Sexist behavior and microaggressions go hand in hand. What we think to be sexist behavior, especially when announced verbally, may have been an innocent remark in the perpetrator’s mind. Does that make it okay? No.
Ignorance isn’t bliss, just because someone doesn’t intend to be rude doesn’t mean they haven’t actually been. The solution to doing better is acknowledging the mistakes we’ve made and rectifying the situation.
Sexism as a microaggression is often times mislabeled as flattering playfulness. The biggest lie we ever told ourselves is that aggressive behavior was a way to show attention.
Pulling pigtails isn’t cute, it just hurts
Early on, we’re taught to excuse any sort of misbehavior because the intention of the perpetrator is out of attraction. But people need to stop feeling like they need to stop making others feel good just because they like us. Liking someone doesn’t excuse behavior, you’re not allowed to do what you want just because you think it makes you feel better. Why is someone else’s needs more important than the victim’s? Especially when no one asked the perpetrator to be antagonistic to begin with.
In a way this sort of behavior is a form of self protection. It’s similar behavior to lashing out first so that no one else will hurt you after. How can she make fun of you for liking her if she thinks you hate her instead? Insecurity makes us all do things we’d like to say we hadn’t. The problem is that we allow this behavior to continue by excusing it. What excusing it does is allow people to misinterpret this behavior as okay, just because it may be a minimal mishap doesn’t stop it from being a mishap.
But it’s all fun and games
Someone gets hurt and protecting the antagonist lets the victim know even if they’ve done nothing wrong their pain is more deserved than the person who would’ve faced nothing more than embarrassment and being taught to do better.
It’s not flattering to be objectified in any way whether the intent is good or not because it makes the victim seem less human. By disregarding the feelings of the victim you’re letting them know their value as a person is only as good as being the object to your comment. They are simply the subject and reason for misbehavior — not someone whose feelings need to be considered.
This is how microaggressions also work
I think these two behaviors are similar because they work on the basis of preconceived notions on what is acceptable and what is not. And both types of behavior fall back on the idea that women are too serious — that we don’t understand the intent of these practices. In racial matters it’s the same setup. The victim just can’t take a joke.
But we all remember that uncomfortable session from Get Out. The cringiness of hearing people ask stupid questions based on one’s skin color? Try that everyday. Try that everyday for your whole life. Let me tell you a secret, it’s not cute.
What it does is make you feel like your self worth isn’t worth anything beyond what others have chosen to see. If all you get from other people are remarks about how you’re overly sensitive because they’ve said something offensive you’ll start to believe them. And once you start believing them you start to listen and actually hear all those crude things they have to say.
It’s easy to let yourself think you are just that slab of meat. And that when he’s making your life miserable it’s because boys will be boys and you should just accept it. Everyone else does.
So do you address it or not?
Here’s the problem. Understanding the problem honestly only helps yourself most times. You can learn to recognize problematic behavior but you’re still going to faced with it. The problem with doing something about it is that not everyone has the privilege to do so. Speaking out can mean losing a job, losing friendships, losing family. Is it worth it? That’s up to you to decide.
What understanding the situation means is that you can better protect yourself. I can’t recommend taking action if you can’t. Sometimes you have to suck it up because you don’t have a choice. Maybe people rely on you, maybe you’re stuck and speaking out will only make it worse.
Understanding that these people are treating you this way not because you’re you but because they’ve conditioned themselves to be that way? That’s one way of making sure it doesn’t eat away at your conscious. Don’t give them power over you, they don’t deserve it.