“Too bad about all the damn Cubans down there.”—My boyfriend’s family friend to my boyfriend and me, about Miami. I am half-Cuban with a clearly Latin@ name, and we were in Miami to visit my father and grandfather, both Cuban immigrants.
“You need a wife.”—My husband, when I complained that I’m so busy that I can’t keep up with my to-do list. It makes me feel depersonalized and objectified, as if I have no function other than to make my husband’s life easier.
My husband and I both have doctoral degrees; he earned one degree and I earned two. But written correspondence from friends, family, and community organizations is almost invariably addressed to “Dr. and Mrs.”
I, a Black woman with locs, was on a local college campus when a young white female student asked me if I was related to another Black woman with locs who worked there. Since this happens regularly, I said my usual “No” with a non-threatening smile. She then clarified that she thought we were relatives because we “sound” the same. That was a new one! I’m used to all Black people looking the same but I guess all black women with locs who pronounce our words “correctly” must also be from the same family tree.
When I was teaching preschool at a private religious school, I was being repeatedly harassed by one of the high schoolers who was even coming into my classroom to intimidate me in front of my students. When I finally got administration to address the issue, they decided that an appropriate punishment was to have him write a letter of apology. To my husband.
“Whoa! Osama!”—A random guy to me, when I was out for a walk in a snowstorm. I was very muffled up — not just hijab (headscarf) but long down-filled coat, mitts, etc. It seriously takes me a few moments to figure out what he’s talking about.
“You don’t want to buy a house, it’s too much trouble.”—White neighbor who owns over 50 properties in our community, to me, a black woman. I was expressing my concern that our activist work would increase the value of homes in our community where I rent before I could afford to buy one. We were standing in her doorway, one of the largest homes in our community. Made me feel the same way I felt when she told me how articulate I am.
I was taking anatomy and physiology and during an open lab session one of my classmates (who is a white male) asked me what my major was. But before I could tell him he said “Wait you’re doing nursing right? Am I right ??” in a manner where he felt very confident in his answer. When I told him I was taking a class to be a medical lab technician, he sounded astonished and baffled all at the same time. He said that “It’s a shame that you’re not trying to be a nurse.”
I’m 15 years old and don’t have a date to my sophomore homecoming. A friend and I decide to go together to save a few bucks. My friend has two moms, but it’s never been an issue with my family. We plan to get ready together, until my parents tell me I can’t.
When asked why, they say “Well, it just seems like they might think, oh look, our little girl is going on her first date and it’s with a girl!” As though all gay parents also want their kids to be gay. Not to mention, they didn’t know then that I’m gay.
I was waiting in the checkout line at a convenient store on the Jersey shore to buy a drink and a snack. Two young white guys who were chatting walked between the checkout line and the counter, clearly heading for the door with food and Gatorade. The cashier called to them “Excuse me, you have to pay for that.” One guy said, “Oh,” and instead of going to the back of the line, he cut in front of me and pays for the food at the counter. The cashier didn’t say anything or send them to the back of line. It happened so quickly, I didn’t respond, but afterward I felt their oblivious entitlement infuriating.
I’m participating in my schools fall play and need to use a mirror in the girl’s changing room. I ask the girls if it’s okay for me to come in when one of them says it’s okay because I’m gay and that I have “an honorary vagina” and that I’m “basically one of the girls.” Just because I’m gay doesn’t mean I’m inherently feminine or that I’m one of the girls. It’s fine if your comfortable enough around me that it’s okay if I might see you changing, but just because I’m not objectifying you doesn’t mean you can consider me a female.
While talking to a friend about relationships and my lack of experience with them, she claimed that “You shouldn’t have any problems with finding a boyfriend; you’re Asian and pretty much all white guys love Asian girls.” Obviously, not only is the sole attractive quality I possess my race, but the only type of person I want (or deserve) to have a relationship with is white.
I’m waiting to visit my father after his heart surgery with my mother behind a pair of doors. Another South Asian family is waiting some distance away from us to visit someone else. A white nurse opens the door and seeing all of us says, ‘Only two visitors per patient!’
I work in a Mexican restaurant. My white male coworker is serving a table when he turns around and asks me: “Hey, you’re Mexican, how do you pronounce this word in Spanish?” I reply: “I’m not Mexican, I’m Paraguayan.” He proceeds to say loudly: “No one cares, it’s the same damn thing.” This was said right in front of our costumers.Not all Latinos are Mexican and Mexicans are not similar to Paraguayans. I felt belittled by the fact that my entire history, people and culture can be dismissed by one ignorant comment.
