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differences in the ways males and females communicate. This, in turn, often brings about conflict and misunderstanding between the sexes when attempting to hold a conversation. A few of the theories studied in this class that dealt with this problem were the Standpoint Theory, Genderlect Styles, and the Muted Group Theory. All of these theories attempt to explain the differences and complications two people of different sexes may face in certain situations and how they may respond to each other in a conversation. The first theory studied was the Standpoint Theory devised by Sandra Harding and Julia T. Wood. This theory claims that, "the social groups within which we are located powerfully shape what we experience and know as well as how we understand and communicate with ourselves, others, and the world." These theorists believe that because women are often pushed to the bottom of the totem pole, while men are free to rise to the top, women have a better understanding of men than do men of women. This is based on the fact that women know where they want to go, so they must learn the ways of a man and pay attention to details that will affect them. Everything a man of power does could potentially affect the life of a woman he has power over. Because men make most of the decisions in today's world, they have little need to pay attention to the lives of women and what it is to be in this "lower status" situation. This is the point that Harding and Wood are making by saying that, "when people speak from the opposite sides of power relations, the perspective from the lives of the less powerful can provide a more objective vt because of their competitive nature whereas women see conflicts as a threat to their connection with others. The final theory dealing with gender issues in communication is the Muted Group Theory founded to Cheris Kramarae. The main focus of this theory is that women as a whole are not allowed to speak what they really feel -- they must adjust what they speak in order to fit the understanding of a man's society. Most women are not in many positions of power which allows for a rare opportunity to speak their voices without being muted by the higher group (men). This Theory is very similar to the Standpoint Theory in that it states that because men are in a higher power situation, they often don't take the time to recognize the language of women and therefore mute and disregard them with their own thoughts and feelings. Kramarae even goes so far as to state that mainstream communication should instead be called malestream communication. The section also talks about men as gatekeepers of media and communication. This shows that men control the language that is being seen and heard around the country and this causes people in general to adapt to what these men want. I feel that the Genderlect Theory offers the best description on how men and women communicate differently. This section describes the five types of talk which clearly demonstrates the ways in which men and women interpret things and behave differently in different types of situations. It demonstrates how women view relationships and communication as leading them to a sense of belonging with others. It also illustrates how men try to use communication to get a higher status and never want to be threatened by a person they are talking to who may potentially achieve more than them. This theory makes the most sense of the three because it describes things that can be seen in everyday life at people of all ages. Being younger and not involved directly in the business world yet, it is hard for me to understand and see the ways men may take advantage of or "mute" women in these situations. I most definitely believe that it happens, however, I have not had any first hand experience with how this affects the styles of communication between and amongst men and women. What makes Genderlect Styles easier to understand is that it deals with public and private conversation, telling stories, listening, asking questions, and conflict; all of which most people deal with on an everyday basis. I believe that the Muted Group Theory and the Standpoint Theory have good, believable basic concepts and ideas, but
Genderlect Styles does a better job of relating the theory to everyday life and really picking at the differences between men and women. The theory of Genderlect Styles also seems to offer the best solutions for solving the communication problems faced between the sexes. The view that Tannen takes on working out the differences in communication styles seems the most realistic and the one that would produce the greatest results. Tannen claims that the most effective way of solving the dispute of language between males and females is "for both men and women to try and take each other on their own terms rather than applying the standards of one group to the behavior of the other." This simply states that both sexes must be willing to make a compromise and make an effort to understand the way the other thinks, feels, and behaves. Tannen also states very rightly, "Understanding style differences for what they are takes the sting out of them." Tannen explains that one way to measure whether or not we are beginning to understand and take on the language of the other is noticing a drop in hearing the phrase, "you just don't understand." The Standpoint Theory also did a decent job in speaking of possible solutions for these differences, but they were not the type of thing that an everyday person can do. Harding suggests that research should be started from the viewpoints of women in order to achieve a better understanding of the world in general. She believes that this will force members of the dominant side to see the views of the weakened sex. I do not think, however, that starting research from the point of view of women will do much at all for a society in general. The results would require men to take the time to look at these research projects, understand them, and take the effort to apply them to their own lives. In today's world, I just don't see that being very practical. The Muted Group Theory does not offer a whole lot as far as a way of changing the world in this area. Kramarae suggests that dictionaries should adapt more words that apply directly to women, and should eliminate any definitions that imply sexism in any way. I don't think that changing some definitions in a dictionary or adding a few words will do anything to the vast majority of people. I hardly doubt anyone would much notice a difference at all. This is why I feel, without a doubt, that the Genderlect Styles Theory proposes the optimum solutions for the differences in language and communication styles amongst the sexes. All three of the theories that examined the differences between male and female communication provided good examples and ideas as to why there are these differences and what we can do to solve them. Nevertheless, the Genderlect Styles Theory most definitely had the best depiction of the variations between the sexes and also the best and most realistic solutions for overcoming this communication barrier. If society wants to take a step at understanding these discrepancies and doing something about them, the Genderlect Styles Theory would be my most highly recommended place to start.