Men, Women, and Language: Socially Constructing Male and Female Speech

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Men, women, and language: Socially constructing male and female speech One of the essential contentions of feminist theory is that there is an inherent difference between the concepts of gender and sex. 'Sex' refers to the physiological characteristics humans are born with; 'gender' is what culture 'does with' or how it 'reads' those physiological differences. One of the most contentious areas of gender research is pertains to the differences between male and female speech. While most authors concur that there is a general difference between the ways in which men and women express themselves in different contexts, there is still profound disagreement as to whether the cause of this is nature or nurture. Furthermore, some authors such as Janet Holmes and Ronald Macaulay argue that gender stereotypes cause people (including academics) to overemphasize such differences, while other authors such as Rachel Rafelman and Clive Thompson tend to see the influence of male-female distinctions as very real and palpable, regardless of the cause. According to Janet Holmes' essay "Women talk too much," the idea that women are by nature garrulous and men are taciturn is more of a socially-constructed myth than a reality. The question that should be asked, according to Holmes, is: when are women more talkative and when are males more talkative? The culturally-constructed notion of the women who always can't stop talking (and the silent, miserable man, usually her husband, who is
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