Saturday, November 12, 2005

Comment Response: Exploring male/female Communication Values

Kari, a commenter on my last post, pointed out the following:

I think... communication is more important to girls in general. It's who we are and how God made us. I can send out an email to a good girl friend and then one to a good guy friend and it will take the girl friend a day or two to respond whereas the guy may take about 2 weeks to respond. Keeping in touch is just not as important to most guys. Not that guys don't want to respond, they just don't give it the high importance that we females do...please let me know if I am wrong guys. But for us girls it means everything....if you're not communicating through blogs, emails, IM'ing, phone, in person then there is no friendship.And while commenting on a blog doesn't necessarily equate to friendship...it is a form of communication, which is probably the most vital part of a friendship/relationship for females.

My response was so long I decided to make this whole post about it. Basically, I've noticed in my life that often, females seem to be more relationship-oriented whereas males seem to be more task-oriented. In other words, girls often tend to be more "in touch with their emotions" and value friends whereas guys are often out trying to accomplish some kind of specific task, not usually as concerned with keeping old friends close.

This leads to men more effectively interacting when they are in-person or in actual physical closeness, rather than through alternate communications. This argument is horribly difficult to defend, because there are several cases of men who are good at keeping up letter-writing, emails, phone calls, chats, etc. In fact, I consider myself to be one of those men. However, I know that I have a harder time keeping in touch with my guy friends than I do with female friends. Other than Scott, the only responses I'm able to get from guy friends are usually when we're actually hanging out. I have a friend here at seminary that I never see, and that never answers his phone when I call, but whenever he runs into me, he invites me to go hang out with him.

Please keep in mind that I realize that my understanding includes a broad stereotype, and is NOT the absolute standard for human relations. I personally think that this stereotypical understanding comes from the fact that our society tells us growing up that as men we are to be "conquerers" and out accomplishing tasks whereas women are taught to value life and relationships more. I hate blaming things on "society" and hate when people brush problems off to "societal shortcomings," but let me offer you an example of what I'm saying. Last night I was thinking about how i've never been hunting, and that many of my guy friends would make fun of me for that, yet I don't know a lot of girls that go hunting. Therefore, it's as though my masculinity may be called into question, over such a simple thing.

How does all this relate to Kari's comment? Because I think that in a (perhaps ignorant, close-minded) way, it further considers this difference between men and women, this tendency for women to enjoy emailing, talking on the phone, keeping a "diary" and evaluating relationships more, while men are bad at responding to emails, don't like phone conversations, and don't often spend as much time discussing with their guy friends "what it was supposed to mean" when some girl said such and such. I hope that I don't sound like "Mr.Wild-at-heart" and I hope you all realize that I am saying all this from my presuppositions and that I don't believe that this is some absolute standard, I just think it tends to be a trend in gender stereotypes that is fairly accurate, given that there are always exceptions (the very fact that I've devoted already several posts to relationship-oriented topics proves to already weaken my argument).

In fact, I don't believe I've solved anything, but simply furthered the question. Blaming things on "society" is too weak. I need something more substantial. Readers: can you help me? Are girls more relational/relationship-centered than guys? Why are we guys better at communicating in person than we are on the phone and through emails?

Disclaimer: Please offer arguments that are fully void of attacking anyone's character or person, no matter how violently it attacks their argument itself. Any comments meant to slander another commenter will be removed.

24 Comments:

Blogger WATERFALL DESCENDER said...

My Great Grandfather told my Grandfather, "Son, you'll never understand a woman"

My Grandfather told my Dad, "Son, you'll never understand a woman"

Dad to me..."Son, you'll never understand a woman"

