October 15, 2015

"All I hear and see all day are men speaking their opinions, and I give mine in the same exact manner, and you would have thought I had said something offensive."

Said Jennifer Lawrence, who only "spoke my mind and gave my opinion in a clear and no-[BS] way; no aggression, just blunt" and was met with the response (from a male co-worker): "'Whoa! We’re all on the same team here!' As if I was yelling at him."

Yes, I know, you're going to doubt whether the way she spoke was really "in the same exact manner" that she'd heard from males. We weren't there. We don't know. But it does seem that woman are expected to pad their statements for the comfort of others and when we don't, it can be disconcerting. You can leverage that power, you know! You don't have to take care of others. And of course, by talking about it, Lawrence is declining to serve in the role of caring nurturer.

At the link, a WaPo columnist named Alexandra Petri attempts some humor by translating famous lines into the form of speech supposedly expected of a woman in a meeting. E.g.:
“Give me liberty, or give me death.”
Woman in a Meeting: “Dave, if I could, I could just — I just really feel like if we had liberty it would be terrific, and the alternative would just be awful, you know? That’s just how it strikes me. I don’t know.”
It's not like men can just say “Give me liberty, or give me death” at a meeting, and, in fact, Patrick Henry had a lot of verbiage padding the remembered line. And even that sentence had a blabby intro clause easing the bluntness: "I know not what course others may take; but as for me..." That's not that different from Petri's "That’s just how it strikes me...."

How objective are we, really, about the bluntness of other people's speech in comparison to our own? Of course, we are subjective, but that brings us back to Jennifer Lawrence's point: Part of our subjectivity in how we hear others is our response to their gender. That's the texture and energy of human life. It will not be eradicated. But we can be more aware and make better music.

69 comments:

Hunter said...

I don't know about anyone else, but it has always seemed to me that people who are convinced others will treat them differently will tend to find a lot of evidence of that happening.

That's just how it strikes me. I don't know.

Bill Peschel said...

Alphas tell you forcefully and don't care what you think.

Betas do the same, then whine.

JenLaw is a beta.

It's a tough world out there.

mccullough said...

Another Hillary column

Henry said...

Introvert in a meeting: "Death."

Lem said...

"Part of our subjectivity in how we hear others is our response to their gender."

I had to make a conscious, maybe effort is too strong, decision to listen to an ESPN gal do baseball color commentating from the booth.

It was a little jarring.

Thorley Winston said...

Ms. Lawrence seems to want other people to take her side based on her account of a private conversation that the rest of us were not privy to. I think I’ll pass.

MadisonMan said...

When I hear women in meetings, I often (often enough to notice) hear them speak using declarative sentences that nevertheless feature the voice going up at the end, as if it's a question. As if they are unsure. If they're unsure of what they're voicing, should I give it much consideration?

I don't hear men do this.

A female colleague was just in the office, and she didn't talk this way. And I respect her opinion more for it.

Were I a mentor to a woman, I would explicitly train them against this.

Does Jennifer Lawrence hear the same kind of verbal tic, or use it, and recognize it?

Gusty Winds said...

...But it does seem that woman are expected to pad their statements for the comfort of others and when we don't, it can be disconcerting.

One of the female managers on my team is very direct, blunt, and to the point. She is smart as hell, and knows everything inside and outside of our department. The guys on our management team in our department LOVE her. Her style fits and it gets stuff done. SHE GETS STUFF DONE!

I am probably in Human Resources once a month having some stupid conversation because "Ann hurt someone's feelings". When I see the communication it seems benign to me. It is simply direct and to the point.

The only employees lodging complaints against Ann are women outside of our department. I've yet to hear a guy complain.

So where I work the only ones complaining about her approach are other women. No men. We are all fans.

damikesc said...

Clearly, the Sony hack showed her assumption to be false.

CJinPA said...

These women are pitiful.

The women I work with would not recognize this latest whine.

We've spent the last 40 years reshaping government and culture, laws and speech and families, to make feminists happy. But we're not done. Oh no, they are still very, very disappointed in us.

Dan Hossley said...

