A few years ago, a friend was able to convince me that is wasn´t really what I said, but the way I said it. “It´s the tone Mati, the way you say things”. And I believed it. Women are taught from an early age to be submissive and docile. We learn to speak with an acute tone of voice and to end sentences in crescendo as if we were asking a question. It doesn´t sound right for a woman to speak with conviction as if she knows what she´s talking about. The use of the affirmative and imperative tenses is forbidden to women! It´s not considered feminine.
We are called witches, bitches, tomboys, authoritarian, and the list goes on and on. We learn since early childhood and without even noticing to present our ideas and theories in a way that won´t offend anybody. We start sentences with words such as “Maybe…”, “What if we try…”, “I think that…”. That way the man feels like he is the one who approves.
After that conversation with my friend I kept rehearsing how to say things with a better “tone”. I have a deep voice and a strong character and I have felt guilty and have gotten in a lot of trouble for it. I have been called domineering and “rough”. Not good qualities for a woman. Domineering men on the other hand are respected and admired. The rough ones are sexy.
Another classic form of male chauvinism is the now famous “mansplaining”, made into a verb after the book Men Explain Things to Me by Rebeca Solnit. A must read. It made me understand why I felt so uncomfortable when I was talked to like I didn’t understand anything. I used to get mad, now I just take off when a guy starts explaining the world to me as if I were 5 years old. It doesn’t matter if we know more about the subject, men need to feel they explain things to us. They feel they are born with an inherent right to make sense of the world for us and explain it. A lot of the times, our point of view doesn’t even matter. There is no dialogue, it’s a long and boring monologue instead of a conversation.
Even talking with friends I feel they need to win every argument. At one point they adopt a condescending tone “You don’t understand what you are talking about, things are like that”. And that’s it, there’s no way to make our point. They know better.
In work meetings, men, who most of the times hold the highest ranks and manage the budgets, are the ones dominating the conversation. They let women talk a little but at the end, they make the final decisions.
Male chauvinism is everywhere and we experience it in many ways. Sometimes we are so used to it, that we don’t even notice it. What is your experience with male chauvinism? Share it here.