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Old 06-11-2024, 05:58 PM
Status: "Chronically sleep-deprived" (set 3 days ago)
 
Location: Sagittarius Arm, Milky Way, Universe Prime
60 posts, read 20,669 times
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I had an interesting exchange a couple of weeks ago. I'm a middle-aged woman, and I was speaking to a friend, a middle-aged man I have known for many years. General conversation, mostly about the way something was being done that involved both of us, but at one point I advocated for my point of view on something. I did not raise my voice, or change my tone, nor use profanity or threatening body language. I simply made my point, and provided evidence to support it; something that he had already done twice in the same conversation when advocating for his point of view on a related topic. I even used a similar tone and language to what he had.

He responded by saying to me, "You're getting kind of aggressive about this." I assured him that aggression was not my intent, and repeated my point with a slight rephrasing. We concluded the conversation a few minutes later, but his remark stayed with me as we both went about our tasks (we were doing some volunteer work).

I went back to speak to him again later that day, and mentioned his earlier remark. "If what I had said had been coming from a man," I asked, going on to name a mutual male friend, " and he'd said it the same way and in the same tone, would you have interpreted it as being aggressive, or just assertive?"

He blinked for a second. "Hmmm," he said. "I guess that's a good question."

Now, I've seen this happen a lot, and it's happened to me many times. When a guy says something assertively it's no big deal, but let a woman say the same thing the same way and suddenly she's perceived as being aggressive. And this wasn't the first time my friend had given me that label just for speaking my mind, so I pointed that out to him gently, but firmly. He agreed that he would have to give it some thought.

Research shows that this difference of perception based on the gender of the speaker is pervasive. For example:

...assertive women are often perceived as aggressive and mislabeled as such. Social science researchers have found an inverse correlation between assertiveness and likability when that assertiveness is expressed by women. In other words, the more assertive a woman is, the less likeable she is deemed. Whereas they don't see that issue when it comes to assertive men. It's positively correlated with assertive men. This is one of many double-binds that researchers call the leadership likability double-bind. https://www.bossedup.org/podcast/episode251

And it even happens in childhood. Girls who speak up are often labeled as "bossy" while boys who do the same are praised. I was a tomboyish child, and played mostly with the boys in my neighborhood, so I tended to interact in much the same ways they did. The boys themselves didn't seem to mind, but any adult observing us might single me out for my behavior. Not all the time, but enough to be noticeable.

Have any of you experienced this? What are your thoughts on it, including on ways to address the issue of this gender-based double standard?
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Old 06-11-2024, 07:06 PM
 
7,681 posts, read 4,217,357 times
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Gender plays a role, for sure. However, I think that because you provided evidence to support your view, that may have made the conversation a little more formal, or educational. Aggressive is not the more productive term to use, IMO, but I can't blame him for using it because it is widely used for these situations.

If you phrase your view as a question, such as "what do you think about...", you keep things more casual allowing him time to think of the evidence that might support your view. One of my favorite characters once said that she likes smart people because you can say a few words and they will understand.
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Old 06-11-2024, 08:35 PM
 
23,691 posts, read 70,842,956 times
Reputation: 49561
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ttott View Post
I had an interesting exchange a couple of weeks ago. I'm a middle-aged woman, and I was speaking to a friend, a middle-aged man I have known for many years. General conversation, mostly about the way something was being done that involved both of us, but at one point I advocated for my point of view on something. I did not raise my voice, or change my tone, nor use profanity or threatening body language. I simply made my point, and provided evidence to support it; something that he had already done twice in the same conversation when advocating for his point of view on a related topic. I even used a similar tone and language to what he had.

He responded by saying to me, "You're getting kind of aggressive about this." I assured him that aggression was not my intent, and repeated my point with a slight rephrasing. We concluded the conversation a few minutes later, but his remark stayed with me as we both went about our tasks (we were doing some volunteer work).

