Treating a person or category of people as if they were children or childish, when they in fact are not. While this does NOT apply to treating children as the children they are, it does apply to treating a child (by any definition of the word) as far younger and less mature than they actually are.
Infantilization can be done in many ways, ranging from the very overt (such as outright claiming that women or racified people can't think for themselves) to the very subtle (such as treating women or racified people as if they can't think for themselves).
When applied to a category of human beings, this is a facet of categorism.
It is likely to intersect with facets such as:
- Voice Appropriation: Constructing people as incapable (being too naive, brainwashed, or whatever) of speaking for themselves.
As well as with abstractions such as:
- Zero-category: Assuming that only "normal people" - those who belong to the zero-category - can be counted on as responsible adults.
- Kyriarchy: Bad traits gets constructed as associated with the underprivileged or oppressed category of people. Also, traits associated with the category gets constructed as bad. It goes both ways, and in both cases makes it harder for these people to succeed in society.
Examples of applying this facet to a particular foci of categorism can include:
- Misogyny: Constructing women as being less intelligent and rational than men, as if they were somewhere between men and children.
- Misandry: Constructing men as being less intelligent and rational than women. Often conveniently limited to when he happens to be horny, and combined with Denial of Agency (and to some extent Dehumanization) into the idea that a sexually aroused man can't be responsible for his own actions.
- Whorephobia: Arguing from the premise that unrepentant sex workers cannot possibly understand what they are doing or know their own good.