The Duke vs. the Secretary*

Have you noticed that men and women, in general, speak and write differently? I mean, duh, there must be whole blogs/books devoted to this topic, but I’ve just started thinking about it and would rather noodle over it with you peeps (I am allowed to use this expression, no worries) than be directed to some dry essay by J. Whosis, III, Ph.D.

A long time ago I read that businesswomen needed to watch their communications to eliminate weak writing, such as “I think…” and “Maybe we should consider…” because men generally make stronger statements, such as “Let’s go with this, Bob.” In my case, as a secretary, this sort of advice is not aimed at me, and I act deferential at work, though I do find it interesting that during the time I spent trolling Usenet and being “flamey” on blogs, I was perceived as supertough. This had to be due to the way I wrote because what else was there?

But right now I’m not talking business, or trolling, just regular, social interactions. You know, Real Life. (I’ve heard it’s out there. Shh.) I have a theory…

Maybe, sometimes, men and women experience the same feelings but express them differently, so they seem different, but aren’t. Forex, say a man has an emergency at the office and can’t make it to his son’s baseball game. This makes the dad really mad and sad and frustrated, especially if he had promised, right? So, he calls  his wife and says, “I can’t make it. This blows.” He sounds angry. Women often recoil from angry men and don’t want to deal with them.

If the same thing happened to a mom, she’ll feel mad and sad and frustrated. And she might call her husband and say, “It looks like I’m stuck here for hours. My boss is being such an ass about it. I don’t know what to do, but I can’t just leave. This is making me so depressed. I know I promised Tyler I’d be there. I’m really upset.” She sounds tearful and … whiny. Men often recoil from whiny women and don’t want to deal with them.

I’m not proposing any solution; it’s more an observation. Men write/speak as if things are facts, even when those things are feelings. Women tend to go on about things “happening” to them and “making” them feel a certain way (i.e., they are powerless over events).

But perhaps I’m overgeneralizing. Please comment whether you agree, disagree, or would rather discuss something else entirely.

____________

*Title purely hypothetical just to get attention. There are no dukes obviously. 🙂

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73 responses to “The Duke vs. the Secretary*

  1. I think you’re right, but whether women really feel things happen to them, or they simply assume that pose, is another matter. Men may also feel things happen to them, but can’t portray themselves as helpless victims of circumstance being carried along by the tide. Quite possibly both are victims of their own stereotyping. Maybe if they weren’t, they be able to make it possible to get to Tyler’s game.

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  2. My observation is that men recoil from angry women as well, but it could be a cultural thing. I don’t recoil from angry people because I’ve been one myself so I just wait ’em out.

    I have read so much literature about corporate life and men vs. women that I now know that personality trumps gender, and culture modifies, too. Both men and women can imagine themselves to be victims but, as Alan points out, express it differently. The one gender difference I have observed that seems fairly universal is that men will get long-winded when they are sharing their expertise and thoughts while women are long-winded when sharing their experience and feelings.

    Ultimately, your own personality, maturity and experience have more to say about how you see yourself and how you communicate than gender does. We are individuals, after all.

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  3. Why on earth would anyone assume the pose of helplessness unless they felt it, Alan? It’s unattractive and it makes you MORE vulnerable.

    I suppose there are in the world some creepy devious people who are no longer teens and who do it to draw in the rare man who hovers moth-to-flame around the type. Still, I think you’re right about our playing into stereotyping and perpetuating the stupid workplace culture that depends on it.

    Paula, yeah. But people do not like it when you try to switch it up.

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  4. On a number of occasions (but far from always) I have been able to tell the sex of the author of e.g. a blog post or comment merely by the way it is written. This is usually more of a feeling than a concious conclusion, but even some superficial signs can be quite noticeable (e.g. the number of “lol”s and exclamation marks).

    “Women often recoil from angry men and don’t want to deal with them.” / “Men often recoil from whiny women and don’t want to deal with them.”

    The first statement definitely applies in reverse too: An angry woman can be absolutely horrifying. Based on hearsay, I suspect that the same applies to the second statement: Women are less than keen on whiny men (at least above a very young age).

    “Men write/speak as if things are facts, even when those things are feelings. Women tend to go on about things “happening” to them and “making” them feel a certain way (i.e., they are powerless over events).”

