I may be wrong...

D. Phillips ST001068 at BROWNVM.BROWN.EDU
Tue Jul 20 19:43:13 EST 1993


Indecisiveness is, unfortunately, a distinguishing characteristic of woman's
speech (at least in the U.S.).  I took a class this past year on linguistic
anthropology.  The course itself had potential, and the best unit was on social
linguistics.  We read a book, Talking Power, by a woman named Lakoff (I forget
her first name).  It was very interesting; I highly recommend it.  As I was
reading the chapters on woman and man speech, I could recognize a lot of what
she was saying in myself.  It didn't make me very happy.

I think that if we are AWARE of how we speak, and of how it influences others,
we can modify our own actions.  At least I can choke back the "I don't know,
but, I think, well, MAYBE" before it hits the air.  Or recognize it for what it
is when it does escape.

The book was incredible in that it showed how men view women by their speech,
and vice versa.  For example, because of our wishy-washy speech, sometimes we
 ourselves are viewed as unintelligent.  And men are cold, because they are
more direct.  All of these are gross generalizations, of course, but you've
gotta admit they apply.  It all goes with "in business, neither a bitch nor a
bimbo be".  If you act too "manlike", you're pushy, bossy: a "bitch".  But if
you're more feminine, you're flaky, inconsequential: a "bimbo".

Of course, this isn't a business mailing list (or I wouldn't be reading it!).
I think in science intelligence is viewed as something important for both
sexes, and doesn't reflect negatively on women.

But in casual conversation these rules apply.  I wish I had the book with me; I
could give a better explanation.  I think these views are ingrained in our
    society.  Women aren't as intelligent, they aren't as aggressive, blah blah
blah.  Just look at beer commercials, or even in elementary school classrooms.
At least now parents are seeking equality for their children.  I remember my
teachers only choosing boys, even if girls' hands were raised.  I was pretty
stubborn, though, and my curiousity was never damaged.

So now what?  I don't know.  It's all tied in with our male-dominated society.
On a personal level, we can try to be more assertive, and remember that it
doesn't HAVE to be a given that we don't have solid opinions.

            never underestimate the power tools of a woman.


                                                Deborah Phillips
                                            st001068 at brownvm.brown.edu



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