Terry and I kept getting into little tiffs the other day. Every conversation just felt off. He didn’t see it this way, but I noticed it in our first discussion – I just wanted to talk and complain, and he just wanted to give me advice about what I should do. But that’s not what I needed. I know what to do. I just wanted to vent about it.
We made up well before dinner and just as I was about to fall asleep, I realized what the problem was: I wanted to talk about something that was happening in my life, and I wanted a sympathetic ear. I wanted someone to empathize – to say, I totally get it. I wanted a conversation with a woman.
Talking to Terry is great, but I’m talking to a man. Men are natural problem solvers. I see this with Terry, with my father, my brothers, a lot of male friends – you frame up something as if it’s a problem (because why else would you be complaining about it?) and they solve it for you. There you go! You have your solution. Now everyone can go back to being happy. It’s a rather convenient way to shut someone up, isn’t it? Provide a solution that, if implemented, will cure the issue and all complaints. But it’s not that simple with females. It never is.
Sometimes it feels good to complain your ass off, and to know that someone cares enough to let you do it. It helps to know that other people out there deal with dumb shit, too. And we can be annoyed together! And when we’re all good and irritated, only then will we voice the solution. Only then.
This rift reminded me of a gender studies class I took my last semester of college. Admittedly, I signed up for the credit hours, but it ended up being one of my most interesting and favorite courses. It was a class of maybe 15 to 20 students – all different levels, races, genders – and we basically just talked about what it meant to be men and women in society. We hit on double standards, dating, grooming, sex, education, physicality, personal and societal expectations... But the class dedicated to conversation styles intrigued me the most.
Speaking generally, women tend to be more open and inviting in their conversations, especially with those whom they have close relationships – or as a way to establish, grow, improve or repair. Between girl talk and gossip, there lies a safe space where women feel empowered to share and speak freely. They’ll sit, and spend time and energy talking through every aspect of an issue, uncovering all its mysteries, subtleties and meanings.
Again, speaking generally, men are straight shooters. They get to the point. They might think on an issue for a while, but the fewer words they need to convey their thoughts, the better. They're described as 'the strong, silent type', 'stoic', and 'a man of few words'. There's even that movie with John Wayne, "The Quiet Man". And everything I know about being a man I learned from John Wayne.
These conversation styles are not dissimilar to our genitalia, or even the way men and women have and experience sex. Vaginas, by design, are open and inviting. Because of an internal system, there’s a lot of exploring one must do to achieve orgasm, which requires time, energy, and an intimate understanding of your partner or self.
Now let’s think about the penis. It’s literally a point. It’s all hanging out there, and the solution is obvious. You don’t even need to get fancy. Just get to work. It’s pretty much the same technique across the gender and it has yet to fail them.
When we were working it out, I told Terry that I just wanted to talk. I didn’t need him to come up with a solution. I just needed him to listen to me. But he thought his guidance was part of the conversation. It's interesting. Neither one of us is wrong. We’re just seeing the same thing from two different sides.