Different but Equal: Communication between the Sexes

By Kay E. Payne | Go to book overview

5

Gendered Communication in Close Relationships

For many people the drive for power and the will to love represent opposite poles of human existence and are great sources of human conflict. In their most perverted forms, power becomes domination and love becomes manipulation, and if you use power to get love or love to gain power, a relationship becomes destructive.

Anonymous

When examining close relationships gender roles raise two questions: (1) How closely does a person adhere to gender role stereotypes for his or her sex as prescribed by the culture? (2) In what way does the gender role a person plays relate to communication? Determining who will wash the car, do the yard work, clean the garage, prepare the meals, do the laundry, and care for the children is often affected by gender role stereotypes. Cultural scripts help make most heterosexual relationships predictable in this regard. For example, we still expect the man to “make the first move” by inviting a woman out, and the woman either to turn him down or to accept. Further, the man usually attempts to increase the level of sexual intimacy with his sexual partner, while (at least in the United States) the woman’s responsibility involves “refusing his advances” and upholding the moral high ground or “accepting his advances” for whatever reason suits her. We view communication in relationships as either instrumental or relational. Males stereotypically use an instrumental communication, and females stereotypically use a relational model. Women tend to establish a “nesting”

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