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From Her Voice to Her Status

  • Date Submitted: 10/03/2013 04:20 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 64.3 
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From Her Voice To Her Status
Women are constantly going to be portrayed as powerless in society. In the book Jane Eyre written by Charlotte Bronte, a young woman named Jane is hired to be a governess in a wealthy estate at Thornfield. Since it takes place during the 1820s-1840s, Jane faces social inequality, gender discrimination, and finds the meaning of true love. Likewise, Deborah Tannen, author of “His Politeness Is Her Powerlessness”, believes that a woman’s language would not be seen as powerless if she is more direct and demanding, like a man. Bronte and Tannen both illustrate the theme that woman will always be viewed as the inferior sex regardless of their communication styles.
Direct and indirect are two communication ways in which a woman’s speaking style is negatively evaluated, according to “His Politeness Is Her Powerlessness”. Evidence from other cultures makes it clear that if a woman is direct she is still seen as low, for example, “ Anthropologist Elinor Keenan found that in a Malagasy-speaking village on the island Madagascar... the villagers see the men’s indirect way of speaking... as high status. They regard women’s direct style as clumsy and crude...” (Tannen 1). The women’s way of being outspoken with what they want is rude because they are portrayed as being aggressive and demanding. Because of their status, society will not accept a woman to be more “powerful” than men. However, even if men are indirect, they are still seen as the higher authority due to the fact that they have always been defined in that position. Any one action women do is proof of powerlessness to humanity. As a psychologist noted, a man might ask a woman, “Will you please go to the store ?”, where a woman might say, “Gee, I really need a few things from the store, but I’m so tired” (Tannen 1). This is implying that the woman feels she does not have the power to directly ask for what she wants. A woman’s use of indirectness makes her seem more dependent compared to...


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