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Friday, October 29, 2010

"Girl Talk" Versus "Guy Talk"


I experienced one of those painful newbie boyfriend moments a couple of weeks ago.

My girlfriend and I were playing Scrabble. She was winning. I was losing. Hard. At first I thought I was gonna make a comeback with this awesome double-word score + triple letter bonus. Then she laid down a word on my spot, and got all the points.

Laughing at my misfortune, her skill, the game, how much fun I was having even while being pwned, I said (something along the lines of, but more graphic), "fucker."

My girlfriend was not happy.

She called it hurtful, and basically gave me the side-eye for the most/rest of the game.

I only meant it as a casual remark. One of those things guys say to one another when they play games or sports.

Aha. Moment of revelation.

When I'm with my guy friends -- my bros, my dudes, my homies -- we often trash-talk each other like that. It's part of the bonding experience, part of the game. "You mother-fucker," is like a normal thing. Telling someone they're a piece of shit for beating the crap out of you is considered regular speech.

To my girlfriend however, it apparently was not...


So I realized something. There's a difference in the ways we (men) talk to girls versus how we talk to other guys. (Duh!) But what I didn't realize -- at the time -- was that that difference meant I couldn't joke and play-punch like I usually do when my competitive-streak is roused.

Which brought up this whole notion of "girl talk" versus "guy talk". How do people talk to other people of a different gender? How do you talk to people of a different gender?

I know for guys this can include a whole host of things from vocal register, speed of speech, and even vocabulary choices.

For example:
Talking with my friends, "Yo dude, that movie was badass. Totally fucking rocked my socks off."
Talking with my girlfriend, "Wasn't that a great movie darling? I didn't see that ending coming.

Another example:
Talking with my friends, "Let's get some Carl's. I'm starving like a motherfucker."
Talking with my girlfriend, "Are you hungry baby? I'm feeling like fast-food tonight."

Last example:
Talking with my friends, "Did you get any last night? I saw you with that one girl. She seemed young, but you know you gotta recruit 'em early!"
Talking with my girlfriend, "How was your night darling? You have fun going out? Do anything particularly cool?"

Okay, so obviously these are kind of blown-out examples, but my point remains the same:  there is a culturally created language divide between "girl talk" and "guy talk".

For us boyfriends, this means changing-up what we say when we're with the boys, and when we're with our ladies.

For me, it meant an apology was in order.



Cheers

20 footnotes:

Mira said...

Oooh, what a cute pic! I love hamsters!

Um, back on topic. I hear you, but the first thing I ask here is: which is the real you (general you)? What is your true voice?

Also. If women ask for equality, they must ask for equal treatment. Which means they should not expect men to treat them "better", more gently, than they treat other men. I mean, it's fair, isn't it?

I am not saying women should receive "guy talk", but without sexism, the guy talk and girl talk would become similar. But girl talk and being treated nicer just because you are female are some things ladies should be ready to give up in order to fight sexism.

Personally, I prefer "guy talk" and see nothing wrong with it (or using "bad" words- I do that all the time). However, there's a difference between this and being disrespectful.

So am I the only one who thought your first two examples were fine, but third one ("you know you gotta recruit 'em early" one) was a bit questionable. It does sound sexist, while previous example,s in my opinion, are not.

Tha being said, anybody who doesn't care about offending their loved ones is a crappy human being, a fucker (in a bad sense of the word)... So of course you need to apologize to your girlfriend and of course you should not say/do things that hurt or offend her.

Jasmin said...

I hate gerbils.

Jasmin said...

Mira,

However, there's a difference between this and being disrespectful.

I agree, there was nothing "bad" about the first too examples, and it doesn't seem like a case of guy vs. girl talk so much as personal preference (regardless of gender). Some people don't like conversations laced with swear words, while it doesn't make a difference to others, and sometimes it depends on whether you're calling someone a (swear word) name vs. referencing an object with a (swear word) name. Example: "It's so fucking hot" vs. "You fucking asshole". To me, the latter is fightin' words. :-) To someone else, "asshole" and "bitch" can be terms of endearment. MMV.

Zek J Evets said...

@mira: haha, i love hamsters too! (but jasmin is kind of afraid of them.)

i think my examples could probably use a little work to better illustrate my point. but i'm glad you got the general idea, which is that guys have different ways of "talking", and it changes based on so many factors: sex/gender, class, race, familial closeness, strangers, acquaintances, friends, etc & so on. i'm sure it's like this for everyone, actually.

@jasmin: don't worry, we'll lose the gerbil, but you can keep the flowers! =)

What's MMV?

Jasmin said...

I'm not afraid, I just don't like rodent-like animals. But thanks for the flowers...(now where are my real ones? :-P)

MMV/YMMV = mileage may vary/your mileage may vary

Mira said...

Zek,

People do "adjust" their behavior based on the company. Nobody acts the same around her grandparents, her friends and her professors. It goes without saying.

Also, Jasmin has a point about using swear words: it's not the same to use them as a reference and to actually call somebody by that name/word. It's not even guy talk/girl talk but general human talk. Some people are ok with it, others are not. It's not so gender-specific as people might think (though sexist comments often are male specific... Sometimes I wonder if they are real or if they are just some kind of a required guy talk that nobody takes seriously. <- I hope).

