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What Women Really Want: Is Men To Stop Interrupting Us And Suppressing Our Voices

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Do you remember Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham’s iconic dialogue? No, I am not talking about “tussi bade mazaakiya ho” or Poo’s “tumhe koi hak nahi banta…” You know how Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan’s conversations would start with her attempting to speak a complete sentence and he interrupting it with ‘Keh diya na…bas keh diya.’ Conversation dynamics say a lot about the power-play in a group and turns out, women get spoken over all the time. Mostly, by men, who are in complete denial that such a thing even happens. Manspreading? What manspreading? We barely occupy any space, says a man who spreads himself like jam on butter, but the unappetizing kind.

We’ve heard of the term mansplaining and now it’s very well drilled into our heads. Technically, the men should have become conscious of doing this, but it still happens. Now we have manterruptions because too many men are out there making it difficult for women to put their points across.

“It’s a pretty self-explanatory term, describing a behavior when men interrupt women unnecessarily, which leads to a pretty serious imbalance in the amount of female vs. male contributions in a conversation,” BigThink defines manterruptions.

Men think they don’t interrupt…

If you look up on Reddit or Quora, you will find several comments from men who completely deny this happens. They are saying that interruption is rude in general and that women do it as much as men. “Oh for fucks sake, can we please stop with this stupid trend of grafting the word “man” on rude behaviors. Seriously, it’s idiotic and insultingly gender-biased in a way that makes feminism look petty and sexist. That’s not helping anything! Interrupting during meetings is a sign that your group has sacrificed effectiveness and clarity in the pursuit of informality in the false hope that a relaxed setting will be more productive. The formal rules for conducting meetings exist for a reason,” a user wrote.

Meanwhile, a super-polite software engineer from India wrote, “You get interrupted frequently, if you talk non sense and rubbish, so if women are often interrupted by men, then women are more likely to speak rubbish things. So the problem is not men. it’s women. So, yeah incompetent women creating stupid words like ‘Manterruption’, ‘Mansplaining’, to mask their own incompetence is not a new thing. So, women STFU if you got nothing to say.”

“I’ve been in more than a few meetings where women were essentially ignored, which goes slightly beyond just the rudeness of interrupting and not something I’ve ever seen happen to men,” a woman wrote on Quora.

“One time, I alerted a male colleague to his tendency to interrupt me. While he seemed to acknowledge is, he complained to our boss, who then admonished me for “keeping track” and “perpetuating hostilities.” So I just stopped talking at meetings unless someone spoke to me directly and asked for my input (rarely happened). THEN the boss admonished me for “throwing a tantrum.” I was in my late 20s at the time, a grown-ass woman, and was just sick of being interrupted and talked over. To this day, this is one of those things that will just set me off. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen as often anymore, but it definitely does happen,” a woman wrote on Reddit.

Earlier I had written about how being interrupted in conversations, again and again, can be detrimental to one’s relationship. Well, the guy I was dating had this terrible habit of not letting me finish one sentence, which is excusable sometimes but when it happens often, it deteriorates the quality of our communication. Even though I told him that he does this and it’s rude, it continued.

So when I was reading all these comments, for a moment I wondered, is it really not gendered? Maybe I don’t speak over people and maybe my female friends don’t do that either. Maybe some men I met are just ill-mannered and it has nothing to do with gender dynamics. I really did try to see their perspective. This is why I dug deeper to find out if there are any studies on this subject. Turns out, all these men who claim it’s got nothing to do with gender are in denial. It’s convenient for them to acknowledge what is truly happening. If they were that woke, they would probably not be suppressing women’s voices.

But science says it’s very much happening

“For instance, one study analyzed 31 separate two-part conversations, 10 of which were between two men, 10 of which were between two women, and 11 of which were between a man and a woman.  The researchers identified seven interruptions overall in the two same-sex groups combined; in the male-female groups, however, the researchers found 48 total interruptions—and 46 of them were instigated by the man,” reports Advisory.com. “There are definite and patterned ways in which the power and dominance enjoyed by men in other contexts are exercised in their conversational interaction with women,” the researchers wrote.

There have been several studies, conducted in different parts of the world that show similar statistics. But it’s just scientific research, before you can finish telling them about it, they will probably interrupt you and tell you how they, well, don’t interrupt. Last year, Anne Ruston, the minister for families and social services in Australia, was asked by a reporter what it was like to be a woman in Parliament, which is largely male-dominated. She had barely started talking about it but she was spoken over by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. He went on talking and once he was done, he gestured to the woman he had just interrupted at his convenience to continue speaking. So kind of him.

Manterruption is more common in places where men have hijacked more power – courts, Parliaments, workplaces, Indian households – basically everywhere. Researchers analysed women’s voices in courts and found that men took great pleasure to speak over female justices. “Over time, the researchers said, as more women have joined the high court, “the situation only seems to be getting worse,” the researchers said. For instance, in 1990, when only one justice was a woman—former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor—35.7 percent of interruptions were directed at O’Connor. In 2002, when there were two female justices—O’Connor and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—45.3 percent of interruptions were directed at them. As of 2015, with three female justices on the bench—Ginsburg, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and Justice Elena Kagan—65.9 percent of all interruptions are directed at them,” reports Advisory.com.

Why do men speak over women?

The gender imbalance in our society has men accustomed to using more assertive language and be more aggressive in communication. Women are expected to be more polite, especially when discussing an idea or putting forward an opinion. When a woman takes a stand, she is considered hostile and in a way, men are rewarded for being a high-intensity speaker and dominating the conversation. Carnegie Mellon University’s Joanna Wolfe said, “The research is pretty clear: While both sexes interrupt, men talk and interrupt more often than women. Some of that is because society has accepted that it’s normal and natural that men tend to talk more. And when a woman complains or stands up for herself, she’s more likely to be negatively viewed than her male peers.”

In fact, science says that men who overshadow their female peers in discussions, dominate the decision-making process, thereby establishing a conclusion that favours them.

ALSO READ: Being Interrupted While Talking Can Be Harmful To Your Relationship, Explains An Expert

We want to have what is rightfully ours – the right to avail our turn in a conversation

Science is on our side, ladies. Of course, toxic masculinity defies logic and science and none of these things will matter. Wolfe said that most men don’t realise that they really do interrupt women in conversations. The least they can do is accept it when a woman is telling them that they’ve been cutting her off.

However, if someone’s interrupting you or hijacking your conversation turn, refuse to let it happen. Make sure you interrupt the interrupter saying that you still have more points to talk about. Let them know right then and there that they cut you off while you were talking. In fact, in such situations, sisterhood helps. When you see someone else get cut off, be their advocate and say something like, “It seems like Mitali didn’t finish what she had to say.”

While we have brands coming up with fake woke advertising and offering us silly discounts on Women’s Day, someone launched an app that detects how much women are interrupted in a conversation. This was an International Women’s Day special. The current calculation is at 1.4 times…per minute! Of course, the app must be rigged too. No?

ALSO READ: Women Reveal The Gender Biases They Face At Work

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