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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Gender Issues » Do gender roles silence you?

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Author Topic: Do gender roles silence you?
Djuna
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It's been observed quite a lot of times that traditional gender roles tend to influence how people behave in conversation, with (for example) cisgender men being more likely to interrupt others, and cisgender women more likely to get spoken over. So here's my question: do you ever feel like your gender affects the way that people treat you in conversation, what do you think is going on with that treatment, and what do you do to work against that?

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“In a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I don’t know what I am. I don’t know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.”

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Saffron Raymie
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I remember studying that! I was at parent's evening with my mum, talking to my English teacher, and complaining about the course.

I remember going 'I just don't think it's true - NOBODY INTERUPTS ME!'

But, I was never cisgender.

I speak a lot on xbox live, because I feel more confident if people can't see me. Once I met someone and said 'How do you know what my gender is? They said 'your voice gives you away'. I was crushed.

[ 07-30-2011, 03:21 PM: Message edited by: RaeRay2112 ]

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reeree
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Not really...I'm naturally a very quiet person so people talk over me because of that not because I'm a woman. Though I'm not saying it doesn't happen to others!

[ 07-30-2011, 03:52 PM: Message edited by: reeree ]

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Djuna
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It's likely, mind, that cis men have been brought up to have relatively loud voices, and cis women may have been brought up to comparatively quiet. I doubt that women who get criticized for being "too loud" speak anything like as loudly as the upper limit of how loudly men in our society can speak without expecting criticism, for example.

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“In a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I don’t know what I am. I don’t know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.”

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Haleylynn
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Yes, most definitely. I feel like if you're a cis-woman and your voice is too loud, you will receive some form of negative conditioning due to the way that society views women. That being said, if you assert a strong opinion as a cis-woman, in many situations you should be prepared for a strong backlash. Taking a loud, firm role in conversation is a traditionally masculine role, and by assuming it, women risk being ostracized from those around them (usually other women). I've seen people label women that are forceful in conversation as 'dykes, obnoxious, etc.' (Whether you mean actual volume level of the voice or asserting ones opinion is unclear to me)
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Cian
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In a way, yes! I do often get told I have a very loud voice, which could well be true or it could be a hint to tell me to shut my mouth. I also don't easily let people interrupt me, but if they're adamant enough to completely ignore that I'm still speaking, I will eventually quiet down. This happens with both men and women, though.
I think it may be also related to the power and status structures of a group.

I do not interrupt people often, but I usually try to get the first word in if I feel I have something important to say. Equally so if whatever I have said gets no support or affirmation, I might refrain from making more comments or suggestions in fear of endangering my own "status" as someone with something worthwhile to say. I feel this happens a lot more to women, as I've noticed in class men will more willingly continue offering their ideas even if they receive little or no support.

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Jacob at Scarleteen
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I'm not all too sure how much this is just about long term childhood conditioning as much as almost the gender dynamics embedded in the culture where a lot of our interactions take place. So that maybe they're a little more to do with what we enter into than where we come from. Maybe?

For example, for most of my childhood, people were trying to get me to shut up, get in my place and stop clowning around in school... but among my peers outside of class, I was barely able to get a word in and I garnered very little respect from my classmates to whom I was very much a bit of a freak. Getting my voice heard in a conversation was difficult and I don't really remember being listened to at all. I also haven't considered my gender identity, to much of an extent, ever to have been very defined.

It was not actually until the past few years (I'm 22 now) that I have felt that I have been unfairly granted a sort of privilege due to my perceived gender by others, which I think increasingly seems to be more significant to my experience than any way I might define myself. Although I'm naturally talkative, I think it's possible to do that in an inclusive way... by asking people questions and enquiring.

None the less, I've found my self really questioning myself and put my self-worth through the wringer after one person told me I was dominating conversation too much. It left me feeling incredibly guilty, and like some horrible dominating macho man... I think being told left me really trying hard to understand how I interact with people...

But a lot of this seems somewhat more a factor of how we interact as groups.

Something that seems related to me is how some (usually sexist and badly presented) experiments show that both men and women laugh less at female comedians than male ones... I don't think that's about how the performers self identify as much as how they're understood and also how that impression of a presentation of gender relates to power roles of which comedy seems to somehow be comprised.

[ 10-02-2011, 06:50 PM: Message edited by: Jacob at Scarleteen ]

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ilikecookies
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I don't experience anything like this very often because I'm lucky in having a great "open" home and school environment (as a result, most of the people I know and am around are like this as well). At my high school guys and girls have normal conversations about anything, girls can clown around and be noisy like guys usually do no problem and it isn't even a conscious thing. I actually only realised after reading this thread and putting some thought into it.

My previous school wasn't the same though. I actually often heard things like "You're a girl, you shouldn't say things like that." or "You're a girl, don't be so noisy." even from teachers! It's pretty horrible.

[ 04-06-2013, 10:08 PM: Message edited by: ilikecookies ]

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