I was struck in class by our conversation regarding “For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house” (Lorde 123).  This, of course, refers to Audrey Lorde’s essay “Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference.” The conversation evolved into how people can use the master’s tools in order to get into the master’s house. Do we use the power of one of the groups (age, class, race, marital standing, etc) we belong when it works for us?

I wanted to take it a step further. How do other people use these tools against us, perhaps in less detectible  ways? Microaggressions, defined as “the subtle ways in which body and verbal language convey oppressive ideology about power or privilege against marginalized identities” (microaggressions.com/faq).   This website captures the offhand, overheard comments made in public, moments in conversations that cause a shock and stunned reaction, or moments when discrimination is completely obvious. The point is that, in capturing these moments, we recognize the way in which we notice differences between each other, and at the same time, rank each other as superior and inferior. While some of the moments described on the site are discriminatory (especially to the person experiencing them), I also think that they create a glimpse of our general lack of education regarding groups of people different from ourselves. For example, this post is about the feelings described by an asexual woman. While the general public may be (slightly) more educated about the sexualities described within LGBT, most people are certainly not as educated regarding less widely explained sexualities. This returns to Lorde’s ideas about how most of us understand the groups that we fall into, but do little to understand groups we are not a part of.

Shannon Skloss PhotographyOn Friday morning, I saw an interview with Nancy Upton on the Today Show.  You access that interview here. Nancy Upton entered American Apparel’s XL model search contest. American Apparel is expanding their clothing line (a few select styles) to including XL sizing.  XL? Seriously? It’s 2011 and American Apparel is just now offering a few styles of their clothing in XL?  I think that this is a microagression that affects me. Currently, I don’t think there is a single item of clothing available at American Apparel that would fit me. By including a size XL, to me, American Apparel is saying “Those of you who are on a little on the curvy side, you can come into our club. If you are bigger than a size 14, stay out fatties.” In their attempt to create a clothing line that fits more people, they belittle others.

How do we rearrange our definitions of difference in order to “imitate progress, [but] still condemn us to the same old exchanges, the same old guilt, hatred, recrimination, lamentation, and suspicion” (Lorde 123)? We act like American Apparel and use words like “bootyful” instead of beautiful in order to describe women with larger butts in their XL campaign advertising. Bootyful is clearly less than beautiful.  Why can’t women of all shapes and sizes be called beautiful?

-Jenna Graham