The term ‘microaggression’ has become a common part of the vocabulary for many a person in their day-to-day life. But what exactly is a microaggression – who is guilty of using them, what damage can they cause, and many more questions will be answered in this article.
The word ‘microaggression’ has actually been around for a long time, but it has recently made somewhat of a comeback, with the term being used by many. In general, many people believe that those who show microaggressions are being overly-sensitive.
But in truth, a microaggression refers to a specific remark or action made by someone towards an individual, relating to the individual’s association with a group that are stereotyped. These stereotypes are normally hurtful to the person, even if the microaggressor doesn’t realise it.
Derald W. Sue is a psychologist who has actually written two books on the concept of microaggressions. He defines the term as:
“The everyday slights, indignities, put downs and insults that people of color, women, lgbt populations or those who are marginalized experiences in their day-to-day interactions with people”
Victims of Microaggressions
Dr. Sue seems to summarise what is a rather complex concept very well. Unfortunately, he seems to go on 100% simp mode, as he suggests that everyone apart from the white male can be the victim of a microaggression. While such events may be more common for persons of colour or those in the LGBT community, it is careless to state that white males cannot be affected.
For instance, those from a deeply religious background, such as Mormons, are often discriminated against. Therefore, it is important to state that anyone can be a victim of a microaggression.
How they present themselves
A lot of the time, a microaggression isn’t something that is conducted maliciously, nor knowingly, by the person. They may see it as giving a compliment, or maybe a joke. But to the victim, it may be a common insult that makes them feel marginalised, which clearly isn’t a nice feeling.
While in the modern-day world it seems that everything offends someone, somewhere, it is important to state that micro-aggressions can be harmful. While sometimes it will just be a case of someone getting offended for the sake of it, these microaggressions can cause harm.
If regularly said in the workplace, it can become a difficult place for the victim to work in. They may start dreading going to work – which is a very tough state to be in.
While blatant racist or homophobic insults have intended harm behind them, a microaggression is typically not meant with any form of harm. Therefore, bringing the harm one feels about a microaggression up to the person engaging in this behaviour can be difficult. They will often struggle to see the problem.
Needless to say, the entire idea of microaggressions has brought about much criticism. As touched on earlier, some state that the increase in awareness regarding microaggressions leads to a culture of victimhood. Soon, it is very possible that we won’t be able to speak at all – given the way this world is going.
This idea also feeds into the apparent need to be ‘politically correct’ all of the time. It also means that simple discussions between those of different genders, races or religions can reduce – as many will feel that whatever they say will in some way be wrong.
It is important to state that microaggressions can cause harm. While the person doing the microaggression will typically not realise the harm they are doing, it can be hurtful to some. However, there is no doubting that some people do enjoy playing the victim, and blow simple remarks well out of proportion.