YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki recently sat down with CNN's Poppy Harlow for a wide-ranging interview.
During the course of the interview, Wojcicki claimed that interrupting a woman was a microaggression:
Whenever you have a culture that is — whenever you have a majority and a minority, it's gonna be harder for that minority. You know, even in a culture where people are really well-meaning ... there are sometimes microaggressions, right? Like people who will just cut you off, and you'll be talking and then someone will interrupt you.
So that's actually become, like, a big pet peeve of mine. So, whenever somebody, like, interrupts me, I'll be like: "Wait, I was talking. Do not interrupt me." But I enjoy it even more, actually, when I see them interrupting someone else, and then I'll be like: "Wait! She was talking. Don't interrupt her." And I think [every time] I've done that, people have been like: "Oh, thank you. I didn't realize I was doing that." And so I think just making people more aware of it is really important.
The problem with the idea of "microaggressions" is that they are inherently unclear. This lack of clarity allows for broad interpretation, and thus broad condemnation.
Google defines a microaggression as: "a statement, action, or incident regarded as an instance of indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group such as a racial or ethnic minority." That couldn't be any more vague.
Although widely understood as rude, the act of interrupting someone isn't relegated to one gender or subsection of people. As human beings, we often have an impulse to make our opinion known while the iron is hot, thus prompting us to interrupt someone else as they are speaking. This alone is not an act of misogyny.
Men interrupt men; women interrupt women; women interrupt men; and men interrupt women. Given that, why is it a microaggression for a man to interrupt a woman, while any other interruption is simply considered rude?
For those who promulgate microaggression theory, women are seen as a "marginalized group." Because of this status, behavior that would normally be seen as mere rudeness in any other situation is elevated to an act of "aggression" when applied to a woman. This is a problem because it creates a class of micro-crimes in which judgment is based solely on the perception of the victim.
By definition, microaggressions are nearly impossible to prove. Did Robert interrupt Linda because he believes his male opinion is superior to her female opinion? Or did he simply interrupt her because that's a human impulse? In any case, if Linda is a believer in microaggression theory, Robert's interruption is immediately placed on a higher rung of the social crime ladder simply by virtue of his Y chromosome. It's an act of misogynistic aggression, and he should be shamed for it!
Does that seem fair? Does that sound like equality?
When people run out of legitimate grievances, invisible ones will be created out of thin air. Microaggressions are the quintessential example of this phenomenon.