"How objective are we....." Pretty funny question, given that the statements of a high school educated actress gave rise to the post. The answer is that we pay more attention to what celebrities say than the average waiter or waitress. We invite them to weigh in on all the important topics of the day, from tax policy, foreign policy, race relations, social justice, etc.

We aren't objective at all, we just want to be entertained.

Unknown said...

Just a darn minute here, what she actually said (one would think) might actually matter. If she was denigrating the team then the response is pretty on-target. Maybe she has a point, maybe not but to either make this kind of claim or relay the claim without some kind of evidence (I was going to say objective, but subjective would work too) is classless.

I have some level respect for JL based on interview reports, but this smacks of whining.

Gusty Winds said...

Madison Man said...I often (often enough to notice) hear them speak using declarative sentences that nevertheless feature the voice going up at the end, as if it's a question.

Oh...my...God. The up-speak phenomenon. Our Quality Manager is a woman. Very good at her job. Very thorough. But when she runs a meeting every sentence ends with the up-speak. It'll drive you crazy, and there is no way I am touching that to offer "constructive criticism".

Bill said...

I liked her better before she started hanging with feminist vulgarians Lena Dunham and Amy Schumer.

Henry said...

Some guys don't even need words, let alone padding.

rehajm said...

When I hear women in meetings, I often (often enough to notice) hear them speak using declarative sentences that nevertheless feature the voice going up at the end, as if it's a question.

Are all these women from Scotland? In Scotland every sentence is a question.

tim maguire said...

When was the last time you read one of these, "this is what life is like for women," and it rang true in any sense when you compare it with your actual experiences in this world? (Unless you are in academia or one of the other intensely "liberal" enclaves, in which case it probably rings true.)

MadisonMan said...

Are all these women from Scotland?

I wish!

Two Favorite Dr Who Companions: Jamie and Amelia.

I could listen to a Scots Accent for days.

Franklin said...

I very much doubt women would trade the power of sexual desire for the power to speak in declarative sentences. Hell, I'll trade JLaw the other way if she wants.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

"The man I was working with (actually, he was working for me) said, ‘Whoa! We’re all on the same team here!’ As if I was yelling at him."

Somehow Althouse translated "he was working for me" into "from a male co-worker."

Jennifer Lawrence was having trouble navigating the boss underling dynamic. As the boss, you have to listen to a lot of dumb ideas without making your underlings feel that you think they are dumb. Or you can take the Steve Jobs approach, that works too.

damikesc said...

At the link, a WaPo columnist named Alexandra Petri attempts some humor

She fails.

Miserably.

If women are too scared to speak up, why is it required of men to encourage them? I don't want to hear dudes bitching either.

Ms. Lawrence seems to want other people to take her side based on her account of a private conversation that the rest of us were not privy to. I think I’ll pass.

Yeah. You are unlikely to hear her say "Well, I was righteous asshole that day" even if she was.

AReasonableMan said...

Jennifer Lawrence is making a serious branding error here. The movies are about fantasy, the punters reward manic pixie dream girls, not salary negotiators. That is what agents are for. She is getting very bad advice in terms of her long term financial interests.

Scott M said...

"We are men of action. Lies do not become us."

Ignorance is Bliss said...



Jennifer Lawrence —

All I hear and see all day are men speaking their opinions, and I give mine in the same exact manner, and you would have thought I had said something offensive.

Jack Handy —

Laurie got offended that I used the word puke. But to me, that's what her dinner tasted like.

Fen said...

Women trying to be men always screw it up. You would think, with their "superior" communication skills, they would do better. You would think, with their "superior" empathy skills, they would understand men enough to mimic us properly. Nope.

Reminds me of a time I was fighting in armor back in the SCA. Field battle, about a hundred of us out there. We had a female fighter who had done a good job, many kills. I walk up to her and give her a friendly "slap" on helm the same way men do on the football field. She responds with a punch in the solar plexus that knocked the wind out of me. Good punch, good form, good aim - but completely consfused about the nature of men and how we act and what we mean.

What do women think of a wispy male in drag trying to adopt a feminine tone of voice? Females trying to emulate men come off the same way to men. Its why we don't take them seriously.

tim maguire said...

