Sunday, September 18, 2011

Homework #5 Matilda Jarvis

   Deborah Tannen's There is No Unmarked Woman shows how women are 'marked' in society, but also gives the contradictory side of the argument to say that men are marked instead of women. Though she gives both sides to the problem, Tannen clearly conveys what she believes: "I suddenly wondered why I was scrutinizing only the women. I scanned the eight men at the table. And then I knew why I wasn't studying them. The men's styles were unmarked" (Tannen 141). In my personal experience, I have to agree with this. While men can vary in their styles, the difference is the most noticeable among women. However, Tannen concludes the text with somewhat of a despondent statement: "I felt sad to think that we women didn't have the freedom to be unmarked that the men sitting next to us had. Some days you just want to get dressed and go about your business. But if you're a woman, you can't, because there is no unmarked woman" (Tannen 145). I disagree with this opinion--sure, sometimes it is difficult to be judged by what you wear, but it helps define you as a unique individual, and that is never something to mourn over.

    I found August's Real Men Don't: Anti-Male Bias in English to be overly severe and perhaps exaggerate much of the evidence, though I don't mean to be offensive and speak lightly of the topic. August says, "As Paul Theroux defines it, be a man means: 'Be stupid, be unfeeling, obedient and soldierly, and stop thinking'" (August 134). This is the polar opposite of my experience; the times I have witnessed this usage of this phrase, it has been to encourage a guy to use his brains and think for himself, to use his judgment (which includes feelings), and to be courageous. Even if, like August says the expression means "that the boy is about to suffer something painful or humiliating" (August 134), it does not mean for him to be as described by Theroux, as stupid and obedient, but to use common sense and reason to figure out how to act in a situation. If that means that he will stand by quietly while being mocked, then it is not because he is not thinking and being soldierly, but because that option is better than the alternative, and he has the courage to endure it.


  1. When i was reading Tannen's article i didn't really see where she was saying that men were marked too.

  2. I chose the same disagreement from August's essay, I don't think that holds true in todays society.