Tag Archives: feminism

“Think before you speak. Read before you think.” -Fran Lebowitz

women-love-to-speakwomen-talk-more-1zitsgirltalkf92a91c1e057f40769de558f4e875d3fwomen-talk
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Women’s tongues are like lambs’ tails – they are never still. –English

The North Sea will sooner be found wanting in water than a woman at a loss for words. –Jutlandic

The woman with active hands and feet, marry her, but the woman with overactive mouth, leave well alone. –Maori

When both husband and wife wear pants it is not difficult to tell them apart – he is the one who is listening. –American

Nothing is so unnatural as a talkative man or a quiet woman. –Scottish

Where there are women and geese, there’s noise. –Japanese.

The tongue is the sword of a woman and she never lets it become rusty. -Chinese

Women clearly talk more than men, right? The stereotype is so strong across so many cultures and places so clearly this is one stereotype based in fact. Right?

Right?

Well, let us look at the evidence.

Researchers reviewed sixty-three studies that looked at how much American men and women talked when put together in various situations. Out of sixty-three studies, women spoke more than men in exactly two.

In New Zealand, a researcher compared the talking time of experts and interviewers on television. In situations where the time was meant to be split into thirds, men took over half of the time. Every time.

Another researcher analyzed the talking time of men and women in 100 open forums. Women dominated those discussions…7% of the time. When the participants were equally divided along gender lines, men still managed to take two-thirds of the speaking time.

I had a meeting with a [female] sales manager and three of my [male] directors once…it took about two hours. She only spoke once and one of my fellow directors cut across her and said ‘What Anne is trying to say, Roger, is…’ and I think that about sums it up. He knew better than Anne what she was trying to say, and she never got anything said.

Let’s look at some other professional situations, shall we?

Years ago, while producing the hit TV series “The Shield,” Glen Mazzara noticed that two young female writers were quiet during story meetings. He pulled them aside and encouraged them to speak up more.

Watch what happens when we do, they replied.

Almost every time they started to speak, they were interrupted or shot down before finishing their pitch. When one had a good idea, a male writer would jump in and run with it before she could complete her thought.

A Yale psychologist tracked the speaking time of new senators and those with more tenure and leadership. She found that tenured male senators spoke much more than their junior colleagues, but female senators’ speaking time did not significantly increase with time or power.

After discovering this gender inconsistency, the psychologist asked professionals to judge the competence of executives based on how often they shared their opinion. Male executives who spoke up received 10% higher competency ratings. Meanwhile, female executives who shared their opinions openly received 14% lower competency ratings from both men and women.

Another analysis showed that women who make their companies significant revenue and contribute good ideas do not receive better performance reviews and are not seen in a better light by their bosses. Men, however, are.

A researcher at UT had various males and females suggest a proven idea for streamlining their team’s inventory. He found that the women who suggested the new idea were viewed as less loyal by their leaders and those leaders were less likely to take the suggestion. Even when the leaders were told that one member of their team was given unique, helpful information, the women were ignored.

Women do not talk more. They know that talking more will do them harm, both professionally and socially. All those pictures up top saying that women outpace men by thousands of words per day? False. The erroneous numbers seem to have started with someone trying to sell a book. The real numbers?

But in the end, the sexes came out just about even in the daily averages: women at 16,215 words and men at 15,669. In terms of statistical significance, Pennebaker says, “It’s not even remotely close to different.”

So, our daily averages are about the same, but in mixed and professional situations, men dominate time and again. There is abundant research that this starts early–we’re talking elementary school early. From the classroom to the boardroom, women are not heard in public. Being listened to in public is a confirmation of importance and social status. So what does this say about where society places women? What does it say about how women view themselves?

To be fair, many of those pictures up top seemed to be referencing couples, not executives. So:

Another study compared the relative amount of talk of spouses. Men dominated the conversations between couples with traditional gender roles and expectations, but when the women were associated with a feminist organization they tended to talk more than their husbands. So feminist women were more likely to challenge traditional gender roles in interaction.

It seems possible that both these factors – expert status and feminist philosophy – have the effect of developing women’s social confidence. This explanation also fits with the fact that women tend to talk more with close friends and family, when women are in the majority, and also when they are explicitly invited to talk (in an interview, for example).

So, women are starting to realize that they are worthy of a voice, both in their relationships and in public. We still only expect people to listen to us if they are close to us or if we are an expert on the topic, but it’s progress. But that is how we see ourselves, how do the men see the women?

When a teacher worked at giving equal talking time to both boys and girls, he felt he was giving the girls 90% of his attention and his male pupils agreed. They complained angrily about it, in fact. Got that? An attempt at equality is seen as overwhelming favor and bitterly resented.