PS-Jasmin, MMV on rodents, but they are so cute, and dear and wonderful little animals. Now, I admit, I love animals of (almost) all kinds. The only reason I chose hamsters for pets is because my apartment is small and we can't afford to have a bigger animal at the moment.

Natasha W said...

Better apologize! :P

Seriously, I can see how she got angry. I know you didn't mean any harm by it, but I know if I were put in that position I would be looking at you like "Ummm... excuse me?" I know relationships where the two people involved are more buddy-buddy, but I'm not really that type, and it doesn't seem she is either.

I can deal with guy talk to since I'm friends with very stereotypical types of guys (athletes and former frat guys). Vulgarity is par for the course. But I always considered my boyfriend to be COMPLETELY different territory. With him, I don't want to be one of the "guys". Call me old-fashioned, but I do like him to treat me like a princess, and he does. He is very attentive to my feelings and tries not to offend me (even though the things he considers to be offensive I usually don't, and vice versa). I have to admit, I kind of like it when he accidentally offends me because he is so cute and extra affectionate when he tries to make it up to me.

Jasmin said...

Mira,

I hate animals. (I know, I'm evil :-P)

Natasha,

ITA. When I hung out with Zek's friends once, it was mildly uncomfortable because they're bro-style is definitely different from what I'm used to. He knows that out of his friends, the one I like the most is the more...sensitive(?) type. My best male friend is the stereotypical athlete (rugby) type too, but even he knows that it's a different story when he's dealing with me--I'm neither one of his bros nor one of his hos.

Zek J Evets said...

@mira: yeah, people do act differently throughout a myriad of social situations, but i guess for my personality i tend to act the same in all contexts. (or i used to.) so when i have to "adjust" my behavior, it's always an interesting -- and sometimes uncomfortable -- experience.

@natasha: haha, so then do you actually (in some strangely convoluted way) LIKE when your SO gives you "guy talk"? ; )

@jasmin: you never told me you were uncomfortable around my friends =/

but i wouldn't call our style "bro" -- the connotations for that are frat-boy, MMA-fighters, d-bags with greasy hair, and other lamesters. i'd call us what we are: nerds, dorks, dweebs, bandos, geeks, etc & so on.

Jasmin said...

Oh, Boo...yes I did. :-)

I told you that it would be awkward to hang out with them on a regular basis--the point of that particular excursion was to meet them, but I wouldn't want to be included in your regular outings.

Bro-style doesn't always indicate the most popular definition of bros--it means you all are bros with each other and have a certain "bro code", which is why I was so lost!

Natasha W said...

Zek,

"haha, so then do you actually (in some strangely convoluted way) LIKE when your SO gives you "guy talk"? ; )"

He doesn't, ever, and that's the thing! Whenever he offends me, it isn't for that.

Even though I like the way he treats me, sometimes I feel left out of his "other world". He sounds so cute when he says things like "What's up bro?" or "Hey, dude." He uses a different inflection with his buddies than the one he uses with me. Sometimes I wonder if that's his "real" personality and I'm stifling it just by being around. He did used to say all the time that I am very "proper" and he feels like a bum next to me. But then he doesn't let me be -- once I said I wanted to go drinking with him and his friends and he got all angry saying "What? That's not 'lady-like'; you know better than that. What would happen if you're drunk and some guy tried to take advantage of you when I'm not around? I can't believe you want to be put in that situation. I can't believe you."

Paternalistic bum. :/

Zek J Evets said...

@jasmin: a"bro-code"? haha, sometimes i think you know more about bros than i do =P

@natasha: hmm... i remember saying something similar to my girlfriend. except i'd prefer it if she came out with me, because that'd be awesome.

Jasmin said...

Natasha,

Sounds familiar:

"I trust you, I don't trust other guys."

"Don't wear the magic boob shirt those guys will be checking you out!"

:-P

Apparently I'm the last to know that you can click someone's gravatar to enlarge it (probably because I haven't been stalking you :-P): Your SO is cute! :-) (But I see why you don't share pictures of the two of you--you have stalkers coming out the woodwork!)

Natasha W said...

Zek,

You'd prefer she go out drinking with you?

Jasmin,

I think it's a new feature, because that "larger view" option wasn't there before, as far as I can recall.

And yes, stalkers galore. I'm famous! ;) But seeing as the last e-stalking situation almost turned into a real life situation, I'm going to have to put up more guards.

Jasmin said...

Natasha,

Good idea; I think I will follow suit.

Zek J Evets said...

@natasha: well, i'd certainly love it if she did =)

Zek J Evets said...

@escarondito: sorry, but i couldn't publish your comment since you were basically questioning my girlfriend's intelligence. i hope you understand. this is more of a personal blog -- not a forum.

Zek J Evets said...

@boddler: name-calling isn't going to get me to post your comment.

Jasmin said...

Aw boo, don't be mad; their probably just upset that you insulted their lover. Must be rough being Obsidian's bitch. :-)

Zek J Evets said...

@boddler: and yet dude you missed the point -- insulting me or my blog with silly comments about effeminate or emasculate is not going to get you published...

@jasmin: indeed darling! =)