What we Talk About when we Talk About Micro-Aggressions

Who wants to learn about micro-aggressions! You do. Of course you do.

I already know what these are because I went to college, but let’s really delve in. This is a list about all the micro-aggressions you (read: white people) commit on the daleez, yo. Note: This is very long. Get a cup of coffee or an adult diaper or something. I’m too cool for separate blog posts.

Alien in One’s Own Land: When Asian Americans, Latino Americans, and others who look different or are named differently from the dominant culture are assumed to be foreign-born.

“Where are you from or where were you born?”

The only time I’ve had this happen to me is when a black, presumably South African, man I met in an airport in Germany thought I was some kind of Hispanic so was confused when I said I was from America. I also don’t understand how this question is in any way aggressive. Asking where someone is from is a pretty basic conversation topic. And even if they do expect someone to be foreign-born, that’s not them being subtly racist, that’s them making a mistake.

Are people not allowed to make mistakes anymore? Everything they say has to be perfectly accurate and correct the first time they say it? How are they supposed to know where you’re from unless they ask you where you are from? This is especially stupid in an American context where the chances of someone who “looks” foreign actually being an immigrant are pretty fucking high. And this totally discounts the fact that because America is such a multi-cultural place, a lot of people just automatically assume you’re American no matter what unless you have an accent that tips them off.

“You speak English very well.”

Well, if someone is an immigrant with an accent that would indicate that English probably isn’t their first language saying “You speak English well” is a compliment, the same way a ESL student writing a well-written English essay is impressive. Maybe if there is nothing indicating that English isn’t their first language–they don’t have an accent, for example–this question would be awkward. But, in the end of the day, that is, once again, not the person trying to alienate anyone. They’re trying to say something nice and inclusive, which is the exact opposite .

So this is, at worst, awkward if someone is mistaken. But it’s up to you how you react to it. You can get all huffy and offended at someone who was mistaken but still trying to be nice to you, or you can just smile and say, “Actually, it’s my first language, haha.” and get over it. These things aren’t big deals unless you make them a big deal. And that’s what all this micro-aggression talk does. Have you ever been in a slightly awkward situation at any point ever? That’s because people are discriminating against you all the time! Be angry!

“What are you? You’re so interesting looking!”

No one has EVER said that second part. Ever. At most, they say, “Your skin is so pretty.” I get “What are you?” all the time because I’m biracial so it’s genuinely pretty difficult to determine what race/ethnicity I am. It just is. That is the objective case of the matter. It’s like the South African guy thinking I was Latina. People being curious about it and being straightforward about being curious about it isn’t bad. What are they supposed to do? “I say, old chap, I’m having quite the difficult time trying to determine your particular ethnic origin. Do you mind enlightening me, if you are so inclined?” It seems like people who believe in micro-aggressions are just people who don’t like answering basic, understandable questions.

“Hey, is your hair naturally that shade of red or do you dye it?”

“STOP JUDGING ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

A person asking an Asian American or Latino American to teach them words in their native language.

How dare they be interested in other languages and display common sense by assuming that someone with the physical markers of someone who speaks that language speaks that language! How dare they try to find common ground with another human even if they are ultimately mistaken! How dare they try to associate with someone who is different and appreciate that difference! Something tells me that if they asked the Asian or Latino person if they spoke another language before asking to be taught a word in that language, it would still be considered a micro-aggression because it’s wrong to even assume that they would and ask them about it.

Continuing to mispronounce the names of students after students have corrected the person time and time again. Not willing to listen closely and learn the pronunciation of a non-English based name.

Okay, I study cognitive science. It’s my thing. People who speak dissident languages are actually mentally incapable of understanding phonemes of other languages that are wildly different from their own. You lose the capability to fully comprehend “foreign” sounds when you’re just a baby. So someone who speaks English having constant trouble with a Hindi name makes fucking sense because someone who speaks English is borderline incapable of distinguishing the sounds of the Hindi language, so any name that utilizes those non-understandable sounds is going to be consistently difficult to say, just like saying English names is hard for Polish speakers or Japanese speakers.

