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Microaggressions

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The term "white privilege" is offensive to many (it is much more offensive than saying 'the most qualified person should get the job'). A couple questions:

1) Should "white privilege" be on this list?

One of the points I have been trying to emphasize is that the term "microaggression" isn't intended to describe every situation where somebody's feelings get hurt, it's intended to describe inadvertent, unintended insult.

And it was never intended to describe dialog over controversial ideas, either. A discussion of affirmative action in a classroom setting isn't microaggression, but expressing your disagreement with affirmative action shortly after meeting your new black co-worker might be microaggression (or more likely, it's just a passive-aggressive thing to do) because chances are fair that they're going to interpret the remark as being a reference to their qualifications.

So to answer your question: it depends on the context.

If you're in a classroom or you're reading an article or you're in a discussion here at the MLW and somebody mentions "white privilege" and you shout out HEEEEYYY! This is microaggression! No, you'd be wrong. It was never intended to describe a situation like that.

On the other hand, there might be a situation where yes, it really could fit the definition.

One time I was at a fast food outfit and there was a black person just standing there studying the menu. I figured she hadn't made up her mind yet. I stepped up to the cashier to make an order, at which point the black person says "hey, you don't get to go first just cuz you're white!" (although, that probably wasn't "microaggression", it was probably just aggression.) It seemed like an unfair accusation, given the circumstances.

Maybe you can come up with a situation where somebody talking about "white privilege" could be an unintended insult. Perhaps you're explaining how you built your business, and somebody says "gee, white privilege must be nice." They've discounted all the work you've done and implied it was just handed to you because you're white. I think that could be described as microaggression (but it's more likely that the insult isn't unintended and that the person who said it is being a passive-aggressive jerk.)

2) Even if you agree with 1) what are the chances that the people making these lists would every consider adding it?

My feeling is the answer to 2) is zero because these lists are not about providing information. They are about pushing an ideology centered on the cult of the victim (i.e. people with certain attributes are automatically victims because they have those attributes and therefore need to be coddled).

My suspicion is that you're right, because the official definition seems to limit the terms to race and gender. As I've mentioned several times already, that's my objection to the term as it's being applied.

I do object to the term "coddled" though. Are you "coddling" people by not remarking on their weight when you're out and about? Do you owe it to fatties to toughen them up by making rude remarks about their weight?

Do you choose not to do that because you're trying to "coddle" people, or do you choose not to do that because you don't want to be perceived as a jerk?

-k

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Oh? When did that happen?

I said might. Even Nobel Lauraetes are being fired for saying the wrong thing and there is a clear implication that you shouldn't take a classical liberalism position such as 'the most qualified person should get the job'.

There are two main things you are overlooking here:

1. Intent. There is a tendency for some of the people pushing this agenda to project intent even if there is no intent; for example: men's rights groups are secretly evil misogynistic hate groups so we need to ban then at U of Toronto and Ryerson U. The etymology of 'microaggressions' implies aggression thus intent; micro-offenses would have made more sense. We even see it in this thread with people like Blackdog and Cybercoma trying to project some hidden intent onto me.

2. Equitable Application: I see no reason to believe there will be equitable application of these microaggression policies and a lot of reason to believe otherwise. Somehow #killallmen, constantly telling men to 'grow balls' and 'man up', dismissing male issues while drinking out of coffee mugs that read 'I bathe in male tears', telling men that they are inherently evil rapists so need to take classes to learn how not to rape, not taking male rape victims seriously, constantly telling men that they are 'privileged' for being men while women have higher life expectancy, higher self-reported happiness, lower suicide rate, lower rate of being murdered and assaulted and outperform men academically due to a combination of higher emotional support for women, constant pushes and programs to get women ahead academically which are absent for men, and educational practices which are optimized for women/girls while men/boys are put on Ritalin, etc. aren't microaggressions. And then people wonder why male suicide is so high.

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I said might. Even Nobel Lauraetes are being fired for saying the wrong thing and there is a clear implication that you shouldn't take a classical liberalism position such as 'the most qualified person should get the job'.

There are two main things you are overlooking here:

1. Intent. There is a tendency for some of the people pushing this agenda to project intent even if there is no intent; for example: men's rights groups are secretly evil misogynistic hate groups so we need to ban then at U of Toronto and Ryerson U. The etymology of 'microaggressions' implies aggression thus intent; micro-offenses would have made more sense. We even see it in this thread with people like Blackdog and Cybercoma trying to project some hidden intent onto me.

