Marking Men and Women

Published: 2021-06-29 06:39:10
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Markings Make Man...Or Woman
"Heaven help the American-born boy with a talent for ballet." ~Camille Paglia
If a man walks into a room wearing a dress, would that be considered out of the ordinary? In today's society, yes, this would be considered a joke to the male population. Only women can wear dresses. Society outlines men to be masculine figures who wear jeans and drink beer. But what if women wear jeans and drink beer? Is that considered out of the ordinary? Society shapes individuals and creates the ultimate image of a man and a woman. A man must be a man and a woman must be a woman. If a man does something that a man would ordinarily not do, it is unacceptable according to society. In Deborah Tannen's "There is no Unmarked Woman," the term 'marked' essentially means something signifying something else. Tannen's analysis of men and women show how what men do in society is considered normal while women's difference marks who they are. In James Gibson's "Warrior Dreams," men are perceived as people with great power; people who "dream, to fantasize about the powers and features of another kind of man who could retake and reorder the world" (Gibson 625). Jhett, a student, believes that it is impossible "for an individual to be purely unmarked." He also believes Gibson would disagree with Tannen because men are just as marked as women. If Gibson had the chance to respond to Tannen's argument that women are marked more than men because what men do is normal, he would disagree because he feels that men are also marked in society, a society once dominated by males that has seemed to come apart to make way for the feminist movement.
"If you use the pronoun 's/he' when writing, or write 'women and men' rather than 'men and women,' you are not just writing words: You are making a statement that may 'mark' you as being a 'feminist' (Tannen 620). Deborah Tannen discusses the differences in gender within our culture. She says when a woman wears makeup or does not wear makeup, it sends a signal about the type of woman she is, as opposed to a man not wearing makeup sending no signal at all. "A women's difference inevitably marks them, because there is no unmarked woman" (Tannen 620). Tannen's definition of marked refers to the way language alters the base meaning of a word by adding a linguistic particle that has no meaning on its own (Tannen 621). For example, the word 'actor' can essentially be a man or a woman, but change the word to 'actress' and it automatically becomes a woman. The word 'actor' really has no distinct meaning behind it but the meaning of 'actress,' for some reason, just shouts female. In a small work conference consisting of four women and eight men, Tannen finds herself looking at the styles of the three other women at the table instead of concentrating on the discussion. She compares the styles of the three other women in the room, pointing out what makes each different from the next. "As [she] amused [herself] finding coherence in these styles, [she] suddenly wondered why [she] was scrutinizing only the women. [She] scanned the eight men at the table. And then [she] knew why [she] was not studying them. The men's styles were unmarked" (Tannen 621). Nothing the men in the meeting were wearing made one different from the next, making them unmarked. According to Tannen, all men look similar while women are perceived to be different based on things they wear and their qualities. For example, at the Grammy Awards, all men look similar in that they are all wearing similar styles or the usual formal suits. If one were to compare and contrast women at the Grammy Awards, each woman would most likely have something different from the next because women aim to look unique or to have a design completely different from other women. Tannen believes that men are marked in ways that make them seem masculine. If a man has an occupation in construction, that is more than acceptable because that is a 'man's job,' but if a man were to become a nurse, people would question him because they would assume a woman would usually become a nurse, which is why the title is no longer known as just a 'nurse', but a 'male nurse' for a man. One would also assume that a doctor is a man, but that has also changed, allowing for more women to become doctors. Tannen also discusses men's hair styles in a business setting. No man had a "crew cut or oily longish hair falling into eyes," but mostly bald or standard length. "Their hair obstructed no views, left little to toss or push back or run fingers through and, consequently, needed and attracted no attention. A few men had beards. In a business setting, beards might be marked. In this academic gathering,

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