I went back to speak to him again later that day, and mentioned his earlier remark. "If what I had said had been coming from a man," I asked, going on to name a mutual male friend, " and he'd said it the same way and in the same tone, would you have interpreted it as being aggressive, or just assertive?"

He blinked for a second. "Hmmm," he said. "I guess that's a good question."

Now, I've seen this happen a lot, and it's happened to me many times. When a guy says something assertively it's no big deal, but let a woman say the same thing the same way and suddenly she's perceived as being aggressive. And this wasn't the first time my friend had given me that label just for speaking my mind, so I pointed that out to him gently, but firmly. He agreed that he would have to give it some thought.

Research shows that this difference of perception based on the gender of the speaker is pervasive. For example:

...assertive women are often perceived as aggressive and mislabeled as such. Social science researchers have found an inverse correlation between assertiveness and likability when that assertiveness is expressed by women. In other words, the more assertive a woman is, the less likeable she is deemed. Whereas they don't see that issue when it comes to assertive men. It's positively correlated with assertive men. This is one of many double-binds that researchers call the leadership likability double-bind. https://www.bossedup.org/podcast/episode251

And it even happens in childhood. Girls who speak up are often labeled as "bossy" while boys who do the same are praised. I was a tomboyish child, and played mostly with the boys in my neighborhood, so I tended to interact in much the same ways they did. The boys themselves didn't seem to mind, but any adult observing us might single me out for my behavior. Not all the time, but enough to be noticeable.

Have any of you experienced this? What are your thoughts on it, including on ways to address the issue of this gender-based double standard?
My thoughts? First, you have a real friend there. A friend who is willing to reconsider and re-evaluate is a friend indeed.

Second? Read Clarissa Pinkola Estes "Women Who Run With The Wolves."
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Old 06-11-2024, 09:03 PM
 
1,712 posts, read 912,163 times
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While not a woman, I can imagine the frustration that comes with having people not like you (both male and female) for just speaking your mind. I wonder if there is a biological root? Interestingly though, it's not uncommon for male mentors to give women the advice to be more assertive.

At the end of the day. It's just one of many the gender double standards in the world. As I've gotten older I just don't care anymore about double standards. There are some that benefit and some that are negative. Life is about learning how to play the hand. At the end of the day, persuasiveness is better than assertiveness in many cases.
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Old 06-11-2024, 10:06 PM
Status: "This too shall pass. But possibly, like a kidney stone." (set 19 days ago)
 
36,086 posts, read 18,359,377 times
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I have a friend whose 2nd grade daughter was accused, in a parent teacher conference, of being "aggressive". The examples were, when an assignment was given and the basket of crayons put on the table, the girl reached up quickly and grabbed the crayons she wanted. Another example was when they were told to line up, the girl raced quickly up to be in the front of the line.

The mother asked, "if she were a boy, would you characterize this behavior as aggressive?" And the teacher actually took a moment to ponder it, and she said, "well, maybe not, actually, and maybe if she were a cute small girl, I wouldn't see them as aggressive either".

The most tone deaf, unbelievable response ever. So, yeah.
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Old Yesterday, 04:01 AM
 
7,681 posts, read 4,217,357 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ClaraC View Post
I have a friend whose 2nd grade daughter was accused, in a parent teacher conference, of being "aggressive". The examples were, when an assignment was given and the basket of crayons put on the table, the girl reached up quickly and grabbed the crayons she wanted. Another example was when they were told to line up, the girl raced quickly up to be in the front of the line.

The mother asked, "if she were a boy, would you characterize this behavior as aggressive?" And the teacher actually took a moment to ponder it, and she said, "well, maybe not, actually, and maybe if she were a cute small girl, I wouldn't see them as aggressive either".

The most tone deaf, unbelievable response ever. So, yeah.
That is, unfortunately, sad but true.

