Did Mr Trump try to silence Ms Clinton?
Did Mr Trump try to silence Ms Clinton? Carolyn Kaster

How Trump tried to silence Hillary Clinton in the debate

SEXISM comes in many shapes and sizes.

Sometimes it's huge, like an elephant in the room.

But sometimes it's barely perceptible.

It's actually the second kind of sexism that scares me the most.

The big episodes are ones that people call out, write opinion pieces about and decry with all they fury they can muster.

The little moments are just as concerning - they're usually the ones we've learned to accept and thus ignore.

But they are often harder to recognise for what they actually are - blatant attempts to supress the views of women.

One of those small signs of sexism was on full display during the debate between American presidential hopefuls Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton this week.

Each candidate were given two minutes to answer questions and truthfully I lost track of how many times Hillary was interrupted while she was trying to make a point.

It was only later, thanks to the help of Google, that I was able to discover that many people were as shocked as I was by the number of times Mr Trump interjected or spoke over the top of his female opponent.

According to news sources, he interrupted her 51 times.

In fact, in the first 25 minutes of the debate, he had already interrupted her 26 times.

She interrupted him - often because he was addressing a question towards her - on 17 occasions.

Now, some of you might not think this constitutes sexism.

But I strongly disagree.

Data dating back to the 1970s proves that men constantly interrupt women when they are speaking, effectively cutting off their thought process in mid stream, preventing them from having a voice.

A 1975 study by Don Zimmerman and Candice West, sociologists at the University of California, involved recording conversational interruptions by men and women.

They loitered in public areas and managed to record 31 conversations.

Of those conversations, 11 were between men and women.

In total 48 interruptions were recorded in those mixed-sex conversations and men were responsible for all but one.

A more recent study by Kieran Snyder, who holds a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania, showed that men interrupt twice as often as women and were more than three times more likely to interrupt a woman than a man.

So why is it a big deal? After all, sometimes people interrupt others because they are excited by what the other person is saying, or they have something from their own experience they want to add at that precise moment.

Well sure, I would agree that not all interrupting is negative or sexist.

But in a context where the very concept of fairness - two minutes each on all questions - hinges on being allowed to speak uninterrupted, we need to scrutinise what Mr Trump is trying to achieve with his constant interrupting.

Experts say that interruptions can be use to gain or display dominance.

Was that what was Mr Trump was trying to achieve?

Was he trying to put Ms Clinton off her game?

Or is he lacking in self-control? Can he not stop himself from attempting to silence or contradict Ms Clinton when she says something he doesn't like?

It's hard to know what his motivation is, all I know is that by the time the debate was over, I wished he would shut up and let Hillary say her piece.

I don't know if he realises how poorly it comes across when a man won't let a woman have her say.

Or when he talks over her like she isn't entitled to exactly the same airtime he just had.

One thing I was pleased to see was how Ms Clinton spoke determinedly and with fresh focus every time Trump attempted to take the spotlight away from her.

I think she's going to need to same sense of self-possession and determination in the next two debates, because I can't see anything changing before then.