Micro-Aggression — a short story

Posted on 2015 November 15


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As progress is made toward a more equal and humane society, it takes a smaller and smaller offense to trigger a high level of outrage. — Bradley Campbell & Jason Manning

“May I sit here? It’s kinda crowded in this coffee shop.”


“Thanks. Nice dress you’re wearing. It hangs well on you.”

“Um, I’m sorry, but that’s offensive.”

“Excuse me?”

“You’re belittling me by talking about my physical presence. It objectifies me. It’s a micro-aggression.”

“A micro…?”

“Yes. You’re using words designed to intimidate me. To put me in my place. It’s tantamount to violence.”

“Holy crap.”

“I’m serious! White men do this all the time to women and minorities. They use their privilege to lord it over the rest of us.”

“I was just trying to compliment you.”

“No you weren’t! You were trying to put me in my place.”

“Wow. Just wow.”

“And if you keep doing it, I’m going to call for help.”

“Call anyone you like. But ever since I sat down and tried to be nice, you’ve been riding my ass like a gay jockey. And frankly, if I understand you right, you’re the one committing the micro-aggressions.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“There’s one right now. You’re daring me to explain myself to you while you’re angry with me. The implication is that if I get my answer wrong I’ll be in big trouble. Already you’ve threatened to call security on me.”

“Well, you were intimidating me.”

“I was complimenting you. You decided on your own that my intentions were bad. You tried to read my mind and got it wrong.”

“It’s obvious to me that what you’re doing is wrong and should be stopped.”

“That’s another micro-aggression.”

“I’m free to say what I want! And you should learn to take it like we have.”


“Stop that!”

“Micro-aggression. This is fun.”

“Okay, look.”

“I’m looking, honey.”

“Not that way! Stop it!”


Dammit! The point is, we women don’t feel safe when you men—”



“You said, ‘You men’, which is profiling. That’s a form of intimidation. Right?”

“Okay, ‘Men’ sometimes say things that make women feel unsafe.”

“How can words make you unsafe?”

“Because they can intimidate. It’s the same as violence.”

“I thought we used words instead of violence.”

“They’re just like hitting me in the face with a baseball bat while calling me a dyke.”

“Are you a dyke?”

“No, but don’t use that word.”

You did.”

“I’m allowed.”

“Oh for God’s sake.”

“I’m serious! I won’t put up with you belittling me.”


Aaaaugh! I’m calling—”

“Who, your mommy?”

“I don’t feel safe!”

“You’re a grown-up. And you’re a student at the university. You’re old enough and smart enough to take care of yourself. But you sound like an angry child.”

“How do you know I’m a student?”

“Well, let’s see. You look about twenty, and you have textbooks on the table, and the university is two blocks from here, and you’re spouting feminist nonsense—”


Touché. Well done.”

“And you just profiled me.”

“Yes, but I got it right.”


“Feminists play the ‘We’re Unsafe’ card to threaten the university. If the Feds hear complaints that the school is not a safe place for women, they might withhold funding under Title Nine. And colleges suck–”

“They suck?”

“–at the teat of the federal government and can’t afford to lose the money. So they bow to the fems and restrict speech, which is the exact opposite of what an institution of learning should stand for. And while you’re winning the phony ‘safety’ argument, you’re screwing the very place you pay big bucks to attend.”

“Title Nine?”

“Look it up. And meanwhile, if you get sassed, just sass them back. Guys do it to each other all the time. They’re testing you to see what you’re made of. So test them. Answer them with, ‘Does your mom know you’re out this late?’ Or ‘You’re very handsome when you’re self-righteous.’ Or ‘Buy the drinks and I’ll give you a tutorial on why you’re wrong.’”

“I don’t want to drink with a jerk.”

“Then stop sipping that coffee.”


“I’m being a bit of a jerk, and you’re doing fine.”

“Yeah, but if I say any of that stuff, a guy might hit me!”

“No he won’t. Certainly not in front of his friends. Anyway, take a self-defense course. And stop waiting for other people to protect you from unimportant stuff.”

“But it’s offensive!”

“Remember when you were a kid? ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones—”?

“‘…But words will never hurt me’. Yeah, yeah. I’m not a child.”

Exactly. Now, here’s the weirdest thing about micro-aggressions. You tell someone they’ve said the wrong thing and should stop it or else, that in itself is a micro-aggression.”


“Think it through. You’re a college student, you’ll figure it out. Look, I gotta go. This has been … refreshing. But I’m on a tight schedule.”



“I wanna talk more about this.”

“Uh… Sure. Give me your number, we can meet again.”

“Okay… Here you go.”

“I’ll call you.”

“I’m free tonight.”