Gender Discourse

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Communication between males and females has always been somewhat complicated. Because we are arguing that males and females have different cultures we wanted to take a look at what some of these differences might be. According to our research the inherent differences between male and female culture are the different roles that society holds for them and the ways these roles lead to different communication styles. The stereotypes that men and women grow up with affect the types of ways in which they communicate. We first wanted to take a look at how they specifically differ while men and women are arguing or having normal conversations. We also looked at the different types of networks that men and women share. These networks also differ and as do the reasonings for their formation. Although we do not think that men and women need to change their cultures to effectively communicate, we do think that better communication is possible. One of the researchers we took a look at was Deborah Tannen. According to Tannen the reason that men and women do not communicate well is that men and women use language differently. Women take the attitude that conversation is to explore solutions to common problems while men concern themselves more with getting information and hard data from conversation. Tannen states that what women look for in communication is human connection, while men consider status to be most important. They are looking for independence and are constantly looking for higher accomplishments. Intimacy threatens this independence, so men have a tendency to avoid it. One of the old sayings about women is that they talk more than men. It turns out that it is not necessarily true. Women seem to talk more in private conversations than do men. Women do not generally have a fear of intimacy and therefore are much more open with one another during private conversations. It is more difficult for women to use this type of communication style in the public arena. In that case it is men that do most of the talking. Tannen ultimately argues that men use communication as a weapon. They use long explanations to command attention from who it is they are speaking to. They use it to convey information and to ultimately gain agreement. Tannen suggests that through even simple conversation men are continually protecting their status. She suggests the reason that women dominate private conversation is that once men get home they do not feel the need to continue to protect their status so they remain quiet. This causes women to become more vocal. Tannen suggests that status affects many different ways in which men communicate and raises several different examples. One area she found was that men tell more stories and jokes than women. She suggests that they are not doing this to be funny but instead do it to again to negotiate status. They often tell stories in which they are the heroes and act alone to overcome obstacles. While women use storytelling to gain support from her personal networks. They use their stories that, if they are the subject of, contain her doing something foolish to put her at the same level as the listener. In this way women are not concerned with status as with relating and gaining support. Men and women also differ when they are listening. While women tend to use eye contact and head nods to let the speaker know that she is listening. Men often do not use these techniques because they suggest agreement with the speaker. Women also a technique which Tannen calls cooperative overlap. This happens sometimes when women start to speak before the other person finishers speaking. They usually do this to agree and show support for what the speaker is saying. Women see cooperative overlap as a way to continue the conversation while men see it as a competitive ploy to gain control of that conversation. In this way communication again is not made clear, men are annoyed because they believe that the women are trying to dominate...
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