    I think it would be correcter to say that men are less emotional and more focused on the facts at hand and vice versa. A man will then naturally speak of the facts more than the feelings, because the former make up a greater part of his experience of the situation, the size of the problem, whatnot. Women are the other way around.

    (With reservation for individual variation.)

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  5. I’m having a hard time thinking of examples. Maybe because I worked with a bunch of “guys” who were not high powered executives or lawyers. Most of us were pretty easy to get along with, and it was not part of our “culture,” if you will, to act stereotypically aggressive. It’s possible, Paula, that your particular experience has put you around more “high powered” men who act like you say.

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    • People tend not to notice the characteristics and peculiarities they share with others — we notice the different ones. Women are often very sensitive to behavior in men that *feels* aggressive to us, which may be behavior you see as mellow, Roy. But we’re usually TRAINED to look for every hint of unhappiness, discomfort, discontent men might show, to anticipate it, avoid it, avert it, whatever.

      Of course, eventually we stop doing anything about what we perceive, and that may be as much to your relief as to ours.

      The man here I experience as most aggressive is Dick. He never exhibits anger, though. So I don’t think it’s just about anger.

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      • Gender differences. Can’t live with’em, can’t live without’em.

        The definition of “aggressive” seems to be linked to typically masculine type behavior, it sounds like, but maybe it should be thought of as genderless–someone may be more aggressive, man or woman, and pursue their own interests in the style of their own gender.

        I think Paula nailed it, pretty much. Keera, I believe, made a good case for personalities developing their own strategies, which sounds right–gender may be only the starting place for behavior, where some people get farther along than others.

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      • I haven’t even been here to be aggressive, Chris.

        On aggression, I’m a guy and despite being more laid back than most, am a Type A in real life. I prefer to think of it as not brooking fools easily.

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  6. Forgot to say that many people experience me as very aggressive, too.

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  7. Are not women supposed to be better at language? Cuz they’ve been stuck for millennia with knuckle dragging males, it’s not surprising. Perhaps a more indirect form of communication evolved to deal with potential violence as they looked after the young ones. Just a thought.

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  8. Dr Zen! Alan Rickman, eh? With gekko’s universal voice capabilities one could conjure this entity out of air and darkness.

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    • Mr Rickman’s voice is not unpleasant, but mz gekko’s is far, far more pleasant, I must say.

      I’ve noticed women in my particular professional niche assuming a more direct, male-like language but I never really thought of it as gender-crossing because I am one of those men who prefers a softer and more collaborative approach anyway. Directness of action often looks to me like dick-sizing because it forms a part of the relentless competition that men always seem to think they are in. I’ve done myself no favors by not thinking like most of my peers but I don’t regret it. Or to be indirect about it: Fuck ’em.

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      • Don wrote:
        “Directness of action often looks to me like dick-sizing because it forms a part of the relentless competition that always seem to think they are in.”
        You know, when one is out and about and mixing with males, there is that undercurrent of, Can that guy flatten me with one punch?

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      • @Don
        Competition that MEN always think… Dammit, my *EYES*!

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  9. Over at Lizard Dreams, there’s an interesting example of the difficulty of different styles of expression, though it’s between two women, me and the Lizard. Which will surprise no one as we often have these dust-ups.

    I don’t know what it means or whether it’s relevant but oh well. It seemed related.

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  10. Or both of us in jello, fighting in a pool of bikinis, innit.

    It’s when someone makes a statement that is designed to have a chilling effect, but backs away from it, possibly unaware that deep down their desire to express the opinion was exactly to have that chilling effect. I find it fascinating. I find motives fascinating.

    Dust-up? Sure, why not. Dibs on the green jello!

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  11. I very rarely agree with anything Christine says but I have to say:
    1/ She was completely right. It’s deeply uncomfortable to sit in groups of white people talking about “niggers”. It’s something you become particularly aware of when you move from a society in which people are more aware and respectful of others to one in which they are much less so.
    2/ Expressing that is not attempting to create a “chilling effect”. It’s pretty much par for the course for Nancy to claim that people are trying to shut her up just because they disagree with her, particularly when she knows her view is for shit in the first place.

