Man, Interrupting

Bet you saw the first presidential debate earlier this week. Bet that, whatever your politics, you noticed that the two candidates had different approaches to “conversation.”

As many commentators have noted, Donald J. Trump is the ne plus ultra of “man-terrupting.” During Monday night’s debate, Hillary Clinton interrupted Trump 1 time. Trump interrupted her 51 times.

Trump is a limit case of an all-too-common phenomenon. As Lucy Vernasco noted in a 2014 piece, men use interruptions to assert power over women in personal and professional settings.  And as repeated studies have shown, women are interrupted far more often in conversation (by both men and other women).

The takeaway is a tough one: we’ve all internalized sexist messaging that women’s voices are less worthy of being heard, and we keep perpetuating that lie in our behavior.

Trump takes man-terrupting to a terrible extreme, but he reflects back something perhaps more terrible: we are all part of conversations in which people assert their own power by diminishing the voice of women (and sometimes we are those people).