causes of our discomfort in any moment; treating others with the respect we would want for ourselves, recognizing that intent does not overrule impact; a willingness to be held accountable for our words and actions by others in the space. 

We cannot promise Camp as a safe space. Instead, we seek to create a safer space and invite campers to join in making a Brave Space, recognizing that we are often walking outside our comfort zones in many ways as we stretch and grow. We likely won’t get everything perfect, but do be mindful of any behaviors that others call attention to. Privilege leaves us with blind spots that mean we can’t always see when what’s “normal” for us actually hurts others.  

Handy Tools for your Back Pocket 

The Thank you/Please tell me more Approach: Use one of my favorite and most useful phrases if someone  shares an upgrade with you: “Thank you very much for sharing, are you willing to tell me more?” If they’re a yes, then listen. Why? They’re giving you gold!  (If they’re a no, thank them for the upgrade rather than asking them to do emotional labor or support). At any time, if you need a break from the conversation, thank the person for sharing with you, and explain that you need time to reflect and process this information as you excuse yourself.   

Impact Before Intent Default Reset Approach: A concept I first came across in the work of Dr. Kenneth Hardy is the idea that people are raised with the incorrect belief that well-intentioned behavior has no negative consequences, when, in fact, behaviors can have impacts regardless of intent. 

Example: A workshop is running long. The teacher gives the workshop group 8-minutes to take a quick  “bio break,” not realizing that some participants need more time to get to and from the bathroom. The  intentions were good, but resulted in a negative impact on the participants who needed more time.  

Add to Dr. Hardy’s idea the dynamic that many people (even teachers) have a deep, often un-recognized need to be seen as “good people” (for lots of societal and self-conceptual reasons), such that, when something challenges or threatens that self-concept, people will often lead with explaining (sometimes  defending/arguing) why what happened wasn’t their intention rather than acknowledging that their behavior had a negative impact. (Interesting to note: people don’t tend to defend their intentions when an impact was  positive.) 

Example continued: When offered the feedback that short breaks are inherently ableist, the teacher responds with, “But that wasn’t my intention” and goes on to explain their actions rather than address the situation. 

The “That wasn’t my intention” flag: I invite you to consider whenever you want to respond to any situation/upgrade with a version of “That wasn’t my intention…” to see such responses as a flag signaling to try on an alternative “default setting” of recognizing and owning the impact rather than explaining/arguing the intention.                                             

Starter Resources 

Audio, Video, and some Text to get you started…

Politically Reactive – 


Jay Smooth – 

Kat Blaque —

The New School –

MTV’s Decoded with Franchesca Ramsey — 


Everyday Feminism – 

Black Girl Dangerous – 

Very Smart Brothas – 

Twitter – 

Diversity your feed, explore hastags, listen and do you own additional research 

Tip ‘o the Hat and many thanks to Heather Elizabeth, Cathy Vartuli, and Google (it exists!)

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