Meet misia

Prepare to become more Woke.

Today’s lesson: how to fight all the varieties of misia.

Offstage voices: The what?

Oh dear, you don’t know what misia is? How sad. Fortunately there is a page for laggards like you. It is the “what does ‘misia’ mean?” page. You’re welcome.

You may be wondering why our guide uses the suffix “misia” instead of the suffix “phobia.” If you’ve not encountered “misia” language before, you may also be wondering what it means. Well never fear! We are more than happy to explain this relatively new shift in language.

The suffix “phobia” comes from the Greek word for “fear of,” and so it denotes an intense aversion to the part of the word that precedes it (e.g. arachnophobia is a fear of spiders). Words like “homophobia” or “Islamophobia” are pretty recognizable, and most folks understand them to mean a position or perspective that is prejudicial and discriminatory against LGBTQIA+ identities and the religion of Islam respectively.

The problem with using “phobia” terms as labels for prejudice is that there are folks who actually have phobias (real anxiety disorders in which someone experiences intense anxiety or fear that they’re unable to control—Claustraphobia, for instance). So when we use terms like “homophobia,” we are equating bigotry with a mental health disorder, which does several problematic things:

  • It relies on and reinforces the harmful stigma against mental illness (see the Anti-Ableism and Anti-Sanism tabs to learn more);
  • It inaccurately attributes oppression and oppressive attitudes to fear rather than to hate and bigotry;
  • It removes the accountability of an oppressive person by implying their actions and attitudes are outside their control.

So since labeling oppression with “phobia” suffixes is harmful, many folks are exchanging them for “misia” suffixes instead. Misia (pronounced “miz-eeya”) comes from the Greek word for hate or hatred, so similar to how Islamophobia means “fear of Islam,” the more accurate Islamomisia means “hatred of Islam.”

For these reasons, our guide will be using “misia” language in place of “phobia” in an effort to be as accurate, clear, and inclusive as possible.

Ok but I feel excluded by the word “folks,” so what about that, eh? Won’t somebody think about what I want?

But seriously – what is wrong with these people? Whoever they are, who wrote this shit. It purports to be from the library at Simmons College, but what does all this patronizing pedantic crap have to do with a college library? Who asked them? Who said they could tell everyone what to say?

Let’s take a cautious look at the transmisia page. Let’s notice that under “further reading” there are some links to Twitter hashtags. Let’s scroll down to “Cis fragility.”

Cis Fragility

Cis fragility (drawing on white fragility in critical race theory) is rooted in a desire to restore and reproduce cisnormativity. It is a combination of lack of stamina in interrogating their conceptions of gender, as well as a resistance to challenging those conceptions, often react[ing] with defensiveness [and] forcing trans people to do the emotional labor of comforting the cis person in addition to educating them.

Cis people exist in a social environment which validates their genders and reinforces a gender binary which corresponds to their lived experiences, giving them relative privilege to trans people. Cis people therefore can can exhibit a low tolerance for that which challenges their assumptions about gender and their conceptions of gender more broadly. (from Cis Fragility)

Another link to a Twitter hashtag.

Anyway…this kind of thing…it’s no good. Collecting a bunch of sanctimonious jargon and dogmatic bullshit off Twitter and presenting it as Holy Writ is neither intelligent nor persuasive nor reasonable nor interesting. It turns off people on the left, so I can hardly bear to think what it does to people on the right.

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