The same thing happens at seminars and debates, too. At a workshop where 32 women and 5 men were in attendance, analysis showed that the 5 men spoke over 50% of the time. They said what they wanted to say and set the tone for what was to be said and how. The researcher noted that there was no hostility, but the pressure the men exerted on the conversation was accepted without comment or question.

When women are given equal time to talk, it is believed that women were given more than their fair share. After all, what is fair in a patriarchal society? Dale Spencer says this:

The talkativeness of women has been gauged in comparison not with men but with silence. Women have not been judged on the grounds of whether they talk more than men, but of whether they talk more than silent women.

How do we fix this extreme disparity? I’ll talk about that in my next post.

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“Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress.” -Gandhi

I have a friend. Most of you know him. He is one of my true friends, internet or no. We disagree about some things. He made a post about some of them. When my reply hit 1,000 words I figured I should probably make it a post instead. These issues are complicated and multifaceted and I appreciate talking about them at length. I hope that this post will lead me and others to encounters with new ideas and a more focused worldview.

The friend is Vance and his post is here. My reply follows.
brain-exchange
My friend, you have been brutally honest with your criticisms, so I shall be brutally honest with my reply. I know you are frustrated and I can empathize. To be honest, you made me laugh even as I (strongly) disagreed with you. Which I think is maybe what you were going for.

You’ve missed the point (from my angle) –almost entirely…not altogether, but almost. 

There probably is some small, vocal subset that does blame you for things that you haven’t done, but most advocates for social equality are not so illogical.

Where gender is concerned, you said:

I’m told that men shouldn’t be involved in the gender debate, that they should just listen quietly and be educated. Fair enough: quiet listening is necessary to education, and speech before learning leads only to Fox and Friends. But there is a time for quiet listening, and there is a time for taking what one has learned and getting into the conversation, respectfully but actively. Otherwise, there isn’t much point in learning in the first place.

We have talked about gender inequities before and, given the content of those times, I think this is at least partly influenced by those talks. I say ‘talks’ because they were not conversations or exchanges. You said your piece, I said mine, repeat, and close the browser. I think we talked at each other. For me, it felt as though you had your opinions and that my challenge to those opinions insulted you. I hoped my comments would be a starting point. Instead, they became the final destination. I take at least part of the blame for that. No doubt I could have spoken better.
And yet, I cannot bring myself to take much blame.

You see, I’ve run into this situation too many times to count. The situation: Men, usually calling themselves feminists, talking about equality. By talking about equality, I mean talking over me or shrugging off the conversation when we get to a divergence. Again and again and again. You speak of listening with the intent of being educated, but if our few attempts at exchanges are anything to judge by, you may have never truly listened.

I don’t want to leave men out of the conversation. I know some feminists do, but I don’t. Still, men need to recognize that there are things that they just cannot know. And, yes, especially white men. When you are so used to the world listening to your voice and orienting itself to you, even a minute shift can be jarring for reasons not immediately understood. It is hard to adjust to and accept. Yet, if we are to improve as a society the skill must be learned by those in power. Even those with power they didn’t ask for.

There are things that men need to say about gender equality and I want them said. Here’s the thing though: they already are. Men have the platforms, they have the respect, they have the confidence. When a man stumbles upon a space (almost certainly online since there are very few such places in meatspace) in which his voice is not placed on a pedestal, it seems to him as though some indignity has taken place when in reality the limelight is only being shared for the first time.

I have seen only a handful of men actually listen consistently. I don’t know any of them personally. On occasion? Sure, I’ve seen it myself–but never consistently.
So, a man routinely listening to feminists about feminism and then speaking to them with respect and understanding? Surely it happens, but I have never witnessed it. Not really. It’s so exceedingly rare.
Can you imagine the pain of every man in your life failing to listen to you so often that the mere fact that some man, somewhere might not seems like a fantasy? It hurts.
Your post? It made me laugh. And, Vance, that laughter hurt.

It hurts to see a woman say something about feminism and then to see a man to say something similar. Especially online. Seems like that should be a good thing, right? So why isn’t it? Because the woman gets degraded almost exclusively with a few encouraging comments here and there. Meanwhile, the man gets lauded with maybe a few degrading comments. The comments that degrade him? Words referring to women and their anatomy. Because to be a woman or to be like a woman or to have female anatomy is degrading. It is literally an insult to be female. Is it any wonder that some have tried to make being a male insulting? They’re trying to even the score. They’re striving for justice. Anyway…
The man will endure a few of these insults and he will be a hero for having done so. The woman will quietly shut down or change the subject or turn off the comments and sludge on while being lambasted as a censor. If she trudges on and consents to the comments, she will be threatened with rape and death.
She will say something. A man will say the same thing. The cycle will continue. It will continue to hurt. By all means, speak out, but never mistake your words for experience.

