Boys, take a seat

In every conversation, let women speak.

by Kate McCarthy

A bunch of us teenagers were squeezed in a car, mostly boys, the small space reverberating with jokes and laughter.

One straw-haired boy named Adam asked me a question. I began to answer in earnest, and a few seconds in, sweet Adam cuts me off with “Has anyone ever told you that you talk a lot?”

The majority of female-identifying people can probably recall similar instances of this: Trying to get a word in a casual conversation, when suddenly a seething, blithely unaware dude speaks over you. Sometimes, it seems like us women have to work twice as hard to be heard and validated — I shouldn’t have to shout to be heard, and neither should you.

Increasingly I notice that in group settings — especially male-dominated circles — I’m easily cut off, or feel pressured to speak quickly and succinctly, so as to prevent being mowed over or losing the interest of my peers. Sometimes I have to corral group focus — “Guys! Hey, hey, everyone!” — just to get some airtime.

Meanwhile, I’ve seen goony guys go on ad nauseam about their favorite episode of BoJack Horseman, or their specific qualms with Hillary Clinton or how much they love their dad — it doesn’t really matter because their easy command of the room affords them all the space in the world.

Meanwhile, the frustration that comes with expressing yourself, only to be told you’re being excessive, is truly singular! I don’t consider myself a shrinking violet in any respect, and yet this is still an anger that has recently been bubbling up inside me.

I don’t have an answer, except to find outlets where women can be fully realized — and without interruption: In writing, or performance or activism. I’ve found great solace in stand-up comedy — an environment where everyone is on even ground, and where I’m free to posit thoughts and ideas I know are just as worthy as those of any confident boy. So I’ll keep thinking and talking, and hope my fellow forcibly tongue-tied peers will as well.