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Old 06-13-2018, 08:37 AM
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Oblivious sexism?

"Sexism" is probably the wrong word to use here, but with all the recent talk on this board lately about sexism, is probably the only reason I noticed this:


So, I'm watching Real Time with Bill Maher last Friday. On his panel, his has two males with a female sitting in the middle (Why do they always put the one female in the middle anyway?). Pretty much every time the lady spoke, the guy to her left would swivel his chair facing towards her. He would bow his chest, and as he spoke, he was making hand gestures that one might perceive as "aggressive".

The lady, to my eyes at least, was clearly intimidated. She would basically shut down and not push back, even though it seemed like she had it in her.

It's entirely possible I'm reading too much into this, but I don't know.

Do you guys think this sort of thing happens often?

FTR: I don't think the guy in question was intentionally trying to intimidate her. He just seemed passionate about the subject at hand.

This adds to my own experience as well. I remember once I was sitting in the car with my ex wife. We were having a friendly argument. (I can't remember what it was about, but it was something along the lines of "Who's a better actor" in a movie or some such. Yes we were arguing, but it was one of those fun types of arguments couples sometimes have.) In the middle of our argument, my then wife stops me and says: "Can you stop moving your hands around like that? I don't like that."

I was happy to comply with her request, but I have to say, I was blindsided by her remark. I never once hit her, or any woman for that matter. I remember thinking to myself: "Why would that bother her?" But I didn't push the issue, I just did as she requested.

Last edited by Grrr!; 06-13-2018 at 08:39 AM.
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Old 06-13-2018, 08:50 AM
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Yes, this sort of thing happens very often.
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Old 06-13-2018, 08:58 AM
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I hesitate to call it sexism, as I expect the dude does it to everyone he's trying to intimidate or anything that he is passionate about. The sex of who he is talking to is possibly irrelevant....its his standard method of making a point and trying to sway someone through intimidation.

I'm a guy, this behavior happens to me all the time.....from anyone, male or female who is "pushy".
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Old 06-13-2018, 09:17 AM
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Very common. It's not so much sexism* as it is that men and women have different styles of conversation that can easily be misinterpreted by the other. Women are also more inclined to see the responses of other people as negative/aggressive, while men are the opposite. It's quite easy for a man to firmly state an opinion in a way that's interpreted by her as making a threat of violence, without him ever having any idea.

I recall a book I read years ago; You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation. Very interesting and had a lot of information on this sort of thing (it's not just a male/female thing but a between-cultures one too).


* Well; if there's sexism I expect it's mostly women in our culture regarding men as brutal and violently aggressive, and interpreting everything they do under that assumption.
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Old 06-13-2018, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Sigene View Post
I hesitate to call it sexism, as I expect the dude does it to everyone he's trying to intimidate or anything that he is passionate about. The sex of who he is talking to is possibly irrelevant....its his standard method of making a point and trying to sway someone through intimidation.

I'm a guy, this behavior happens to me all the time.....from anyone, male or female who is "pushy".
Yeah, in general Spanish people can't talk without moving our hands, but when my mother gets agitated she's downright dangerous. She's not consciously trying to look agressive but, since she has zero consideration for other people's personal space or even for our actual physical space, she can get pretty scary. When we point out "could you please keep your hands away from my face before you pop out one of my eyes?" she's always surprised that we'd find it uncomfortable.
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Last edited by Nava; 06-13-2018 at 09:24 AM.
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Old 06-13-2018, 09:31 AM
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It would help to actually see what behavior you're talking about, Grrr!. Any clips?
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Old 06-13-2018, 11:08 AM
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Even though I agree that this might be due to individual personality types, women who are aggressive get shot down as pushy while men don't.
It is also cultural. My wife, who is WASPish, gets upset when I'm demonstrative to the TV.
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Old 06-13-2018, 11:39 AM
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Especially in a forum and especially on TV, many people don't engage in a "discussion" as much as they do a "competition" where scoring points and looking good at the expense of the other person is all part of winning. Making yourself "big" is a classic maneuver.

It's not necessarily sexist, but the effect is certainly magnified if one person is already physically larger than the other.

There's also a move (usually but not exclusively by men) while shaking hands where one person puts his hand on the other's shoulder. It can either be an expression of affectionate bonhomie or or an attempt to dominate the other person.
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Old 06-13-2018, 12:08 PM
tvaetbjorn tvaetbjorn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grrr! View Post
"Sexism" is probably the wrong word to use here, but with all the recent talk on this board lately about sexism, is probably the only reason I noticed this:


So, I'm watching Real Time with Bill Maher last Friday. On his panel, his has two males with a female sitting in the middle (Why do they always put the one female in the middle anyway?). Pretty much every time the lady spoke, the guy to her left would swivel his chair facing towards her. He would bow his chest, and as he spoke, he was making hand gestures that one might perceive as "aggressive".