My husband gets aggravated every time my eight year points out that the world around her defaults to whiteness and maleness. He thinks I’ve jaded her too soon. I thank all that is good in this world when she does this. She knows that the world is not all white and all male and she refuses to accept the defaults society gives her. Society will change because of girls like her and in spite of the men that will talk over and around her.

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Where race is concerned, you said:

I’m told that Black Lives Matter. And they most certainly do. But I’m also told that this is a claim that must exist in isolation; that to suggest, as a member of the white community, that my life also matters, that indeed all lives matter, is an act of imperialism and violence. I am told by those speaking out for their own worth and meaning as people that if I do the same, I am worthless and meaningless. Meanwhile, on many levels, the whole argument misses its own point, given that we are prosecuting it as a multitude of refugees stands helpless and homeless at our borders, hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens stand helpless and homeless on our street corners, and all the rest of us stand idly by demanding more attention for ourselves.

I’m white. Well, as far as society is concerned and let’s face it, race is all but just a social construct.
Where to begin? I’ll say this: I still cringe when I see ads for black only dating sites. They make me think about how we’re still separating ourselves. I feel the same way when I see Christian Mingle ads. But then I remember that I met some of my best friends at a group specifically for non-believing families and that I feel most comfortable on internet forums for women. We’re humans living in a society that has not reached peak equality and understanding. We categorize and label. Sometimes we just need to share a basic level of understanding with other people and that is okay–we will move on as society does.

The last few years have been quite an evolution in how I see race. I knew of prejudice. I knew of racism. I knew Jim Crow was not that long ago. But I didn’t know how bad our issues of segregation continue to be. I didn’t know how ingrained racism continues to be. I didn’t appreciate the absolute failure of our society to recognize its own failings on behalf of people of color. I am white, but two of my great-grandparents are from Mexico. My great-grandfather forced the accent from his voice and dressed his girls in pastel dresses to fit into White America. My grandmother married a white man. My father is a white man. I never learned a word of Spanish at home and all that is left of that part of my heritage are some astounding recipes.

I carry within me the desecration of a race and the race that did the desecrating. At this point, most of us do. No, we are not responsible for the actions of our forefathers. But we are responsible for recognizing the privilege that society bestows upon us today.

Of course all lives matter, but that is not the point. The point is that we have an epidemic of black bodies being beaten and killed. The point is that we have a history of black bodies being split and sold and beaten and killed. The point is that some of us still haven’t admitted the problem. This point is that we have not made amends.

Refugees matter. The homeless matter. The hungry matter. The poor matter. The abused matter. All lives matter–yes, yes, yes. But every person must pick their battles.One person cannot fight all injustices and actually get anywhere. There isn’t time. So each person chooses what is most important to them and tries to make some difference. So, yes, all lives matter. But also, Black Lives Matter. That’s the point.

You said:

I refuse to accept this. I will not play this game nor will I acquiesce to these rules, any more than anyone should give in to the arbitrariness of socially-imposed classes and categorizations. Justice is never about taking dominance away from one voice and giving it exclusively to another. Justice can only come about by way of dialogue; it must involve both the wronged and the perceived wrong-er.

Anyone that is suggesting taking dominance away from one group and giving it to another is probably not worth listening to. It’s about taking dominance out of the equation. I do not think that we need justice. Justice is blind and thus blinds all. We need compassion, empathy, and understanding. We have to meet society where society is at. Society needs #BlackLivesMatter. Society needs feminism. If you think otherwise, just read the comments. (Lewis’ Law can be applied to more than feminism.) Black Lives Matter versus All Lives Matter may logically be a false dichotomy, but it is a societal fact.

social_media_conversationI do not doubt that you have worthy contributions to make. I do doubt that you have honestly listened to what has been said on these matters in the past. I just can’t imagine that your post came from a place of understanding.

Like it or not, you are white and male. In this universe, on this planet, that means that for those reasons alone you are endowed with powers and privilege. It is incredibly difficult to appreciate that fact. I get it. I’m part of a few minority groups and a few dominant groups. I have medium code-switching abilities. Recognizing the ways in which society attempts to hold me back is hard. Recognizing the ways society privileges me is harder.

It is incredibly difficult to get someone to realize their privilege, even harder to get them to do something about it. Some will be persuaded by grief and empathy, others by compassion or sadness, and many by anger. Even you.
Of course, some go too far in anger and some do more harm than good. We are human, that is our wont.

