US Vice-President Mike Pence, during the 2020 election debate, was another man in a long line of men interrupting, mansplaining, and talking over women, as he did all of those things to Senator Kamala Harris. The repeated interruptions prompted Harris to finally hold up her hand and tell him, “Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking.”
It was, admittedly, a debate filled with interruptions from both ends, but a CBS News report found that Pence interrupted Harris twice as often.
Harris, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, interrupted Pence, the Republican nominee, five times during the debate, according to CBS News. Pence on the other hand, interrupted her over ten times.
Kamala Harris Pushing Back Against The Interruptions Has Struck A Chord With Women Everywhere
This isn’t the first time a woman is being shut down or talked over by a man while speaking in a professional or casual setting. This isn’t the first time Harris herself is being interrupted by a male colleague. However, Pence’s behaviour during Wednesday’s debate, and Harris’s refusal to let him talk over her without a fight, has resonated with women across the globe.
Particularly, it seems, with women in the workforce.
#imspeaking has been trending since the debate on Wednesday, with women asserting how relatable Harris’s attempts to speak or finish a thought, as Pence continually cut in and spoke over her, was for them.
Numerous studies, in addition to the clear examples we see on news channels and even in our personal lives, support these women’s experiences.
A 1975 Stanford University study, where researchers listened to candid conversations, found that in the 48 interruptions to conversations they witnessed, one was made by a woman.
A 2014 study by George Washington University found that men interrupted 33% more often when they were talking to women than when they were talking to men.
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The reasons that these studies muse upon for this trend vary – be it discriminating gender roles or a quest for power. The trend they notice, however, is the same – that men are more likely to interrupt others than women, and they are especially likely to interrupt women.
An Invariably Unfinished Compilation Of Now Infamous Instances Of Men Interrupting Women
1) Let’s start with the most recent and relevant example of this.
During a panel discussion following the election debate, as CNN analyst, Gloria Borger, tried to explain why Harris pushing back against Pence’s interruptions was significant, a Former Republican Senator, Rick Santorum, did exactly what she was condemning. He interrupted her. As Borger mimicked Harris and said, “Mr. Santorum, I’m speaking”, her statement, much like with Harris, was ignored by the man and talked over.
2) Kanye West getting on stage and interrupting Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, had music fans divided between two sides for years to come. As he got on stage, grabbed the mic from Taylor Swift, assured her “I’mma let you finish”, and went on to state that Beyonce deserved the award, he was initially boo-ed out of the spotlight. In the years to come however, the incident is viewed less as the time when Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift, and more as the beginning of Taylor Swift “creating an image” of herself as a victim.
3) Before the now infamous presidential election debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden in 2020, there was the 2016 election debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton, where he interrupted her 25 times in the first 26 minutes, and 51 times in total.
Be It A Professional Or Personal Setting – Refuse To Be Rendered Voiceless
The running joke among men has often been that women never stop speaking – an offensive stereotype that has ensured women feel insecure about talking too much, and are silenced.
This and other gendered conditionings from a young age have ensured that women continue to be more conscious and anxious about speaking up in workplaces, and lack visibility.
In addition to this, the times when women do fight their conditioning, and speak up, they are ignored, made to feel like they don’t know what they’re talking about, or talked over. This “manterrupting” is clearly prevalent across varying fields and social situations.
Don’t let yourself be rendered voiceless. Be visible. Be loud. Refuse to stop pushing back when they dismiss or silence you. An interruption is not a full stop – to your conversations or career.
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