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Sexes must learn to +speak each others+ languages,+ lecturer sayss

Sept. 25, 1996

Sexes must learn to 'speak each others' languages,' lecturer says

By LaShondra Holmes

Lariat Reporter

Men and women do communicate differently, said a lecturer Tuesday.

In the first of a monthly series presented by the newly formed gender studies department, Dr. Cynthia SoRelle, coordinator of the liberal arts division at McLennan Community College, spoke on the differences in communication skills between men and women in the lecture 'He Said, She Said.'

'Men talk more and women say more,' SoRelle said.

Studies performed on gender-related variables in oral communication dispel myths society has about men and women.

Contrary to popular belief, studies have revealed that the average woman does not talk more than the average man. According to research, men talk more and assert themselves in social gatherings. Additional research found men use speech to initiate activity and to direct others more than women do.

In one study, SoRelle said a researcher by the name of Spender tape-recorded conversations between men and women.

When Spender questioned the participants about whether they received their 'fair share' of talk time, men often said no and women often said yes. However, the tape analysis revealed that men dominated the clock time for up to 90 percent.

While some surveys suggest that men dominate conversations, women are more detailed in their communication styles, SoRelle said.

Women also have a tendency to correct others' speech more often than men do, according to studies.

There are three feminist perspectives feminists subscribe to. The liberal feminists believe that there are differences and similarities in men and women. Society must work to minimize the differences.

Women and men alike must realize that 'equality does not equal sameness', SoRelle said.

She said every conversation functions on two levels: the propositional level ­ what it says ­ and the relational level ­ what it implies about the relationship among the communicants.

Before men and women communicate with one another, there is a 'perception yard stick' that one has about the other based on society's perceptions of gender, SoRelle said.

The perception theory is a creative process and dependent on past experiences, present circumstances and personality constructs. She said men and women do not have the same experiences, circumstances and constructs and therefore may communicate differently.

The radical feminists agree that men and women are different. However, women are somewhat better.

Coming from the cultural feminists perspective, SoRelle said that men and women talk to each other cross-culturally. Men and women communicate differently because they come from different cultures.

'It's like someone French trying to understand someone German,' SoRelle said.

She said that in order for men and women to communicate better, they must both learn to speak the other one's language.

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