As John Carroll’s foremost self-proclaimed sociologist, I would like to take this opportunity to discuss a theme that affects our entire population: women.
This is a very broad issue (pun intended), but I am only trying to provide perspective as a 20-year-old male.
You see, to us men, women are a beautiful but perplexing part of our population.
As a communication major, I feel that communication is at the heart of everything. Therefore, I think this is a great place to start.
Verbal communications are one of our most common forms of communication. However, I have learned that unfortunately, just because men and women share a common language, there is not necessarily a common understanding of its meaning.
For example, if a guy, let’s call him John, asks a young lady, who we will call Carol, “Hey, wanna get lunch some time?”, his motivation is food. What he is really asking is, “Hey, wanna get lunch some time?” What he is really thinking is, “Hey, wanna get lunch some time?”
However, when Carol hears this proposition, she no doubt hears way more than has actually been said. The gent asks her, “Hey, wanna get lunch some time?” She immediately extends that to the ultimate conclusion. Let’s call this the “kill switch extrapolation.”
In the moment between the question being asked and Carol giving her response, her internal monologue runs rampant: “Do I wanna get lunch some time? Oh, no. He must be asking me out on a date. I thought I already told him I don’t like him. Doesn’t he understand? Maybe I do like him. But I don’t want to give him the wrong impression. I wonder where we would go. Maybe if it’s just coffee, it won’t matter. But what if it does? What if he tries to kiss me? What if I kiss him back? Oh, God. What if we have sex? I can’t marry this guy. I’m too young to have a family. I better just say no.”
So in response to John, Carol simply says, “Sorry, I’m really busy.”
Naturally, John being the good friend that he is, has no knowledge of what just went through her mind and falsely assumes that she is genuinely too busy.
“OK, good luck getting everything done,” he says. John then goes to lunch as he had initially planned and enjoys it just as much as he would have with the company of Carol. His motivation was food, not starting a family.
However, this showcases a common problem for inter-gender communication: honesty.
It would have been much easier for both John and Carol if Carol had just been straightforward from the start.
Let’s replay this conversation without Carol’s kill switch extrapolation.
John: “Hey, wanna get lunch some time?”
Carol (who actually asks what’s on her mind instead of wondering): “Like a date?”
At this point, John can say one of two things: Yes or No. Let’s see how both play out.
Option A – John: “Yep. I think you’re the bee’s knees, and I’d love the opportunity to enjoy the best date of your life with you as I gaze wistfully into your deep ocean eyes.”
Carol (still being honest): “Gee, John, I appreciate it, but I don’t think that’s the best idea. Sorry.”
Of course, John will be disappointed, but life goes on and John and Carol ultimately find other people to fall in love with.
Or Option B could happen: John: “A date?! No, of course not. I just want to get lunch with a friend, and I thought you might be interested.”
Carol: “Oh, OK. Yeah, let’s do it.”
They eat, drink and be merry, and no one is left wondering what happened. This is because honesty is hands down always the best approach.
Communication between guys and gals doesn’t have to be a labyrinth of kill switch extrapolations if both people say what they actually feel.
It’s true, somebody may get hurt. Somebody may be the one doing the hurting. But at least the cards are on the table for everyone to see.
There’s a lot more to be said about the sociological dynamics of gender and the wonder of womanhood; but for now, I think if we can work on the idea of honest communication, that’ll be a good start.