Doubt and insecurity fill the minds of young girls as they wonder: Maybe I really wasn’t being clear enough. Maybe next time I shouldn’t raise my hand.
While waiting patiently to be called on, it can be increasingly difficult to articulate a point that was intended to follow a statement said minutes ago. Often times, girls are forced to give up on opinions they truly want to discuss as the topic of the conversation shifts.
When finally given an opportunity to express themselves, it is extremely disheartening to be cut off mid-analysis only for a boy to re-explain it in the next sentence. Girls are taught that they will be overlooked in a matter of seconds if they slow the conversation, regardless of how eloquently they vocalize their opinions at that time.
Boys later excuse their behavior by claiming that there’s nothing wrong with just saying something to get participation points. However, piggybacking on statements for credit is a serious issue when a woman posits an in-depth theory and a man restates it without any individual thought added. Girls should not feel accustomed to having their ideas be casually devalued as “just something to say.” Their hardest work is placed at the same value as boys’ bare minimum.
Girls cannot learn if they are not given equal chance to think and speak in school. Forget history, math, science. How are boys supposed to learn basic skills like respecting women and listening to diverse viewpoints if girls are silenced?
For non-believers, there are websites designed to validate girls who keep getting interrupted by boys in class. Test them out yourself. Women have been trying to speak up against academic entitlement for as long as schools have been around. Think of the big picture, you are surrounded by the after-effects of these lessons.
As men grow up innately dismissing girls’ opinions, women also learn to disregard their own. It leaks into our feminine identity. We replace declarative statements about our own work and life with interrogative sentences, just waiting to be contradicted or cut off. Filler words become the manifestation of our hesitancy that men continuously point out, never seeming to acknowledge that they are the reason we speak this way. Dressing ostentatiously and wearing a full-face of makeup becomes the standard workplace attire in order to catch the attention of male authority for long enough to be taken seriously. Our body language transforms from strong and confident to weak and subservient. Women unintentionally undermine their own credibility, which is one of the most dangerous thought cycles to get out of. At the slightest hint of uncertainty, men discredit women’s stories and thoughts.
When truths women have always known become a topic of popular discussion, men act as if they are entitled to voice opinions more than women are. The chain begins with women’s ideas but that doesn’t even scratch the surface of the thought processes that follow this critical teaching mistake. If not reprimanded at such an impressionable age, boys believe they are owed other things from women, like their bodies or personal information.
Male entitlement all starts in school. It is up to teachers to hold students accountable for their blatant plagiarism and interruptions. Teachers must also monitor themselves to make sure they are not the ones cutting girls off the moment they pause to think.
It only takes one class to permanently damage a girl’s self-worth and to instill the perception of intellectual privilege in boys.