the other night, i watched part of the debate between trump and clinton. at one point, trump was talking and clinton went to interrupt. trump put his hand up and said "excuse me" to point out that he was talking and she was interrupting. in an instant i was livid. because all trump does is talk over clinton in debates--interrupts her, interrupts moderators, interrupts reporters. all he does is interrupt and i couldn't believe he had the audacity to put his hand up and say excuse me as though clinton was the one who always interrupted.
after firing off an angry tweet about it, i realized that part of the reason i was so bothered by the moment was that i know what it feels like. i've been in that position. i've been the woman interrupted by a man. i've been the woman who tries to "fight" back by interrupting myself and then i've been chastised while the man never was, or maybe he was but not enough to get him to change his behavior.
of course, i am not alone in this. most women have experienced this in some fashion. some women more than others (because race, class, sexual orientation and more also come into play), but most of us can point to a time and a place when we were talked over.
i haven't always been that aware of this. even as someone who has a master's in women's studies, i wasn't always aware of the ways in which i've been barreled over (side note: i kinda wish i could redo that masters now with eight more years of life experience...oh well). it has taken friends of mine pointing out situations when men have negated my experience, when men have talked over me, when men questioned my authority, my knowledge, etc. even now, even though i am much more aware and on "high alert", i find my brain taking a moment to catch up to what's going on.
part of why i sometimes don't "notice" it right away is that it isn't always the trumps in life who are the ones interrupting. it isn't always the jerks. i have very good male friends who interrupt me constantly. male coworkers have done it. lovers have done it. male family members have done it. sometimes i don't notice it because even the well-intentioned men in my life do it. and i want to give them the benefit of the doubt. i say "oh, i'm sorry" as though they were speaking first. i concede to them. i let them make the point i was making. i defer to their knowledge, their authority in situations where i know just as much or even more than them.
some of it is me. in that i realize more and more that somewhere along the line i learned to question myself, my voice, my opinions, my points. when i was in middle school, i'd debate you to the point of death. now, i am more likely to say "you are probably right". part of that is just not caring as much about the fight, but the other part of that is assuming i'm wrong or really assuming the male in question is right.
over the past two years, i've seen moments when that middle school debate version of charly pipes up and is like "whoa, charly, watch this guy completely ignore or negate your experience!" or "whoa, charly, you said sorry 500 times for shit that was literally not your fault--in fact it was his fault, wtf?" or "um, charly, are you noticing how he is literally talking over you right now despite the fact that you were in the middle of a sentence?" or "charly, why the hell are you letting him define you?"
middle school charly was a badass.
i miss her.
but i digress...
she pipes up, but adult charly is usually afraid to point out what is going on...if she even notices and listens to her middle school self. i have sat, fuming, and said nothing. even to those well-intentioned men who, i believe, would be apologetic if i pointed out their ridiculous behavior. i am often scared to speak up because i am scared of being negated/shot down/yelled at/misunderstood/demeaned/"put in my place" again. and that's sad to me.
the morning after the debate, i saw i had a notification on twitter from someone i didn't know regarding an article i had posted 15 hours earlier. a man i didn't know felt the need to send me a tweet that was like "well, actually, blah, blah, blah". it was 7:15am when i read it and i was livid again. because here was a man who felt it necessary to prove a woman he didn't know "wrong". i fired off a tweet explaining why "well actually" didn't make any sense in this situation and then spent most of the day angry about it.
i was angry because this is an every day occurrence for women in some fashion. we get it all the time and it is exhausting and it is painful and it has effects that are harmful for us and, really, for society. and i was angry because this behavior can be front and center on tv and people--men and women--can say isn't it terrible that women deal with this and then i'll find myself being interrupted by the very same man who hours earlier was complaining about it.
and i'm sick of it.
do better, dudes. do better, friends. do better, family. do. better.
and maybe the good thing that will come out of my anger these last few days will be my need to shut it down. my need to point this out.
maybe this'll make me make middle school charly hella proud.
i hope so.