Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"Womanspeak"

I recently read this article and it made me laugh. Hope you enjoy :)

Womanspeak

A Sergeant can give a Private orders, all day, every day. A boss can give an employee an order, if it deals with work, and nobody gives it a second thought. A small child cannot give a parent orders, or at least that was true when I was growing up. The nature of an order is the implied message, "If you do not obey, I can make you wish you had." It is that implied threat which makes all orders inherently hostile, and which accounts for the resentment that builds up in people who are ordered around a lot. In songs ("Take This Job And Shove It"), in specialty verbs ("to frag"), and in dozens of other ways, experience shows that there is a cost involved in giving orders, even if it is only having to pay the employee his wages. At some level, everyone knows this, so it is not surprising that in good marriages, the language of command is rarely heard.

But the urge to command is deeply embedded in human nature. In men it finds expression, or it doesn't; that is not our subject. Briefly put, our subject is this: How does a woman get her way, if the language of command is too costly to use?

The honest (as men see it) alternative to a command is a request, but that too comes at a price: if you are forever making requests, you come across as needy, a user. And, of course, the other person may try to balance the scales by making requests of his own, which defeats the goal of getting your way. What to do? The answer, all too often, is Womanspeak. Not a command, and not a request, Womanspeak says "B" but expects - even demands - to be understood as meaning "A".

Sometimes it looks like a question, as in the title of a recent book on mother-daughter communication: "You're Wearing That?". Depending on inflection, that phrase may be a comment, a suggestion, or a command. It is not, however, a question. Used on children, Womanspeak almost always disguises itself as a question, but every child learns early on not to answer it. "Don't you think you need a sweater?" is not asking for a child's opinion; it is giving the child an order. Sometimes it looks like mere information, such as, "I'm cold." The hidden subtext, though, is a command: Turn up the heat.

However it is disguised, men see Womanspeak as dishonest--a ploy to give an order without paying the price--or, what is worse, a form of manipulation. Men really resent manipulation, but we learn early on not to say so. Women don't believe they are being manipulative, and get testy when told otherwise. After all, when they use Womanspeak, they think they are being diplomatic. And anyway, it is how their mothers talked to them, wasn't it? Yes, and it is how mothers talked to their sons, too, and we didn't like it then, either.

Probably Womanspeak dates back to the days when, as Blackstone said in his Commentaries on the Common Law, the husband and wife were legally one person, and that person was the husband. Back then, it served a useful purpose: it gave a voice to people who had none other. But those days are past. The largest impact Womanspeak has today is that it encourages men to think what they dare not say, and no relationship benefits from that, in the long run. At least that's what I think.

Robert
- yeah... he wrote it and this is the link -

I totally do this! Me thinks this in not only "woman" speak but men can do it, too. My experience tells me that this occurs most often within families. We want something but don't come out and say it... parents to our children, children to our parents, spouse to spouse, etc.

I think we need to start a crusade to end womanspeak.

Let's say what we mean and mean what we say!