I don't understand women,lol but I do know one thing...listening and communication is the key. We men like the visuals...we are a voyueristic type of being. Men like to watch i.e... stuff blow up, that explains the epidemic of pornography, the violence of American Sport, and the warrior culture inside of us.
The difference is this...
as I am a film guy...
Watch the way two movies are shot.
This is called the "Masculine Gaze" by feminist film critics...the camera takes slow pans on the beauty of the female form...i.e. legs, breasts, and such as such. 99% of all American Male Directors take this approach.
However, female directors such as Penny Marshall employ more of a tight shot, eyeline match sort of shot emphasis with the intimacy, emotion, and closeness of a face. This solidfies the females need of emotional bond.
Where does this fit in with your argument?
Well, the fact that words are important to a female. Spoken and written are extensions of expression. Whereas, the male avoids that and wants to see what he can destroy, conquer, and ultimately control. That is always under the surface.
The male feels no control with words, because it undermines his basic hunter-gatherer nature.
I think thats why women live longer...They can express it, and we want to control it, fix it quick, and move on to the next challenge.
I enjoy your blog Jonathan, and if you're ever in Southern Kentucky this spring head on down here (If I'm still here and not back in Atlanta) and go kayaking with us in Paddlers for Christ. We would love to have you, or your friends. It's great fellowship.
In Christ,
Gregg

Sat Nov 12, 08:52:00 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

I have to completly agree... you will never understand women- we don't even understand ourselves most of the time!

Yes, we are communicators (for the most part- a generalization for most of the female population). We need and like communication. Communication makes us feel important and special. Yes, we do analyze everything. I think it can be summed up as this- most girls can multi-task and most guys can't- they are one-task minded. My brother-in-law explained that to me a few months ago and it helped explain a whole lot about guys. If a guy has one task at hand- don't expect too much attention from him- b/c his goal is to complete the task well at hand.

From my understanding (I don't claim to be an expert on guys- I am far from it!), guys are more visual than girls- unless it is infront of their faces then it isn't going to phase them too much. But for girls, you can put some things infront of our faces and we can be thinking a million different things and not one of those things is the thing infront of our face. I understand and appreciate that there are differences between guys and girls-that is why we are compatible- God made us that way.

I don't think it is a 'society' issue rather than just the truth. And maybe things in society do eventually become true- and maybe that is what has happend. I think that is why God created man to be the leader. I mean, for real, would you want the woman to be the leader... we would change our minds so many times that nothing would happen!

Okay, I don't think I have added very much to this except to say that I agree with you all- women are just more relational and guys are just more task oriented.

Oh... One more thing to add- I went and saw Elizabethtown tonight!! It just came out here- Oh, It made me miss the US- the South...I saw it with two Mexican friends and had to explain a lot of the stereotypes... I am not sure they enjoyed it as much as I did- but it made me want to go on a Road Trip!

Sun Nov 13, 12:22:00 AM  
Blogger Bradley said...

I find these steriotypes hard to beleive because If they are true, I must be an exception to the rule.

I am a very emotional and relational person. I would rather sit down and talk to someone about what's going on in their life than I would go hunting (I too have never been hunting), watch a football game (I have no affection for sports), etc.

Perhaps this is a result (as so many other things in my life) of my past. Before I got saved, I used to have several really close friends who were girls. Also, I tended to enjoy their company more than guys (not because I was interested in dating them or sleeping with them etc., but because we would always talk about things guys never talked about--and they tended to be more sensitive).

It also seems to me that guys are slower to admit or express their emotions. Expressing them is not always easy, but it does seem that this "skill" is less developed in guys for whatever reason. Guys often have one word explinations with no further qualifing explination like "mad," "angry," "tired," "frustrated," "good," "confused" (you'll be lukcy to get a guy to say he's confused), etc. etc. Girls on the other hand tend to give elaborate explinations about the context in which their emotion arises. I tend to do the same.

Anyway, as the others--I have not cleared the muddy waters of this issue. But for what it's worth, I pose the question: Should we guys try to work harder at being more relational if it is not our natural tendency? After all, it is the relational dynamic which is fundamental to ministry and glorifying God isn't it? At the end of the day, if we can do all the "work" of the ministry, but if we don't connect to people's hearts relationally, haven't we failed? Just a thought.

Brizzle

Sun Nov 13, 01:04:00 AM  
Blogger Bobby said...

Bradley's "I find this hard to believe because if it's true I must be the exception" is understandable to me because I have felt that a lot when people have tried to say/ write "Guys are like X." But exceptions are just that -- exceptions. I think it is clearly demonstrable that most guys are not as good at communication, nor do they have a "need" to express themselves in the same way as women. And of course guys tend to be more visual.

