Friday, September 19, 2008

Who Has Permission To Speak

Though this video is dated much of what it address still exists today.  As a woman I have become used to having my statements interrupted.  Routinely men feel that they are within their right to interrupt women when we speak, because what we have to say is naturally of less value.  This of course is based in a hierarchal valuing of bodies that always privileges males.

I have even been presumptuously told that interrupting me was acceptable because with their keen knowledge and foresight they were aware of what I intended to say; and therefore there was no need for me to finish my thought.  The ridiculousness of testicles equalling automatic precognition seems quite obvious to me, but apparently quite logical to men.

I am sure that for most women this is an experience that we all communally share.  The silencing can come in many forms, direct interruption, or criticism of our tone.  How many times has a powerful woman been told that her voice has a nagging or whining quality to it?  This reduces us to our biology and renders our opinions irrelevant. 

Many women have become jaded and simply accepted this silencing without further thought.  This is a mistake.  When we allow men to control the conversation we are granting them power to control our social discourse.  If men can always decide what is and isn't relevant conversation our issues will never be significantly addressed. 

Fear of being disciplined is not an excuse to become subservient.  It takes courage to speak truth to power, but when we consider what is at stake, it is an act of gender annihilation to remain silent.  Men will not engage about the harms of domestic violence, rape, pay inequity, childcare, femicide, and  sexual harassment; these are womens issues.  Even when we are speaking about benign subjects their interruption is a co option of our space and an expression of male privilege.  It has far reaching implications because it infers that womens needs and concerns are secondary to their thought processes.  The man that does not value your mind, views you as a fuckable object, or a mother replacement.

The next time you are interrupted look at the man who had the temerity to think that his words somehow were more important than yours and let him know that you were speaking.  What you have to say matters and no amount of chest thumping testosterone should ever make you feel small. 


14 comments:

Scott said...

This one is directed at me. Sorry babe I am trying get a firm grasp that you are always right, and I am always wrong.



I KID!!! I am going to try harder next time!

The Link Back Project said...

Renee said... "The ridiculousness of testicles equalling automatic precognition seems quite obvious to me, but apparently quite logical to men. "

Speaking on behalf of all the Foghorn Leghorn's of the world...

"I say, I say... They're not Crystal Balls?"

"Get it? Crystal? Balls? That's a joke son, ya missed it! I'm just too fast for ya!"

Renee said...

@LBP thanks to you I have to clean my computer screen. I laugh so hard I spewed my green tea everywhere.

jon said...

Great post. And for the guys out there, when you see something like this happening, bring it up -- and (if appropriate) take the chance for education and mention that this is a general pattern.

The Link Back Project said...

@Renee!!!!!

I have done it!

I have broken the secret code!

YOU Renee.. Have White Privilege!

And I have irrefutable, iron-clad evidence to prove it!

I have finally done it! But my problem is that I have to do it in a podcast, but I am afraid you won't listen to it. :-( If I send a link to it in an email (I will keep it unpublished, just for your ears only) will you at least consider the evidence?

Renee said...

@LBP send it and I will listen.

pizzadiavola said...

This post reminds me of so many college sections, and how women who have opinions, answer/ask questions, and argue (in discussion sections, which are all about arguing and questioning and expressing opinions) are called bitchy/loud/angry/obviously have a problem, whereas men who have opinions, answer/ask questions, and argue...are just men.

Anonymous said...

I'm printing this post for the man I'm doing my best to live with at the moment. We had exactly this argument last night, including the bit about "precognition."

Renee said...

@Pizza...your commentary about college is more apt than you know. Part of the post sprang from a conversation with a dear friend of mine who is taking a class with a prof who is well known for using the power differential in the classroom to silence female students.

The Link Back Project said...

@Renee...

Sent. Enjoy the laugh.

Lisa Harney said...

I always get "I didn't realize you were still talking."

However, also, YES on the mind reading. :(

Anonymous said...

Update: After reading the printout of this post he actually said: "You misunderstood me again, I don't mind that you have opinions, it's just that you're so angry." [sigh]

Renee said...

@Anon I guess he missed the part about criticism of our tone. Don't let him get away with it. You have just as much right to be heard.

shiva said...

"I always get "I didn't realize you were still talking.""

What about those of "us" ("Us" in quotation marks because i actually don't identify as a man, but i fully accept that i have male privilege because i *look* like a man, and will never realistically be percieved as anythging else) who genuinely don't realise that the person we are in coversation with is still talking (regardless of the gender of that person)?

Due to my inability to "read" body language, facial expressions or tone of voice cues, i find it almost impossible to tell whether a person has finished saying what they are saying, or just paused. In a conversation with more than one other person, if i wait to make sure person A has finished speaking, person B gets in before me - so i have to interrupt to get to speak at all (unless in a formal or semi-formal meeting where there is an explicit system of signals for speaking order).