"In the exact same manner"?

I'd like to hear from somebody else present about how "exact same" the manner was.

themightypuck said...

I work in a large multinational corporation with a preponderance of women and this is opposite of my experience. Everyone is and must be fairly direct. I suppose an individual outlier could say something like JL experienced but they wouldn't be making any friends or helping their career.

Anonymous said...

Man is assertive, woman is bitchy. Woman is reserved, man is wimpy.

What woman can do is to ignore other people's opinions of her and speaks her mind "assertively" in a regular, not raised or excited, voice: no padding of "you know", "I don't know", "may be".

Since women "can't" defend themselves, they look to the govt. That explains why weak and shrill women vote Democrat, and will vote Hillary.

MayBee said...

Do you ever watch the Amazing Race?

It's really interesting to see the male/female dynamic. The women very frequently ask the men if they think the two of them should do something, and then if the man says no and things don't turn out, the woman says, "Why didn't you listen to me?"

I suspect women who think they are not listened to aren't really communicating the way they think they are.
I've never found people will listen to a man over me, or a man will disregard my opinion. I've not seen it.

traditionalguy said...

So the word police charge is being used by men too when a woman gives them a order.

The quite beautiful Trump Daughter was on CNN last night. she was tone perfect and yet I am sure she usees her authority just like Daddy taught her to do.

Coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MayBee said...

This actually reminds me of a non-related CNN report the other day. It seems Rapper "TI" said women make rash decisions, and the CNN political panel found that awful, how dare you group women together? BUT Pharrell said women are more "holistic" . And that was good.

Geoff Matthews said...

Yeah, Margaret Thatcher really worried about offending people. She would couch her statements to spare people's feelings.

Ann Althouse said...

"Just a darn minute here, what she actually said (one would think) might actually matter. If she was denigrating the team then the response is pretty on-target. Maybe she has a point, maybe not but to either make this kind of claim or relay the claim without some kind of evidence (I was going to say objective, but subjective would work too) is classless."

Very good point.

It might be that her blunt statement was heard, understood, and reacted to. When you say something clearly, people know what you mean. They may object to the substance. One effect of being mealy-mouthed is that others may not even absorb what you're saying and can imagine you're saying something they thing you should be saying or they don't think you particularly mean it. If you get a strong response when you speak clearly, well, that's the natural consequence, that's the risk you took. You can't put on them a demand to react in a caring, gentle way just because you opted not to speak in the old caring, gentle way. Dish it out and take it.

Unknown said...

Re: the voice going up at the end of a declarative sentence: Matthew Gray Gubler uses this speech pattern is his character of Dr. Reid on Criminal Minds, esp in the earlier seasons, to express social insecurity.

It goes both ways. When guys don't use the padding they can be quickly written off as assholes (by females) and dismissed.

Birches said...

The only employees lodging complaints against Ann are women outside of our department. I've yet to hear a guy complain.

Yep.

@ MadisonMan I miss Amy Pond so much. I'm kind of done with Clara. Even though I really like the new Dr. I have no excitement about this new season since she's back. Next season should be better.

Birches said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rhhardin said...

Alpha males don't give a shit. Her problem is working with beta males.

MadisonMan said...

@Birches, agreed: Clara has been around too long.

I liked Matt Smith a whole lot better with Amy and Rory than with Clara.

Pettifogger said...

I'm male, and I've expressed my opinions in many a meeting. But I try to do so tactfully. It sounds to me as if the need for tact is a large part of what she complains of.

Freeman Hunt said...

"Whoa, we're all on the same team here."
"Yes, we are. That's why we're having this conversation."

See? No story. Just normal talking.

Brando said...

This has everything to do with personality types. Trying to "genderize" this is misleading.

Men who are abrasive (as opposed to assertive) are considered jerks. Same goes for women, and yes assertive women are respected and admired. If you're being abrasive and people don't like it, maybe you should consider how to be more tactful in your assertiveness.