One thing that is difficult, whenever we talk about "society" or being "made that way" is that we have to decipher and keep in mind the ways in which men and women are different because of the way our Creator made us, and the ways in which we fall short of understanding and loving each other as a result of The Fall. Both come into play whenever we're operating from a context of male-female relationships.

On the one hand, of course we were made differently, given different tasks and ways of going about those tasks. But "I was made this way" is never an excuse for rude behavior, neglect of friends and loved ones, or failure to communicate and demonstrate the Fruits of the Spirit in our lives.

Good discussion.

P.S. I think one reason why you have, and may continue, to get guys on this thread who seem to be the exception to the stereotype is obvious -- we prove we are the exception by frequently communicating on blogs, while the majority of our gender are out shooting boars, rebuilding car engines, and seeing which one of them can spit the farthest. Or whatever. But I do love me some NASCAR.

Sun Nov 13, 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger Kari said...

Wow a whole post in response to my comment! I feel special :)

I agree with all the comments so far and don't know that I have any 'wisdom' to offer. But in response to Bradley's comment: "Should we guys try to work harder at being more relational if it is not our natural tendency?". Well, if a guy wants to relate better to a woman I say, 'yes' it would be good for him to work on being more 'relational' and communicating more. But it can't be fake....it has to be out of genuine consideration for the girl and not just to try to get a date or something. And vice versa girls can't change who they are (like not analyze to some degree and not think about the future...qualities that often iritate guys) in order to please a guy. If I had a girl friend who was really different than me...maybe she was annoyed by me calling all the time or wanting to know 'details' of her life... I would try to work harder to be 'less relational' with her in order to be a friend to her (although I will say I have never met a girl like that!).

So out of genuine love for others we should try to relate to them as Christ would by putting their needs/wants first. (And espeically if this is in a relationship....you should want to do things to make the girl/guy happy.) And yes, I have to agree Bradley that being relational is a very important part of ministry and we should all strive to connect to people's hearts however that may be. But, thank goodness God didn't make us all the same if he did this wouldn't be a very fun world would it? And we wouldn't be able to have these topics to talk about on our blogs!

P.S. To all you guys out there who are maybe more sensitive or more relational....it's a great quality (to us females at least) so take it as a gift and use it :)

Sun Nov 13, 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger Jeannine said...

jonathan, we had this discussion about bow hunting earlier... :)

not to sound like ms. captivating (basically the female version of wild at heart...and i know it doesn't exactly have all of its theology down right), but i remember there was this one point they made that i thought was interesting. in Genesis 2:18, God said "it is not good for man to be alone" and then he created eve. in a way, women were created as companions...perhaps this explains a little about why women always tend to be more relational?

anyway, i would just like to reiterate everything that everyone else has said. i guess we've all come to the consensus that women are more likely to keep in touch and share their thoughts and feelings. but, obviously, there are exceptions... all the guys who have their own blogs and leave comments are those exceptions.

and i'll attest that jonathan is a really good example of that exception :)

Sun Nov 13, 08:47:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

And I'll attest that Jeannine is a really good companion :)

Sun Nov 13, 08:50:00 PM  
Blogger Bradley said...

ahhhhhhhh

Sun Nov 13, 10:44:00 PM  
Blogger Scooter said...

First of all, I want to attack Jonathan's character...

Just kidding.

I do want to say, though, that I don't think men were created or meant to be the leader of the sexes. Women are just as capable of leading (if not more so) than men in any aspect of life. I think that part (if not most) of the reason the world is in the crapper is because men have been "leading" for so long.

And, Jonathan, hunting is not all it's cracked up to be. I grew up hunting and it's pretty boring. And since I hardly ever wanted to go, I always got labeled as the weird kid of the family (or the girly one or the effeminite one). I always preferred to sit at home and read a book.

And for the communication thing - I think men are just as naturally drawn toward communication as women. I think the reason that men in general have trouble with communicating is societal - that we are told (or "shown") by whatever sources (parents, media, religion, whatever) to bottle up our emotions and be strong and silent and brooding. But our natural state is to be just as emotional.

Besides, ALL people have trouble communicating, men and women. I think that as separate genders, however, we do differ as to how we have trouble communicating. Men tend to just not communicate, whereas women tend to have trouble saying how they really feel (especially around men). But that, of course, is in general.

