[This post is part of a series, inspired by the book Why Men Lie and Women Cry (2003) by Allan & Barbara Pease. Previous entry: Chapter Six]
1. Why Do Women Talk So Much?
Again, the book claims this is a hangover from the old-timey days: “Women evolved in a group situation with other women and children all staying close to the cave. The ability to bond and to build close relationships was paramount to each woman’s survival. Men evolved silently sitting on a hill, searching for a moving target. When women engaged in any activity together, they would constantly chatter as a means of bonding. When males were hunting or fishing, no one talked for fear of startling the prey.” (p. 162) Consequently, “men use speech and language to communicate facts and data”, while “female ‘talk’ is used as a form of reward and to bond with another person.” (p. 163) Generally speaking, I think I’m a pretty good listener, and have always taken a woman’s desire to talk to me as a good sign… I mean, it’s better than them going “Ew!” and running away, right?
Apparently a female brain “can effortlessly output” 6000 – 8000 spoken words a day, while a male brain can only manage a puny 2000 – 4000 spoken words a day! (p.162) The suggestion being that by the time a couple come home from work, the man will have already exhausted his supply, while the woman still has plenty left to say. I can’t help thinking of Kelly from The Office (US), and the way that her co-workers desperately try to avoid getting trapped in a room with her yammering away at them. As I’ve said before, I find her incredibly endearing as a comedy character, and would totally hang out with her at the mall, but… um… actually, I probably do envy Ryan his relationship with her. The deleted scene where they’re rooting around in a dumpster for several minutes before she suddenly realises that she’s scared is one of the most adorable things ever!
Seriously though, the way this book tells it, you’d think that every woman in the world was a Kelly Kapoor, and every man was an Andy Bernard! Shudder.
The premise of this section is that men either distract themselves from a problem by watching flamy television sets, or they sit silently stewing over a problem, allowing it to corrode their body and soul like a leaky battery in an old watch. Women, on the other hand, relieve their stress by talking a problem “over and over, backwards and forwards and from every angle, without reaching any conclusions.” (p. 166) Which, I guess is where I’ve been going wrong all of these years. Dammit. Does keeping a blog count? An endless blog with no conclusion… will that add another seven years to my life? There’s always meditation and mantras, of course… right?
3. Why Do Women Exaggerate?
“Both men and women exaggerate. The difference is that men exaggerate facts and data while women exaggerate emotions and feelings” (p. 168) The book doesn’t actually answer the question it poses in the section title though… and when it referred to a woman claiming her partner “always” forgets something, or “never” remembers something else, I was reminded of the Teach Yourself Happiness book I’ve read, which stresses how important it is for everyone to curb that sort of exaggeration, because it’s basically just negative thinking. So there. I’m not exactly sure what the authors mean when they claim that women can perceive and communicate with “a range of five tones” of voice, while “men can only identify three” (p. 169), but it may explain why some women take against me as soon as I open my mouth to speak. They must be able to hear my desperation…
4. Why Do Women Never Seem to Get To The Point?
The general gist of this book’s insight into how men and women interact is that women are playing chess, while men are playing checkers. Women flit about like fairies, on wings made from “indirect speech” and multitasking, while men lumber along like ogres, with their intellectual knuckles dragging. The only solution offered is for women to learn how to talk down to a man’s level, especially in business: “Give him timetables, agendas, bottom line answers and deadlines… be direct with men… give them one thing at a time to consider.” (p. 175) And remember not to have any fancy staplers on display in the office when they visit, or they’ll just want to spend the entire meeting putting staples into paper, and giggling to themselves.
This is pretty much just an extension of the first question… women bonded closely with their cave-mates, in case their male partners didn’t come home from the hunt. “Her group of friends was like her insurance policy” (p 181), and so naturally she’d want to know as much about them as possible, partly for her own protection, and partly to cement the bond between them. Which doesn’t really explain why men were so happy to go off hunting with a bunch of random dudes they knew next-to-nothing about, and rely on them for protection from wild animals and the elements, simply because they could hold their fermented fruit and grain juices. Hmmm…
Next entry: Chapter Eight