The Not-So-Micro Aggressions
Updated: Feb 11
At some point or another, we are all going to work in an environment where there is some type of microaggression towards a specific group of people. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a microaggression is defined as “a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group.”
Microaggressions continue to be seen all over our country, and Madison is no exception. There can be many different types of microaggressions, but the two we mainly see are gender specific and racial microaggressions. Using microaggressions can often seem harmless and people don’t necessarily understand they’re being racist or sexist, which is what can classify it as a microaggression.
A common racial microaggression is saying, “What are you?” People aren’t a “what”. People of every nationality and ethnicity are humans, and asking them “what” they are is alienating them and wrong. Rather than just what people are saying, there are still plenty of other racial microaggressions that we see every day. For example, something as simple as crossing the street so you’re not walking on the same side as a person of color, even though they’ve done nothing wrong or anything to make you think you’re in danger. Another racial microaggression is when someone denies that color matters. The color of someone’s skin is part of who they are, and saying ‘America is the melting pot’, or ‘I don’t see color’ is saying you don’t see them as who they are. Saying you’re ‘colorblind’ is taking away a big part of someone’s identity, and they deserve to be the person that they are. Another common racial microaggression is saying Asians have to be good at math. Race has nothing to do with the fact that some people might excel in some places more than others, and saying all Asians should be good at math is unfair to them and just downright racist. It’s NOT a compliment.
Another form of microaggression is based on gender. Generally, women are the targeted group, but men can face the effects of it as well. For a long time, women were thought of as the lesser gender and it was believed that they shouldn’t be able to do everything men can do. Of course, since then we have decided that women can actually amount to something and should be treated as such. Women face microaggressions such as language and tone policing, mansplaining, stereotypes, and objectification. Language and tone policing is basically when someone says ‘You don’t look as pretty when you say those words.’ “I think this [microaggressions] has shaped our society in a way that makes men feel as though they have power and dominance over women. I feel that people make these comments in an effort to boost themselves up and oppress others,” Lucy Murphy (10) said. These stereotypes include that women should be in the kitchen, women can’t be good at math and science, women should have to dress nice and presentable whenever they go out. This is the 21st century; people still think like that? Mansplaining, for those that don’t know, is when a man tries to explain something to a woman in a condescending manner, assuming she doesn’t understand what he’s talking about without him “dumbing it down” for her. This can prove to be extremely obnoxious if the woman actually understood what you were talking about before you decided you needed to explain it. There are some other microaggressions towards women that are a little more serious. Victim shaming, for one, has proven to be one of the worst. Victim shaming a woman is when you blame her for something happening to her when she has no control over it. Women are not to blame for things like sexual harrassment, sexual assault, rape, etc, and saying it is in any way their fault is extremely wrong and a microaggression that deperately needs fixing.
Men face microaggressions, too, such as everyone assuming they can’t have feelings. They aren’t allowed to cry, especially in public, and they shouldn’t be taking care of their babies because they aren’t “motherly” and “babies need their mom”. Men deserve to show their feelings, and they aren’t any less qualified to take care of their consensually-conceived babies than their partners are.
In all, America has claimed to be ‘ahead of the times’, but we still have our issues regarding treating people how they should be treated. Microaggressions are still offensive, racist, and sexist, even if it’s not technically breaking a law. We’re all different, but we’re all people. We need to stop dividing ourselves and treating each other like we’re each better than the next. We’re not.