Tag Archives: prejudice

Prejudice leaks

I wonder about the term “micro-aggressions,” because they’re neither.  They seem to me to be prejudice leaks, neither aggressive nor — because they reveal an entire worldview — micro.*

We all have internal worldviews that are full of prejudices and assumptions.  Some true, some false; some examined, some unexamined; some praiseworthy, some benign, some offensive.  Then we encase the whole mess in the persona we are presenting to the world.  A thick exoskeleton of personality that is all most people ever see.

Image: Michelin Tire logo - human figure made of tires, with the effect of a puffy, tire-encased human.

Many people choose to encase themselves in an open-minded persona.  Maybe it helps them fit in to a liberal social circle or workplace.  Or maybe they genuinely believe they are open-minded.  It’s important to their self-image.  Or maybe it’s important to you to believe they’re open-minded.  They’re your friend, teacher, colleague, doctor, pastor.  You want to believe they see you as you are.

Then they say:

I’m so sorry your husband uses a wheelchair” ::furrowed eyebrows concerned face::  or

“are you the nanny?”  or

“where are you really from?” or

“you must be the first person in your family to go to college.”  or

“you’re so articulate!” or

is the father still in the picture?” or

“I know your kid has two moms, but who’s the real father?”

and a little fissure forms in the exoskeleton and the prejudice leaks out.**

Image: Michelin Tire logo - human figure made of tires -- with a small hole in his head and lines indicating a leak.

Suddenly you can see, in that small leak, the entire worldview that sits inside the protective exoskeleton.  That they view disability through a lens of pity.  That they have seen your skin color or facial features and constructed an entire narrative that has nothing to do with you.  That their views of LGBTQ families are stuck somewhere around 1950.

In many cases, it’s not aggressive,*** but it’s not micro.  It’s an inadvertent glimpse of an entire worldview you didn’t know existed, or didn’t want to know existed, or hoped against hope and experience did not exist, or perhaps they didn’t know existed or had been suppressing or had never stopped to think about or didn’t even have the framework to understand.

Prejudice leaks.

It doesn’t sound as cool as micro-aggression.  It sounds like something that requires padded undergarments.  But I honestly think it’s a more accurate description.

******************

*I realize I’m wading into an arena that has been the subject of a good deal of academic thought, research, and writing, and that I have 0.00 qualifications to take on that analysis.  This is a strictly non-academic view, from someone who has witnessed many real-life prejudice leaks that seemed neither micro nor aggressive.

**Not bad for someone who can’t draw, eh?

***There are plenty of cases where comments like these are aggressive, but in that case I wouldn’t call them “micro-aggressions,” I’d call them “prejudice” and perhaps also “being an asshole.”

Modesty glasses: finally, recognition that it’s their problem, not ours.

In Israel, new modesty glasses for Orthodox Jewish men blur women out of their line of sight – NY Daily News.

It’s the latest prescription for extreme ultra-Orthodox Jewish men who shun contact with the opposite sex: Glasses that blur their vision, so they don’t have to see women they consider to be immodestly dressed.

This is sheer genius!  With modern technology, if we can’t convince bigots to bring their thinking into the modern world, at least we don’t have to change our behavior to cater to their stone age views.  Bigot Glasses:  think of the uses!

  • Racist?  Here are glasses that make everyone’s skin tone look white.
  • Homophobic?  These glasses will portray, to the wearer, that any couple observed through the lenses consists of one man and one woman.
  • Islamophobic?  The glasses can be programmed to photographically superimpose members of the 4H Club overtop of any images of men with dark skin, beards, or turbans or women in headscarves.
  • Disabiliphobic?  There will be glasses to blur out wheelchairs, white canes, and sign language, showing instead those same people walking, seeing, hearing, and flipping you off.  (Still a few bugs in that technology.)

The ultimate genius, of course, is that Bigot Glasses only affect the bigot, so the rest of us can go about living our black, female, Islamic, gay, and/or disabled lives in peace.

There is, of course, one set of these glasses I’d invest in:  grumpy old lady glasses.   Technology that erases tattoos, pulls up pants, covers up exposed underwear, brushes hair, feigns respect, and edits out the word “like.”