I first moved to England at the age of 6. During one of my first few days in school a boy my age said to me ”why don’t you go back to your own country?” I was obviously shocked and confused and all I could think to do was tell my teacher who told me to respond to him by saying ”Why don’t you go back to YOUR own country?” since the boy happened to be Italian.
When the President of the Board of Directors of a start-up, non-profit, public health NGO calls the office line, I answer.
Him:Can we expect to see you at tonight’s event?
Him:I’m sure you’re going to get dressed up very nicely.
Before the conversation ends, he asks me to relabel 50 business cards, because he forgot to grab some before boarding the train. I not only *dressed up very nicely* for the event, but was the only staff member to work the event-in below-freezing temperatures to boot.
Here’s to being the only 20-something year old female in the work place.
As I'm recovering from anesthesia, I heard the following conversation with a nurse and the patient next to me:
Nurse:Your anesthesiologist will be here soon. His name is Dr. Duang.
Nurse:Yes, he's a very go-
Patient, sounding very offended:Does he speak any English?!
I felt a lot of things. Slight guilt that I had been unable to speak up, sadness for the incredibly wonderful anesthesiologist (who had helped with my surgery) having to deal with a clearly racist patient, and disgust at the assumption that a man with an East Asian last name would not speak English.
“All of the ‘independent women’ I knew eventually settled down and got married. Your instinct will kick in soon.”—My boss to my coworker when she mentioned that she doesn’t plan on getting married or having children. He said the quote above after asking her ‘what man did her wrong.’
While on vacation in Florida, my parents, brother, and I are eating lunch at a nice restaurant. Completely out of nowhere my brother says “Why do you wear such low-cut tops? Are you advertising? Because I don’t think anyone is gonna buy.” I was shocked and taken aback and became very upset. But not only did my parents not reprimand my brother, they yelled at me for being upset and ruining the day.
One day, my brother is trying to have a conversation with me about my weight. In an effort to get me to try and slim down he says:
You know, the only men who are ever going to find you attractive are skinny black men. And if I ever find out you’re dating one, I’m going to kill him. In front of you. Then I’m going to kill you. Haha.
I was shocked, to say the least. Not only was I hurt from his comments about my size, I felt kind of scared and unsafe around my brother.
Every man who walks into the office says “Hello Girls” to me and my coworker, but will address each man by name. If I mention this I know my male coworkers would never understand why it’s so rude and belittling. Happens EVERY SINGLE TIME!!
A white man in his 50s/60s (a stranger) stared at me (an Asian American woman in her 20s) as I was leaving the office and said, “That’s a very pretty outfit.” His tone was ambiguously friendly but a little lecherous, I thought.
I questioned my first impression that it was a microaggression (“Can’t you even take a well-meaning compliment?!”)… til I recognized that it had made me walk faster and make the split second decision to take the open air stairs in the parking garage up 6 flights just in case he followed me to the elevator. made me feel objectified and unsafe, which makes me mad!
"Here’s a list of people who inspire us." 23 out of 23 people on this list are male. Call for submissions for a printing press. Amazed that they failed to think of even a single woman writer. Wondering whether they, consciously or unconsciously, have less time/respect for women writers. I don’t feel like I could submit something to them without directly addressing this absence, and I don’t have the energy right now. So I’m just pointing it out to microaggressions instead …
My dad shut the TV of while I watched a show simply because a character walked past two guys kissing. Felt like a knife to my gut. I haven’t yet told him I’m a lesbian and I’m almost possitive that when I do he’ll kick me out.
While practicing my martial art (Aikido) my partner, a large and muscular middle-aged man, begins to instruct me as if he is doing me a favor—despite the fact that we aren’t too many ranks apart and he has no teaching certification. I felt worthless, as if his status as older, stronger, and a man gave him the right to break dojo etiquette (only instructors should instruct) simply because of my small, girl status. His intentions were good, but his actions so incredibly misguided, unhelpful, and condescending. I felt as though I couldn’t say anything without sounding like an overly sensitive little girl…
“Do you know what the problem with Australia is? There’s too many fucking Chinese there!”—My boyfriend’s dad, drunk. I am South East Asian. My boyfriend was incredibly embarrassed but said his dad’s been watching too many episodes of ‘Border Security: Australia’s Front Line.’ Said in response to a friend announcing he was emigrating to Oz. Angry at the popularity of such TV shows.
