I was thinking what hypermasculine topic in Desi men could I write about today. There is such a great variety of choices to choose from. But I figured that the most honest topic would be the one that hit close to home. South Asian men speaking over women.
I am a South Asian man that speaks over women.
A one woman specifically. My wife.
It’s as if we’re both giving an exam where getting full points is dependent on answering a question or telling a story absolutely correctly. And only I can do it.
She pointed out that in public when we are either at friends’ house or at a store. I answer all the questions before she opens her mouth. Even if the question is directed towards her and about her. I also usually don’t look to her for further input on a story about something that we both experienced. It’s as if we’re both giving an exam where getting full points is dependent on answering a question or telling a story absolutely correctly. And only I can do it.
Can you imagine how frustrating that must be? She’s a scientist, an artist and an athlete. And gets interrupted when asked, “what do you do for a living?” I apparently know better what she does for a living!
Because my Desi male ego needs stroking, she assures me that I don’t behave this way when it’s just us two. I am really good at active listening and wait until it is my turn to speak. Phew. But to just pay attention next time in a public setting.
Can you guess how that experiment went?
Not only did I catch my self speaking over her or on her behalf, she had to point out the other times that I did so when I did not realize.
There is a word for that: Manterrupting – unnecessary interruption of a woman by a man.
It forced me to reflect. I know some white people who do this to me all the time. I am not finished speaking and they interject. That hurts. Is that what I do to my wife. How about other women? I am fortunate enough that my wife will patiently wait for me to improve this behavior. But I don’t thing women at work would. They’d probably minimize or avoid having to interact with me.
As men we need to work on this behavior. Because it isn’t just gender discrimination. It’s a poor communication skill. There isn’t anything to win by being correct or showing off our knowledge. Especially at the cost of minimizing a woman’s presence in public.
If I manterrupt my wife many times after she tells me I do it while I am working on the problem. And if even an Uber executive interrupts a woman during a presentation on sexism. Then it must be the culture of the society we live in. And we men need to do better.