    I mean, for my money, it just sounded pompous and a bit dumb. Not as ridiculous as Asbestos Dust (he’s still doing the proud redneck twat shtick?) but definitely the sort of thing that gets the liberal eyebrows to rise: not because we think you’re a daring rebel, but because you’re being a bit shit.

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  12. Ah, Zen. You have always been the most pompous and presumptuous of asses. Your half point is valid. I acknowledged it over on my blog. The test of your farthas made me lol. Thx for being inexorably you, Dobbin.

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  13. LOL. How delicious! An IKYABWAI! Some things don’t change.

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  14. And in the red corner, Dr Zen comes out swinging…gekko’s right hook has him staggering …holy cow, there he is winding up a hay maker!

    DING

    A draw!

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  15. I don’t think so. The “IKYABWAI” charge is a surrender unacknowledged, and used frequently by Zen when he needs an excuse for “honorable” withdrawal. Strewth, I don’t know who else so consistently draws the discourse down to a playground mentality.

    But I said my piece over “there”, so enough.

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  16. Zen: Nancy, you’re pompous.
    Nancy: Zen, you’re the mostest pompous.

    I mean, fucksake. And here’s Don, the loyal puppy, after his pat on the head. Good boy, Don!

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  17. Yes, Dobbin, your PKB was a whole extra point higher, so you win. Yay you! Here’s a tasty carrot.

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  18. BTW, P, does serve as data points outside the generality? Clearly you allow for anomalies, what with Zen being so whiny girlish and me being so macho and dykey?

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  19. You off your feed, Nance? Even by your standards, you’ve been fairly lame here. I addressed your issue and your response was to IKYABWAI me. I don’t really expect you to deal with the substance but you could at least take a shot at it.

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  20. You “addressed” my what?

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  21. Your white privilege, sweetie.

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  22. Let me reread what you wrote ….

    hmmm, you claim that you, too, are uncomfortable discussing whether or not white folk saying “nigger” is a bad thing unless there’s a black person around to help you make up your mind for you … nope, that’s not my issue. That would be Christine’s.

    And in #2, you express your opinion that Christine’s passive-aggressive thingie over on my blog was not what I claim it be, but of course you offer nothing to back up your opinion aside from some waspish insult.

    And then you PKB me — albeit inaccurately, but whatever.

    So where were you addressing my issue again?

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  23. Not my issue, pooty-buns. Yours, perhaps?

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  24. Ooooh, we are being treated! First the IKYABWAI, now the strawman.

    I think you’re actually well aware that Christine is suggesting rather that you wouldn’t be such a disgusting fucking racist if you actually knew any black people (servants don’t count). You are also perfectly aware that she was trying gently to suggest that you’re an embarrassing throwback who causes discomfort to those with more sensitivity, rather than trying to silence you.

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  25. No, she was misreading, as she sometimes does, and misunderstanding the intent and tenor of the thread, as she sometimes does, and expressing her discomfort with what she thought was going on, thus gently scolding us for doing naughty things.

    And for the rest of your pathetic nipple gumming there: whatever makes you happiest, David.

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  26. Trans: Yes, she nailed me and I’m going to pedal this thing back as far as I think I can get away with.

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  27. Dude, get some new material, there. It’s sad when you dig into the toy box and pull out the first broken thing you happen upon.

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  28. I accept your surrender.

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  29. Next you’ll whap me with a stuffed parrot. Do the spam one, next, please oh please?

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  30. No, wait. The lumberjack one. I loved that best.

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  31. ‘you claim that you, too, are uncomfortable discussing whether or not white folk saying “nigger” is a bad thing unless there’s a black person around to help you make up your mind for you … nope, that’s not my issue. That would be Christine’s.’

    No, that would not be my point or my issue. But misreading is not mine alone here.

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  32. Nah.

    You expressed disapproval of talking about “them”. You say, over ther, you want their perspective and correction. You showed me I had it exactly right, regarding what you wroye and why.

    But my post and the conversation it engendered is not at all about blacks. Go read it again. It isn’t about that Them. It’s about a word and how that word affects white people.

    http://lizarddreams.scribblinlizard.com/2011/06/n-is-for-nasty/

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  33. I think Christine’s point in a nutshell is that you don’t think your post is at all about blacks but who do you think you’re calling a nigger?