And if someone tells you "we're all on the same team here" it sounds more like whatever you said to prompt that implied division and animosity. Maybe it would be more helpful if JLaw provided more context. Until then, there's no point in taking her "anectdote" seriously.

If she thinks she should be getting paid more than she is, that's something for her and her agent to work out. No one is going to offer you--whether you're Jennifer Lawrence or Tom Cruise--a penny more than they believe they have to.

West Texas Intermediate Crude said...

This explains approximately 317% of the income differential between men and women.
There are only so many hours in a day.

mtrobertslaw said...

When a male forcefully attacks the logic of an opinion forcefully expressed by a women, the woman, more often than not, forcefully replies that she finds the male's response "offensive". And the point raised by the male is ignored.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Over 30+ years, I've worked at 7 Silicon Valley companies, tiny to huge, in engineering and management. Any PERSON who spoke like that in a meeting would most likely be 1) ignored, and 2) put on a short list for the next layoff.
Over those years, I've never met a woman in business who seemed compelled to act so faux-deferential. Just the opposite, in fact.
(also posted at insty)

Kristian Holvoet said...

I wonder if it includes ageism as well? Ms. Lawrence is quite a bit younger than the others. My wife was routinely discounted when she was 24 and fresh out of grad school but now that she is in her 40's, the management listens to and often defers to her. If anything, she has gotten more forthright and blunt than when she was younger. And more experienced (NTTIAWWT).

Unknown said...

ok, where's Lazlo?

walter said...

"people who are convinced others will treat them differently will tend to find a lot of evidence"
Pretty much.
And with the number of "dog whistles" being heard lately, it seems culture has gone to the dogs.
Any other guys think of situations where women in your workplace say things you could never get away with? Why..it "seems" like those women are unaware of a double standard...

walter said...

That she quotes the male's response while only vaguely describing the tone of her "trigger" says a lot about her own "privilege".

Kirk Parker said...

MadMan @ 10:44am:

Yes indeed, and while you're at it, make sure your mentee gets rid of "vocal fry" too.



rehajm,

"Are all these women from Scotland? In Scotland every sentence is a question?"

FIFY?

Christy said...

Professional life may be different today, I saw it beginning to change, but Lawrence's point rang true for me. I once had a male friend tell me after a public debate, as constructive feedback, that I was too aggressive. Aggressive! In a debate. What was I thinking?

walter said...

Gender aside, do think it impossible to be too aggressive in a debate? Is it possible YOU are viewing things through a distorted prism simply because the comment came from a male?

Brando said...

"Professional life may be different today, I saw it beginning to change, but Lawrence's point rang true for me. I once had a male friend tell me after a public debate, as constructive feedback, that I was too aggressive. Aggressive! In a debate. What was I thinking?"

Having not seen your debate I can't say whether you were too aggressive, but it is possible to be too aggressive in a debate. Likewise, a lot of lawyers make the mistake of thinking aggression will win the day (or they're just trying to impress their clients) but often it backfires. The key is assertiveness blended with tact. It works a lot better than straight up aggression.

tim in vermont said...

Whatever. The only men who don't pad their aggressiveness when speaking to coworkers, superiors, or subordinates are asshole bosses on TV. The problem is that these characters are part of peoples consciousness more even than the real people they know. Fictional characters tend to be more vivid.

The thing is that women are blind to the ways that men do this stuff so they think men are not doing it. If men didn't speak to each other somewhat respectfully 90% of the time there would be blood in the streets constantly. We have spent most of our young life learning how to do this with each other.

Brando said...

"The thing is that women are blind to the ways that men do this stuff so they think men are not doing it."

When someone doesn't get a promotion, or isn't happy with their salary, it's easy to chalk it up to some unfairness--gender bias, racial bias--rather than consider that some things just suck for reasons that have nothing to do with this. Yes, women have to be careful not to come across like a confrontational jerk. Guess what? Men do too! It's how people function in a society. Bullies usually can only get ahead in spite of their jerkishness, not because of it.

Being assertive without being a jerk is not an easy thing. But those who can do it will always do better.

Matthew Sablan said...

An example of being too aggressive in a debate: Leaving your area and entering the opponent's. Banging the table. Shouting to the point you can't be understood.

