Topic 3 Microaggressions

The most common form of discrimination is microaggression.

Microaggression can be defined as “a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalised group’’.


Three Forms of Microaggressions:

  • are verbal and nonverbal behaviours.
  • communicate negative, hostile, and derogatory messages to people rooted in their marginalised group membership (based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, etc.).
  • occur in everyday interactions.
  • can be intentional or unintentional.
  • are often unacknowledged.

1. microassaults: “old fashioned” discrimination

  • name-calling, avoidant behaviour, or purposeful discriminatory actions.
  • likely to be conscious and deliberate.

2. microinsults: subtle snubs that communicate a covert insulting message

  • convey stereotypes, rudeness, and insensitivity that demean a person’s identity
  • are frequently unknown to the person.

3.microinvalidations: disconfirming messages

  • exclude, negate, or dismiss the thoughts, feelings, or experiences of certain groups.
  • may be most damaging form of the three microaggressions.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

In order to understand comprehensively the concept of microaggression and its effects have a look at the following video comparing microaggressions to mosquito bites:

Types of Gender Microaggressions


1. Sexual objectification.

2. Second-class citizenship.

3. Use of sexist language.

4. Assumption of inferiority.

5. Restrictive gender roles.

6. Denial of the reality of sexism.                                                                                                                                                                                                    

7. Denial of individual sexism.

8. Invisibility.

9. Sexist humor/jokes.

10. Environmental invalidations: macrolevel aggressions that happen on systemic and environmental level (unequal pay; glass ceiling; media images).