Languages sound different. And sometimes those mispronunciations are just the inevitable result of someone who isn’t a native speaker saying that native name with an accent. I don’t see you getting all up in a Japanese person’s face for being unable to pronounce the name Leslie the “right” way. Also, why don’t you go out and try to pronounce an Irish name without looking it up first? And, from my personal experience, people tend to try their best to pronounce a foreign name right because they think it’s rude to mispronounce it too many times, and they tend to ask the person whose name they can’t say for help. But nope, people are just dicks! Dicks all around!

What it means: You are not a true American. You are a perpetual foreigner in your own country. Your ethnic/racial identity makes you exotic.

Well, it’s SJWs constantly trying to tack someone’s ethnicity onto the “American” part, so there’s that. I would much rather just call myself American and leave it at that. Also, what is wrong with being exotic again? Social justice warriors have a weird tendency of just talking about stuff like it’s bad and everyone knows that it’s bad. But . . . no. I don’t get why being exotic is a bad thing the same way I don’t understand how sexualizing something/someone is a bad thing. Explain this, someone. Plus, I’m sure this has more to do with people realizing that they live in a culture of immigrants and trying to account for that. Something tells me, again, that if people didn’t keep in mind that people around them may be ethnically/culturally different, or they weren’t interested in that ethnic/cultural difference, you’d be complaining about how it “erases your ethnic identity” by the majority never acknowledging that you’re not like them.

Ascription of Intelligence: Assigning intelligence to a person of color or a woman based on his/her race/gender.

“You are a credit to your race!”

I know two kinds of people who have ever said this in the year 2015: old, vaguely racist people who are too old and behind the times to know any better and who are genuinely trying to give a compliment, and SJWs who tell this to white people who act like “good allies.” Literally the only times I’ve heard it.

To an Asian person. “You must be good in math, can you help me with this problem?”

To a woman of color: “I would have never guessed that you were a scientist.”

Your life must be so hard with people so unfairly stereotyping you as someone who is . . . dignified and helpful and intelligent. Don’t they know you’re an idiot and should be treated like one? As for the other one, if it was a white woman would it be okay? I’m not sure how this works. I’m technically a scientist and people aren’t all that surprised by it because I’m a nerd. This is also called the representativeness heuristic–a heuristic, as in a mental short cut that more often than not helps in our thinking because it takes less time.

It’s the heuristic that tells us that if you have a professor and a truck driver, the professor’s probably the one who likes 18th century poetry just based off of the limited amount of what we know about them, in this case, their jobs. It could be incorrect, and oftentimes is based solely on the fact that there are more truckers than professors so, statistically speaking, more truckers probably like poetry. But that’s how it works. This heuristic’s main flaw is that it doesn’t account for some basic facets of logic, like how a person is statistically more likely to be one thing than multiple compounded things. Or like how population size matters.

All that being said, there aren’t that many scientists in the world. Assuming that someone is not a scientist isn’t all that unreasonable. I don’t see very many people automatically assuming that random white people off the street must be a regular Bill Nye. It oftentimes has more to do with immediately apparently personality traits and fashion sense. If you dress like a nerd people are more likely to think you’re a scientist. And, even if that aforementioned black woman was being jugged on her black woman-ness, so? People are going to make inaccurate and arbitrary judgements about you sometimes. If it’s not an arbitrary judgement based on being black and/or a woman, it’s an arbitrary judgement based on how tall you are or what clothes you wear or what accent you have. What random people arbitrarily expect of you has no bearing on what you should actually be doing. If that hinders your pursuits of your goals, you clearly need to grow a spine.

What is means: People of color are generally not as intelligent as Whites. All Asians are intelligent and good in math/science.

Why is white capitalized? Also, when affirmative action is a thing, is it really the white peoples fault for assuming that a person of color in a certain position may have gotten that position not because they were intelligent enough but because of a quota? That’s the kind of mentality you foster when you have a rule overtly saying that X Group can be objectively not as good as Y Group, but still get Y Group benefits because we are diverse now. It makes Y Group think X Group isn’t as good but needs to be helped out anyway. So if that’s not a mentality that you like, maybe stop perpetuating it yourself.