We don't need to project anything. You're intentions are clear. You're basically a Bizzaro-SJW in every way.

2. Equitable Application: I see no reason to believe there will be equitable application of these microaggression policies and a lot of reason to believe otherwise. Somehow #killallmen, constantly telling men to 'grow balls' and 'man up', dismissing male issues while drinking out of coffee mugs that read 'I bathe in male tears', telling men that they are inherently evil rapists so need to take classes to learn how not to rape, not taking male rape victims seriously, constantly telling men that they are 'privileged' for being men while women have higher life expectancy, higher self-reported happiness, lower suicide rate, lower rate of being murdered and assaulted and outperform men academically due to a combination of higher emotional support for women, constant pushes and programs to get women ahead academically which are absent for men, and educational practices which are optimized for women/girls while men/boys are put on Ritalin, etc. aren't microaggressions. And then people wonder why male suicide is so high.

I feel bad for kimmy who has been nothing but thoughtful and clear in this thread, only to get this kind of garbage response that has f*** all to do with microaggressions.

Edited by Michael Hardner
profanity

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I do object to the term "coddled" though. Are you "coddling" people by not remarking on their weight when you're out and about? Do you owe it to fatties to toughen them up by making rude remarks about their weight?

I was thinking of possible excuses used to justify excluding "white privilege" from the list of microagressions. The most likely objection would be that whites are not a 'historically disadvantaged group therefore it is not a microagression to use terms that may be insulting to them'. This argument implicitly implies that historically disadvantaged need to be 'coddled' when compared to whites.

Of course I am engaging in hypotheticals here because I don't know for sure that they would object. I have posted the 'white privilege' example of a microagression a couple times and you are the first defender of microagressions to come out an say it should be on the list (with some caveats albeit).

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This argument implicitly implies that historically disadvantaged need to be 'coddled' when compared to whites.

Why do you start using loaded words in the middle of what is ostensibly an objective analysis?

Couldn't you have said 'considered' and deferred the discussion of what that consideration is?

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I was thinking of possible excuses used to justify excluding "white privilege" from the list of microagressions. The most likely objection would be that whites are not a 'historically disadvantaged group therefore it is not a microagression to use terms that may be insulting to them'. This argument implicitly implies that historically disadvantaged need to be 'coddled' when compared to whites.

Of course I am engaging in hypotheticals here because I don't know for sure that they would object. I have posted the 'white privilege' example of a microagression a couple times and you are the first defender of microagressions to come out an say it should be on the list (with some caveats albeit).

Or it suggests there are different power dynamics at work that need to be considered.

"White privilege" in the academic sense is only insulting if you don't understand the concept and you assume it's about you, personally.

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See, Black Dog's response is exactly what I mean when I say it will not be applied equitably. Apparently, certain groups of people can't be microaggressioned against.

This argument implicitly implies that historically disadvantaged

People are individuals. No one is 'historically disadvantaged' due to stuff that happened to other people before they were born. That makes about as much sense as original sin or North Korea's policy of 3 generations of punishment for crime.

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See, Black Dog's response is exactly what I mean when I say it will not be applied equitably. Apparently, certain groups of people can't be microaggressioned against.

And again, you're tilting at strawmen here, taking a concept that describes groups and making it about individuals. Typical Orwellian SJW stuff from you lol.

People are individuals. No one is 'historically disadvantaged' due to stuff that happened to other people before they were born. That makes about as much sense as original sin or North Korea's policy of 3 generations of punishment for crime.

So blacks in the States and First Nations communities are completely free from the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, residential schools etc? You should tell them that.

Edited by Black Dog

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So blacks in the States and First Nations communities are completely free from the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, residential schools etc? You should tell them that.

These individuals of these groups are on average disadvantaged primarily due to lower average socioeconomic status.

And of course, when it comes to sex, people generally have an equal number of male ancestors as female ancestors, so there no on average sex biases that are due to socioeconomic status.

Edited by -1=e^ipi

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It's not a matter of "tell it like it isn't", it's a question of courtesy.

---SNIP---

Of course courtesy is important and civilized people don't make remarks that will hurt feelings. But at the same time, that is something civilized people learn early in life. (I was taught as a child that personal remarks are never in good taste). If a person reaches college age and doesn't know any better, are rules imposed on him going to make him any different? He might observe the rules while on location but he will still be an ass and will still say hurtful things when he isn't going to be punished for it.