The lady, to my eyes at least, was clearly intimidated. She would basically shut down and not push back, even though it seemed like she had it in her.

It's entirely possible I'm reading too much into this, but I don't know.

Do you guys think this sort of thing happens often?

FTR: I don't think the guy in question was intentionally trying to intimidate her. He just seemed passionate about the subject at hand.

This adds to my own experience as well. I remember once I was sitting in the car with my ex wife. We were having a friendly argument. (I can't remember what it was about, but it was something along the lines of "Who's a better actor" in a movie or some such. Yes we were arguing, but it was one of those fun types of arguments couples sometimes have.) In the middle of our argument, my then wife stops me and says: "Can you stop moving your hands around like that? I don't like that."

I was happy to comply with her request, but I have to say, I was blindsided by her remark. I never once hit her, or any woman for that matter. I remember thinking to myself: "Why would that bother her?" But I didn't push the issue, I just did as she requested.
That sounds more like societally ingrained sexism on the woman's part in reaction to perceived aggression from the oblivious male(s) in question. Women have this "automatic" reaction of passivity to men to lessen the chances of exacerbating an aggressive situation. As in, one type of such an instance that does not include rapid hand gestures is men hitting on women in a way that is not mutual for the woman. The woman will, in an instance where she feels threatened or otherwise powerless, smile and laugh and play along in an attempt to keep the flirtatious (and oblivious) male calm until she can passively leave the situation or the male leaves on his own. Of course, there are women who are very outspoken and aggressive, but they are generally the statistical outliers and not representative of the general population (as far as my ignorant self have observed).

In your particular reported instances, I would have to surmise the rapid gesturing straight up produces an adrenaline response and makes their heart race. If it were a question of logical deduction, assuming they're reasonably sane, there's no reason to stress at all during a benign conversation.
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Old 06-13-2018, 12:25 PM
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Is this the show you were referring too, Grrr!? It's only a 8:30 min segment, but I didn't see any "oblivious sexism".

But perhaps I'm the oblivious one.

Last edited by you with the face; 06-13-2018 at 12:25 PM.
  #11  
Old 06-13-2018, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by you with the face View Post
Is this the show you were referring too, Grrr!? It's only a 8:30 min segment, but I didn't see any "oblivious sexism".

But perhaps I'm the oblivious one.
No, that's the Over Time show. The black gentleman is the one I was referring to, but his actions I was referring to took place on the original show. I tried to find some clips, but couldn't find any.
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Old 06-13-2018, 12:47 PM
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Quote:
sounds more like societally ingrained sexism on the woman's part in reaction to perceived aggression from the oblivious male(s) in question
I believe for clarity and parallelism, this should read

sounds more like societally ingrained sexism on the woman's part in reaction to perceived societally ingrained sexist aggression from the societally ingrained sexist oblivious male(s) in question

Last edited by susan; 06-13-2018 at 12:47 PM.
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Old 06-13-2018, 12:55 PM
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I make a point of trying to sit down in similar situations, but that required having it pointed out to a clueless me the effect my size has on people, and a concious choice to remove that from (almost) all confrontations I find myself in.
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Old 06-13-2018, 12:56 PM
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Was he aggressively listening to her? I’ve witnessed it sometimes where a “high energy” person will aggressively listen. It’s like they subconsciously know they can potentially dominate a conversation so when it’s the time for another person to talk they direct all their energy into listening to the point of it being uncomfortable.
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Old 06-13-2018, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Grrr! View Post
FTR: I don't think the guy in question was intentionally trying to intimidate her. He just seemed passionate about the subject at hand.

This adds to my own experience as well. I remember once I was sitting in the car with my ex wife. We were having a friendly argument. (I can't remember what it was about, but it was something along the lines of "Who's a better actor" in a movie or some such. Yes we were arguing, but it was one of those fun types of arguments couples sometimes have.) In the middle of our argument, my then wife stops me and says: "Can you stop moving your hands around like that? I don't like that."

I was happy to comply with her request, but I have to say, I was blindsided by her remark. I never once hit her, or any woman for that matter. I remember thinking to myself: "Why would that bother her?" But I didn't push the issue, I just did as she requested.
Watch a few episodes of COPS, and eventually you'll see a victim or perp explaining a situation to a LEO with that same sort of physical enthusiasm, typically because they're drunk, high, or saturated with adrenaline from whatever they've just been through. Sexism of any sort isn't an issue; I've seen male and female contacts doing this to male and female LEOs, no particular pattern. Like your wife, LEOs (the smart ones, anyway) are attuned to any potential threat to their safety, and it's not uncommon to see them asking the person to back up and/or refrain from making such animated gestures.

