Um.

I had to video myself talking recently and was shocked at how much I say, “um.” This realization let me to this article, which offers some really helpful advice. But, it also gave me a lightning-strike moment re: gender and rhetoric with this line: “we use “um” and “ah” to hold onto the “conversational floor” as we are planning what we are going to say next.” I already knew that women tend to hedge and use filler words more than men, and I suddenly realized that I, personally, do absolutely use “um” to hold the floor. Because if I don’t, I am constantly interrupted. I tried, once, to count how many times I was interrupted in a day … and I gave up. (To be clear, I was interrupted at least as often by women as men. I’m not saying men are interrupters, necessarily. Rather, that in my experience, we all are enculturated to think it’s okay to interrupt women.) So … still searching for strategies to claim rhetorical space with resorting to holding the floor with um. Um, sigh.

 

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