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Marked women by appearance article

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 847 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In the Article “marked women”, Deborah Tannen explains the social way of judging women by their appearance or other factors, but not judging men for the same reasons. Tannen uses her observation during a conference meeting of four women and eight men to analyze how each woman in the meeting was marked while men were not. Again Deborah points out the issue of how one gender writing about the other is either portrayed as prejudiced or sexist. ADD MORE POINTS

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The author explains that men have the freedom to wear what they want without much meaning being read from their clothes, but for a woman every style has a meaning. In the article Deborah Tannen says “There is no woman’s hair style that can be called standard, that says nothing about her” further supporting her point. The author uses the different clothing styles of three ladies in her conference meeting as examples when she tries to attribute them? to their respective personalities. However, she noticed that the men were all dressed alike because they had the freedom to. In my opinion, the author’s evaluation is restricted. Tannen did not consider the formal setting of her case study so to say.In such settings, men are often restricted to corporate outfits and a plain haircut just like the ones she observed in her male colleagues in the article (page #) . For instance, it is inappropriate for a man to go job hunting or for an interview in a pair of shorts and plain T shirt, but in a casual place like a bar he has more freedom in his choice of outfits. This example shows that men are only unmarked in certain situations and settings.

Further on, Deborah also claims that every woman’s style has an implied meaning. In paragraph 12 she says “Each of the women at the conference had to make decisions about hair, clothing, makeup and accessories, and each decision had a carried meaning”. She insinuates that a woman can hardly dress without judgment being passed on her dress. For example, if a woman wears a revealing or tight dress then she is viewed as attention seeking or available. I believe that the Deborah Tannen’s point here is true because from my experience, a person’s appearance is the first criteria for judgment it makes your first impression of the person. I don’t completely agree with Deborah attributing this social evaluation to just women since a man can also be judged by how he dresses. His dressing says a lot about his personality, fashion choices, occupation, wealth and even his sexual orientation. You don’t need anyone to tell you that a man who dresses in suits everyday works in a firm or some business outfit while the man in overalls and hard hat is a construction worker.

Next, the article makes a case about some words in the English language that are marked. Deborah Tannen describes that adding suffixes to some nouns to make them feminine (or about the female gender) seems to infer a sense of a sense of un-seriousness. In Deborah’s example adding -ette to the Doctor to form “Doctorette” shows inferiority to a certain degree . In my opinion the author was myopic in her evaluation. She bases her case on the English language only, in making a general argument about women. Some languages use the same words or completely different words for both genders. in French language “il“ is used for the masculine gender and “elle” for the feminine gender and “ils” for plural “they”. It should be noted that these suffixes are just added to show grammatical differentiation in gender and not for social gender classification.

The author cited an expert source Dr. Ralph Fasold in his book, ().”. According to her citation, Dr. Fasold stressed that “language and culture are particularly unfair in treating women as the marked case because biologically it is the male that is marked” (paragraph 24, line 2). So with respect to this citation, in her opinion men should be the marked ones. This logic seems to be biased and irrelevant to the argument about the women being marked and men unmarked, not which gender should. I believe it was a good citation but for the wrong argument.

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The article introduces a secondary argument about the society’s view of one gender writing about the other. A woman writing about the man is viewed by the society as a prejudiced person. This is true; in my opinion a female writing about a male is sexist. I feel a woman writing about for instance the flaws of the male character is sexist because both genders have flaws and why should only one gender be put to question.

In conclusion, I think the author Deborah Tannen had a reasonable argument but her supporting evidence were somewhat biased and they were not strong enough to fully support the arguments. Moreover, she did introduce opposing opinions; she just looked at the argument from a woman’s point of view. As far as my opinion goes women are judged a little more than men, but that does not mean men are free this societal evaluation.


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