On another note, did you know that many teachers-in-training are taught to ignore Asian kids and focus on black kids because “Asians are smart and black kids need help”? This is on sociological, “liberal nutjub college” teaching rubrics too. It’s not like it’s hicks with this mentality. This is what overtly liberal colleges are telling future teachers to do, because they need to “help minorities by subverting white privilege in the classroom.” Also, because of affirmative action once again, even if an Asian kid has a shitty SAT score or has had a hard time at home, if they apply to a college with affirmative action, they’re not going to be given that racial bump in acceptability because being Asian is essentially losing you college cred by default even though they could use the help.

Color Blindness Statements that indicate that a White person does not want to or need to acknowledge race.

“When I look at you, I don’t see color.”

Why is this always just white people? What, can a black person never give a bad look to a white guy and have that be a micro-aggression? It’s only white people who indulge in this? Also, what’s so wrong with that above statement? Oh no, you don’t think my race is the most important part of my existence? How dare you, you racist!

“There is only one race, the human race.”

I say this and I’m a black woman. I say it because it’s true. Scientifically, there is only one race as far as humans are concerned–there are no Neanderthals walking around anymore to be another race of human. Ethnic racial lines are strictly social in nature and have no scientific basis. There’s hardly any deviation in human DNA at all, cross racial or otherwise. Humans are a pretty genetically stagnant race when you get right down to it. So there is only one human race. How dare you say that all people, no matter what they look like are humans and believe they should be treated accordingly!

“America is a melting pot.”

Well . . . it is? I don’t know what to say about this. America is firmly established to be a cultural melting pot. That’s what America is known for internationally. America is probably one of the most, if not the most, culturally diverse places on this planet. That’s not even arguable. It clearly is. How is this racist? Maybe if, like, Glenn Beck said this as a way of justifying hate crimes against Muslims or something it would be bad, but that’s not what micro-aggresssions talk about. According to this ideology, just saying this, no matter the context of when or why or how you say it, shows that you are internally racist. What?

“I don’t believe in race.”

Well, I think this is dumb. But how is it racist again? Isn’t this the exact opposite of racism even if you think it’s a dumb idea? This is the most liberal, hippy mindset a person can have on this topic.

What it says: Denying the experiences of students by questioning the credibility /validity of their stories. Assimilate to the dominant culture. Denying the significance of a person of color’s racial/ethnic experience and history. Denying the individual as a racial/cultural being.

How? How do any of those above statements do any of those things? You just say that they do, again. And, once again, something tells me that if someone were to overtly acknolwedge your race as a super-duper, undeniably important part of your very character and identity (even though for plenty of people it isn’t, so making that assumption would do no one any good) you would still be calling them out for “only seeing your race” or for “reducing you down to nothing but a representative of your entire race.”

It’s a lose/lose game, here. There’s nothing to do that can’t be construed as a micro-aggression by someone somewhere. And when your entire idea is based so intrinsically in individual, subjective perception, perhaps you shouldn’t be talking about it like objective fact.

Criminality/Assumption of Criminal Status.

A person of color is presumed to be dangerous, criminal, or deviant based on his/her race.

A White man or woman clutches his/her purse or checks wallet as a Black or Latino person approaches. A store owner following a customer of color around the store. Someone crosses to the other side of the street to avoid a person of color.

Not necessarily. Race does, I’ll grant you, play a part in it. And people who automatically think that every single black person ever is somehow a criminal planning on jumping them aren’t being “micro-aggressive,” they’re being flat-out racist. But it’s not such a cut-and-paste situation, and that’s hardly a mentality that actual people have. Behavior and other factors of the person’s appearance factor into it. It’s not just race and nothing but race, black-and-white, case closed.

I’m a black girl, natural hair and everything, and people actively approach me over other people on the street to ask me directions and what have you because I have resting-nice-face and dress like a hipster. My friend, who is black and dark-skinned and tall/physically imposing and a man, which should damn him to social ostracization as far as SJW rhetoric goes, is constantly approached by people just because he looks friendly despite the rest of that. The same goes for my physically imposing Latino friend who also just looks like a friendly, approachable guy.

