In this video, a male student repeatedly harasses a female student in front of him by flicking her hair with his pen. He (and I assume his videographer) is greatly amused by her exasperation. Despite multiple attempts at giving him the stink eye, she cannot vocalize her anger and disapproval out of respect for the teacher and the other students.
For me, these simple actions exist on a spectrum of disrespect for women and their personal space, resulting in a spectrum of violence. This small act, repeated over and over, is abusive and is the manifestation of a historical, cultural, and pervasive disrespect of women. I am particularly offended by this video in light of my recent comments regarding the rash of political sex-scandals.
To extend the understanding of how women are involved in this cycle, it is also interesting to note that she appears to tolerate this abuse to some degree. Women, and more importantly social stigmatized and disadvantaged people, are socially trained to avoid confrontation, especially at the hands of men or those in power, which is why a large percent of rapes and other forms of abuse go unreported.
The term “micro-aggressions” describes “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults.” This phrase is often used to describe interpersonal race relations, but can be used to describe any small, seemingly innocuous, interaction that indicates larger derogatory attitudes towards stigmatized groups.
Incidents like the one featured in this video are tolerated by their victims. Women are trained to believe that “boys will be boys,” but unless being a boy means an inherent lack of respect for women, then we need to throw shoes (figuratively and literally) at every instance we observe.