A Decade and a Different Perspective
Over a decade has passed since Deborah Tannen’s socio-linguistic book, You Just Don’t Understand was published. Since the date of publication many advances in technology have changed the landscape of communication making the emphasis on face-to-face interaction between the sexes more complex. Tannen stresses the power that males wield over females in the context of conversations in terms of style, substance, and purpose. Realizing that new media communications, such as e-mail, texting, and instant messaging, all combine to influence face-to-face interactions and power structures is important as it tests the validity of Tannen’s claims.
An example might be that a man and woman will exchange various forms of communique, in addition to conversation that allows for a higher comfort level for women and, in turn more perceived power. Tannen asserts that men are more at ease with public speaking than women, and this may be an invalid statement due to the fact that other technology, such as teleconferencing, allows for communication that is not conducive to interruptions or other forms of male domination via conversation.
It also may be that women are more comfortable with public speaking due to the availability of powerpoint and other technological presentation aids available and that men are afforded the same technologies to implement in their public presentations, further equaling the communication field. It would seem then that Tannen specifically speaks to an educated and/or professional audience, due to the fact that she infers that public speaking and power plays through public debate are commonplace.
It is probably unlikely that most middle or working class women would have reason for public speaking or debating in the sense that Tannen implies. Most verbal exchanges that occur between uneducated and/or nonprofessional women and their male counterparts would not involve what would be considered debate or public speaking. This type of verbal engagement is usually reserved for women in careers, colleges, or in positions of power already that place them in a scenario to debate or speak in front of a group for a power purpose.
Though it may be a question of semantics as to the words Tannen chooses, it is my assertion that she aims to speak to a more educated and professional audience. Even the examples of a husband and wife exchange that could be used as a universal example of all married dyads seem aimed at a higher status audience, “So, to Josh, checking with his wife about a convenient date for a dinner party resembles seeking permission” (27). It is unlikely that middle and working class couples would converse about dinner parties, as well.
Though one would think that Tannen would speak to the then emergent power of technology in professionals and their communications, since she seems to aim toward this group, but she does not put any emphasis on the role of technology in relationships and conversations. Tannen, also, uses biased information that is obviously slanted due to the fact that her claims cannot be verified. She says that “the desire to affirm that women are equal has made some scholars reluctant to show that they are different” (17).
This information cannot be quantified or qualified and seem to stem from her own negative experiences. Similarly, she believes that “there seems to be a male obsession with ‘freedom’ or independence“ (42). Using the word obsession is a highly psychological term and one would have to evaluate every male in the population to gather whether each had a so-called obsession with their freedom. This is a ridiculous idea and it is also dismissive of the fact that women also value freedom and independence. Works Cited Deborah Tannen, You Just Don’t Understand, Ballantine Books: New York, NY, 1990.Sample Essay of BuyEssay.org