Nov 2, 2017 in Analysis

Humor Differenced Between Men and Women

Men and women have different traits and personalities. These differences between them are exhibited in characters, preference, actions, and words. They are explained by biological, physical, and societal features which commonly distinguish men from women. The differences between and women are observed in their talks, conversations and utterances. The humor differences are also observed in their priorities, especially sporting activities. These variations are the sense of humor in different sexes are explained by different authors and columnists. Dave Barry’s “Batting Clean-Up and Striking Out” brings the sense of humor differences between men and women by citing differences in priorities perceived by men and women (Barry 87-9). Deborah Tannen is another author who writes about the differences between sexes based on their responsibilities, biological make up, and gender ordinances. For example, Barry uses the differences in the choice of sporting activities and preferences as a perfect illustration of differences in the sexes. He advances cleaning and dirt in portraying women’s sensitivity as well as sports to illustrate men’s priorities. Barry specifically singles out the popularity of baseball among the male fox. However, on the other hand, Deborah (in her writings) indicates that the differences in men and women are not only biological, but also socially defined (Tannen 56).

Political, social, economic, and cultural differences between men and women are extended to linguistic and communication traits of these two parties of difference sexes. It is for this reason that gender linguistics emerged as a potential area of study. The similar condition is observed in other aspects of communication and language such as humor. According to feminists, the inability of women to command a speech is attributed to the feministic nature of their conversation which commands no power in a male fox society. Men and women are not only different in their sense of humor, but also other in linguistic aspects. The language used by women presents them as weaker and inferior creatures to their male counterparts as the language itself is deemed inferior. Differences in personal interests between men and women cannot be ignored in communication, as well as linguistic differences in the two categories of sexes (Tannen 102-3). Feminist linguists are often biased in interpreting linguistic differences and hence conceiving it of as gender based issue with a little interest to the rest of the superior male foxes. Balance-imbalance among the males and the females is also a factor that explains the differences in the linguistic utterance aspects such as humor.

Dane Otto (a linguistic artist) in the article titled “The Women (1990)” deeply examined gender differences with respect to languages and humor. His study served as the starting point, the understanding of gendered language and humor and the underlying ideologies. According to this study by Dane Otto (56), he outlined that the speech and humor by the lesser sex is deficient to that of men. However, this article was criticized for being too judgmental and, therefore, only cited by feminists in their attempt to conceal “a whole tradition of patronizing and sexist commentary by male linguists before feminism” (Otto 61). This analysis was also overlooked for being pre-conceived as stereotypical. Other studies conducted by linguistic experts afterwards have confirmed that power imbalances between men and women are reflected in their communication and linguistic expression.

Although considered as the first article writer to extensively contribute to feminist linguistics, Barry’s sexist assumptions are still accepted in explaining the differences in humor and other communication traits between men and women. His research was further criticized for the lack of accuracy and mere stereotyping (particularly the lexical gender markers which were inaccurate) as these were deeply rooted in the older socialized roles of women in the society. In his claim, Barry states that “women use weaker and almost sweet-sounding swear words such as ‘oh dear’ or ‘goodness,’ whereas men use stronger expressions such as ‘shit!’ or ‘damn!’” hence the differences in humor (Barry 87). In addition, English dialects variations between men and women explain the differences in the sense of humor and communication. However, this aspect is only valid within a particular social setting. In this respect, women are found to use adverbs and adjectives, which invoke frivolity and triviality in their communication. These aspects of humor and communication represent society’s collaborative mind based on stereotypes about the earlier ideologies concerning women’s power of humor in their speeches.

The two anthropologists Borker and Maltz having studied the interaction of differences sex, especially playing children, discovered that unlike boys, girls normally establish and maintain close and equal relationships. Besides, girls are accurate in interpreting the speeches of other people as well as being able to acceptably criticize their colleagues in a funny way. This brings a lot of humor to their conversation. Boys, on the other hand, assert their dominance position in the society through command in order to keep an audience. The weaker sex (females) personalized their communication by the inclusion of personal pronouns such as ‘we’ or ‘you’ as collaborated in Deborah Tannen’s works. It is for these reasons that women are perceived more humorous than men (91-2). The differences in communication and linguistic humor between male and female varies in intensity and frequency. Unlike men, women prefer using very intensifying adverbs like “very” or “really” (Otto 65). These intensifying words are bringing sense of humor in their communication with their colleagues, hence making the interaction more lively compared to male interactions which look dull. The frequent sentence structuring with questions tags and hedges add salt to the humor in the female communication. Coupled with absent dominant behavior, the polite and indirect ordering rather than imperative communication commonly witnessed in female conversations are the essential features which display humor and livelihood in such communications (Barry 71).

Contrary to their female colleagues, men use more directives and authority in their communication. Such directives potential limits the sense of humor as they are very direct and aimed at reflecting the male power of dominance even in communication. Moreover, male conversations are always very competitive, for instance frequent interruption of the conversation in order to impose their opinions are regular in male dominated conversations. Through such interruptions, the conversations pitting men and women have nothing to create humor among the audience. On the contrary, conversations involving females are always very humorous given the higher degree of cooperation and understanding displayed in them. These female talks (unlike male conversations) experience minimal reaction with interest making devices such as ‘yes’ or ‘mhm’ (Tannen 120-2).

The differences in humor between male and female conversations can also be explained by variations in sentence structures. As established by linguistic experts, women closely observe standard language norms, while men, on the contrary, communicate more colloquially through employing a greater application of dialects in their conversation. Finally, the differences in communication (especially humor) between different sexes are attributed to biological and hereditary factors. The gene mutation of female partners naturally makes them having lengthy discussions and they tend to introduce their sentences in adverbial and sub-ordinate clauses. On the contrary, male conversations are often elliptic and less grammatical. By focusing on emotions and more personalized conversations, female talks therefore tend to be more humorous and lively than male talks which are more factual and less emotional, using large amount of quantitative terms and locative vocabularies with least amount of humor (Barry 100: Otto 59).

In conclusion, female conversations are more entertaining as they are accompanied with the sense of humor and lively interactions as opposite to male conversations. These differences are biological, social, cultural, or ordinal. 

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