About to compliment a co-worker on her new haircut? Think again, that’s microaggressive behavior that implies all you see is her looks, devaluing her professional accomplishments.
In a discussion about candidates for a position at your workplace, you say, “I think the most qualified person should get the job.” Don’t say THAT! You are implying that there are people who are more qualified than others, which means you are labelling some candidates as less qualified.
You claim, patriotically, “America is a land of opportunity!” OOPS, you are implying that there’s a level “playing field” so that if someone hasn’t been able to “make it,” it’s his or her fault. Don’t get it? It’s obvious among the politically correct: Inequality is pervasive in the U.S. and certain people groups are doomed to failure from birth.
On a flight, you politely engage your obviously-Asian seatmate in conversation, asking where he is from. The Microaggression Theory interpretation? You are implying that the person is not a true American.
Microaggression Theory began at least as early as 1970 with creeping political correctness about racial issues. Should we say “Black Americans” or “African-Americans?” Shortly afterwards, women began being oversensitive about labels, attitudes, biases related to gender. Not so gradually, any marginalized group – whether the disabled, minority, or religious – became aggrieved by casual conversation deemed to be derogatory. Now, it’s risky to carry on conversation with anyone lest you run into someone’s sensitivity and unintentionally cause emotional trauma! Everyone is a victim and has been emotionally wounded . . . so beware.
No wonder Americans are, increasingly, more lonely and isolated. It’s dangerous to talk to anyone. We are now a society of pervasive witch-hunts living in a culture of victimhood. In short, Americans have become overly sensitive and even paranoid lest they offend someone and inadvertently provoke someone to anger.
While early microaggressions were primarily racial or gender-based, now anybody can take offense at anything. “Bullying” now rivals judgmentalism as the ultimate sin, and that includes using the wrong pronoun in referring to someone who is obviously male or female if they self-identify as the opposite gender or even “something” else. Words like “rude,” “insensitive,” or “demeaning” are passé; those are all encompassed with one word, “microaggression.” Tort law now calls cases based on such fragile complaints, “eggshell plaintiffs.”