*Please note that we do not say ALL men or ALL women. We are discussing the majority, not the exceptions.*
So much has been written lately about women and men speaking a "different" language.
We are told that it accounts for the lack of communication between the genders, and that it is because the brains of women and men process information differently.
It would seem from all of the information we are given by our culture on this subject, that male brains have logical and factual speech centers and females speak a gibberish which is not understood or readily processed by the male brain cells.
This is really strange since there is so much research reporting that women generally excel in speech and language. Puzzling, isn't it?
Anyway, it is supposed to explain why a male many times cannot "hear," or "understand," or tunes out what a woman standing next to him is saying, yet can nearly always get the score and game standing from a T.V. with the sound turned low in the next room.
Funny thing is, if you think about it, both girls and boys learn their mother's language. With few exceptions, it is women that talk to, and read to babies and children of both genders. Input from dad is variable, but generally, his contribution is usually small early on in the child's learning of a language. We also note that early schooling generally exposes children to women teachers. Puzzling, isn't it?
So who or what is really to blame here since it certainly isn't the result of men and women speaking a different language? It's easy to reply "a culture which allows males to be dominant and thereby gives them leave to be unresponsive." (Another topic.)
Fact is, it's our problem and we need to deal with it.
We can start by observing our interaction with children. We must do that if we ever hope to change the status quo. It is a scary thing to monitor oneself and find one's unconscious prejudices and cultural conditioning being passed on to our young by (gasp!!!) US. Even teachers who prided themselves on treating both genders the same were shocked to learn that they really didn't! (Sadker, Myra & David, 1994, Failing at Fairness, Charles Scribner's Sons, NY.)
That being said, we also have to note that there is still more we can discover and correct, if necessary, in ourselves. Some women do jabber on incessantly; some women pander to men to avoid unpleasantness and activities associated with their jobs, for example, and this we can do something about. If we want to be treated like a responsible adult human being we have to start acting like one. Even then, one must expect to face some harrowing experiences.
Nearly every woman who has worked outside of the home can relate an experience similar to this one. You attend a meeting and are the only woman (many times the first woman ever to be) present. Feeling small hardly describes the situation, but hold on -- it gets worse. A problem is stated and the group is requested to present solutions. You respond and ... horrors! No one even acknowledges you or your suggestion. Shortly afterwards, a man proposes YOUR suggestion -- the one you just made -- the one that was ignored. The group responds with, "great idea, Tom." As the bottom drops out of your confidence with a nasty thud, you find out, perhaps for the first time, that even women can have an urge to kill.
However, we must persevere. There are other things we can do, or learn to change in ourselves. There was a woman in our department named Pat who played the "I'm just a poor lil' old stupid woman" game to perfection. She sat around taking it easy while males in the department did much of her work for her. That is until Bill came along. Fluttering up to him in her usual wounded bird manner, she chirped out her tale of female deficiency. Needless to say, Bill rose very high in our estimation when he replied softly and with careful kindness, "Pat, it's women like you who make men like me male, chauvinist pigs."
We not only can change our programming, we must over-come it and be strong enough to deal with the results of our changes. Archaic programming has destroyed many women and it will destroy us if we do not continually work at changing our attitude and expectations.
We are strong. We are intelligent. We deserve to be heard and we shall be.
Copyright 1997 Renee T. Louise and Ruth M. Sprague, Ph.D. These articles may be republished for noncommercial use only, provided that they are copied intact, and that this copyright notice is attached. Address all queries to: TWANDA@ConnRiver.net.
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