Today’s homily was inspired by a tweet sent to me by Ann German. (See Human Rights Tweets below.) It led me to an article in Aeon called ‘How men continue to interrupt even the most powerful women‘.

The authors did a statistical analysis of how often the female justices on the US Supreme Court were interrupted in comparison to their male counterparts. It found that “… female justices were three times more likely to be interrupted than their male colleagues. ”

As a women I’ve experienced this, though at a far lower level than a US Supreme Court justice of course! I’m sure most women reading this could attest to the same thing. It’s also something we can’t complain about without being labelled as whiners. It doesn’t matter how valid your complaint is when you’re a woman, there’s always someone who will say you’re just a moaner, and there’s always someone who’ll back that up. Men aren’t as easily labelled as moaners as women.

To counteract that, women often find they have to refrain from complaining unless it’s something really serious. It’s the only way to get listened to. It also means spending a lot of time biting your tongue and putting up with a lot of unfair situations. (And another reason that minor sexual harassment doesn’t get reported.)

This is a power and control situation where, in general, society sees that it’s more acceptable for men to interrupt women than vice versa. As the article notes:

… no, this is not because women are more talkative (a common misconception): men actually talk more than women. Instead, interruptions are commonly interpreted as attempts by speakers to maximise their power through verbal dominance. Men interrupt women more because our society has historically accepted male dominance.

The article also notes that conservatives justices interrupt more often than liberals. This means of course, that liberal women versus conservative men is a double whammy on the court. Thus, conservative male justices get the chance to influence their colleagues much more than liberal female ones.

They checked to see if the level of interruptions was related to seniority. They found that senior justices interrupted their junior colleagues more often and that difference was statistically significant. However, they also found that “… gender is 30 times more powerful in explaining interruptions than seniority.” So clearly the male-female factor is very strong.

The same was true of those who presented arguments before the justices. It is a convention that they stop talking when a justice starts talking, and never interrupt them. Women almost always stuck to this convention but men didn’t. “Male advocates account for approximately 10 per cent of all interruptions; female advocates account for approximately 0 per cent.”

In addition they found that the conservative versus liberal bias carried over to advocates.

… advocates interrupt liberal justices more than three times as often as they interrupt conservative justices, and advocates arguing the conservative side of an issue interrupt justices more than advocates arguing the liberal side. This support for the theory of interruptions as a form of dominance suggests that male justices and male advocates view the female justices as people they can dominate.

The article concludes thus:

… on a societal level, raising awareness is essential. Men need to recognise that this occurs in order to change their behaviour, while women need to fight it or adapt. Therefore, research like ours has the potential to open the eyes of the justices, others in the legal profession, and society at large to this subtle but pervasive form of gender bias.

I can only endorse what the writers of the article say.

 

Political Tweets

What is wrong with this git?

 

Time had this to say:

 

Someone else made up this response!
(Via Ann German.)

 

Here’s what’s really happening.

 

Another completely inappropriate tweet from the US president, and CNN’s reaction.
(Via Ann German.)

 

 

Human Rights Tweets

The tweet from Ann German that inspired my homily.

 

The US already rates poorly by OECD standards in international freedom indices. Now the Republicans are looking to take away Net Neutrality in the US. So much for the Land of the Free!

 

Architecture Tweets

Wow! What a room!

 

History Tweets

There was a bit more leg-room in those days!

 

I wonder who took the pic?

 

Interesting Tweets

So now you know. Where do you fit in?

 

Entertainment Tweets

They’ve changed a bit!

 

Michael Jackson played about with his appearance so much, this looks photo-shopped.

 

Science Tweets

The Greenhouse Effect made easy.

 

I think I’d want to know what they cultured first! It might be something gross! (Isn’t it always?)

 

Space Tweets

What to do about space junk?

 

Marine Tweets

Very cool!
(Via Ann German.)

 

Beautiful.

 

Other Animals Tweets

It just wants to play!

 

Other Apes Tweets

I’ve seen human males behave just like this!

 

Insect Tweets

This one’s got a powerful bite!

 

Yes, I know it’s not an insect, but it is a creepy-crawly. (I’m not a biologist so I can live with putting it here.)

 

Bird Tweets

How’s this for a dream come true!

 

Another pic of Sinbad.

 

How cool is this!

 

Lovely!

 

Cat Tweets

Wow! What a gorgeous animal!

 

Beautiful and magnificent!!!

 

This is very sweet, but I wish they put the camera the right way around – I got vertigo watching it!

 

Staff must keep up with their jobs!

 

Very cool!

 

Don’t steal this kitty’s presents!

 

How does it do that? 😀

 

This cat found how to get that milk or cream out of the package!

 


 

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