One of the things I have dealt with since childhood is men talking over me. It doesn’t matter if I am at a party or in a meeting or in school. I will be talking and a man will talk over me. This was a prominent feature of growing up evangelical. While I was at times amusing to men who found my passion and conviction unthreatening due to my youth, overwhelmingly, men paternalistically explained things to me. There are men with whom I had meaningful conversations, who invested their time and resources in me as a person. They typically were not the ones talking over me; although they did, at times, explain things to me.
One of the reasons I have distanced myself from identifying as evangelical is because of this tendency at church and the Christian university I attended. It was always annoying, and as I learned more about feminism and equality, it became infuriating.
I have managed to build a life where this rarely happens to me now. Part of that is because of my partner who is remarkably good at giving space to women, which in turn promotes other men in our social circle to do the same.
I recently went to a party without him, though. I was having a conversation with one of the partygoers that ended up being broadened to the whole group, where I explain my position about why I think baby boomers are The Worst™. It is an unpopular opinion in media today, but a correct one nonetheless.
Two things of note happened.
One, a man interrupted me with an even more unpopular opinion that was both off topic and off base.
Two, the rest of the men in the room wanted nothing to do with it. They repeatedly attempted to give me the floor and enact other mild social shaming approaches to no avail. The first man continued to insist on talking.
This resulted in all of us leaving the room.
I was with active progressives at this party—they are both politically engaged and intersectionally knowledgeable—including the man who couldn’t stop interrupting me. The dominant feeling was that women with valid points should guide the conversation, not the man with an invalid point. Still the other men were unable to successful subdue the interrupting man and proceed to engage on the original topic.
This reminded me that extricating myself from evangelicalism has not solved this issue for me or for society as a whole. The striking difference was that rather than no men helping me be heard, I had most men helping me be heard. Just the same, the outcome was that of a derailed conversation where no one felt heard, including the interrupting man.