I think we are talking about something different though. I was referring to banned words. The kindergarten kids now are not allowed to say things like, 'loser', 'stupid' etc. The trouble I see with that is that those words are not 'bad' words when used in the proper context. It isn't polite to call a person a loser or stupid, but there is nothing wrong with saying, 'when two teams play, there is always a LOSER'. or when you make a mistake, saying, "I did a really STUPID thing!"

Kids need to learn about context, not just simply be forbidden to use certain words.

This came to my attention when my 7 year old grandson heard me say, "that cat is stupid" (he is a very affectionate cat and we love him dearly, but he is a stupid cat!) and grandson gave me a lecture about using that word. It occurred to me that while he has been taught to use polite words, he has obviously not been taught not to 'educate' and contradict his elders.

Edited by Charles Anthony
[---SNIP---]

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These individuals of these groups are on average disadvantaged primarily due to lower average socioeconomic status.

You didn't really think this through, did you? Because this raises the question of why these groups have lower socioeconomic status.

Edited by Black Dog

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Of course courtesy is important and civilized people don't make remarks that will hurt feelings. But at the same time, that is something civilized people learn early in life. (I was taught as a child that personal remarks are never in good taste). If a person reaches college age and doesn't know any better, are rules imposed on him going to make him any different? He might observe the rules while on location but he will still be an ass and will still say hurtful things when he isn't going to be punished for it.

The premise here is not that people need to be taught how to be courteous. The assumption-- perhaps it is naive-- is that people will choose to be courteous.

The premise here is that there are things that people perceive as discourteous, but many people don't realize it's discourteous because they don't understand the reason why others perceive it as such.

For example: somebody probably taught you that it's impolite to ask a woman her weight or her age. "How old are you?" and "How much do you weigh?" are perfectly reasonable questions... but many women consider their weight and age to be sensitive topics. Most people raised in our culture understand talking about a woman's weight or age is a poor choice of topic if you're trying to have a positive conversation.

A few posts back Hal9000 mentioned offering a black person watermelon and fried chicken as a rude and bigoted comment. Why? What's wrong with it? Lots of people like watermelon. Lots of people like fried chicken? What's offensive about offering a black person watermelon and fried chicken? Well, what's wrong with it is that it is a deliberate reference to a hateful caricature of black people from years gone by. Chances are pretty good that even if you don't know the history behind it, you still know that it's a major breech of civility to ask a black person if they want some fried chicken and watermelon.

There's context involved that makes these innocent questions turn into something that will probably turn your conversation in a negative direction. And you're probably glad that you're aware of the context when you interact with people, because having that knowledge helps you avoid making missteps that will cause people to think you're a real jerk.

And the idea with the educational brochure that launched this thread isn't to tell people to be nice, it's to provide information about things that you might say to irritate people without realizing it.

"Where are you from?" is an example that was discussed earlier in the thread. I always felt like it was a harmless question, because if somebody asks me where I'm from I assume they're wondering if I'm from Edmonton or Calgary or Vancouver. But if you're not white, you've probably been asked that question by somebody who actually wants to know whether you're an immigrant, or by somebody who wants to know whether your ancestry is Chinese or Korean, or so-on. It can make people feel like foreigners.

I never had any malice when I asked that question, but I discovered that by asking it I was unwittingly associating myself with unpleasant experiences people have had. So I quit asking that.

I think we are talking about something different though. I was referring to banned words. The kindergarten kids now are not allowed to say things like, 'loser', 'stupid' etc. The trouble I see with that is that those words are not 'bad' words when used in the proper context. It isn't polite to call a person a loser or stupid, but there is nothing wrong with saying, 'when two teams play, there is always a LOSER'. or when you make a mistake, saying, "I did a really STUPID thing!"

Kids need to learn about context, not just simply be forbidden to use certain words.

I certainly agree with that, but as I keep pointing out in this thread, nobody is talking about banning anything.

A university provided some information to its employees about interacting with non-white students in a way that might help them avoid missteps. Just as your mom gave you the information to avoid irritating women by asking about their age and weight.

-k

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For example: somebody probably taught you that it's impolite to ask a woman her weight or her age.

Wait... why not a man's weight or age? Why do men not deserve the same protection from such hurtful questions?

Sexist double standard!

"Where are you from?" is an example that was discussed earlier in the thread. I always felt like it was a harmless question, because if somebody asks me where I'm from I assume they're wondering if I'm from Edmonton or Calgary or Vancouver. But if you're not white...

