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You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation Paperback – Jul 12 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; 1 edition (July 12 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060959622
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060959623
  • Product Dimensions: 20.5 x 13.6 x 2.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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First Sentence
Many years ago I was married to a man who shouted at me, "I do not give you the right to raise your voice to me, because you are a woman and I am a man" This was frustrating, because I knew it was unfair. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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By Raven on April 28 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book many years ago and decided to reread it recently. Still fascinating and very helpful in understanding communication differences. She gives so many excellent examples and insights into the male female dynamic, plus broadens the discussion to look at cultural differences etc. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to find a bridge between the polarities of male female expression. One of the best and most helpful books I have read on this subject. Excellent,
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By Jaime on Jan. 26 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
easy to read alone or with your spouse, sheds light on the ways in which the opposite sex communicate and is helpful
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Format: Paperback
Everything in Ms. Tannen's world is apparently black and white as far as gender goes. Little girls play with dolls, boys play sports.
None of her gender divisions applied even remotely accurately to my life; it's almost as if my husband and I have flipflopped genders, according to the stereotypes in this book. Ms. Tannen needs to go out and view the modern world, because gender boundaries have changed, blurred, and in some cases simply disappeared.
I also disagree that men are the only ones looking to "one-up" people in a conversation, while women are always seeking to strengthen social networks.
If you really need a "self help" book in understanding your spouse that isn't so blatantly and disgustingly sexist, I recommend "The Dance of Anger" instead. It has effective suggestions for communication between people of all genders, relationships, and ages.
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Format: Paperback
Tannen's pop-gender theory just isn't cutting it. In academic circles, Tannen's ideas are as outdated as the hoop skirt. Elsewhere, they fall flat, poised on experiments without controls, haphazard 'examples' drawn from mysterious (and never defined or outlined) encounters with random people.
Gone is social context, and other differences (cultural, age, and class) are never even considered in Tannen's book. Instead, she expects her readers to attribute all her described linguistic methods to mere gender difference. As a result, this book reads more like a dime-store novel than an intelligent critique of modern communication.
A perfect example of what NOT to read if you are interested in gender theory or writings on gendered language.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Terrell Miller on Jan. 2 2001
Format: Paperback
One of the things I've noticed about books like this is that the author comes up with a "matrix" of different, usually opposing, characteristics (in this case, human behaviour), then uses that matrix to explain *all* the differences in behaviour. Here Tannen expresses every described conflict between men and women *solely* in terms of gender differences. SOme are, some aren't.
Books like this sound very plausible when you are reading them, but then if you read another similar book, you notice that the second author uses an entirely different set of "parameters" for their own matrix (which is quite plausible when you're reading it as well). Trouble is, the two matrices that sound so compelling are totally incompatible and in fact contradict each other.
Moral of the story: it doesn't have to be accurate, it just has to be plausible enough to get a publishing deal.
Good case in point: Tannen mentions the trouble she had with a new computer purchase. The first time she took it back to the shop, the repairman was very unhelpful and spouted a bunch of gibberish at her. Later, she took the computer back and talked to one of the saleswomen, who solved her problem. Conclusion: men are unfriendly and one-uppers, while women are helpful and nurturing.
Problem is, I've known many women who act like the uncommunicative repairman. And I've seen many males who are very helpful and can easily help solve people's problems.
So this wasn't a male-female difference that Tannen experienced, it was simply that the first person she encountered (who happened to be male) was a very technically oriented type; he probably wasn't trying to be rude or unhelpful, he was just not too great at verbal interaction.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Feb. 7 2001
Format: Paperback
The following are just a few of the more glaring weaknesses of this unfathomably popular bit of pop-psychology masquerading as linguistic science. 1) It's empirically feeble. For example, what can you say about a book purportedly about the difference between male and female speech patterns that doesn't even mention the phenomenon of swearing. In Debbie's world, profanity --surely a genuine hallmark of the masculine linguistic style-- doesn't exist.
2) It's claim to gender objectivity is bogus. I mean, the giveaway is right there in the title: "You just don't understand!" Does anyone reckon that to be a gender-neutral utterance? Hardly. This book is actually a prolonged whine about those darn guys who just can't read the nuances of the supposed feminine speech code.
3) Theoretically it is a mess. For example, a basic premise of the Tannen worldview is that men are hierarchical critters, while women are natural egalitarians. She actually routinely compares men to pack animals like dogs. The notion that women are non-hierarchical is already pretty staggering (I mean, did Deborah Tannen never attend high school?). But her next move, that of associating men's alleged speech style with hierarchy, and women's alleged speech style with an absence of hierarchy, flies in the face of common sense. According to Deb, the male style of plain, blunt, confrontational speaking is hierarchical, whereas such a style is in fact a hallmark of egalitarianism if anything. What Tannen identifies as female speech patterns --indirect, allusive, mutually face-saving-- is a courtier's style of speech, proper to sharply stratified social contexts.
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