Modern Feminism: Manterrupting


By Violet Radmacher-Willis, Reporter

We all deserve to be heard, regardless of our race, religion, or gender.  If I start to speak, I deserve to be heard.  So why is it statistically proven that men interrupt women more than women interrupt men?

Take Senator Kamala Harris for example. Harris is a well respected politician and is very experienced in her field of work. She was not only elected to be District Attorney of San Francisco for eight years, but she also was California’s Attorney General for four years. Apparently this does not matter to either Senator John McCain or to Committee Chair, Senator Richard M. Burr.

Harris was questioning Attorney General Jeff Sessions during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.

“You would rely on that policy; did you not ask your staff to show you the policy that would be the basis for you refusing to answer the majority of questions…,” but before she could finish her question McCain interjected.

“Chairman, the witness should be allowed to answer the question,” McCain said.

Burr agreed, “Senators will allow the chair to control the hearing. Senator Harris, let him answer.”

That was the second time that week that Harris had been interrupted by male colleagues in the same sort of manner.

Kamala Harris is not the only prominent women that this happens to. A study that was conducted by Northwestern Pritzker School of Law showed that in the past 12 years, 24 percent of the justices on the Supreme Court have been women, but 32 percent of all interruptions that occur in the Supreme Court are of the female justices. By contrast, female justices only interrupt 4 percent of the time.

These incidents are becoming a worldwide phenomenon. As a result of this, a new word has been coined from these occurrences: “Manterrupting.” Manterrupting does not just mean a man interrupting. It is a man interrupting a women because of the sole fact that she is a woman. It occurs in classrooms, work places, and other everyday locations.

Take Cleveland Crossfit for example. This elective is predominantly male. In fact, one class is 83 percent male. I talked to one of the six girls (who prefers to remain anonymous) in this class about what it was like to be in crossfit and she shared a story from just a few days prior that directly apply to manterrupting.

She was helping another girl on her form for a lift called a Power Clean.

“A guy comes up to me, middle of when I’m talking, walks up to the girl, ignores me and is like, ‘She doesn’t know what she’s talking about, listen to me.’ I feel like I experience it [manterrupting] on a day to day to the point of sometimes I don’t even notice it.” This is not an out of the ordinary experience.  

Two sociologists from the University of California researched this topic. They examined 31 conversations that had occurred in grocery stores, coffee shops, and universities. Ten between men, 10 between women, and 11 between a man and a woman. When they calculated their findings, they discovered there were only seven interruptions combined in the same sex conversations, but there were 48 interruptions in the male-female group, and 46 of these were a man interrupting a woman.

Manterrupting is a result of gender roles, and because of this, it has become a seemingly miniscule everyday occurrence in modern day culture. It is derived from the aspect of masculinity that says men need to hold the position of power. In our society, speaking is what gives someone power. Some of the most influential people from history used their words to create change. Take Rosa Parks for example. She stood up for herself, and her words impacted the entire country.

At a young age females are conditioned to believe that they are wrong. It could be intentional or not, but it does occur often. It becomes such a normal experience for girls that they start to believe it. So what does that mean about how gender equality has progressed?

It is true. Women used to not be able to vote, or go to school, or own land. This has all changed. But how much has the gender gap really closed if women can’t speak for what they believe in? If they are interrupted every time something they say is controversial?

I want to make something clear. It is understood that interruption occurs for everyone. It is not a national crisis. But complying with these binary roles of gender is getting out of hand.

Females are not the lesser sex. They should have the chance to express their opinions and ideas. Freedom of speech is a basic human right. Others can have opinions that differ from yours. Let women speak.