In contemporary society biological factors are no longer the sole components that distinguish men and women. Rather anything from clothing or hairstyles to make-up or accessories can indicate specific messages about an individual. According to Deborah Tannen, women are more frequently considered marked beings in our society while men have fewer clothing or style options and are therefore free to remain unmarked. Although Tannen argues that it is possible for men to remain purely "unmarked" her assertions do not hold up well in a changing world. Because the term "marked" is a social construction, it is not possible to remain completely unmarked, as styles and trends repeatedly change with different ages, generations, and geographic locations.
In her study Tannen reveals that among four women and eight men present during a business meeting the women had several more features to observe compared to one another. However, Tannen's conclusions seem partially invalid for her findings are based on only one particular event. In a business-like environment, it is more likely to find conservatively dressed men with less notable markings than women. Even though women may not only be identified based on their apparent style but also how they choose to present themselves. (i.e. Baggy clothes vs. tight clothes, make-up vs. no makeup). In general, Tannen's findings appear questionable mainly because her approach when defining a "marked" individual seems limiting. For example, Tannen would call a man wearing a shirt a marked individual. However, it is quite common for men in Scotland to wear skirts. Without ever considering these geographic differences, Tannen makes bold assumptions based on her own biases.
When speculating a specific sub-culture such as the generational "rave"/dance culture, Tannen's argument holds no validity. Clearly both men and women in this culture wear similar styles of clothing and accessories that are in essence, uni-sex. While piercings and...
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