In which I wrote this as a response to a friend’s post on Facebook and am re-posting it here because I can.
So my dear friend posted this link on her feed:
And I read it and wrote this response:
Well-written, sure, but would have been more powerful with actual examples of actual men in positions of power actually interrupting women lower down the chain, and more on How That’s A Demonstrably Bad Thing In The Long Run And Not Just Essentially Bad Manners.
The diner/server scenario, as the author explicitly states, is a pre-existing and well-understood dynamic that gives the diner social permission to override the server. The server is servile, that’s literally the job, and all parties know this before beginning the interaction. Not to mention that the dynamic is the same regardless of the sexes of the participants – a woman diner can railroad a male server with the same impunity.
So the diner/server example is an example, sure, but it’s a really bad one, because it doesn’t defend in any way the premise of the piece — which is that All Men Take Up Conversational Space Because They’re Men.
Some men are interrupting twats. Most aren’t. I’m not a man, and I’m totally an interrupting twat. In fact, I have been known not only to interrupt the shit out of people, but to abandon conversations I get bored of and literally walk away, both socially and at work. This is not because of the penis and male socialization I don’t have, it’s because I can be and have been an absolute creep sometimes, especially to those I deem to be less clever than myself. So it’s not about my dick, because I haven’t got one: it’s about me being a creep.
So I don’t think this is about sex (or, I suppose, I should say, “gender”). I think it’s about personality types. Like you said earlier, some people only respond to aggression. Others only respond to being sought out. This is more of a burnt down old introvert/extrovert thing than a boys versus girls thing.
Saying that All Men Are Dominating Assholes Until And Unless Some Bigger Asshole Is Dominating Them is over-simplifying human interactions just a lot too much to speak to my own experience. It’s not about sex/gender, it is about ego and power.
Telling men to be small doesn’t do shit toward teaching women how to expand their own selves, nor does it require women to spend time understanding male psyche or the human condition, which is what they apparently should be doing if they have this much processor power devoted to The Awful Experience Of Being Interrupted By People With Dicks.
Most men, like other people, respond extraordinarily well to shame; if you have a dude interrupting you at work all the time, call him out on it, publicly, and ask him why he’s acting like a boorish, uncivilized, hyper-ass childish little punk. If he’s not actually an idiot, he’ll conform to expectations, just like a woman.
Because men and women are far more alike than different. And experiencing social anxiety is not the same as being the victim of entrenched, systemic sexism.
And, not to put too fine a point on it, but the author apparently doesn’t mind being a rude bitch to her friends, but self-polices herself into paralysis at work. How is that the fault of All Men?