Can you think of specific examples of words or phrases that reflect the different gender norms and/or statuses of men and women in our culture?  Additionally, in what ways might men and women have...

Can you think of specific examples of words or phrases that reflect the different gender norms and/or statuses of men and women in our culture?  Additionally, in what ways might men and women have different speech patterns?  If language is powerful (and words, then, are not meaningless), what do think might be the consequences of "gendered speech" in our day-to-day social interactions?

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kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In our society, men and women often speak differently. According to Xia (2013), women are far more likely to use certain color words, like "mauve," "lavender" and "magenta," words which men rarely use. Moreover, when it comes to adjectives, there are clear distinctions in the words which men and women use. Women, for example, are more likely to say words like "adorable," "charming" and "gorgeous," whereas a man is more likely to simply use the term "good." There are also clear differences in the use of curse words among men and women. Chiefly, men are far more likely to curse than women. (See the first reference link for more information.)

For some sociologists, like Deborah Tannen, these differences in speech should not come as a surprise since men and women play very different roles in our society and have very different expectations to fulfill. Gendered speech is, therefore, instrumental in maintaining our cultural ideas about men and women. By using these color words and adjectives, for example, women maintain the idea that they are more sensitive and emotional, while men preserve the idea that they are more rational.

For other sociologists, however, these differences in speech are a byproduct of the differing power relations between men and women. Gendered speech is, therefore, about maintaining male power. By being more polite, for instance, and cursing less, women reflect their secondary status in our society.

See the second reference link for more information on these opposing ideas.