The Secret Dialogue of Women

March 2nd, 2009

We hear a frequency that men are deaf to.

When I was younger, I hated anything that suggested men and women were different psychologically, emotionally, or intellectually.  Yes, our bodies are different (in ways that mesh well, don’t you think?) but I always ascribed any less physical divisions to societal pressures and not anything innate.  I intended to fight sexual stereotyping with all my feeble little feminine energy.

I’ve given up on that one and can now comfortably cry out, “Lord, the sexes are different!”

I know I’m not the first person to point this out.  We’ve heard it all before.  Women are from one planet, men are from another.   We get PMS, they have waning testosterone levels in their later years.  Because women have babies, we’ve evolved to be more loyal and loving; the hunter/gatherers evolved to be more aggressive.   And so on.

Fine, whatever.   Maybe all that’s true.  I don’t care.  You want to know what the most important difference between men and women is?

Of course you do.  So I’m going to tell you.

The most important difference between men and women is that women hear what hasn’t been said.  Men just hear words.  Somehow we’ve evolved to hear a frequency that they’re just completely deaf to.

Let me give you an example.  Say you’re at a party and a group of friends are going off to have dinner together and one of them says, “Oh.  Do you guys want to come, too?”

This is what your husband hears:  “Oh.  Do you guys want to come, too?”  Which means he’ll reply immediately based on whether or not he wants to go out to dinner, which he probably does because he’s hungry and all he’s had to eat at this stupid cocktail party is cheese, crackers, and some warm white wine.

Meanwhile, this is what you hear:  “I just realized you guys overheard us talking about going out later tonight, so I better invite you, too, but I’m a little uncomfortable about putting these particular couples together and four is such a better number at a table than six–plus I’ll have to change the reservation.  Please have the courtesy to realize I’m only inviting you as a formality and say no.”

So you’re just about to say, “Sounds great, but I’m too tired,” when your oblivious husband smiles and says, “Yes, let’s!” leading to a fight later in the evening when you hiss at him, “How could you say yes?  Couldn’t you tell she didn’t really want us to go?” and he, poor bewildered guy, has no idea what you’re talking about.  Why would she have invited you if she didn’t want you to go?  And where are you getting all of your information from?

 Men are literal beasts.  Oh, sure, the academic types can read a book and figure out some way to explicate the text, but just try to convey the depths of your hurt feelings with an obvious statement like, “No, nothing’s wrong,” and you’ll see how impossible it is for them to comprehend anything.  Another woman would figure out from those three little words that a) you’re deeply unhappy with your marriage and b) it’s because your husband has been sitting at his desk doing e-mail while you’ve been lying on the bed waiting for him to come in and show you some attention after a long hard day. 

I mean, really–is it that hard to translate?  Of course not.  Not if you can hear what isn’t being said.

Here’s another one.  You’re out at school picking up your kid and a father says, “How are you doing?” and you say, “Fine” and he nods and moves on.  Same exchange with a woman–and she stops and peers at you sympathetically.  “What’s wrong?” she asks.  She heard levels of weariness and surrender and misery in your “fine”–depths of emotion that her male equivalent will remain happily oblivious to for the rest of the day.  So you unburden yourself to her.  You don’t even have to say all that much.  Something as simple as, “My husband’s family is staying with us right now” tells her all she needs to know to extend, sympathy, empathy, and a sharing of her own similar woes. 

It’ s no wonder we women are a sensitive, occasionally emotional lot.  We’re dealing with so much sub-literal stuff that the men don’t even have a glimpse of!  But, lest I sound too hard on the other gender, I’d like to remind you of the point I made at the beginning of this post: their bodies are different, too, in wonderful ways.   So vive la difference! as my Granny would have said (although maybe not in this context–although she was cool for a Granny, so maybe she would have).

 

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