“Damn, what a waste!”—Straight male acquaintance after I came out to him as a lesbian. Was it supposed to be a compliment? Does a man get to judge my relationship with a woman as unfulfilling and “a waste?” Does he think that had been straight, he and other men would be entitled to sex with me?
My mom sees my LGBTerrific shirt and laughs, tells me that it’s okay to wear it inside the house, but not out. She then tells me to leave the activism out, because that will make my life so much harder and that I’m too young to do this.
While whale watching on a touristy boat in Maine, we were having trouble getting close to a whale who kept diving farther away from us. I was standing at the very front of the boat and overheard this exchange between two strangers:
Man #1:The whale keeps diving away from us and getting farther out. (laughs) It probably thinks we want to mate with it.
Man #2:It's definitely a female whale, then. It's like, "Get away from me, please, get away from me!"
(They both laugh and Man #2 continues to say things such as, ""Get away from me! Stop coming close!"" in a high pitched, feminine voice)
I am a 20-year-old sexual assault survivor. I felt shocked, worthless, depressed.
On articles about a planet apparently made of diamond discovered by astronomers, people posted comments about how “the number of female astronauts will go up” and that you “can’t tell the women” about it.
I am shopping for a new phone. The salespeople, all men, don’t seem to understand that I’ve done my research and know specifically what I want. When I finally list off why I have a specific choice, one comments, “You’re not shopping for a phone, you’re shopping for a husband!” I regret not telling him that I found the comment inappropriate.
My white male boss refers to the female office workers has “the girls,” ensures me all of our clients are middle/upper middle class, so I won’t have to deal with scary situations, and dismisses my concerns with condescending comments that I am being overemotional. Made me feel frustrated that I can’t call him out, because I worry about keeping my job.
One of the most common reactions to strangers hearing where I go to college (single sex institution) is some variation of “Are you majoring in cooking and cleaning?” Usually the people who say this are middle-aged men or college men and invariably they laugh at their own joke. It’s never terribly clever or original, but I’m called a bitch or “man-hating feminist” if I don’t laugh along.
“But at least your family wasn’t Jewish!”—A classmate says to me in high school when I talk about my Gypsy heritage and how my grandfather had to hide from Nazis in order to avoid the camps. Makes me feel like my heritage and culture is misunderstood, unimportant and that my family’s suffering is somehow less.
“Why aren’t you a part of the LGBTQ community? You don’t want to hang out with people like you?”—A lesbian to me, after she found out that I am a transitioned transsexual man. Made me feel lumped into a category, my identity as a cisman invalidated. Just because I transitioned doesn’t mean that I’m “queer”!
I work for a company that sells magazines door to door. Before going to a military base, I was told to remove my low-cut top and put something on that covered my entire chest to “respect the men that serve our country and dress more conservative like their wives do.” I didn’t realize my clothes have to be “respectful” for men. I felt like I was being slut-shamed and viewed as an object by my employers.
“Good girls don’t get raped.”—Said by my estranged mother to me during our first phone conversation in months. I’m a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and assaults committed later on, and have never disclosed to a family member. She said it in response to a comment about the fact that I was teaching a class on sexual assault. Made me feel awful and scared about what’s happened to me, even though I know it’s not my fault.
Small talk conversation about our high school between me, someone of Sri Lanken ancestry, and two white people. One of the white people said, “Our high school had to bring in a gifted education program to help get rid of Punjabi gangs”. As they say this, they wriggle their eyebrows at me as if to suggest that I am in association with these Punjabi gangs that supposedly have plagued their high school. I say, “I’m not, Punjabi, I’m Sri Lankan”. The white person then says, “Yeah, well, we had those too.”
Initially, the comment and the body language made me feel confused because I wasn’t sure if they were referring to me- they easily could have been stating a simple fact but the body language suggested otherwise. When I clarified myself, they had the audacity to say yes, they were referring to me. It made me feel shocked and angry for a number of reasons. This person judged me to be Punjabi based on my skin colour. I also felt upset that this person was making sweeping assumptions about my supposed links to criminal activity based on my skin colour. GRR I feel angry now, thinking about it.
“Yeah, they’re everywhere.”—In response to someone else’s question on how many Chinese students were in our building. I am Asian, and was in the room. I felt so very awkward and also frustrated at the tone that was used.