Many men don’t know it, but they talk over women. They talk over them a lot. This doesn’t have to be a conscious action for it to be rude either. Even though, in the United States, most of us are socialized to believe that it is important to wait until someone else has finished speaking before we begin our sentence, it still happens. It continues to happen despite the fact that we are also socialized to listen to others when they speak.
However, the more I spend time with women who spend a lot of time with men, either in classroom or work settings, the more I notice that there are men who choose to speak over women. This is usually not in a malicious manner. It isn’t as if that man has sought out to ruin a woman’s day by thinking his opinion is more important than hers and voicing that by beginning to talk even when she hasn’t finished. However, men rarely will say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you were still talking,” when accidentally speaking over a woman. Instead, they will continue to speak because men are taught as boys that their opinions are important because of the male dominant society in which we live. This implies heavily that even though they may not say it out loud or even think it consciously that they believe that their opinion is the only one that matters in that arena and it is far more important than the person who was talking before them. This is probably not simply because the woman is female that makes her opinion less valuable, but it is not as though there is nothing to that idea.
I will never forget how my mother taught me not to talk over other people. I had a poor habit of asking her questions and interrupting her as a child. One day, she turned to me and said, “Stop interrupting me. That’s rude. When you interrupt me when I’m talking, that’s like saying ‘Shut up, Mom. What I have to say is more important.’” The message rings true in all arenas. We silence the beliefs of other people when we talk over them. We assert dominance that we have no right to assert when we talk over other people. And sadly, this happens on grand scales when looking at men who speak over women.
Men, it’s natural to accidentally talk when someone else is talking. But be cautious of when you do this and apologize when it inevitably happens. Instead of continuing to talk about your idea after you have cut off a woman, tell her you’re sorry. While her opinion would be valid no matter who may or may not be listening, it goes a long way to help out society when you realize that no matter how nice of a person you may be, you can still be part of the problem. Be aware of the fact that because you’re a person, you will do things that hurt other people. But the road to fixing this huge issue of people devaluing the female opinion and therefore women as people.