Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Attending Lade’s workshop:

So I was attending this workshop today, it was organized by LADE or the Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections. But I will not go through the details of the workshop, there is only one detail that made me smile (but not in a so positive way). You see at a certain point, there was some chaos which is understandable it was the after lunch session and everyone was a bit tired.

But what I found typical and unacceptable, was that one of the opinions was expressed by a young, intelligent woman. She was repeatedly interrupted by an older man who just happens to be a professor in some university. I wouldn’t have given it that much importance if it would have happened like twice or three times and if it wasn’t so evident. Nermine (the young woman) would start her sentence, after so much effort to get the attention that should not be so difficult to get in this ultra-civilized and ultra-cultivated environment, only to be interrupted before she would finish. Not by someone (who is the great male professor) who is making a point opposing hers, no she would get interrupted because the guy just had a point that he was making minutes ago and didn’t deem he should wait for Nermine to finish hers. No why would he.

And if that wasn’t so compelling, then another professor named Toni, started interrupting little Nermine just the same way.

Ok so maybe it was a Nermine thing. You may say that maybe Nermine just didn’t know how to impose her own authority. But then again something slightly similar happened with another young girl. Who was expressing a very simple concept which says that regardless of whether or not media coverage for one electoral candidate was positive it is a positive thing for the candidate because it is media attention none the less. But some guy that was sitting next to her did not agree, and he insisted on his point of view without giving any substantial evidence or even thinking about what that young lady was saying.

But if you still don’t believe me then you should have been there and you would have noticed that for example women were present but did not have much to say, as participants. The most persistent commentators were men. Nermine and her friend were almost the only females that talked.

I am not saying that the organizers or facilitators were sexism or misogynists. No, they were not. And I am not saying that the professors were consciously interrupting or silencing the women. No they were not aware of it. But in our minds (all of us) respect is always more due to older, men with degrees than it is to younger women. And again if you do not believe all you have to do, is google professor, and tell me at which page will you find the first woman?


shax said...

Well said! :) But you missed something: they *are sexist*. A man would never be interrupted in the same way. Sexism operates in subtle ways, not just in consciously expressed views. And I know that Nermine is young, assertive, and intelligent, but it is precisely her youth and her gender that allow for paternalistic and condescending older men to write off her opinions as unimportant.

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