So to paint this as some universal experience is just not true. I feel like it has more to do with accents (Ebonics, anyone?), type of dress, and general body language combined with race that make people (not just white people, you goddamn racists) behave this way. If someone looks like a stereotypical “urban youth,” am prone to avoiding them, no matter their race, just like how I’m prone to avoiding people who look like they’re in a biker gang. It’s a knee-jerk reaction and one that’s based in self-preservation based upon observation, so it’s not even like it’s inherently wrong to do. Ask any white man with noticeable tattoos and he too will have many a story of people assuming that he is a criminal. Race plays a part, but it’s not the only part.

While walking through the halls of the Chemistry building, a professor approaches a post-doctoral student of color to ask if she/he is lost, making the assumption that the person is trying to break into one of the labs.

How the fuck do you know what that professor was assuming? Seriously, how? You have no idea what that guy was thinking, but you just automatically made the assumption that he was doing it for racist reasons. You don’t fucking know what other people are thinking. You don’t. This is a mis-attribution fallacy: You’re attributing an action to a person’s internal character instead of making the more logical assumption that they are acting according to a situation. “A guy asks me a question when he didn’t need to ask me a question? HE’S A RACIST.”

Also, you’re assuming something negative about someone else without knowing them, which is a fucking micro-aggression! This is based purely on you assuming the motives of someone else and jumping to a conclusion that suits your easily-offended sensibilities best. You could just as easily say, “Well, he must just have never seen me around before and didn’t know who I was.” But, nope! Racism. Racism is always the number one answer you have to jump to immediately. That’s what micro-aggressions are: People assuming the worst of every interaction they have even if that’s not realistic, empathetic, or sensible.

What it says: You are a criminal. You are going to steal/you are poor, you do not belong. You are dangerous.

So is “You are racist.” not a micro-aggression? Okay?

Denial of Individual Racism/Sexism/Heterosexism

A statement made when bias is denied. “I’m not racist. I have several Black friends.”

You know, sometimes the person who denies being racist actually isn’t racist. Yeah, shocker, I know. But sometimes, just sometimes, that deny that accusation of their character because it isn’t true and it insults them for you to say that it is. This mentality is fucking disgusting: “If a POC says you are racist, you just are, and if you deny it, that makes you even more of a racist.”

You’re telling people to prove a negative: “Prove to me that you’re not a racist.” And they can’t. It’s made even more difficult by your piss-poor standards for what constitutes a racist. Sometimes that person is not being biased. Sometimes they’re being perfectly reasonable. But it all just depends on how the black person fucking feels, because everyone knows that intention has no bearing on anything. Racism is totally decided by outside parties and not by what the person actually thinks. What they actually think is irrelevant when we can just tell them what they must think because they’re white and said something we don’t take kindly to.

“As a woman, I know what you go through as a racial minority.”

If this is bad, you should start talking to a few feminists. Also, way to eat your own! Solidarity among the left is goddamn amazing.

To a person of color: “Are you sure you were being followed in the store? I can’t believe it.”

Seeing as how I know some paranoid black people who think that literally everything is “because I’m black isn’t it?” asking this question isn’t always bad. Once again, it all depends on the context in which it was said. But context has no place here, I know.

What it says: Your racial oppression is no different than my gender oppression. I can’t be a racist. I’m like you. Denying the personal experience of individuals who experience bias.

1.) Oppression Olympics anyone? Wow, for people who got so butthurt over that video, you sure do prove it right fairly often.

2.) Questioning a claim is not the same as saying “Racism doesn’t exist!” This just proves how out-of-whack this mentality is. You’re never supposed to question anything any oppressed person ever says, because questioning it means that you’re okay with them being oppressed. When someone makes a claim, like, oh I don’t know–“I was a victim of racism,” that is a claim that needs to be fucking backed up because that is an affirmative statement. Someone actually feeling the need to question statements made by a minority isn’t being racist, they’re undergoing the basic ideas of Logic and Argumentation.

You’re not supposed to just whole-heartedly believe people just because they say that something bad happened to them. You’re not. When a man says, “I was given a bad hotel room because they’re racist!” it’s logical to question that claim, and it’s not out of the question to dismiss that claim as paranoid ranting from someone who is easily offended if they can’t back it up. This method of labeling any and all questioning and dissent as bad is how you quell discussion, not facilitate it.

Myth of Meritocracy

This is a good one, guys.

Statements which assert that race or gender does not play a role in life successes, for example in issues like faculty demographics.

