Different Ways of Talking
A few hours after Joy Fisher's birth, her parents took pictures of her. Joy's mother put a pink hairband around Joy's head, so that everyone who saw the pictures would know the new baby was a girl. Even before she was born, Joy's parents knew that she was going to be female. Joy's mother had a sonogram when she was six months pregnant. When the doctor said, I'm sure you have a little lady in there, Joy's parents told all their relatives and friends that their baby was a girl. Gifts soon arrived, including pink dresses and dolls. Joy's parents decorated her room in pink and white. A few years later, Joy's brother, Tommy, was born. His room was painted blue, and he received books and a football as gifts. Joy enjoyed helping her mother taking care of the new baby. She also enjoyed playing with other girls at school. Now, Tommy has also entered school, where he plays with other boys. The games Joy and Tommy play are quite different. Joy loves jumping rope with her two best friends. Tommy likes to play ball with a large group of boys. Sometimes when they play a game, he is the captain. He enjoys telling the other boys what to do. Joy, on the other hand, doesn't like it when new girls join her friends and try to change the way they jump rope. She thinks that some of these girls are too bossy. Both Joy and Tommy are growing up in the culture of the United States. They are learning what it means to be a girl and a boy in this culture. Their sex at birth, female and male, is now becoming a gender - a way of thinking, speaking, and acting that is considered feminine or masculine. Each culture has its own way of defining gender, and very early in life gender becomes a basic part of a person's identity. According to Deborah Tannen, a professor at Georgetown University, gender differences are reflected in the ways that men and women use language. Tannen and others who study communication believe that these differences begin early in life. For...
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