Intersectional Patterns of Prejudice Confrontation by White, Heterosexual, and Cisgender Allies

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The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues Scholarship produced by psychologists typically focuses on one area of social identity and oppression per study (e.g., only sexism) with very little intersectional analysis across systemic oppression and privilege. To better understand the intersecting patterns of ally behavior, we examined online confrontation behavior by privileged individuals in response to antigay, antitransgender, and racist comments. Study 1 explored rates and types of confrontation during encounters with anti-Mexican and antigay comments. Study 2 used an experimental design to assess rates and types of confrontation of anti-Arab and antitransgender comments in the presence of a second confederate who either confronted the prejudice or remained silent. When exposed to anti-Mexican bias, men were initially more likely to speak up than women, whereas women were more likely to respond to antigay comments. In terms of anti-Arab and antitransgender bias, social influence resulted in more direct confrontation for anti-Arab statements and higher rates of confrontation for antitransgender bias. Applying an intersectional lens, patterns of power and privilege reveal gender socialization may impact ally responses to racism and antigay bias. For example, gender socialization and stereotypes equating femininity with gay men may both decrease ally behavior among men and increase confrontation of antigay bias among women. When another potential ally is present, social influence appears to become the most powerful predictor of both whether or not a participant confronts bias and how direct they are with the perpetrator. Intersectional examination of invisible norms for promoting ally confrontation informs development of effective equity and justice interventions.