Getting Over Gender Walls

Randi Borenstein
June 7, 2000
Final Paper
Professor Umana, Law and Society 150
Getting Over the Gender Walls
Men and women come from different worlds. Let\'s face it, they simply can not communicate. Take the following story for example:
Tom and Mary were going to a party. Tom was driving and after about twenty minutes and going around the same block many times, it was clear to Mary that Tom was lost. She suggested that he call for help. Tom became silent. They eventually arrived at the party, but the tension form the moment lasted the entire evening. Mary had no idea why Tom was so upset. Mary, on one hand thought that she was offering Tom help. Tom, on the other hand "heard" that he was incompetent and couldn\'t get them there, (Gray, 20).

In most instances, men and women interpret each other wrongly as well as attempt to make amends in the same mistaken manner. Communication has become the source of our problems. Men expect women to think and react the way men do. Women expect men to feel and communicate the way that women do. Both are mistaken. If we could understand each other better, many conflicts could be prevented. But more importantly, if we could only understand each other better, when conflicts do arise, we could overcome them a lot quicker and easier. Men and women have different values. Men and women cope with stress differently, and are motivated differently. Men and women speak different languages and commonly misunderstand each other. Finally men and women keep score differently and have different needs for support. Painful arguments, regardless can be avoided. Understanding these differences are crucial in day to day situations, but they become even more crucial when dealing in situations when conflicts must be resolved. "If we recognize and understand the differences between us, we can take them into account, adjust to, and learn from each other\'s styles," (Tannen, 17). An example of this is in mediation; divorce mediation in particular. By looking at the work done by Ph. D\'s such as John Gray and Deborah Tannen, and author\'s like Roger Fisher and William Ury, we can see how gender plays such as important role in Alternative Dispute Resolution. In this paper, I will first explain how men and women come from different worlds, the reasons behind the communication barriers that exist between them, how communication relates to divorce to finally define the importance of gender interchange that lies embedded in the practice of mediation.

I. Men and Women: Two Different Worlds
Most frequent complaints
Men offer solutions and women seek to improve. Women complain the most that men do not listen. Either they completely ignore her, or offer a solution to fix it. He is confused that that she doesn\'t appreciate the gesture. She just wants empathy, and he thinks that she needs a solution. Men complain the most about women trying to change them. She keeps trying to help him, but he just wants her acceptance. "A man\'s sense of self is defined through his ability to achieve results," (Gray, 16). To offer a man excessive advice is to assume that he doesn’t know what to do himself. Men do not talk about their problems unless he needs advice form an expert. This is part of the reason why men persist on offering solutions to women\'s problems. He doesn\'t understand that support can be enough. On the other hand "A woman\'s sense of self is defined through her feelings and quality of her relationships," (Gray, 18). Communication is of primary importance. Women are more relationship than goal oriented, and they are intuitive. These two traits are completely opposite for men and women, because women can not understand that offering advice is offensive to a man any more than a man can not understand that he shouldn\'t try to fix every problem and just listen instead. Offering solutions and seeking to improve are both two positive aspects of mediation. The more solutions the better, and improvement can never do any harm. A collaboration of the two would be ideal.
Coping with stress is a big difference between men and women. Men become withdrawn as where women become emotionally overwhelmed. When a man becomes stressed he will withdraw into a cave and he will begin