Don’t Dominate to Assert Yourself

A couple of months ago, my fiancé shared with me an article about how men can dominate just about every situation without meaning to. It explained how men take on a posture that allows them to physically take up more than the space they really need. Also, the article stated that in conversation, men tend to dominate because their voices are louder, deeper, and more confident. 

Being a woman who constantly tries to shrink herself in social situations, I noted that while the article made a valid point about how men can be more conscious in their interactions with others it has also been my experience that women can be just as guilty of asserting themselves too much.

I cannot even begin to list the number of times I have been in an all-female setting, and felt my voice being lost in the conversation because I am not loud and I will not talk over people. That is just part of my personality. 

Often times, those who are participating in the conversation will not even notice that I have retreated from it. I think this is a problem if women want to succeed as a unit. 

The single basic principle of feminism is equality. If even within that group of like-minded people the introverts are being left-out, feminism has failed its first test. 

I joined the movement to help people like myself, to give them a voice because I know what it is like to be without one. And while I believe that assertiveness is a wonderful quality for anyone to have, it is not a part of my personality and probably never will be, so those who are assertive by nature should be aware of dominating feminist dialogues. 

No, I am not saying that assertive women should cater to those who are less so by altering their communication styles. I am saying that in the same way the article asked men to be more aware of their tendency to dominate in everyday life, so should women who were blessed with that characteristic. 

Self-awareness is a characteristic that everyone can benefit from, because it is important not only to assess your own role in every interaction, but the roles of others as well. We need to adjust our communication styles to fit the interaction.

Outspoken individuals should check themselves to make certain that they aren’t dominating an interaction, especially when the interaction is with someone less outspoken. Quiet folks, like myself, should do the same and make certain they aren’t allowing themselves to be dominated. 

If feminism is not allowing all women’s voices to be heard, then it isn’t helping women as a whole, it is pushing some of us further into the background and, even worse, it is being done to feminists by feminists. 

- Written by Jocelyn Zoe Gibson

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