During my last two traffic stops (as a violator, not a LEO), I made it a point to keep my hands clasped in front of me while talking to the officer; my hope is that this and other behaviors helped put him at ease, potentially improving the outcome for me (I got a verbal warning each time).

As far as your wife is concerned, you may not have a reputation for hitting her or any woman, and she may never have been hit by anyone; it may be just a natural emotional/reptilian/non-cognitive response to potentially hazardous objects moving quickly in close proximity to her. She knows you don't have ill intent, but she's uncomfortable anyway.
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Old 06-13-2018, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by tvaetbjorn View Post
In your particular reported instances, I would have to surmise the rapid gesturing straight up produces an adrenaline response and makes their heart race.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Machine Elf View Post
it may be just a natural emotional/reptilian/non-cognitive response to potentially hazardous objects moving quickly in close proximity to her.
Which makes me wonder, what's the reaction to a woman who talks "aggressively" with lots of gestures, raising her voice, etc?

For a broadly exaggerated example, take Gloria from Modern Family (for maximum effect, turn off the sound) Would you describer her as assertive or aggressive? Spunky or combative? Spirited or threatening?
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Old 06-13-2018, 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by kunilou View Post
Which makes me wonder, what's the reaction to a woman who talks "aggressively" with lots of gestures, raising her voice, etc?
I don't think the reaction is uniform, probably because this stuff is only part of what people look at. (Context is important - so are other things). But it's well known (at least among women) that things men get admired and congratulated for, often get a woman called "bitch" or (maybe worse) ignored.
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Old 06-13-2018, 04:59 PM
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When a much bigger stronger person than you acts "spunky and spirited" up in your face, you too may unconsciously make appeasing withdrawing gestures.

The fact is that men are usually way larger than the women they are either being enthusiastic or aggressive (take your pick) near, makes a a lot of difference, even putting to one side thousands of years of social conditioning.
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Old 06-13-2018, 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by kunilou View Post
Which makes me wonder, what's the reaction to a woman who talks "aggressively" with lots of gestures, raising her voice, etc?

There was a great example of this a couple of years back on a local panel show, where a comedian (a woman) and the Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne got into a wrangle over religion, (she's a well known atheist) . Being a comedian, and one known for being a bit loud and in your face she was - well - loud and in your face and was absolutely excoriated in the press afterwards for being 'strident' and 'aggressive' and talking over the top of him.

Then, someone sat down and actually counted the words they'd said during the whole program, from the transcript.

Guess what - advantage Archbishop. She'd been talking faster and louder than him because she had to - people kept deferring to the Archbishop and giving him all the time he needed to speak and, more importantly, people in the audience didn't think he spoke 'too much' because they EXPECTED that a high status man would be given plenty of time to calmly and rationally explain his position.

Full analysis here (including a bunch of other examples containing people you've probably never heard of, since they're all local Australian identities). Very eye-opening.
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Old 06-13-2018, 08:01 PM
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You know what, looking back at my last post, I realize I left out a couple of critical words. What I meant to ask was. . .

Which makes me wonder, what's the reaction of other women to a woman who talks "aggressively" with lots of gestures, raising her voice, etc?

(I already know what a typical man's reaction would be.)

Last edited by kunilou; 06-13-2018 at 08:02 PM.
  #21  
Old 06-13-2018, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by kunilou View Post
You know what, looking back at my last post, I realize I left out a couple of critical words. What I meant to ask was. . .

Which makes me wonder, what's the reaction of other women to a woman who talks "aggressively" with lots of gestures, raising her voice, etc?

(I already know what a typical man's reaction would be.)
Also negative, often. We're ALL programmed to expect men to talk more, and more assertively than women, and we all find it weird and 'off' when that doesn't happen

(example: I went back over my link to the comedian/archbishop thing a little more carefully a minute or two ago and find that I was quite wrong to say that the comedian talked faster and louder because she had to, in order to be heard. The blogger addressed this too - she didn't actually talk louder either! So I myself was totally misled by my expectations, despite actually being on her side)
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Old 06-14-2018, 04:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Grrr! View Post
So, I'm watching Real Time with Bill Maher last Friday. On his panel, his has two males with a female sitting in the middle (Why do they always put the one female in the middle anyway?). Pretty much every time the lady spoke, the guy to her left would swivel his chair facing towards her. He would bow his chest, and as he spoke, he was making hand gestures that one might perceive as "aggressive".

Did he do that when the other guy was speaking?
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