I have heard people talking about microaggressions a lot, what does that mean and why is it important?
Microaggressions are phrases or acts in which one may alienate another person. Microaggressions are often subtle and may even be meant as a compliment, but in fact, are insulting and perpetuate negative stereotypes. For example, “You’re really smart... for a girl.” Or “You’re really attractive... for an Asian guy.” The problem with microaggressions and negative stereotypes is the image they project of groups of people who may not and often do not fit these stereotypes. Microaggressions often ignore individual identities and personalities and make assumptions about who a person is, which is not only disrespectful but harmful as well. Because we live in a systemically racist, sexist, heteronormative society, those who do not fit into this White, Anglo Saxon, Patriarchal mold are often marginalized, whether through outright physical aggression, lack of resources, or lack of support from their environment.
How do I use the right term for people without being offensive?
Political correctness is often a topic that becomes uncomfortable to discuss because it has become so confusing. Because people are much more well-traveled and diverse within geographic regions today than they were a hundred years ago, identities have become complicated and people may belong to more than one culture. That being said, many people often associate skin color with a certain culture. For example, African American is often thought to be the politically correct term for a black American, but this term of “political correctness” is false. African American implies that the individual has ties to African culture, which many black Americans do not. There are also white people, Asian people, and other skin colors who consider Africa to be home. Therefore, it is more important to acknowledge the individual’s culture; not their skin tone. Black American or White American (or Black Latino or White Latino) are terms that are exceptions to this rule because Black American culture differs from White American culture.
Who can I go to if I feel unsafe in my relationship?
There are resources on campus one may go to for advice, including Jalissa Williams from the Violence Prevention Center. You can talk to her and she is not obligated to report anything unless you wish to do so. It is possible to go to your favorite teacher, but teachers on campus are obligated to report any information they receive that imply a student may be in danger. Campus counselors are also a great resource that can help and are not obligated to report your information, as there is patient confidentiality.
Am I just being emotional, or am I in a mentally and emotionally abusive relationship?
I need more context to truly answer this question, but a basic definition of an abusive relationship is one in which the terms of the relationship are not mutual. If one person in the relationship is controlling of the other’s actions, then it is an abusive relationship. If your significant other tells you who you are allowed to see, where you are allowed to go, and what you are allowed to wear, these are red flags. I would also encourage you to reflect on whether you are being abusive to your partner. If you disrespect each other’s boundaries or assume boundaries for the other person without asking for their input, these are red flags as well.
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