I work with a beautiful woman at work who hinted throughout the year that when you are nice, people are nice to you. What she meant by that is you get them to do things for you. I suggested that her beauty also helped in that situation. Lots of men think they have a chance with her, I guess.
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Old Yesterday, 08:09 AM
Status: "Chronically sleep-deprived" (set 3 days ago)
 
Location: Sagittarius Arm, Milky Way, Universe Prime
60 posts, read 20,669 times
Reputation: 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by elyn02 View Post
Gender plays a role, for sure. However, I think that because you provided evidence to support your view, that may have made the conversation a little more formal, or educational. Aggressive is not the more productive term to use, IMO, but I can't blame him for using it because it is widely used for these situations.
He's a person who generally asks for reasons WHY, so I provided them. The discussion was about the best way to accomplish something.

Quote:
If you phrase your view as a question, such as "what do you think about...", you keep things more casual allowing him time to think of the evidence that might support your view. One of my favorite characters once said that she likes smart people because you can say a few words and they will understand.
While I see your point to an extent, would you make that same suggestion to a man? I mean, sure, it's not a bad idea in some situations, regardless of the gender of the speaker or the listener. On the other hand, why should a woman in particular have to phrase her statements as questions? I'm not saying you think that, but a lot of people do seem to.

In this particular conversation, we were already quite a way into answering the question of how best to do something and were both stating our suggestions.

Last edited by Ttott; Yesterday at 08:22 AM..
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Old Yesterday, 08:17 AM
Status: "Chronically sleep-deprived" (set 3 days ago)
 
Location: Sagittarius Arm, Milky Way, Universe Prime
60 posts, read 20,669 times
Reputation: 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ice_Major View Post
While not a woman, I can imagine the frustration that comes with having people not like you (both male and female) for just speaking your mind. I wonder if there is a biological root? Interestingly though, it's not uncommon for male mentors to give women the advice to be more assertive.

At the end of the day. It's just one of many the gender double standards in the world. As I've gotten older I just don't care anymore about double standards. There are some that benefit and some that are negative. Life is about learning how to play the hand. At the end of the day, persuasiveness is better than assertiveness in many cases.
Ah, but when women attempt to persuade men, the men often label THAT as assertive/aggressive, hence the whole cycle.

And your point about male mentors advising women to be assertive is particularly applicable here, because this guy does consider himself a mentor and trainer of people, and it IS advice he has given to men and to women including me. I suspect some of the issue is generational. Though he and I are of the same generation, having been born right around the end of the Baby Boom and beginning of Generation X (some would call us Generation Jones), he is two or three years older than I am, and I know from discussions that his family was more old-school traditional than mine. Between that and the gender difference, he tends to have slightly more old-fashioned attitudes on some things than I do.
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Old Yesterday, 08:23 AM
 
Location: SF/Mill Valley
8,889 posts, read 4,019,090 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ttott View Post
"Assertiveness" in men vs "aggression" in women
Obviously, assertiveness and aggression are two different things relative to how a person (of either gender) communicates based on social intelligence and psychological health.

That said, sometimes folks hear what they want to hear.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ttott View Post
What are your thoughts on it, including on ways to address the issue of this gender-based double standard?
Some women perpetuate a stereotype as well i.e. men are aggressive (and incapable of being assertive) relative to our testosterone and other such nonsense, as evidenced by numerous threads in this forum.
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Old Yesterday, 08:43 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh
29,806 posts, read 34,642,360 times
Reputation: 77444
Quote:
Originally Posted by elyn02 View Post
If you phrase your view as a question, such as "what do you think about...", you keep things more casual allowing him time to think of the evidence that might support your view. One of my favorite characters once said that she likes smart people because you can say a few words and they will understand.
There have been studies in workplace communication that women do often couch their statements to sound softer: "maybe I'm misunderstanding..." or "correct me if I'm wrong but..." When the women, in fact, are not confused at all about what they're saying. But as the OP said, just bluntly saying, "we decided to do Project B last week, for XYZ reasons. Is there a reason you're backtracking now?" gets marked as brusque or aggressive.
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