I do not want you to apologize for things you have not done. I do want your best actions and words. I do want you as my ally. But you have to listen. We have to hear each other. I don’t know if I deciphered your post and heard you as you meant to be listened to. I don’t know if my words are arranged in a way that will allow you to understand me as I mean to be understood. I hope you reply. I hope we keep talking. I don’t want justice–it’s too late for that. We humans have lived too long, we’ve hurt too much. I want equality.

“And if your heart’s full of sorrow: keep walking–don’t rest.”

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I remain unconvinced that I will ever know myself fully. There always seems to be another Identity Uncertainty looming near or within me. Not a crisis, mind you. It’s just that this thing that is me is ever-changing and I’m only clued in on the conscious actions, which seems to be a great minority of who I am.

So much about me was determined the moment sperm met egg. Even more was determined before my brain had the capacity to form lasting memories. I have been entrenched in a civilization that I have all but no control over since before I took my first breath.

pathway-to-the-light-of-heaven-lee-yangMy biases were formed while I was learning to form sentences. They hardened as I created opinions. Crack them as I might, shall they ever be destroyed? Do I have that power? Or can I only let in as much light as possible and try to enclose my children as little as possible?

I’ve been called an overthinker many, many times. I tend to think this isn’t a bad thing though it has its disadvantages, one of which is constantly questioning my own motivations.

As a feminist, I wonder how much my personal preferences are influenced by patriarchy. I am an amalgamation of sexual desire and detestation. I rarely wear makeup or heels, but I shave and am counting calories to lose weight. Sure, the ebb and flow of desire is natural and losing excess weight tends to be better for your health, but how much of that is true for me personally? My perception of my body and its processes are filtered through a billion ideas about what a person should be, what a woman should be, what a woman with my racial/biological/educational/ideological background should look like, what she should think and do and feel. How much is me and how much is what I think I should be?

I heard a quote recently. It was one of those moments where someone perfectly expresses a concept you’ve had on the tip of your tongue for years. I could almost feel my brain cells shifting into a new pattern. The quote was brought up during a radio discussion about why we feel like we’re different people depending on who we’re with.

“I am not who you think I am; I am not who I think I am; I am who I think you think I am.”
-Thomas Cooley

Indeed.

Whitman was right. We contradict ourselves. We contain multitudes. So be it.

I am coming out of another long period of Identity Uncertainty. The time spent within always feels dark and depressing, but I come out better for it on the other side. Sorrow is inevitable, we must savor it as much as joy. Such is life.

My perspective has shifted again. As it should, as it must, as I am thankful for. May I never stagnate.

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“So, I guess we are who we are for alot of reasons. And maybe we’ll never know most of them. But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.”
-Stephen Chbosky

If you are wondering where the title quote came from, check out the student-made advertisement below. If ads were like this, I would watch more television.

Compliments are Helium


One day a man tied a balloon to my ankle
As I floated away and into the sky
He told me that I should be thankful
that he took the time to stop me
so that he could lift me up

The balloon is red and shiny
It reflects
the sun
my fear
my upturned skirt

Look!
the man says from the ground
You’re so high above me!
You’re so lucky you were born to fly!

Other men gather
The women hurry past

The men ooo and ahhh at my swift rise
Covetousness in their eyes
I’m almost out of earshot
when they start to jeer
Hey! Hey you! Hey, girl!
Aren’t you going to thank him?
He helped you fly!
He gave you a balloon!
He deserves a thank you!
I can barely hear their irritation turn to anger
She didn’t deserve a balloon.
Hardly any girls do.
I bet she gets balloons all the time
and now she’s never grateful.
I ache to explain
I’m late and now I’ll be later
(But they’d just say I should have left sooner)

With a pop
I fall
and fall
and fall
Bumps and bruises
rise as I land
(But you got to fly! Don’t complain!)
But
don’t you see
I’m afraid of heights
(Then you shouldn’t accept balloons.)
I didn’t want to
I DIDN’T WANT TO
THERE WAS NO CHOICE

No use
I know their rules
I went to their schools

Will the bump blue
Will the bruise black
I hope as I cut back
Be visible
Be ugly
Maybe that will keep their bloody helium away
Maybe
But
they’ll come again
they always do
balloon in hand
acting like the gesture’s grand

We’re all (nearly) equal now …

It’s International Women’s Day. I didn’t have the time to write a post about my convoluted feelings on the matter. Thankfully, I can point you to this post instead. It says everything I wanted to say, better than I would have said it.

We’re all (nearly) equal now …

 

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