Earlier this month my fellow blogger Sonder-Wanderlust made a post about inclusive language. It doesn’t stop there though folks. Every day at JMU I have experienced hearing a slur of words that both offend me, infuriate me, and make me feel uncomfortable for individuals with other identities that I do not belong. Yeah. You guessed it today we are going to talk about how much microaggressions piss me off, and how they are a constant problem here at James Madison.
I think a lot of the issues tied to microaggressions are that people just don’t understand what can be offensive. Especially those who are tied to identities with a lot of privilege. I couldn’t believe people still say “That’s so Gay” when referring to something dumb/not appealing, or “retarded” when referring to someone doing something “stupid”. Like are you kidding me? I have heard Dukes say it quite frequently in the past week when I opened my ears and listened for it. One of the main locations people use this intolerant language believe it or not is on the bus. When they are just talking to their friend about a class, or something that happened during the day. Lets face it, a lot of people get a lot of anxiety on the bus without individuals dismissing and marginalizing their identities “on accident”. People need to recognize the use of their language.
However it doesn’t stem from just privilege on our campus. People marginalize and oppress their own groups with microaggressions too! I identify as queer and people in the queer community even say “That’s so gay” kind of frequently, or look down on someone for being “too flamboyant”. Even individuals who identify as women bring each other down sometimes, with microaggressions about how women shouldn’t be going into a “Man’s field” and wanting to stay at home and “Take care of the home”. I don’t have any problem if that is your prerogative but don’t down on other people for not identifying with what you want to do with your life.
Earlier last year i went on a conference for Orientation and they had a presentation about microaggressions. I identify as a gay, cisgender, white, male so I was definitely ready to get educated. It brought forth the idea of all the things that can be encompassed as a microaggression and opened my eyes to how we as a community can better ourselves so this nonsense will stop. So get educated about the things you might not necessarily consider a microaggression, and realize how it can affect other’s comfort-ability level on our own campus.
Step up. When you see a group of guys playing football, and one of them says “Wow, bro you throw like a girl” tell them like it is. Hell. If you have played football before, kick their ass in it and show them how it’s done.
Obviously, like always do not step up if the environment is an unsafe one. If you deem it as too unsafe to speak up, and can identify someone as being uncomfortable due to their language just offer them a supporting glance/do what you can in that particular situation.
We are a community here at James Madison. I know sometimes people say that individuals are being “too sensitive” when it comes to microaggressions or language in general. But we have progressed as a society quite a lot.
We have a lot of words. Open a dictionary.