Nel's New Day

December 30, 2015

Sexist View of How Women Speak

Filed under: Women's issues — trp2011 @ 9:43 PM
Tags: , , ,

From Emma Gray’s “28 Pieces from 2015 That Should Be Required Reading for Women,” I picked my favorite by Jennifer Lawrence. (Thanks to Alexandra Petri and the Washington Post.)

Jennifer Lawrence wrote:

“A few weeks ago at work, I spoke my mind and gave my opinion in a clear and no-[BS] way; no aggression, just blunt. The man I was working with (actually, he was working for me) said, ‘Whoa! We’re all on the same team here!’ As if I was yelling at him. I was so shocked because nothing that I said was personal, offensive, or, to be honest, wrong. All I hear and see all day are men speaking their opinions, and I give mine in the same exact manner, and you would have thought I had said something offensive.”

“’Woman in a Meeting’ is a language of its own. It should not be, but it is. You will think that you have stated the case simply and effectively, and everyone else will wonder why you were so Terrifyingly Angry. Instead, you have to translate. You start with your thought, then you figure out how to say it as though you were offering a groveling apology for an unspecified error. (In fact, as Sloane Crosley pointed out in an essay earlier this year, the time you are most likely to say “I’m sorry” is the time when you feel that you, personally, have just been grievously wronged. Not vice versa.)

“To illustrate this difficulty, I have taken the liberty of translating some famous sentences into the phrases a woman would have to use to say them during a meeting not to be perceived as angry, threatening or (gasp!) bitchy.”

“Give me liberty, or give me death.”

Woman in a Meeting: “Dave, if I could, I could just — I just really feel like if we had liberty it would be terrific, and the alternative would just be awful, you know? That’s just how it strikes me. I don’t know.”

“I have a dream today!”

Woman in a Meeting: “I’m sorry, I just had this idea — it’s probably crazy, but — look, just as long as we’re throwing things out here — I had sort of an idea or vision about maybe the future?”

“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

Woman in a Meeting: “I’m sorry, Mikhail, if I could? Didn’t mean to cut you off there. Can we agree that this wall maybe isn’t quite doing what it should be doing? Just looking at everything everyone’s been saying, it seems like we could consider removing it. Possibly. I don’t know, what does the room feel?”

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Woman in a Meeting: “I have to say — I’m sorry — I have to say this. I don’t think we should be as scared of non-fear things as maybe we are? If that makes sense? Sorry, I feel like I’m rambling.”

“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”

Woman in a Meeting: “I’m not an expert, Dave, but I feel like maybe you could accomplish more by maybe shifting your focus from asking things from the government and instead looking at things that we can all do ourselves? Just a thought. Just a thought. Take it for what it’s worth.”

“Let my people go.”

Woman in a Meeting: “Pharaoh, listen, I totally hear where you’re coming from on this. I totally do. And I don’t want to butt in if you’ve come to a decision here, but, just, I have to say, would you consider that an argument for maybe releasing these people could conceivably have merit? Or is that already off the table?”

“I came. I saw. I conquered.”

Woman in a Meeting: “I don’t want to toot my own horn here at all but I definitely have been to those places and was just honored to be a part of it as our team did such a wonderful job of conquering them.”

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

Woman in a Meeting: “I’m sorry, it really feels to me like we’re all equal, you know? I just feel really strongly on this.”

“I have not yet begun to fight.”

Woman in a Meeting: “Dave, I’m not going to fight you on this.”

“I will be heard.”

Woman in a Meeting: “Sorry to interrupt. No, go on, Dave. Finish what you had to say.”

The above translations might be useful for female candidates in the upcoming year to keep them being “feisty,” a term describing Hillary Clinton and “normally reserved for individuals and animals that are not inherently potent or powerful; ‘one can call a Pekinese dog spunky or feisty, but one would not, I think, call a Great Dane spunky or feisty.’” Eight years ago, Clinton was also described as being shrill and nagging.

In the Daily Kos, Molly Weasley pointed out other descriptions of women’s language.

CNN.com described Hillary Clinton’s criticism of GOP candidates as “harsh,” but adjectives for male candidates included “spirited,” “fiery,” “tough-talking,” etc.

Politico called Clinton “testy” when she gave the same answer to several similar questions about her using a private mail server. On the other hand, Jeb Bush was “firm” in his “testy” responses to reporters.

In the August 6 debate, other candidates were addressed as “Senator” and “Governor,” but the Fox News debate moderators addressed Fiorina as “Carly.” Earlier she had described how her AT&T boss introduced her to her new team as the “token bimbo,” a term that stayed with her at HP, although male CEOs’ descriptors were not disrespectful.

Pat Buchanan said about Clinton, “When she raises her voice … It reaches a point where every husband in America has heard it one time or another.”

In “Speaking While Female,” Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant write about how women tend to be interrupted when exchanging ideas with men.

“When a woman speaks in a professional setting, she walks a tightrope. Either she’s barely heard or she’s judged as too aggressive. When a man says virtually the same thing, heads nod in appreciation for his fine idea. As a result, women often decide that saying less is more.”

Male executives are rewarded with ten percent higher ratings of competence when speaking up more often; females are punished with 14 percent lower ratings by speaking more than their peers. In another study, male employees who contribute ideas bringing in new revenue get higher performance evaluations and are considered more helpful by their managers. The same behavior from women results in no change of perception by their employers. Women challenging the system are also considered less loyal.

Language is just one sexist issue creating a negative opinion of women candidates and politicians. There’s also descriptions of her body, her clothing, etc., etc.

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1 Comment »

  1. Ain’t it the truth!

    Or…there might be some truth in it, but I’m just thinking aloud here…maybe someone else has an idea?

    Like

    Comment by jstjohn1 — December 30, 2015 @ 9:51 PM | Reply


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