Mon Nov 14, 08:57:00 AM  
Blogger Bobby said...

I disagree with most of what Scooter said, but I do think the last paragraph is true in many cases. Men simply clam up. Women, at least many women, do have trouble saying how they really feel around men. They often speak in guarded tones or "hints" and hope men will "get it."
Of course, men often fail to get it. And sometimes, they DO get it but pretend not to because it can get a little infuriating to be having a serious conversation with someone who, to a man's way of thinking, is dancing around an issue. So the thing to do is just pretend to not "get it" in the hopes that the girl will finally say, "All right, I'm just gonna lay it out for you."

Mon Nov 14, 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger Scooter said...

So, Jonathan, I sent you an email earlier this morning. Are you going to fail to communicate like these guys you're talking about?

(Ha!)

Mon Nov 14, 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

I emailed you, Scott, but I'm curious about something you said here:

You write that "the world is in the crapper" but I thought you disagreed with me and Bradley that the world is cursed, and said that there is so much good in the world. What do you mean by your statement?

Mon Nov 14, 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

I hope one of these "women" can find a guy with your beliefs, Scott. :)

Mon Nov 14, 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger Scooter said...

Too sexy! Too sexy! Any of those women can put me in a headlock any day...

But as to your other question, mostly it was an exaggeration. I still do think that the world is mostly good, mostly, which means that I do acknowledge that there is some bad. Most of this bad (i.e. in politics, religions, etc.) stems from problems in leadership and people with power, most of whom have been men throughout history. I don't think the world is cursed. Definitely not by God. If anything, it would be cursed by man.

Mon Nov 14, 02:40:00 PM  
Blogger Jeannine said...

scooter, i wish you sat through the video i saw today...it was about a war photographer. even though you can't exactly see the video, you can see a few of the pictures that were on it at http://www.jamesnachtwey.com/

the world is cursed because of man.

Mon Nov 14, 03:57:00 PM  
Blogger Scooter said...

I wouldn't go so far as to call the world "cursed." I agree, though, that war is terrible. Almost too terrible to fathom when it's far removed from you, which is why so many people here in America are all too ready and willing to jump on the Hooray for War bandwagon. But again, war is one of those things that stem from people (mostly men) with too much power (and, incedently, lack of communication skills; i.e. bombing the crap out of someone = better than talking).

Mon Nov 14, 05:16:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Hurricanes, Cancer, Blizzards, STDs, Tsunamis, Wars, Tornadoes, Tidal Waves, SIDS, Monsoons, Down Syndrome, Hailstorms, Multiple Sclerosis, Meteors, Tubal Pregnancies, Volcanos, Blindness, Earthquakes, Birth Defects,Floods, Avelanches, Mullets, Droughts, Crop disasters, Forest Fires, the list could go on for days...

Nature is groaning for restoration from (romans 8) the curse of the earth, the curse of man, and the curse of woman (in Genesis 3). If you don't believe the world is cursed, then you don't believe the bible, or you haven't read Genesis 3.

The good things may outweigh the bad things in number and intensity, but the fact is that there are still bad things, and therefore, the world is cursed. When the world is restored in the eschaton, there will be no curse, and there will be no bad things.

We're going round and round in circles with this. Go to the first post I wrote and see what Bradley says if you want to discuss it further.

Mon Nov 14, 08:12:00 PM  
Blogger Kari said...

How did this comment chain change from communication differences in males and females to the world being cursed? But that's ok, I like these discussions.

I have to add my two cents if that's ok...Scooter if the world is not cursed then there is no punishment for sin? (Gen 3:17-19)So God has no wrath against sin? If God has no wrath then we don't need a Savior, right? And if what you say is true....that "If anything it (the world) would be cursed by man" then we (as men) have the power to curse the whole world? WOW...I didn't know I had that kind of power.

Jeannine I agree the world is cursed because of man however the world isn't cursed by man as stated earlier. As Jonathan spoke of, Romans 8:20-21 says, "For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from it's bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God." So yes unfortunately the world is cursed and there is futility, but it was subjected in HOPE!(Gen 3:15)God knew what would bring Himself the most glory.