“I believe the most qualified person should get the job.”

How unorthodox! Also, way to paint all people of color and women as inherently incompetent, therefore obviously never fitting into the “qualified” box that people speak of. We have to get rid of all the qualified people and give these norms a chance! You’re super helpful.

“Of course he’ll get tenure, even though he hasn’t published much—he’s Black!”

This is actually a thing that happens. College faculties either have instituted or self-enforced quotas, and everyone in academia knows that it’s easier to get benefits as both a student and a professor if you play up your tokenism. That’s how it works. Tokenism is a selling point over here. Once again, if you don’t want this mentality to exist, maybe you should stop perpetuating the affirmative action methods that lead to it. Because when you don’t say “We need to hire more blacks,” people aren’t going to assume that the black people you hired are only there because you needed them, not because they deserved it. This is a problem you fucking made.

“Men and women have equal opportunities for achievement.”

Are you going to say why they don’t? Also, equal opportunity doesn’t mean that things are going to be split 50/50. Using this logic, why aren’t you revolted that more women are in college than men? It must be sexism! (Although, there are infinitely more scholarships for women just because they’re women, even though men are the minority at this point and should logically be given gender-based scholarships as well . . . .)

“Gender plays no part in who we hire.”

What if it doesn’t? And if it does, so? I personally want gender to play a part in things like firefighting that involve someone needing to be physically large and strong enough to break down a door with their body weight and drag a person out of a burning building.

“America is the land of opportunity.”

“Everyone can succeed in this society, if they work hard enough.”

I’m all for knocking the stupidly naive American Dream. I’ve seen 90s movies too. But are you just going to ignore that those things are said mainly to poor people and not women/POC? Yes? Okay. And I wondered why my liberal friends never talked about class.

“Affirmative action is racist.”

I think it is. It doesn’t even help minorities who need it, ie, the poor ones. It mainly helps middle class/upper class minority kids who just flubbed their test scores but were well off enough to take the tests in the first place and do well enough to think they could submit the scores to Harvard. It discriminates against poor Asian and white people without taking their situation into account. It actively disadvantages Asians who worked damn hard to get perfect scores. And people are perfectly okay with it disadvantaging students who worked hard to get where they were, as long as those hard workers were white. It is racist. Explain to me why it isn’t. Because it’s only fair that white people get disadvantaged now? Tell that to the Asian kids.

What is says: People of color are given extra unfair benefits because of their race. The playing field is even so if women cannot make it, the problem is with them. People of color are lazy and/or incompetent and need to work harder.

People of color are given extra and unfair benefits because of their race. I could have applied to a $50,000 grant for grad school research that was overtly not available to white men, and probably not very many white women either. Note: A rich black kid could’ve gotten it by virtue of being black, but a poor white person couldn’t even apply because it was only for racial or gender minorities (once again, ignoring that men are a minority in colleges). I didn’t do it on principle, but with my tokenism I probably would have gotten it. I get extra resources from my school faculty because I am black/a woman that aren’t available to others. Not because I’m low-income, mind you, but because I’m black and a woman, two things that do not inherently mean that I need more help or guidance.

I’m not going to say the playing field is even, but it’s not really “even” for anyone who isn’t old money. Not being “even” doesn’t really mean much. By saying this, you’re essentially implying that the only way for someone who is “oppressed” to succeed is if they’re working in unrealistically perfect conditions tailored specifically toward helping them succeed. And that’s actually pretty insulting.

Pathologizing Cultural Values/Communication Styles

The notion that the values and communication styles of the dominant/White culture are ideal/”normal”.

You do know that the “dominant” American culture includes people of color right? Something tells me you’re just a bunch of hipsters who balk at the idea of anything you do being “mainstream.”

To an Asian, Latino or Native American: “Why are you so quiet? We want to know what you think. Be more verbal.” “Speak up more.”

I am an introverted black girl, and I get the “Why are you so quiet?” comment all the time. It’s not a fucking racial issue. I’ve also hung around Asians, Latinos, and Native Americans who were supper loud and extroverted, so acting like they all conform to being quiet is a stereotype, and assuming that they’re only quiet because “that is their culture” and not just their personality also depersonalizes them like mad.

