Thursday, April 21, 2016


My Masters Thesis was based on the notion that Men are from Mars Women from Venus, which was all the rage back in the day.  The theory was that because communication styles and therefore the techniques and mannerisms used in speech are a reflection of gender norms and rules and in turn those same rules are reinforced in school; in turn that affects how a male student versus a female student is perceived in both written and oral arguments which in turn affects perception and in turn affects grades.  And this is why I suspect the move to computerized testing as this is another male dominated field seeking parity aka 'retribution.'  (and yes this is what I think much of ed reform is - payback)

As we have come to know that women are largely the teaching force and they teach predominately Englishand despite grammar having rules written by men (Strunk and White anyone) the reality is that Shoots and Leaves is a way superior way of addressing the same rules. And in the course of my research I found that female teachers do in some ways read and assess male writing differently.  No bias there right?  But it is the matter of style that dominates and as we have eliminated grammar teaching which is more logistic in approach and would benefit well everyone, we have this belief that by writing and reading you will learn to write and write well as a result (there is a grammar rule right there, well vs good).  And yet once again the field of writing and most of the books in school are well - written by men. There are a few books that are of female authorships but in reality most novels are male authors.  So read Hemingway and read Faulkner, you will read two very different styles and approaches to writing. Both break rules and yet it works.  However, does that actually teach you the skill set to write?

 But when it comes to essays they are read largely by women.  And  in turn apply the characteristics and qualities of writing as how they write.  But in a class where oral presentations are a part of the mix, the female gender would be graded significantly higher as well.  But in truth classes like Debate, Civics, Government are taught by men.  So  once again the gender determines the rules and the rules are objective vs subjective.  So you can be the judge there.. pun intended.

Of course the whole men are better at math is another debate as well and well I am a great believer that women learn math differently and that difference shows.  Funny that the issue over the Common Core favors women due the verbal emphasis but math is often a reflection of how the Teacher is trained and the materials used.  It took a man to teach me math at age 35 after years of women teachers in Catholic schools. I suspect that was the root of the problem and I enjoy math and continue to self teach by not using the Khan Academy, however, as that is well not teaching.

And this is quite true in life outside of school, little changes in how women are perceived and in turn treated or acknowledged. The entire issues surrounding everything from "gamergate" to "doxing" and Internet trolling to online harassment is largely a problem for women which is why you are seeing this movement towards more censuring and monitoring the internet as well as laws to prevent exploitation - such as revenge porn.

I am not for legislation to prevent free speech and the reality is that at one point how does one define and treat and track cyberbulling in a world wide web of anonymous individuals, despite the fact that we are not anonymous as we well know.  But the endless trolling and trashing people can become overwhelming and for professionals this is the part that crosses a line of how much is too much?

I found this story on historian, Mary Beard, quite fascinating and the same with Guardian writer, Jessica Valenti, equally so.  The story behind Ellen Cho at Reddit is well known but there are many more women who find themselves at the end of the bully stick when it comes to speaking their mind be it on the Internet or in real life.  I suspect much of it is fear, insecurity and a learned belief that whatever men say is sacrosanct. It shows in our current election cycle with a woman truly in a contender's position in a country coming to terms with its history regarding race, sex and gender.   There has been quite a few manologues there.

How to Explain Mansplaining

SYDNEY, Australia — It was on a recent trip to Indonesia that, as a male bureaucrat sounded forth on a vast span of subjects without being asked to do so, I realized that the English language was in need of a new addition: the manologue. This otherwise perfectly charming man droned on and on, issuing a steady stream of words as I sat cramped in a tiny room with a group of fellow journalists and squinted at the labels on the soda cans hospitably placed on a table in front of us.

Finally, I deciphered the words “HERBAL — TO RELEASE TRAPPED WIND.” After several minutes during which I silently prayed none of my colleagues would reach for a drink, the official at last uttered the words, “Now, to answer your question.”

So why did we get so many words between the question asked and the answer given? Why were they spoken at all? And how can you stem such extraneous, long-winded trains of thought? How can you politely say to a prolix associate, as a TV host might: “We’re almost out of time; can you keep this short?”
Above all, why do so many men do this?

It was not the first time one of us had asked a question about a minor issue during our study tour of the bustling, gridlocked capital Jakarta and been treated to a largely unrelated exposition on an entirely different idea. Our schedule was jammed with politicians, diplomats, ministers and editors from Indonesia and Australia, important men who were used to occupying space, time and attention, and would talk at numbing length. The perfect conditions, in other words, for an epidemic of manologues.

The manologue takes many forms, but is characterized by the proffering of words not asked for, of views not solicited and of arguments unsought. It is underwritten by the doubtful assumption that the audience will naturally be interested, and that this interest will not flag. And that when it comes to speeches or commentary, longer is better.

The prevalence of the manologue is deeply rooted in the fact that men take, and are allocated, more time to talk in almost every professional setting. Women self-censor, edit, apologize for speaking. Men expound.
Of course, some women can be equally long-winded, but it is far less common. The fact that this tendency is masculine has been well established in social science. The larger the group, the more likely men are to speak (unless it is in a social setting like a lunch break). One study, conducted by researchers at Brigham Young University and Princeton, found that when women are outnumbered, they speak for between a quarter and a third less time than the men.

Men also talk more directly; women hedge. They use more phrases like “kind of,” “probably” or “maybe,” as well as more fillers like “um,” “ah” and “I mean.” They also turn sentences into questions, seeking affirmation: “Isn’t it?” Women are interrupted more, by both men and women.

It is also clear that the more powerful men become, the more they speak. This would seem a natural correlation, but the same is not true for women. The reason for this, according to a Yale study, is because women worry about “negative consequences” — that is, a backlash — if they are more voluble. Troublingly, the study found that their fears were well founded, as both male and female listeners were quick to think these women were talking too much, too aggressively. In other words, men are rewarded for speaking, while women are punished.

The problem is global and endemic across all media. Female characters speak less in Disney films today than they used to — even princesses get a minority of the speaking lines in films in which they’re the principal: In the 2013 animated movie “Frozen,” for example, male characters get 59 percent of the lines. A quick search for best monologues in film or movies reveals that they are almost all male. If you took Princess Leia out of “Star Wars,” the total speaking time for female characters is 63 seconds out of the original trilogy’s 386 minutes.

One New Zealand study found that in formal contexts calling for expository speech, like seminars, TV discussions and classroom debates, men talk more often and for longer. Women use words to explore, men to explain.

So here is the conundrum: Including women is not the same as hearing women. As the Princeton and Brigham Young study noted, “having a seat at the table is very different than having a voice.” Women at the table will attest to finding themselves talked over, cut off, interrupted or forced to politely listen to reams of lengthy speeches.

The conditions required for women to speak more are, not surprisingly, that more women are present, and that women are leading. According to a Harvard study, female students spoke more when a female instructor was in the classroom.

One leading Australian current affairs television show, “Q&A,” came up with an obvious yet smart response. After a review found that the program featured a greater number of male panelists, who were asked more questions and spoke longer, the producers promised to publish data documenting not just the show’s gender balance, but accounting for how much time guests spoke.

“We won’t get the voice share perfect straight away,” wrote the show’s producer, Amanda Collinge, “but we are actively trying to improve, and being open about it.”

But if you’re a man who wants to counter your manologue tendency, try this: When you hear yourself saying, “Now, to answer your question,” ask yourself whether there was a good reason you didn’t start at exactly that point. Otherwise, these manologues may never, ever end.

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