Alrighty, so here we are, typing away on an app again! Today I was going to write a poem but ended up being fired up over another class discussion. Today in class, we discussed gender bias, and I used my example from yesterday’s blog as a starting point. And it was just so difficult to listen to everyone, so I decided I’d explore this a little more today. To give you some context, today’s class has roughly a 2:1 ratio in favor of males. That said, we circled up for group discussion and went one by one through students, hearing their thoughts on our readings.
Now, you might be saying to yourself “but Cassady, if everyone got to talk, the fact that more men talked was simply because there are more men in the class.” And that’s true, but that’s not what I’m fired up about. What’s got me all hot headed currently is the length of time spent talking, the manner of talking, and the diction used while talking. Now, I like to think of my generation as being pretty progressive-there is a greater focus on equality in places of learning, and I think on average my generation has been pushed to think more progressively about men and women. Which is fantastic. However, I still notice a lot of latent problems.
Let’s start with diction. Most males in our conversation are described as “men” or “guys,” where as most females are described as “girls,” or “chicks.” Now, this is pretty nit-picky, but the fact of the matter is that these terms have implications. Boys and girls vs. men and women change the context significantly. By saying “girls,” suddenly these professionals are being reduced to children. And sure, it’s true that this is not as bad as, say, massive pay gaps, but it is the root of the problem. We treat women as the lesser. Less important, less professional, less mature.
Now let’s talk about length of speech. I didn’t count how long everyone talked for, but in general I noticed that the males spoke for longer. This is a simple thing, but it points to the idea that women simply aren’t expected to speak. Which is ironic, because the class was all about how women have been silenced over time. In noticing this, I worry that our generation will fall into being smug about their progressive behaviors, and miss furthering equality.
Which leads me to manner of speech. Now it was clear that the men in my class were dominant in their speech-indeed, I know I can be dominant if I’m not careful. They spoke longer and louder, and they didn’t use phrases like “to extend on his/her idea” to make a point. This made all their points sound original, though many of them were not. In fact, the only time people interrupted-which in and of itself is a manner of speech-were females, who were interrupted by males. We started our class defining “mansplaining” and then the men in our class who had laughed about it did just that. It’s worrisome to me. And enraging too, because I had been enjoying the points this woman had been making.
Yet we see this all the time. It’s systematic and continued, and I hate to repeat myself from yesterday, but the campaign is such a great microcosm for reality-this well qualified, smart woman is being berated and interrupted by a less qualified man, and they considered equals in their political spectrum. They’re simply not. Of course, maybe my extension here is unwarranted, but it is upsetting. What do you think? Am I right to be pointing this out again? Are the flaws I see in class simply a coincidence? Let me know!