Last night I heard Gina Barreca speak at the CT chapter of the National Speakers Association. I’ve been to many of these meetings over the past three years and she was by far one of the very best.
Gina is a professor of literature and feminist theory at UConn, as well as an author of several books including They Used to Call Me Snow White But I Drifted, and I’m with Stupid. On her site is this quote about her philosophy: "Humor is a way to make trouble, a way to get a issues, even difficult issues."
I agree whole-heartedly! I have used humor many times in a jam and have gotten away with saying very pointed things in a humorous way that could never have been said directly. I must say my Mom taught me this. It is a good skill to have and it certainly makes your point.
Gina explained that women don’t tell jokes. Men tell jokes and men like the Three Stooges. Instead, women tell stories – about everything. If you compliment a woman about her outfit, she’ll tell you where she got it, how much it cost and what’s wrong with it. We have totaly different ways of communicating. Even if a women wants to convey something humorous – she’ll probably say, "Let me tell you a funny story." And you better sit down because it’ll probably be a while – right?
Gina made a great point about the female students in her class. She explained how the girls start the semester talking and how every sentence sounds like a question because it ends on an up note. The tone of voice trails up at the end of the sentence which is perfect when asking a question. But when this way of speaking ends every sentence, then its a statement about self-esteem and presentation. This is one of the very things that drains credibility from a woman’s image.
Anyway, after a few weeks in class, one woman went up to her and recited back what she had learned about feminism etc, in class while managing her tone voice, etc. Then she ended by asking "But will we still get dates?"
Well that is a good question. And everyone in the room last night laughed out loud. But I don’t think this is a problem at all. Women often complain about having to dumb down. That’s not really an issue long-term. It’s an immediate issue impacting attraction – especially for web dating.
A powerful woman could intimidate a man with her credentials. Get to meet him first, he’ll see how great you are, then you can tell him more about what you do. At that point, he’ll already like you so your high-powered job won’t seem nearly as threatening to his ego. Trust me on this one.
So is this dumbing down? NO! It’s what I call "Smart Packaging." You are still the same person, but you are leaving room for the man to feel good about himself rather than feel threatened. When he feels threatened that causes him to compete which is the killer of romance!
Here’s an analogy. Think of a male peacock. They spread that magnificent display of jewel-toned feathers to attract a female. Today most men do this same thing – by telling you how much money they make, what a great job, boat, car they have – fanning out their possessions and accomplishments to impress you. If you do the same by bragging – you put him on the defensive feeling like he has to compete – and getting his tail feathers in an uproar.
You can see why that wouldn’t be a romantic course of action. Why is it bad to let a man feel good? You know who you are, and with a little time – he’ll know all about you too. Just give him a chance to think his tail feathers are really something to crow about – he’ll appreciate you for it.
I learned this from a divorced man I dated. Prior to getting divorced, he went to therapy with his wife where he learned that the sexes each had a job within the relationship. Women want men to tell them that everything will be OK. And men want to know that women think they are wonderful. I have found this to be surprisingly true. So let him think he’s wonderful. Research studies show that men choose women who make them feel good. What’s so bad about that?
I’m looking forward to reading Gina’s books and will surely share any pearls I encounter.