By Edinah Masanga
The room, even though full of people, was so quiet, captioned only by nods of agreement and satisfaction and gratitude at the stories that he was telling.
I remember thinking if the greatest misconception is that feminists are angry women who hate men, that will have to be true today, if only for a moment. Because the one thing that I detest the most, that I will not stand for, is the proverbial chauvinist at the head of the table talking down everyone, in an informal environment. My stomach heaves every time I see it.
But, chauvinists talk over us because we allow them, something even they do not realize, nor do we. Deborah Tannen, a gender communication expert links this to men’s need to achieve power and status when they speak, whereas women speak from a point of authenticity to achieve connection.
Talking over women is not the only issue when it comes to how men communicate, Leslie Shore writes that “the most problematic issue that arises from this discrepancy is the disproportionate number of times that men interrupt women.”
Joanna Wolfe of Carnegie Mellon University who has spent years researching this subject concurs that “men talk and interrupt more often than women”. She also suggests a strategy to counter this saying that if a person repeatedly gets interrupted they can counter this by expressly asking others not to interrupt others before they are done or by beginning with a positive attribute towards the interrupter.
Although I respect Wolfe’s research of many years, I have to admit I prefer Kamala Harris’s way: “I’m speaking”. Why, because I believe we should begin the transition from niceness to frankness. Next time when a man repeatedly interrupts you, take a deep breath and say: “I’m speaking”.
If we do not do this our voices will continue to be conveyed with captions from men, thus our own thoughts, opinions and ideas subjugated.
Edinah Masanga is a Zimbabwean journalist. She can followed at @EdinahMasanga on Facebook.