(Hetero)sexist microaggressions in practice


  • Rosemary Lobban University of Greenwich
  • Russell Luyt University of Greenwich
  • Daragh T McDermott Nottingham Trent University




Microaggressions, Membership Categorisation Analysis, (Hetero)sexism, conversation analysis


Verbal microaggressions perpetuate inequalities and negatively impact wellbeing. Yet, there is little work on microaggressions in situ. We address this gap, connecting microaggressions research with scholarship concerning prejudice and discrimination in situated interaction, and focusing on (hetero)sexist microaggressions. Conversation analysis (CA) and membership categorisation analysis (MCA) are applied to excerpts of naturally-occurring and focus group conversation to determine what (hetero)sexist microaggressions look like in practice; how they affect conversations; and whether they map onto well-documented CA/MCA phenomena. Findings suggest that when people produce microaggressive utterances, they use various devices (e.g. pre-sequences, idioms, humour) to mitigate accountability. Furthermore, concerning recipients’ reactions, the treatment of an utterance as microaggressive can involve hallmarks of dispreferred turns including hesitation and/or indirect challenges involving deletion/repair initiation. We therefore propose that such features are criteria for an utterance/sequence to be considered microaggressive. Moreover, such strategies suggest that speakers/recipients are agentic in the (re)production of (hetero)sexism, and therefore may be agentic in effecting change.



Author Biographies

  • Rosemary Lobban, University of Greenwich

    Rosemary Lobban is a Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Greenwich, London, where she is also a member of the Institute for Lifecourse Development Centre for Inequalities. Her research concerns prejudice and discrimination regarding gender, sexualities, their interrelation and the intersection of other social categories. Her recent work considers ‘everyday’ (hetero)sexism in practice.

  • Russell Luyt, University of Greenwich

    Russell Luyt is a Professor in the Social Psychology of Gender. He has published widely in the field of men and masculinities. His work focuses primarily on the crosscultural intersection of gender, race and social class; the critique of traditional masculinity, femininity and gender measurement; media representations; masculinities and aggression; masculinities, prejudice and sexual minorities; and qualitative methodologies.

  • Daragh T McDermott, Nottingham Trent University

    Daragh T. McDermott is Associate Dean for Psychology in the School of Social Sciences at Nottingham Trent University. Dr McDermott’s research work focusses on prejudice and discrimination towards sexual and gender minorities, as well as the development of interventions to promote resilience and wellbeing in these communities. He is currently Co-Editor in Chief of Psychology & Sexuality.


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How to Cite

Lobban, R. ., Luyt, R. ., & McDermott, D. T. (2022). (Hetero)sexist microaggressions in practice. Gender and Language, 16(2), 125–148. https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.21005