Throw Me the Ball: On Common Microaggressions Toward Women
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

Throw Me the Ball: On Common Microaggressions Toward Women

"Don't be such a girl." "Is it your time-of-the-month?" "Do you need help, sweetie?"

2431
Throw Me the Ball: On Common Microaggressions Toward Women
Pexels

I am not good at sports. I’m actually not too good at swimming, either. So it will come as a surprise to literally everyone that I played a damn good game in a recent water polo scrimmage. As the clock neared “04:00,” marking the end of my swim class and the match, I doggy-paddled all the way to the end of the lane, swimming into the perfect position to make a goal.

“Throw me the ball!” I yelled over all of the furious splashing of my teammates and opponents. “I’m open!”

By random assignment, I was on a team with far more guys than girls. I watched two of my male teammates swim towards me, one falling to my left and the other to my right. I looked at the guy on my right, the one holding the sticky polo ball over the water, and shouted again: “Throw me the ball!”

He looked straight at me then proceeded to throw the ball to our other teammate on my left, who then aimed in a haphazard arc to the end of the lane. We missed the goal.

Throughout the scrimmage, not a single guy on my team would throw me the polo ball. I know that I’m little, and I know that I’m not the strongest or fastest swimmer, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t deserve a shot.

My experience in my water polo match got me thinking about common microaggressions toward women, or everyday instances of sexism. In this context, I want to examine microaggressions that people (both men and women) may not even realize that they impart to women. I will not be diving into broader consequences of institutionalized and culturally embedded sexism, and I will be examining general experiences that all women may have, regardless of class, race, gender, or sexuality.

So, what exactly is a microagression? It’s an indirectly or unintentionally discriminatory comment or action against an individual or persons of a marginalized/minority group. It’s a subtle offense. Microaggressions are often discussed in the context of race and liberal racism. An incidence of racial microaggression may involve a person saying, “I’m not racist—I have black friends!” or “What kind of Asian are you?” It’s not overtly offensive but is still wrong.

Microaggressions against women work the same way. Semantically, "microaggression" means something different than "sexism," "misogyny," and "chauvinism" because it implies that misogynistic attitudes are so deeply embedded into our culture that people do not consciously realize that certain, misogynistic actions that they take are offensive. They’re ubiquitous experiences that aren’t always detected by the public radar. A common example of a microaggression toward women is a phrase along the lines of, “Don’t be such a girl.” Calling someone a “girl” in a derogatory fashion when they are exhibiting great emotion, hesitation, fear, or pain implies that women are weak, fragile, and unable to cope in situations of high stress or which require certain exertion. It also implies that people are supposed to be strong and stern, showing little to no emotion, like men (this opposite inferred from the insistence that one should not act like a woman). This dichotomy between social expectations for men and women further perpetuates damaging gender bias.

Here are other examples of everyday instances of sexism against women:

Verbal:

  • “That’s not very ladylike.”

Phrases like this push gender stereotypes onto women. The concept that women are supposed to be sweet, quiet, and obedient (think: seen and not heard) should have died a long time ago.

As if menstruation is something to be ashamed of. As if women don’t have the right to display negative emotions unless they are “PMS-ing.” It’s high time to stop treating menstruation as some kind of ugly disease and to stop insulting women when we’re upset. Men don’t get flack for being grumpy on their bad days; why do women? Showing emotion is simply being human. Leave our uteruses alone!

  • Condescendingly using pet-names to refer to women, especially when mansplaining

I’m interested to know if location determines which pet-names strangers/co-workers/teachers/peers use to refer to women. Here in Texas, I hear women (including myself) referred to as “honey,” “darlin’,” and “sweetheart,” not to mention variations of “baby” in especially uncomfortable circumstances. And this honey is sick and tired of it.

In action:

  • Catcalling

If I hear one more wolf-whistle, one more shout from a passing car, one more lewd comment from a stranger downtown… If I see one more man trailing a woman down the sidewalk and making her afraid for her safety… If I see one more man make an unwanted advance on one of my friends… I think I will spontaneously combust. There are reasons why I carry my keys between my fingers like Wolverine when I walk home alone at night, and one of those reasons is that catcalling makes me uncomfortable and scared.

  • Taboo surrounding men and women being “just friends”

Harry and Hermione were best friends, and there was never one instance of “sexual tension” between them. Now let me hang out with my bros in peace.

  • Inferior positions at school/in the workplace

Come on, let us girls take the lead for once. We know what we’re doing. And don’t you dare ask us if we can put you in touch with our boss. WE are the boss.

  • Interrupting women in conversation

Women are constantly fighting for their voices to be heard. From conversations at the water cooler to discussions on progressive demonstrations like the Women’s March, there will always be someone out there who: thinks their voice is more important than a woman’s; thinks they can finish a woman’s sentences; refuses to listen just because the speaker is a woman. Don’t let their voice be louder than yours. You deserve to be heard.