Also, are Japanese people racist for saying that Westerners have an “idiot/horse” laugh because they’re too loud and don’t laugh the “proper” way? Is it okay for black people to make fun of other back people who “act white”? Cultural relativism is a bitch, isn’t it? If it’s not okay when the dreaded White America does it, it’s not okay when any other place or people imposes it’s values on you either, no matter how non-white that place/person is.

So which is it? Or are you finally just going to admit that these rules only apply to white people and the coloreds can do whatever they want and it’s totes fine?

Asking a Black person: “Why do you have to be so loud/animated? Just calm down.”

Question, question! What if they are being too loud and obnoxious? Just saying. Also, white people can be loud and animated. Being outgoing and extroverted are actively seen as desirable traits by “White America,” so this overtly goes against what you said before. Because that black person is indulging in values white culture likes. Also: “ALL BLACK PEOPLE ARE LOUD AND OBNOXIOUS BECAUSE IT’S THEIR CULTURE!” Once again, if a Chinese person says that Americans are loud and obnoxious, are they saying something wrong?

“Why are you always angry?” anytime race is brought up in the classroom discussion.

No one likes an angry black man, not even angry black men. Also, if you can’t stop yourself from exploding in a fit of anger in a goddamn classroom discussion, you are immature. You can talk about stuff that makes you angry without being a dick about it, you know? It’s called debate.

Dismissing an individual who brings up race/culture in work/school setting.

No one wants to talk to you about race. NO ONE. Especially not at fucking work or school. Talk about that shit with your friends, not with random peers and co-workers. Don’t talk about religion either. Or politics. Or abortion. These are called “hot button topics” and are best left for fucking private.

What it says: Assimilate to dominant culture. Leave your cultural baggage outside. There is no room for difference.

You’re the ones who don’t want there to be any room for difference with your weird desire to have identity politics matter more than anything else . . . but also not at all. And again, is cultural assimilation good when it’s an American doing the changing to another culture? Just asking. I feel like the answer is yes.

Second-Class Citizen

No one is automatically a second class citizen in American baring those  of the lower class/homeless, families of illegal immigrants, and men who refuse to sign up for the draft. Everyone else is pretty okay as far as your rights as a citizen go.

Occurs when a target group member receives differential treatment from the power group; for example, being given preferential treatment as a consumer over a person of color.

How do you gauge this? Is this a knock against marketing? I’m legitimately not sure. Maybe it’s consumer service? Ignoring that a large percentage of people who work in customer service are people of color who have that internalized racism, I guess.

Faculty of color mistaken for a service worker.

This seems like a personal problem.

Not wanting to sit by someone because of his/her color.

If someone consciously makes the  decision to not sit next to the black guy “because he’s black,” that’s not a micro-aggression. They are being racist. Once again, though, I personally have not seen anyone with this mentality. I don’t like relying on anecdotes, but this list is full of anecdotes, so I can go down to its level once or twice. Also, what about all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria because they don’t want to sit with white kids because they’re white kids? Is that a micro-aggression against white people?

Female doctor mistaken for a nurse.

Doctors and nurses wear different things. Whoever does this is dumb more than anything else.

Saying “You people…”

You people are so fucking vague.

An advisor assigns a Black post-doctoral student to escort a visiting scientist of the same race even though there are other non-Black scientists in this person’s specific area of research.

Something tells me someone just wanted to rant about their own personal problems. How about this personal story then? When I was a freshman in college, I was assigned by my liberal, micro-aggression-hating college faculty a freshman advisor who knew almost nothing about my intended major because she was the advisor for the black kids.

Once again, this seems like a problem that this identity-politics-focused mentality has wrought, not subtle racism on the behalf of white people. When you drill into people’s heads that we need a very specific kind of diversity because people of color are more comfortable when they’re around other people of color, that black scientist is going to be given a black tour guide. That’s how it works. If you want to complain about it, stop perpetuating it.

An advisor sends an email to another work colleague describing another individual as a “good Black scientist.”

Once again, this is your fault. I’m sure that scientist would much rather just be a scientist, but in the academic world of identity politics, if you’re some kind of minority, that’s really important and needs to be mentioned and talked about all the time, and you need to go to conferences specifically about black Xs, and “we need more black scientists!” yadayadayada

Your fault.

Raising your voice or speaking slowly when addressing a blind student.

If you’ve never met someone who was blind (or had any other disability along those lines), it’s natural to not really know how to deal with it. People are super paranoid about that kind of thing because they, believe it or not, don’t want to be dicks. It’s like how I’m uncomfortable around old people. Am I supposed to act like them shaking a small dog doesn’t make me uncomfortable? Because it does. This isn’t people being mirco-aggressive, it’s people just not knowing what the fuck to do because they’ve been told that they’re not allowed to just ask about those kinds of things without being rude.

In class, an instructor tends to call on male students more frequently than female ones.

How many students are there? How long is the class? Are more male students raising their hands? Do the female students want to engage more in class or not? These are things that factor into it that you are ignoring in favoring of crying sexism.

What it says: People of color are servants to Whites. They couldn’t possibly occupy high status positions.

Woah, woah. Even if you don’t immediately think “position of authority” when you see a black person, which is, at most, unrealistic, why does that automatically translate to “But, but black people are slaves!” How does that work? You realize that there’s stuff in he middle right?

Women occupy nurturing positions.

Well, statistically speaking, they do. Women are more likely to study, enter, and thrive in nurturing fields like psychology, teaching, and child care. Women don’t have to enter those fields by any means, but a good number of them do, and willing so. If you love you stats so much, why don’t you acknowledge that?

Whites are more valued customers than people of color. You don’t belong. You are a lesser being.

From my personal experience, most of this is inaccurate paranoia. I know this does happen to people, and it may have even happened to me a few times. But the key word here is may. Racism is one of those things that you cannot be sure of. How am I supposed to know what other people’s motives are? I could conceivably take every instance of someone being slightly rude to me and blame it on racism, but that just isn’t realistic, and it also isn’t fair to that person. Plus, the whole, “customer service is racist” idea often is an overreaction, once again, from my personal experience. As a general note, I would advise people to not automatically assume racism every time something bad happens to you. It’s not a good mentality to have.

A person with a disability is defined as lesser in all aspects of physical and mental functioning.

Once again, this is just people being awkward. And are you seriously trying to imply that people have some inherent hatred of the blind now. Really? You’re fucking reaching for examples of prejudice. If anything, certain things are just unaccommodating for people with disabilities, like college lectures that rely heavily on PowerPoints since that teacher has never had a blind student before. That doesn’t imply hatred, it just means they’re dealing with something out of the ordinary.

The contributions of female students are less worthy than the contributions of male students.

There are more women in college than men. Oh my GOD. How do people not care about female students when female students are the majority there and also given the majority of academic scholarships?

Sexist/Heterosexist Language Terms that exclude or degrade women and LGBT persons

Use of the pronoun “he” to refer to all people.

That’s how gender works. Gender, in this sense, is just another aspect of language the same way tense is. It’s a linguistic component not meant to be gendered in a social sense. Plenty of languages have a gender-neutral term to refer to people in a more general sense. Hell, English does. Referring to all people as men/he is just a linguistic shorthand for human. And, plus, lots of grammar Nazis complained when people used they to be gender neutral because it’s technically not correct. So at this point, you’re essentially complaining about how some people don’t use words the way you want them to, which is . . . some kind of -ist. Leave their different culture alone, dammit!

Being constantly reminded by a coworker that “we are only women.”

Who has this happened to? Why are so many of these so fucking specific and obviously anecdotes from one person? Plus, as an off note, I remind my guy friends that I am but a frail woman all the time to get them to do things for me. Yay, internalized misogyny!

Being forced to choose Male or Female when completing basic forms.

Being forced to? Really. It’s a check mark for crying out loud. Even trans people are included in picking a gender box to mark off. Gender non-binary people can get the fuck over it.

Two options for relationship status: married or single.

I don’t even know who this is apparently excluding. The reason there are only two options here is because those are the only things that matter, in a legal/record-keeping sense. Have a boyfriend for two years doesn’t matter if you’re not legally bound together somehow. As far as the record-keepers are concerned, you’re effectively single. At most, this left of civil union, which we don’t even need anymore because gay marriage is a thing (yay, progress).