I dislike the use of this question. But I want to dispel some myths you keep repeating:

1. The myth that it only annoys non-white people. I hate this question because answering it for me is not trivial and I don't want to get in my whole life's story for a stranger I just met; not everyone can simply point to 1 location on the Earth and say that is where they are from.

2. The myth that it's not used on white people to get where their ancestry is from. I tended to get this a lot from immigrants, especially immigrants in STEM fields. I would get asked where I am from, respond 'Ottawa' or something because I did not want to get into a long story, and then get told 'but where are you really from?' They wanted to know if my ancestry is from Britain, France, Ukraine, Germany or wherever.

A university provided some information to its employees about interacting with non-white students in a way that might help them avoid missteps.

Why not white students as well? Don't they deserve the same protection?

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When I was five years old, Vancouver was probably 90% caucasian and most of the other 10% was oriental. One day I was on a bus with my mother and saw my first live black person. In a loud voice I said. "look at the suntan on that man!" My mother was mortified. Many years later I was on a train in Tokyo and there was a little kid with his mother sitting next to where I was standing. The kid just stared at me with his mouth open the whole ride. His mother was also mortified. She tried to get him to stop without success. Probably the most interesting I've been to anyone.

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Wait... why not a man's weight or age? Why do men not deserve the same protection from such hurtful questions?

Sexist double standard!

Why not white students as well? Don't they deserve the same protection?

They would deserve it if they need it, when they're old and fat for example.

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Really scraping the bottom of the barrel for sources eh.

Didn't have time to read it.

Is this better? http://nypost.com/2015/11/09/university-of-missouri-president-resigns-after-racism-protests/

Edit: Okay, I admit that the individual did not lose their job due to not acknowledging 'white privilege'. That is hyperbole.

Edited by -1=e^ipi

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Typical Infowars. Link to a real newspaper article, then write a bunch of crap that isn't supported by the article, knowing full well that most of your readers are too stupid to bother to check the source themselves. I wouldn't trust anything from that site.

There's plenty of room for debate on whether the university president's resignation was warranted... it seems that there have been a number of racist incidents on the campus, but I'm not exactly seeing what Mr Wolfe was supposed to do that he didn't do.

-k

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too stupid to bother to check the source themselves

This is clearly a microaggression against me and others who have suffered brain injuries. *sarcasm*

I think there are other reasons, such as too lazy or too busy. In my case I was busy.

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This is clearly a microaggression against me and others who have suffered brain injuries. *sarcasm*

I think there are other reasons, such as too lazy or too busy. In my case I was busy.

I just assumed that you weren't aware of that website's reputation. But for the most part Alex Jones/Infowars/PrisonPlanet make money by exploiting the very stupid. His subscribers are very stupid or mentally ill people. Saying so isn't microaggression, it's just aggression. These people are morons.

-k

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How about Liberal MP Linda Lapointe dressing inappropriately for halloween. Definitely a microaggression. Will she be resigning? No? Oh the horror.

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/11/17/linda-lapointe-costume_n_8582394.html

Is the HP a good enough source Kimmy?

I don't doubt that it happened. However, I'm not sure what the big deal over the costume is. It might be an ethnic themed costume, but it doesn't seem to be referencing any negative stereotype as far as I can tell. I don't get upset when I see people in Viking Halloween costumes, German people don't get mad when they see people dressed in dirndls or lederhosen on Halloween...

If we were talking about somebody dressed in blackface or a tar-baby outfit or doing a caricature like Mickey Rooney's Breakfast At Tiffany's thing... obviously everybody would recognize that as offensive. The costume as pictured, though... I don't get what the issue is. Is it the hat?

But here, once again as I keep mentioning, having more information is helpful. If she'd known beforehand that this was offensive, she would have been spared the awkwardness. And discretion is also helpful... I personally wouldn't have worn that costume in the first place.

Also, "microaggression" isn't a catastrophe. It's a miscue. An apology at most is the correct response. "I'm sorry, I didn't realize that this might offend someone. I'll know better next time." You guys keep acting as if people are claiming these are outrageous acts of malice and demanding harsh punishment. No, nobody is claiming any such thing.

-k

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You guys keep acting as if people are claiming these are outrageous acts of malice and demanding harsh punishment. No, nobody is claiming any such thing.

-k

Tell that to ex-UoM pres Tim Wolfe.

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