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Do Males And Females Communicate With Each Other In Different Ways?

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Do Males and Females Communicate with each other in different ways?

"...I do not give you the right to raise your voice to me because you are woman and I am man..." (Tannen p 23) This statement is offensive to both men and women alike. Yet it is a true, telling statement as well. This one sentence shows us that in many countries, including the U.S., a patriarchal society creates a hierarchal push and pull between the genders, creating a very large gap in communication. This assertion also brings up some important questions: Are males and females merely people with different sexual organs? Or is it how we are raised which makes us communicate differently? Does mass media attribute to societal inequalities? Or is our culture to blame for how men view women and vice-versa? As working people, does sexism and institutional discrimination shape how we converse with each other? Or can you sum up all of the issues simply in the difference between the 'masculine' or 'feminine'? These are questions that many people, including sociologists have had, and studied in-depth. Many books and articles have been written on the topic, to help the masses understand the one thing they could not possibly comprehend, the other sex.

From conception, humans are biologically designed to be one sex or the other. Therefore, we are simply people with different sexual organs. But there is much more to the story than that. Children are often treated and handled in different ways based solely on their gender. As an infant, or young child one cannot communicate properly with the adults in their lives. Therefore, as adults we treat a baby in the only way we can relate to them, as either a boy or girl. While a female baby is often coddled lovingly and dressed traditionally in pink, a male child is more often bounced on a knee or thrown in the air by a playful adult. This raises another question, does this social conditioning by adults unconsciously stay with the child throughout their lives, forcing them to conform to their gender as their only identity? Shuvo Ghosh M.D. Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at McGill University Health Centre and Montreal Children's Hospital says yes, "...the parents create the gender role, and parental decisions play the largest part in determining environmental influences." As a child in the early years of development, boys and girls are often drawn to members of the same sex. Allowing them to feel most comfortable with people who think and often react exactly as they would themselves. Because of this inherent attraction to surround themselves with members of the same sex, sociologists can see clearly the differences between how each specific gender communicates with each other. In a research project with second graders dealing with how school age friends relate to each other, Deborah Tannen PhD found that girls sat much closer to each other and looked at each other very directly when speaking. As opposed to boys, who sat at angles to each other and never directly met the others' gaze in conversation. This study had very

similar results when performed on a group of older children, and even adults. In the same study Tannen found that boys' play was very hierarchal in action, playing games where only one is declared the "winner". While girls play was more earnest, allowing the rules to be broken for the better of the group.

Mass media also plays a large role in how the different genders' communicate. One example is to break down a very simple, and widely known Mother Goose nursery rhyme. 'Snakes and snails and puppy dog tails, that's what little boys are made of! Sugar and spice and everything nice, that's what little girls are made of!' This makes an obvious distinction between the sexes, that girls should be polite and quiet, while boys should be more outgoing and gregarious. Another example is television, which is commonly watched throughout this country and many others. Commercials are designed specifically towards either men or women. Women's bodies are used to sell products even if the product has nothing to do with sex. Also, television shows often show males in a more predominant role, and men far outnumber women in television shows. On average in a weekly television drama, men outnumber the women by 3 or 4 to 1. 70-85% of those on children's TV are male, and in children's cartoons, males outnumber females by 10 to 1. Even in a soap opera, which is primarily marketed to women, men outnumber woman 7 to 3.(Chandler,Daniel)Why is this all even possible when in this country and most others, women outnumber men?

Culturally, women are in general treated as objects, or 'less than' by their male counterparts which can lead to the gap in communication. Female infanticide, and genital mutilation are both widespread activities that many cultures still exercise. In the patriarchal societies of China and India, where laws punish parents for having many children, female infants are not regarded as important enough because they cannot carry on the family name; therefore, they are usually killed by their own parents. In a society where an infants' life depends largely on sex, one may safely assume that a female life is not as important as her male counterpart. In the same respect genital mutilation which is performed in some parts of Africa, the Middle East, and even in some of the U.S., is used as a tool for men to limit the sexual desire a woman has, and to save the girls virginity for her husband only. This limits a female from making her own choices, as genital mutilation is performed mostly on young female babies.

Communication between men and women in the workplace clearly shows the inequalities of women. Men often have larger salaries than women. In 2001, the median earnings of women full time were $29,215, whereas men working full time earned $38,275. (Macionis p 335) According to a recent survey, the top earners in Fortune 500 corporations include 2,162 men and only 93 women. (Macionis p 333) Males are found in jobs where power is the main focus, police work, politics, and sales. While women often take the nurturing roles of teaching, secretarial, or childcare. How can men and women communicate in the same way, when gender roles are completely different? Sexism is also a



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