I’ll admit: I have been guilty of imparting microaggressions to my fellow females. There have certainly been times when I have gossiped about another girl out of spite, or made an assumption about a girl because of the way she looks, or frowned at so-called unladylike behavior. But by learning more about liberal microaggressions toward women, I have become more conscientious of my actions. I’m getting woke and standing up for fellow women. Cultural shift happens when each person makes an effort to make a change, no matter how minimal. If each of us can stop just one microaggression in its tracks, imagine what a better place the world would become not just for women but for everyone.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Entertainment

10 Songs That Made It Onto My September Playlist

September is the month for Los Angeles natives and Australian music fans.

78

The Neighbourhood, Bad Suns and The Driver Era are three Los Angeles bands that released songs this month. Not only was it a month for Los Angeles bands, but many Australian bands released new music — San Cisco's fourth studio album, Surf Trash single, Skegss single, and High Tropics single. I made new discoveries this month and was pleased by the amount of new music.

Read the listicle below to learn what came out this month in alternative rock music:

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

7 Things Your Partner Can Do To Support You When You Have PCOS

Don't be afraid to ask for help or comfort if you need it.

7878

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) may not be totally visible to the eye, which makes it a lot harder for your partner to understand what's going on with your body.

If you are in a relationship, it's important that you communicate your PCOS symptoms with your partner. I say "your" symptoms specifically because everyone's symptoms are different.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Watched 'The Social Dilemma' And YIKES, I'm Terrified For The Next Generation's Mental Health

Millennials can remember a time without online social affirmation, but we may be the last ones.

4289
The Social Dilemma / Netflix

I've been in a media job for the entirety of my professional career. From part-time social media internships to full-time editorial work, I've continued to learn how to tell stories, write catchy headlines, and keep people interested. I believe working in media is a big responsibility, as well as a valuable way to advance our world.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

One Indictment, Three Charges, And No Justice For Breonna Taylor

We can't settle for this decision or a system that is fundamentally broken and unequal.

13377

On March 13, 26-year-old Breonna Taylor was fatally shot in her apartment by police who were executing a "no-knock" warrant. Since then, there have been rallying efforts both in the streets and on social media demanding justice for Taylor and keeping her name known.

Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

I’m OK With Hooking Up On The First Date, But That DOESN'T Make Me Easy

2020 has been a crazy year. And yet, women being comfortable with our bodies still seems to be a big topic in mass media.

761

I'm an adult. There is no reason I can't have consensual sex with someone on the first date. It does NOT make me easy, and it does not mean I'll have sex with just anyone the first time I meet them.

Keep Reading... Show less

I was so excited to vote in my local primary election in August. I eagerly researched my local candidates, combed the newspaper for profiles and policy positions, and shared infographics on Insta about voting deadlines. I considered myself a keen voter.

Keep Reading... Show less

Nothing! There is no reason to feel guilty about food and nourishing your body. It's time to make peace with food and stop focusing on the "good" or "bad," "right" or "wrong" because food does not have power over you.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Sat Down With An Endocrinologist To Ask All My Questions About Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

There are so many moving parts of hormonal health, so I went to an expert.

6494
Anjanette Tan

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is an autoimmune disease that impacts approximately 1 in 10 women. Any woman who has PCOS can attest to the fact that no two cases are the same — there are so many aspects of hormonal health that can impact a woman's reproductive health! For many, PCOS is a trial and error condition, with many doctors' appointments depending on the stage of life the woman is in.

This week I sat down with Dr. Anjanette Tan to get the expert opinion on all my PCOS questions. Dr. Tan is a board-certified endocrinologist who's worked in private practices since 2004. She currently works at the Diabetes and Thyroid Center of Fort Worth, one of the largest all-endocrine practices in the area, where she is the managing partner and head of clinical research.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

This $40 Silk Sleep Mask Gives Me The Best Sleep I've Ever Had — I Never Go Anywhere Without It

Crane And Canopy just redefined the meaning of "beauty sleep".

4770

- Since I can remember, I've always been a light sleeper, with the quietest sounds waking me up, and I regularly wake up with the sun.

- While talking to a gynecologist friend of mine, she mentioned the importance of using an eye mask for quality sleep, which regulates hormonal levels.

- I was serendipitously sent the Crane & Canopy Silk Sleep Mask almost right after that conversation and was honestly reluctant to try it after testing other sleep masks that felt uncomfortable and irritated my skin.

- This sleep mask was extremely comfortable, and for the first time in nearly a decade, I slept in far past when I usually do on the weekends and woke up feeling more refreshed than I can remember — I've worn it nearly every night since then.

The older I get, it seems that sleep becomes an increasingly important topic of conversation amongst my friends and me. Yes, of course we complain about how tired we always are, but the pattern seemed to be a lack of sleep on the weekdays followed by late nights and sleeping in on the weekends without any solution.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

The Self-Care Kit Every College Student Should Have Handy In 2020

Make sure you have everything you need to relieve some tension.

2821

As college students, sometimes life can be overwhelming. Four tests in a week and you only passed one of them? I feel that. Days like that, you just need time for yourself. A time where you're nice to yourself and put your own self-care before anything else.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments