In This Labyrinth: Justice From the Heart of The Phantom Of The Opera

Glossary, or WTF are they talking about?

Glossary, or WTF are they talking about?

So I thought I’d add a glossary of some of the terms I use, or that might come up in the show, for listeners who may not have come across them before. Hope it’s helpful!

ableism: Usually defined as discrimination against people with, or who are perceived to have, disabilities. But for my purposes, a better definition might be: a system of thought/belief that ranks the value of lives and bodies according to how well they measure up to standards of beauty, physical and mental prowess, and “productivity”.

ALW: abbreviation for Andrew Lloyd Webber, often used to refer to the 1986 Lloyd Webber stage-musical of Phantom.

Butch: some one who identifies as female/a woman but presents as masculine. Though, some Butch consider it a third/another gender altogether.

capitalism: an economic system which organizes society around the making of profits by corporations, making this the central function of society.

charity: a model of providing help structured around the giving of assistance (usually financial) by those who have wealth and security to those who do not. It is often argued to be an inherently hierarchical model because the giving and the need always go in one direction - from the affluent to the “needy”.

cisgender: a person who’s internally felt gender identity aligns with the one assigned to them at birth and that they were raised as.

Crip: derived from “cripple”, a slur that has been reclaimed by many (though by no means all) Disabled people as an identifier of Disability political identity and pride, in the same way that the former slur “queer” has been reclaimed by the LGBTQA+ community. As a verb, to “Crip” means to rethink/reframe/retell something from the perspective of non-normative body-minds - Disabled, Deaf, Mad, Disfigured/Deformed, etc,.

disability: a label ascribed to physical and/or mental characteristics, such as blindness, deafness, limited mobility, etc, which Western science classifies as defects or problems in need of treatment or cure.

Disability/Disabled: a political identity claimed by many who have experienced ableism and understand it as a social system rather than a “natural” and inevitable response to their “defective”/broken bodies.

Disfigured: similar to Disability, a political identity claimed by those with facial distinctions who have experienced discrimination, but choose to understand this as a social process rather than as a “natural” or inevitable response to their appearances.

deformity: a term used to define some body and/or face shapes as “wrong”. Unlike disability, however, characteristics classified as deformities are defined that way independently of whether they effect health or functioning, and are purely an issue of appearance.

Erik: the Phantom’s name in the original novel by Gaston Leroux.

Femme: some one who presents as feminine and identifies with femininity (at least to some extent), though they might not necessarily identify as female/a woman.

Feminism: a system of critical thought and analysis that “looks” at what it analyses from the perspective of genders which are not the dominant one - women and Trans people.

Final Lair: Phan community term for the final scene of the ALW stage-musical.

gender: A, the label assigned to a person at birth based on a doctor’s perception of their body’s sex characteristics, which leads to their socialization in particular ways toward particular social roles. B, a person’s internally felt identity, which may or may not match the label assigned to them at birth. C, the label’s, social role/s and behaviour/s a person assumes based on their internally felt identity, which, again, may or may not match the one assigned at birth.

gender binary: a social and political system which recognizes only two valid genders, male/masculine and female/feminine. This is the system that has dominated in the West for many centuries now.

Gerik: Gerard Butler (the actor who played the Phantom in the 2004 film)+Erik (see above), used to refer to the 2004 film version of the Lloyd Webber musical. Often derogatory.

intersectionality: an understanding that systems of oppression - racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc, - are interrelated, propping each other up and reinforcing each other. Also, an understanding that these various systems converge on the bodies and in the lives of people who inhabit more than one category of oppression, for example, Queer/Trans women of colour or Queer/Trans people with disabilities.

kink/kinky: umbrella term for a wide range of sexualities and desires that fall outside of traditional practices of romance and intimacy, such as fetishes and BDSM. The term is used by people in these lifestyles and communities to self-identify.

Leroux: short for Gaston Leroux (author of the original novel of Phantom), used to refer to the original novel.

Mad: a political identity claimed by some people who experience mental health issues as a resistance to the sanism, ableism and medicalization they have experienced.

Masc (Masculine): some one who presents as masculine and identifies with masculinity (at least to some extent), though they may not necessarily identify as male/a man.

medicalization: the defining of a human trait as a medical problem in need of treatment or, ideally, cure, the proper authority over which is held by doctors and other medical “experts”.

non-binary: when referring to gender, means some one identifies outside of the traditional gender binary of male/masculine and female/feminine, often as an explicit political statement that they reject that system as well as being an expression of who they feel they are.

othering: defining and treating a person or group as other, as the outsider, based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, physical appearance, disability, etc,.

Person First language: “person with a Disability”, as opposed to “Disabled person” - a way of self-identifying and being identified preferred by some people, especially folks with intellectual or developmental Disabilities, because it emphasizes the person ahead of the disability. Those who prefer this language feel that this emphasis is important because, for a long time, people with disabilities were not seen as full persons, especially those with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. However, other activists prefer to identify as Disabled people because they feel that their Disabilities are such an integral part of what makes them who they are that to separate the person and the disability makes no sense.

Phan: hard-core fan of Phantom of the Opera - not only of the Lloyd Webber musical, but the story in many or all of its incarnations.

political/politics: the systems and processes which distribute power within society, and which determine who has more power and who has less.

POTO: Phantom of the Opera.

Queer: used to be synonymous with Gay, but in more recent decades has become an umbrella term for many who identify as outside of traditional heterosexuality. As a verb, to “Queer” something has come to mean to rethink/reframe/retell/reimagine it in ways subversive to to White, cisgendered, heteropatriarcal capitalism, and to centre perspectives othered (see above) by dominant society.

racism: usually defined as oppression of or discrimination against Black people and people of colour. But for my/our purposes, a better definition might be: a system of thought/belief which ranks the value of lives and bodies according to the lightness or darkness of skin.

sanism: a system of thought and belief which ranks the value of lives and bodies according to whether their minds work in ways defined as “sane” and “healthy”.

transgender: when a person’s internal sense of gender identity doesn’t match the one assigned to them at birth and that they were raised as, and thus they choose to identify as and express the gender they feel themself to be instead.

Trans, or sometimes Trans*: an umbrella label used by a wide range of gender non-binary people to identify themselves.

transphobia: fear of and discrimination against transgender people/people who identify and/or present outside the gender binary.