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    • I went and read that post, because it was linked here and because it’s hijacked Paula’s own post. What a right little nest of vipers they have going. And utterly tone-deaf. I was stunned but not surprised to find one old lag bemoaning the fact that black people are so prone to offense when racial slurs are used against them. Gosh, I wonder why?

      It comes down to one thing: some people will go down kicking and screaming like Jimmy Cagney in Angels with Dirty Faces before they’ll give up the right to go back to calling black people niggers. And any old argument, or the total lack of one, will do.

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    • No one, Z. That’d be you.

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  34. Don’t much like Justice Clarence T. but that’s because of his politics not his race. It’s been awhile since one has seen a fair dinkum flame war though. Fun to watch.

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  35. Imperious Alan Hope wrote with much drama and a straight face:
    “nest of vipers,”… “tone-deaf”,…’one old lag”…

    It’s been awhile since the mandarin tone has been used so effectively.

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    • No, neither the mandarin nor the anti-Zen are much for grasping the subtleties. I don’t entirely agree with Dick or AD on this, but neither of them are crying for “the right to go back to calling black people niggers.” There’s a big whoosh overhead of anyone thinks that. If Alan is referring to AD’s statement, then yes, big whoosh indeed.

      FTR, It’s a non word to me, used rarely and only for illustrative purposes. Zen’s easy use of it to make ugly points makes my skin crawl.

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  36. And It’s Been Awhile since anyone’s been on topic, which was something about a duke and a secretary…

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    • Yessir, it has. How, one wonders, does Zen find
      it within himself to lie so readily, to slip and slide so easily away from the fun and into the disgusting? Is he the Duke,.our the Secretary?

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    • Hope, who whinged some crap about me not commenting on his FB wall just before he blocked PJ and me, apparently lacks the balks to comment where this is on topic.

      Imagine.

      I already knew Zen had none thus his shamed hiding behind falsehood, bluster and stale Usenet flame warrior routines.

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  37. Nancy is apparently prepared to talk about anything other than the content of her blog post, including Facebook and erm Usenet. I would be too, in her shoes. Anything to distract attention from a very lamentable piece of racist humour. At least I assume it was humour. It’s hard to tell with the far right. Try telling a joke about Jesus and see how far their humour, and indeed their tolerance and their capacity for offense, reach.

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  38. Let me once again distract attention from my post wherein I mention the impact the use of the “N” word had on me, then open the floor for discussion on the use of the “N” word and its impact on other hearers and readers by repeating the URL along with an invitation to discuss (only because I am envious that Paula got so many more comments regarding the “N” word over here than I did over there and I’m trying to catch up):

    http://lizarddreams.scribblinlizard.com/2011/06/n-is-for-nasty/

    That number again is http://lizarddreams.scribblinlizard.com/2011/06/n-is-for-nasty/

    I now return you to the Zen and Hope course on Practical Applications of Yellow Journalism in the 21st Century

    Rob, is it seemly to compare Mr. Hope to a crumbly confection?

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    • Indeed it is, gek. Alan remains the interesting and dutiful courtier regardless of tone. Glad to see the irony spectacles are in place!

      And with the flu and no sleep, one will do the hell’s porter thing tomorrow.

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  39. You got fewer comments because nobody sees the point of discussing anything with you, or your little nest of vipers. At least on Paula’s blog you can assume intelligent people are reading.

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  40. Alan, you can always provide a contrary voice. See, unlike you or the un-Zen-like Zen, I don’t fear words that I dislike.

    Christine has larger balls than you.

    ‘S’okay. You got whooshed here. I made my real point.

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  41. @gekko, You could dissect me down to a sub-atomic level and still not find a particle of concern in me that gives a fuck about your opinion. You also mistake yourself if you think I’m interested in debating any of the Neanderthals you’re content to call your friends. Been there, scorched every one of you till you looked like a cartoon Tom.

    I’ve no doubt Christine has larger balls than I do, and I look up to her in my own way, regardless of the Kiss of Death that your recommendation represents. She also has more of every quality that makes a civilised and humane person than either you or I do. Which is why I will continue to pay attention to what she has to say, while booting every thought of you to the gutter, thus.

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  42. No trick, buttercup. You failed to get it.

    Like

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