Simply put, there is a great term for the tendency of a man to interrupt a woman while she is talking. It is called “manterruption.”
Essentially, when a woman is trying to talk about a topic or finish a sentence, her voice somehow gets lost in the midst of this manterruption. She has to fight hard and stop being nice. I cannot count the number of times I have faced this in my own life. It happened to me most recently while giving a formal presentation that I did not get to finish because I was interrupted by the men in the room.
I eventually left the room feeling devalued.
Why does it happen and do men mean to do it? I am not sure about this one, and I am sure plenty of social psychologists may offer a better answer than I can. What I am sure of is that we have all seen some ugly instances of manterruption on live television. Let’s take a look and analyze.
1. Lebanese presenter, Rima Karaki, shutting down Muslim scholar Hani al-Seba’i on live television
Like me, if you watched this video a few years ago, you were cheering with excitement when Rima Karaki made it clear that she will not be spoken to with disrespect. If you watch the entire video, the scholar does everything to resist her very clear instructions: shut up and get to the point!
In his attempt to boost his own ego, he then proceeds to demean Ms. Karaki’s position as a woman and a news presenter.
He gets ugly, and I do not care what kind of scholar you are or how many people grovel at your feet on your daily basis. Nobody has to put up with that. The way she reminds him that this is her broadcast and that she will refuse to move forward if there is no mutual respect was GOALS for many women!
2. The 2016 US Presidential Election Debates
Whether you voted for Hillary Clinton or not is beside the point.
Watching Donald Trump never letting her finish on a national platform was embarrassing. Maybe this is an indication of the child-like and reactionary antics of (gulp) the president himself, but everyone deserves his or her time to speak during a debate.
It sent a very clear message to young men in America: they are allowed to behave like this and can get away with it when called out.
3. Kanye and Taylor from the MTV Music Awards
Back in 2010, I watched an MTV Music Awards show after many years. Admittedly, I don’t think I have seen one since.
All I can remember is the way Kanye came up during Taylor Swift’s acceptance of an award to tell her that Beyonce had the “best video of all time.” Now, again, whether you like Taylor Swift or whether you thought this was a straight publicity stunt is not the point.
The point is it seems like common sense to let someone at least be able to begin their acceptance speech, and hey, maybe even finish it.
4. Indian politician Mahua Moitra trying to get her word in during Arnab Goswami’s rants
After spending what felt like an eternity saying “Please let me finish” in this video, and having to get into a shouting match with Mr. Goswami, Ms. Moitra finally could make her point. Do not get me wrong, Arnab is like an Indian version of Bill O’Reilly, so perhaps this is not all that shocking.
Yet, one must wonder, if he will not let any woman speak, why bother inviting them on his show?
5. Male colleagues constantly interrupting Senator Kamala Harris when conducting testimony of Jeff Sessions
The interruptions began towards the last few minutes of the video. To provide context, Senator Harris employs cross-examination style of questioning commonly used in courtrooms. While Harris may have been grilling Sessions, it is not uncommon to do this in the chamber. Sessions was trying to make sure Harris’ time was running out, and being a difficult witness.
Instead of helping her out, other male senators stopped her and pretty much indirectly told her to “be nice.” Yet, when those same men employ these methods, they are playing by the rules of the chamber and doing their job.
You bet that Senator Harris made sure to call out her male colleagues out on it in the classiest way possible because this was not the first time this happened:
The women of the United States Senate will not be silenced when seeking the truth. Fight back: https://t.co/5KpQ4wBykN
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) June 13, 2017
There you have it. Real-life, televised examples of manterruption.
The next time anyone wants to tell you that you imagined that situation at the meeting where yet another man interrupted you, refer to these examples. Also, try this cool new manterruption app!