; A common male method of taking charge of a conversa-
"tion is to simply interrupt. Sociologists at UC Santa Bar*
bara analyzed spontaneous student conversations on cam-
.pus and found that the men students interrupt women far
more than they interrupt other men, and more than worn-,
en interrupt either men or women. The Santa Barbara-
team tested the results by monitoring conversations be*
tween students who weren't acquainted to see if the extra
politeness expected among strangers might change the
way men talked to women. It didn't.
A different type of «tudy found that men dominate the
subjects of conversations, and that women do more of the
"work"—such as asking interesting questions—to keep a.
• Sociologist Pamela Fishman recorded hours of naturally
occurring conversations in the homes of couples (with
permission) and found that while women initiated 62% of\
the topics of conversation, .their topics succeeded (were
developed in further conversation between the partners):
' only 36% of the time. Topics introduced by the men sue-'
ceeded 96% df the time. % ;•
n The women used these strategies not only in their
"turn" but also to further the conversational topics started
i Another researcher, Robin Lakoff, a linguist, says women's lack of power is reflected in their speech, different
enough from the way men talk to be almost a different dialect—a "genderlect." This includes use of empty adjectives like "lovely," ending declarative statements with
questioning intonations and hedging with expressions like
"sort of" and "I guess." .
Other studies have confirmed this women's language
and suggest it is connected with powerless roles—for example, in one study, policewomen did not speak "women's
language"—and may actually help to perpetuate women's
lack of power. Men or women who use this less-direct,
tentative style of speech have less credibility, one study
suggests—they are less likely to be believed by juries, less
able to get jobs requiring authoritative speech, such as
television news broadcasting.
Not only avoid traveling in unratified states (and
thereby withhold your money from them), let the
Governor know why you are avoiding their states.
Also clip ads from newspapers and magazines painting
the glories of such a state and send the ad to the
travel agency, Chamber of Commerce, whoever generated
it and enclose a note saying why you refuse to visit
that state. Maybe there will be enough pressure on
state legislatures from the economic sector to exert
some influence on the side of justice.
Feminism: a columnist catches on
By Sydney Harris
I suspect that the fuel that has fanned the
flames of feminism in America has been less
the social and economic inequities suffered by
woman ���- real and prevalent as they have been
— than the simple, pervasive and infuriating
fact that the bulk of men are insufferably clumsy in their confrontations with the other sex.
It is an easy assumption made by most men
that, while they may not understand women,
women do not understand them, either — and,
thus, that there is a mutually unexplored terrain that separates them.
I do not believe this. If we have learned anything from the new field of social psychology, it
is that minority groups of any kind have a
greater awareness of the strengths and
weaknesses of their masters than their masters
have of them. Dominance makes a ruling group
It does not matter where you look. Servants
have a shrewder perception about their employ^
ers than vice versa; blacks have been forced to
grasp the inner dynamics of whites, purely as a
matter of survival, more than the whites have
ever bothered to do the same.
Women, being also a minority group —- socially if not numerically — I
a "survival sense" about their male masters. I
don't believe in something called woman's
"intuition" (as George Jean Nathan said long
ago, "Woman's famous intuition is oaly man's
transparency"), but she does possess an insight
into men's motives and moods that ae utterly*
fails to reciprocate, being content to label her
Because of this disparity in perception, men
drive women up the wall with a repertoire of
behavior and responses that corresponds only to x
what men imagine women are like, and not to
what they really are. The male has set up an
image of the "female" and women by now are
simply refusing to live up, or live down, to this
uncomfortable distortion of reality.
What the whole spate of recent feminist'
books has been saying is that women will no
longer put up with the traditional masculine attitudes — which are, to name but a few of the
most prominent: condescending, patronizing,
whimsical, heavily jocular, stereotypical, sexually demeaning and grossly insensitive to real
It is less, I believe, an economic and social
revolt, than an erupting psychological one. It is
her personhood she is proclaiming, not her independence.