Tue Nov 15, 03:41:00 PM  
Blogger Scooter said...

Then, no, I don't believe the Bible. At least, not in the same way you do. And you can tell me all you want that there's only one way to believe the Bible, but you'll never change my mind. Just like I'll probably never change yours. I don't think that God literally cursed the world. For me, Genesis is a creation story (or myth), just like many other creations myths, which is to be taken metaphorically to give tangible explanations to intangible ideas. I don't believe in a literal Adam and Eve or six literal days of creation.

God, for me, is ALL love - no wrath, no hatred, no other human emotions that you (or anyone else) want to attribute to It (not Him... or Her). Except for maybe compassion (or other emotions stemming from love).

And you can throw scripture at me all day; it won't make a difference in the way I feel or think because I don't hold the Bible in the same esteem as you. It was written by men and contains the fallacies (and beauty) of any other text written by men. And don't say that the Bible has authority because it was written by God - that "begging the question" argument will just go in circles (the Bible is true because God wrote it, and because God wrote it it must be true, and so on and so on...)

Wed Nov 16, 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

OKay this isn't going away, so (although I already know where you stand on this issue, Scott - it may help others to know also) if you don't believe God is anything besides LOVE, then why is there a hell? And if there is no hell, then why is there a savior? Speaking of which, if God is only Love, then why did He let His only begotten Son die? Why would Christ need to die? If you dont absolutely need Jesus Christ for salvation, then why do you consider yourself a Christian? Or maybe you don't?

I respect mine and Scott's differences, because I realize that they are in the hands of God, this is how He has ordained things to be.

Scott, I'm not telling you that you have to change. You say you never will, but I believe that you may possibly one day, which is why I want to present what I believe to be the truth to the best of my ability, in case you'd like to consider it further. Just as somewhere deep down, you MUST believe that those who disagree with you might change their minds,or you'd see discussing these things as simply a waste of time.

Wed Nov 16, 04:14:00 PM  
Blogger Bradley said...

Mr. Scoot,

Does God LOVE evil too? Or is He totally indifferent to EVIL? It seems that one thing which stems from true LOVE is hatred of evil (or hating whatever is unloving).
Is our judicial system (which puts people on death row who commit murder) unloving? Could a righteous judge (such as God) ever punish evil or would divine punishment for evil be inconsistent with LOVE?

By hate I just mean "a strong disinclinaton with respect to."

What do you think Mr. Scoot?

Thu Nov 17, 01:20:00 AM  
Blogger Scooter said...

Here's something that'll freak you out: I don't even really believe in Hell. And, Bradley, as far as evil is concerned... I believe God created people with free will, so people created evil, not God.

And, J-Man, since you are still using Biblical references in your points/arguments, I thought I'd bring this up - the fundamental difference between our beliefs (yours and mine) is that the Bible is integral to your beliefs, but it's not to mine. Whereas you base your beliefs on scripture, I base mine more on my personal relationship to God, my experiences, and my faith. For me, the Bible is only supplemental to that.

Fri Nov 18, 09:06:00 AM  
Blogger Bradley said...

Mr. Scoot,

I know you don't beleive the Bible. That's why I reason with you instead of just pointing to Bible verses. Not once did I make reference to what the Bible says about evil or Hell.

I was just asking you a reasonable question since you say you believe in God. I would still be curious as to what you think...so...again, What do you think Mr. Scoot?

Mon Nov 21, 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger Kari said...

Yeah sorry I have some other questions for you 'Scooter' as well (if you would like to answer).

Since you don't necessarily believe the Bible and instead base your beliefs on your personal relationship to God, your experiences, and your faith if something bad happends i.e. you lose your job, a close family member dies of cancer, you are in a serious car accident, a tornado causes you to loose everything you own do you stop believing in God? These experiences would surely 'try' my faith. So what experiences do you base your beliefs on?

And if I might ask, how did you come to know there is a God and that you have a relationship to Him...from your experiences, faith, and personal relationship to God?

And this will be the last...if there is no hell why believe in God? If we are just going to die and our body decay into the ground why not 'live it up on earth' and do whatever we want? Why 'have a relationship with God', 'faith', or beliefs at all? Who cares?

Tue Nov 22, 12:52:00 PM  

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