Rankism is what people who think of themselves as somebodies do to people they take for nobodies. Rankism is pulling rank, putting people down, advantaging oneself at others’ expense. Rankism is dominating or exploiting others.
Examples of rankism include all the ignoble isms (racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, ableism, etc.), as well as bullying of every kind, predatory lending, corporate corruption, sexual abuse, and pay-to-play politics. Whenever rank in one realm is used to undermine fair competition and so win rank in another realm, that’s rankism.
Victims of rankism feel degraded, dismissed, discounted, disenfranchised, dissed, indignified, and humiliated. When we’re put down, when our dignity is insulted, we feel indignant. We then have two options: dish it back, or stifle the desire to strike back, a response that may be dictated by the power advantage that typically comes with higher rank. We may choose to suffer in silence, but we’re apt to remember the insult—for decades!