Remember the days when even proper bad behaviour could be excused by simply saying one meant no offence? Well, those days are long buried under the rubble of what used to be rational thinking. Hunting on barren ground for victimless crimes has turned into a hobby for some people.
Microaggressions are a great example of that.
According to this article, brought to you by the fountain of wisdom that is intersectional feminism, intention is completely irrelevant when microaggressions are perceived.
It’s important for us to remember that just because a perpetrator of racism is clueless (or in denial) about the impact of their words doesn’t mean that their actions were any less violent or that the impact of that violence is changed.
Which basically means that anything anyone perceives as an insult or a threat must be real. For instance, if I suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and thought the devil lived in my freezer, the sheer emotional impact would be enough to give validity to the whole situation. It also means that whoever stands accused of such perceived crimes is guilty by default; there is no chance in hell the “victim” might be overreacting.
Furthermore, we learn why an unwitting “perpetrator of racism” must be dealt with promptly:
Whatever the reason, it amounts to letting racism off the hook. When we allow these small incidences to keep happening, we are allowing racism, in general, to remain a part of our culture. (…) If we only focus on intention, we continue to center and prioritize the perpetrator. And let’s face it: The perpetrator is always a more privileged person who is used to getting their opinions and feelings validated.
Hence, if you are accused – and by default guilty – of a microaggression, you might as well start a fund for the Ku Klux Klan; you are responsible for the propagation of racist attitudes in your community (and in general). Here’s how a couple of tactless words can make a public enemy out of you, from one moment to the next. In any such circumstances, regardless of their particularities, you must be wrong, since you are a privileged piece of shit anyway.
But if ever we hope to truly put an end to racism (or any other injustice for that matter), we, as people who encounter so much marginalization, must also validate our own feelings and opinions. We re-center our attention to our needs and experiences by focusing on impact, not intent.
Which would give a free pass to every whiny, narcissistic, self-obsessed prick to tax others on their words at any given time. As mentioned above, an individual’s perspective might be distorted by psychological or emotional problems; perching them on a throne from where they can condemn others with impunity, based on their feelings alone, is not the brightest idea. Since the word “perpetrator” is used several times in the article to refer to people who are ingenuous of any wrongdoing, I reserve the right to refer to such accusers as hysterical narcs.
Moving on to the three types of microaggressions, detailed below.
Microassaults, the most conscious and intentional form of microaggressions, best resemble what we are accustomed to thinking of as “old-fashioned” racism.
Some common examples are using racial epithets (or abusive, derogatory language or names), displaying confederate flags or swastikas, mocking another language, telling racist jokes, and serving White customers first.
Mocking another language? As in putting on a fake accent or imitating someone for a laugh? Will ten-year-olds be subject to this accusation as well? About serving white customers first – I’d be really amazed if the author could point to even one such situation in recent decades, in first world countries. And yet, it’s listed here as if it were a frequent occurrence.
Microinsults communicate rudeness and insensitivity towards someone based on their racial identity or heritage. These acts take away a person’s dignity or sense of self-worth, but they do so indirectly. Some microinsults can seem like compliments to the person saying them. (…)
And even more examples (because racism is so frustratingly relentless) are a White person crossing to the other side of the street at the approach of a Black or Latino man, or a storeowner carefully watching or following a customer of color.
I’d say that is a lot more insulting than someone mocking your language, but that’s just me. The question is whether it actually happens, how often it happens and if the people perceiving this might be misinterpreting the situation (how in the world can you tell why a complete stranger crosses the road?).
Microinvalidations exclude or negate the experiences, feelings, and experiential reality of a POC.
A common microinvalidation is the notion of “color blindness” or the assertion that we now live in “post-racial” times. It is also invalidating to downplay occurrences of racism, or to tell a POC, “Stop being so sensitive” or “Not everything’s about race!”
These phrases, perhaps meant to smooth over the perpetrators discomfort of the situation, completely dismiss the racialized experiences of POC.
Hence, reason is now equated with the invalidation of another person’s experience. There is no way under the blue sky that this person might be exaggerating; it’s unconscionable. To quote the PF chief admin, “your feelings are absolutes”.
As POC, we are often silenced or stunned by microaggressions. But just as there are positive ways to deal with stress, there are empowering ways to address microaggressions.
Never mind that the author and afferent clique not only have every opportunity to express their views, but actually enjoy a large platform and others bend over backwards to avoid tripping their wires.
Had enough? No?
Here’s another article on how to be moderate in using the “right pronouns” for people who demand them, as they are even offended by the uncomfortable feeling of having to make a big deal about you using them. The point of it is to not expect a positive reaction (as if someone necessarily did when engaging in this futility, as opposed to merely trying to avoid the anger of the person in need of special words). At the same time, don’t you dare not use them!
Some people make a big deal about gender pronouns – and it’s true that it’s important to get them right! But once you know how it actually feels for someone when you get their pronouns right, you’ll realize there’s no one “right” way to respond. Check it out.
So briefly, if they feel you’re making a big deal (in terms of deserving recognition) out of their utterly uncomfortable demand to mutilate your language with word such as “ze”, they are also entitled to be offended or at least put off by that.
Just make sure you’re not trying too hard to be an “ally”. As there truly is no right way to do it.