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“Why Men and Women Argue Differently?

The article Why Men and Women Argue Differently ponders the age old question of the differences between men and women. The author, Damian Whitworth, uses peppy language such as robust and pithy, with an intelligent voice that is easy to understand without the arrogant feel you get with many authors. He begins describing a book by Deborah Cameron, The Myth of Mars and Venus, which reads of a situation in Papua New Guinea involving a rather peculiar marital spat. After a woman there apparently falls through the floor in her house, she continues to yell and bitch at her husband for the next forty-five minutes, during which this time, according to the local culture, the husband is expected to be quiet and just take it. The author states that although locally in the United States our arguments might not be quite so explosive, perhaps we too have similarities in that there are broad differences in the way the genders fight. This thought made me laugh. My friends and I had always joked about the way guys and girls fight, not just against one another, but among themselves too. Like stereotypically when guys are mad at each other they yell and fight and get over it; and stereotypically when girls are pissed at one another it just becomes a big emotional mess. Like a wonderful episode of Seinfeld when George and Jerry are explaining wedgies and how high school boys fight to Elaine, she states that boys are sick. “Well what to girls do?,? Jerry asks her. “We just tease someone until they develop an eating disorder,? she replies.


The author describes research by a Dr. Eaker, which essentially says that men like to bottle things up and not talk about their feelings, while women like to confront their partners and don’t mind discussing their emotions. So essentially women are masters with their words, while men tend to be in better control physically. A John Gray, who wrote Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, even goes as far as to call men ‘Martians’, who to avoid confrontation will hide in their cave and never come out. But Christine Northam, a counselor, adds that women are good at withdrawing from conflict too: “They change the subject or rubbish it or cry. Crying is a good one and then the poor man says: ‘Oh my God, she’s in tears,’? she says. She also reaffirms the idea that in an argument women tend to use their words and emotions towards manipulativity and men will resort towards aggression. This to me just sounds too simplistic and stereotypical. Plus she comes off sounding like women are some evil, conniving species who twist their words to get their way, and men are just big neanderthals without the intellect to argue who are only able to resort to violence. Are humans such simple creatures that we can easily be categorized and our actions can be predicted in such ways? I think we all know that one size does not fit all, and people are no different. Like I said before, we like to joke how men and women act differently, but seriously when it really comes down to it, are we really that different? Deborah Cameron, a professor Oxford University, doesn’t think so, “You can’t generalize about men and women. Cultural differences are much bigger than gender differences,? she says. I agree with what she goes on to describe, we’ve noticed little differences in the ways men and women act, and we like to use them as a prop. We think the differences are funny, I mean isn’t the whole idea of the disagreeing husband and wife and the differences between men and women pretty much the staple for almost every sitcom out there on TV? But maybe we take these generalizations too far, and shouldn’t go on to assume people in reality act this way. I’m sure not every guy out there is too stubborn to stop and ask for directions, and not every woman has a borderline obsession with shoes, and it’s the same way with arguing. Sure, some men probably don’t like to confront an issue and talk about their feeling, but I’ll bet there are plenty of women out there that are the same way. We just need to get over our silly little stereotypes bringing girls and guys farther apart that we had in junior high. We’re all adults now, and yes, I’m sure there are plenty of adults still willing to use them as a crutch in their arguments, but there’s no need for us to. We can move on and realize we’re not that different after all, and maybe that will help us with our arguments in the long run--to treat each other as equals, not as a totally separate species.

Comments

When I read the section of the article that discusses women using crying as a type of withdrawal defense, I was reminded of another episode of Seinfeld. George is panicking because he thinks his wedding is approaching too quickly so he proposed a postponement of the wedding. Susan freaks out on him, starts crying and the wedding date doesn’t get changed. Encouraged by a fellow coffee shop diner, he plans to be more assertive on the next attempt. However, just before he is about to start his argument, he starts bawling hysterically and Susan gives in immediately. In this instance, the roles are reversed, however, I don’t think this would work in a real life situation. I believe that most of the time , a man crying in an argument would show weakness and would not help his argument.

I think that men and women have different objectives and criteria in the definition of winning an argument. Men just need to get the other person to acknowledge that their side of the story has some merit. This is usually given by a “Sure, I can see that.? or even a “Whatever, I’m just tired of arguing.? On the other hand, women seem to need to convert the other person to their side of the argument. Sure a “Whatever? will temporarily fix the problem but the argument will arise again whether it is within the next day, week, or month.

Rachel,

I can definitely see where you are coming from in your argument against the claim presented here. It does seem a little stereotyped to assume that all men have problems expressing their emotions, and women just cannot hold their tears back. Sure, a lot of women are emotional. It would not be unfair to say that many of the women I know tend to be more emotional than most men I know. However, I feel that quite a few people are rational thinkers and arguers that can express their feelings openly and effectively. Perhaps people that cannot argue effectively fall into these patterns. I know a lot of women who will cry and throw a fit just to get their way, and I know quite a few men who turn into stone and hold it in when they’re frustrated. It’s a matter of maturity and sensibility.

When a person is frustrated and cannot express how they feel, they can either exaggerate their emotions or throw a fit to make a point. Think of a two-year old. Obviously, a toddler has a difficult time effectively communicating his/her point of view. To get attention and for the victim to understand him/her, they throw a tantrum and excite their emotions to such a degree that allows them to get what they want. A lot of adults argue like two-year olds, unfortunately. I can see how sociologists are apt to categorizing women and men like this, because I’m sure there are a few instances where we have all been completely irrational in an argument. Whether we fall into these exact patterns or not is the real debate.

I was just thinking to myself of how to argue like a stereotypical woman. It would go like this:

“Rachel, your paper kinda sucks. OMG, you can’t write! Plus, you’re WAAAY stupid! LOL! I can write WAAAY better than you! Plus, my research paper is more intelligent than yours. Like, get a life!?

Wow, just like high school all over again.

Rachel,

I enjoyed your summary of the article. You do a good job reflecting the feelings of the different author’s points. I find it strange, though, that you believe that men and women are not stereotypically different; especially at this age. Right now I don’t think men and women could be any more different than they are in college. Sure, we just got out of ‘drama city’ (aka high school), but all of those experiences still have a great impact on us today.

After we have more experiences in the ‘real world’, I’m sure we will find that we all really aren’t that different. But at this tender age of 19, we only have a few situations that we can base our judgments off of. A little more than just a decade ago, we all thought everybody else had the ‘cooties’, and wouldn’t even talk to them. And only a couple years ago (if that even), we might have had our first real ‘relationship’.

I thought it was perfect how you stated, “I’m sure not every guy out there is too stubborn to stop and ask for directions, and not every woman has a borderline obsession with shoes, and it’s the same way with arguing?, because that is exactly how my girlfriend and I are. It is a fact that I will not ask for directions (I always know where I am…), and she has seriously more than 50 pairs of shoes. This could just be coincidence though, because I’m an Eagle Scout (who should always know where he is), and she worked at a shoe store (she gets huge discounts), but these are the experiences that we have to base off of. Luckily for me, my girlfriend and I don’t argue that often, but we really enjoy watching other people argue. We will go people watch at busy places, and there are always good arguments going on. I believe that men and women argue very differently, from their own past experiences, how they were raised, and what they are arguing about.