Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Men and

What I'm reading: Speed Bumps by Ken Casper

What I'm working on: Edits again. Look look. Look and see. Look at Dalton. Look at Dalton looking at Miri. Yep -- a new crutch word -- about 250 of them initially.

Yesterday I mentioned Tracy Montoya's workshop. She discussed Robin Lakoff's power theory and Deborah Tannen's connection theory.

I found some of Tracy's examples intriguing. Little girls want to fit in. Little boys like to be the boss. As women, we grow up wanting to be part of the group and don't like to make waves, whereas for men, it's about the hierarchy. Girls share secrets, like to connect. Boys want to be higher up the ladder and use language to one-up each other. If that doesn't work, they may resort to physical means.

Which is why men don't ask for directions -- it puts them 'one step under' the person they're asking for help. And it helps explain why men don't apologize. That also puts them in a subservient role. Or if they do, it's more like, "I'm sorry if you feel that way..."

These observations are built around our culture and our language, and are broad generalizations. Patterns, not rules. Regional background, age, and birth order also play a part.

But I loved her example of how little boys play the game. Three little boys in a car. One says, "We're going to Disneyland for four days." Boy #2 says, "We're going to Disneyland for FIVE days." Boy #3 says, "We're MOVING to Disneyland." The driver was the father of Boy #3. Deborah Tannen was in the car as well. He was about to step in and admonish his son for lying, but she stopped him. She explained that they'd just established the pecking order, and his son came out on top. The boys all knew it was a verbal battle, and they knew nobody was moving to Disneyland.

Fascinating subject, and it's a great tool if you're trying to make your characters sound real.


Lara Dien said...

Yes, but how did dad feel when the woman in the car told him what they were doing?

Terry Odell said...

That wasn't in her talk -- but he accepted it - at least she said he dropped it-- (and my guess is probably considered it from his adult perspective and saw the truth).