Brando said...

"An example of being too aggressive in a debate: Leaving your area and entering the opponent's. Banging the table. Shouting to the point you can't be understood."

I'll add insulting others, being condescending, and never conceding even demonstrably true minor points when trying to make your main point.

John Constantius said...

I can't think of a lot of women in a "Give me liberty or give me death" scenario. Oddly, it's mostly men who give the "I have a dream" speech and then get murdered by a racist assassin.

Most of Petri's "humor" sounds like bullshit office speak but that's probably because very few women have done anything more historic than bullshit office work. And yes I include Hillary Clinton in that - other than her propensity for fucking up foreign policy in a way that would make even Neville Chamberlain wince.

But then I thought of a few forthright, straight talking women who made some history - and a few of their famous quotes:

"Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us." Golda Meir

"The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money." Margaret Thatcher

Straight up, to the point, no "female-speak" and no BS. Two women loved and respected throughout the world who made a difference like a Patrick Henry or a Martin Luther King.

But I'm guessing that neither Petri or Lawrence are big fans. Probably figure Golda and Maggie are a bunch of hags who should STFU. Rude, bitchy, not-on-the-same-team cunts.

MadisonMan said...

LOL at Kirk Parker?

Freeman Hunt said...

"And if someone tells you "we're all on the same team here" it sounds more like whatever you said to prompt that implied division and animosity."

Not necessarily. It's also the sort of thing a perpetually aggrieved person might say, regardless of the gender of the person being addressed.

walter said...

Well..that's just it. No way of knowing without witnessing the exchange. But note he gets quoted, she wants the benefit of the doubt.

walter said...

Kind of reminds of the presumption here

Montgomery HOG Blog said...

When I retired my replacement was a woman. I had worked with her for years. Outstanding technical skills. Blunt speaking? Oh yeah. In fact she needed some of that padding. But you always knew what she was saying.

I respect the hell out of her.

William said...

I didn't read the article. I didn't need to. Anything Jennifer Lawrence says is ok by me. I agree with her 100% about everything. I would like her to be (at the very least) my best friend forever. I think she meets a lot of people who think the way I do. I'm surprised she met someone who disagreed with her. She should fire him.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Monty HOG: I can't let that go without quoting one of my favorites:
"Insisting on absolute safety is for people who don't have the balls to live in the real world."
Mary Shafer, SR-71 Flying Qualities Lead Engineer, NASA Dryden / Edwards AFB.
(c. 1989)
Here's a link to Mary's complete remarks:
http://yarchive.net/air/perfect_safety.html

William said...

I saw the remake of Far From the Madding Crowd. Carey Mulligan played the part of Bathsheba Everdene. Carey is fragile and pretty but no Hardy heroine. Jennifer Lawrence would have been better in the role. She should own all the Everdene roles, Hardy and Hunger Games. I wonder if any of the people here who so readily dismiss her would be willing to undertake the overthrow of a dystopian society or the management of a large farm.

mikee said...

I worked as a process engineer in a semiconductor fabrication plant. Everyone in the manufacturing area wore full cleanroom gear, booties and zippacumucks and hoods and gloves and goggles. I worked for 7 years with people whose faces I had never seen. I recognized individuals by body shape, and there were exactly 2 people in the factory of 1500 workers who looked good in the cleanroom suits.

All that is prelude to this statement: When I could not tell if a person was a male or female without speaking directly to them, what they said was judged solely on merit, without gender/racial/ethnic/origin/religious/anything interfering.

Fred Drinkwater said...

William: I know, right? People here have no idea how tough J Law is.
I know about those Hollywood hardasses, though. Why, once I wrote a disparaging remark about Scarlett, and the next thing I know Black Widow breaks down my front door and body-slams me to the floor. Then, clad in tight, shiny black leather, she knelt down and ...
buzz..buzz..buzz..buzz damn, time to wake up and rejoin the world.

Tom said...

So she told someone what she thought and they told her what they thought about what she said and she got offended. That's weak. "We're all on the same team here," ain't the worse thing ever said to a person.