Listen. Here’s the thing. I grew up in a house of 4 women (my sisters and mom) and 1 man (my father).
My mother (who grew up in a house of 8 children— where the girls outnumbered the boys) had already endured the patriarchy of her culture, despite the natural leanings of her personality, which is where *sigh* I am well aware I get mine. Although my father was progressive for women’s rights as compared to others within the Islamic/Egyptian culture, it was never to be questioned that his interruptive/dismissive/judgemental word was the end of the line. So, mom never fought to be heard. She just nodded and then did what she wanted to do anyway, acquiring a manipulative survival trait Because she didnt learn any other way.
When I was growing up, I learned to stop talking when my father started OR when he turned up the volume on the TV. I was told repeatedly, by him, that I didn’t understand a multitude of things. My frustration was born against my mother, whom I would talk over, or my sisters, and I would often be told that I was being arrogant or condescending, because the tone I was taking to be heard became so aggressive and overbearing in my desperation to be allowed to speak. This was an unfortunate habit I developed due to my inane need to be heard combined with the taught practice of don’t speak.
This has carried into my adult life. I make jokes of it now: The vocal stance I take, as if my voice is getting into the ready position, when I speak because I bear down, I bend my knees in an attack position and all of it is a horrible way to address people; it lacks respect. So, I’ve been working on it. Poorly. But. I’ve been working on it.
This is why, when the term “mansplaining” came about, I didn’t understand it. I talk over everybody. When I left my parents’ house, that vocal stance I took? Outside of the walls of my family’s house? Became accepted as my personality (for better or worse). So. I didn’t get it. I was loud. Brash. Braying. Strident.
YET. In the last year alone, i’ve found myself just…shutting up, like I used to, with my dad. I don’t know why. I just. Go quiet. 8 times out of 10. It’s almost become a study. To see if it’s noticed, my sudden quiet. Especially with the men I know very well in my life. I find myself waiting to see who will turn around and say, “What do you think, Suehyla?”
it’s disheartening to see the men in my life who unintentionally reveal themselves as this.