Ooh! I do love a good microaggression! Those sneaky little buggers that pass for normal or even polite behavior! They’re like back-handed compliments….but more confusing.
Microaggressions are meant to demean a person in one way or another. They’re usually perpetrated by people who are highly insecure and need to feel better about themselves, in control, etc. I’m going to stick to the sexist microaggressions, since those are the ones I know the most about. Microaggressions come in MANY different flavors so let’s dive right in!
This type of microaggression is most often seen as “chivalrous” and it can be seen as “polite” but think about what’s expected–
When performing any action for another out of pure kindness, no reward or recognition is needed. Conversely, when performing an action from a place of benevolence, you assume you are better than the person you’re performing the act for and expect recognition for lowering yourself to perform such a deed–thus, reinforcing your dominant status.
P.S. I’ve gotten into some VERY uncomfortable situations when holding doors open for men who INSIST on not walking through them. What, are you afraid your penis will fall off when you walk through? Ri-DICK-ulous!
One of my all-time favorite microaggressions is the playful mocking gesture. It takes the form of someone making a joke at a silly female’s expense.
My roommate LOVES to do this. He loves laughing at what he calls “sassy” ladies–they’re usually black and very confident or expressing their anger about something. He’ll usually engage in some form of mockery, like ol’ Conan here, and have a good, hearty laugh after. Thanks, dude–I know you have the utmost respect for those “sassy” ladies.
This one is so maddening when you start to notice it. On average, men interrupt women more than women do men. Women generally listen more and ask more questions to keep a conversation going too. This one cannot be mistaken for joking or being polite. It’s not just rude, it’s the mark of someone who feels insecure and doesn’t respect the speaker at all. BOTH of my roommates LOVE to interrupt me, especially when I’m expressing my viewpoint on something that’s important to me.
There is a GREAT illustration of this with Bill O’Reilly on The View.
Billy-boy actually tells Joy to “listen” because she “might learn something.” Joy scoffs at the slight. She and Whoopi actually walk off the stage at some point. Can you blame ’em?
There are so many more flavors of microaggressions than this. If you think of more, please leave them in the comments and I’ll add them. Microaggressions are like global warming–you can say it’s all in your head but the icebergs will keep melting, the sea level will keep rising, and you’ll be turning on your AC before the official start of Spring. You might even feel like those dwindling, forgotten icebergs if you sustain enough microaggressions over a lifetime. And the misogynists might tell you it’s all in your head, but like Gloria Steinem said, “women get more radical as they age” and one day, you’ll be drowning in us.