A heterosexual man who often hangs out with his female friends more than his male friends is labeled as gay.

Can’t he just tell people that he’s not? I can understand it being annoying, but he can seriously just say that he’s not gay. Also, gay guys do tend to hang out with their girlfriends a lot. It’s not like assuming that a guy who hangs out with women a lot is gay is unreasonable, given what observation shows us.

Male experience is universal. Female experience is invisible.

What does this even mean? Plus, if Anita Sarkeesian’s commentary is anything to go off of (which I can only assume that it is), the female experience is only ever the female experience and can’t be universal. Any story focused on a woman is “a woman’s story,” after all, not one for everybody. How is the female experience invisible again? You can’t just say that it is without saying why. Also, how is this a micro-aggression?

What it says: LGBT categories are not recognized. LGBT partnerships are invisible.

This is the first one that I’ll actually give you. But they’re really only legally not recognized (which is also quickly changing), so how is this a micro-aggression?

Men who do not fit male stereotypes are inferior.

What? Me assuming that someone is gay because they do something that gay guys do a lot does not mean I think he’s inferior. It means that I think he’s gay. Whether or not that is correct is another question and wholly irrelevant to this point. Thinking that someone is gay, rightfully or wrongfully, doesn’t mean that you think lesser of them. You fucking homophobe.

Okay, so that’s finally all of them. That took forever, right?

So . . . yeah . . .


They wallow in misattribution theory by making judgments about a person’s character, personality, and thoughts based off of events that don’t warrant that character judgement. They pretend to know the motives of others when they don’t. They ignore any and all other explanations for an occurrence that doesn’t hinge upon oppression, even when oppression certainly isn’t the only or even the most evident cause of the interaction. They focus far too much on what someone feels, totally ignoring the very apparent problem that sometimes people’s feelings are misleading and inaccurate.

They’re totally improvable, as being accused of a micro-aggression leads to one needing to disprove a negative assertion made about them (Prove you’re not X.”), which is impossible to do, especially when the opinion of the accuser is the only one taken into account. They’re dumb. They’re just dumb. They are just another way for easily offended people to justify being easily offended by insisting that their offence is warranted. And the fact that people take them seriously is terrible to me.


2 thoughts on “What we Talk About when we Talk About Micro-Aggressions

  1. Emi says:

    I only caught onto the concept of “micro-aggressions” over the past year, because I am slow and am generally not intertwined with social media social activism. I also had trouble seeing the big deal over a lot of them, and I am Asian-American.

    Although I would like to put in my two cents about the “where are you from” question. This opinion specifically applies to me, but how I react to the question depends a lot on the context/timing. Generally speaking, I am very put off if it is the very first thing someone asks me, and if a complete stranger confronts me out of nowhere with the question. Both situations have happened to me a little too frequently, in my opinion (it happens pretty regularly whenever I’m in a shop or coffee place.) In these contexts, “where are you from?” sounds a lot like, “why do you look like the way you do??” – enough to make me feel uncomfortable and self-conscious. That being said, these offenders are white only 50% of the time. Many of them are other racial minorities and immigrants.

    • The same goes for me getting asked “What are you?” a lot. I personally find it a bit annoying, and, depending upon the specific context, uncomfortable. That being said, it a.) it definitely depends upon the context of when/how it was said and b.) is my personal reaction. You can usually tell when someone asks you these kinds of things with negativity instead of just curiosity, and it does one good to regulate your reaction accordingly, not just have one blanket, fit-for-all-occasions reaction to the general sentiment, as all this micro-aggression talk says you should.

      In the end of the day, it’s not that random person’s fault that what they’re asking you annoys
      you/makes you uncomfortable. That random person has no control over how many times you’ve been asked something before. And while, yes, it is annoying to be asked the same thing a little too frequently, you have to keep in mind that people aren’t following you around 24-7. They don’t know these things already just because you told someone else about it before. It isn’t fair to by default start negatively judging the people who ask that question just because you’ve heard it one too many times. Not that I’m saying that is what YOU do, by the way. And while an individual situation with a specific negative context may warrant getting angry/uncomfortable over, that by no means indicates that ALL situations that vaguely fit the bill warrant anger/discomfort.

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