There’s a nail in your head, stupid
I have seen this video passed along on countless social media sites accompanied with both men and women saying this terrifically illustrates the different communication styles between the sexes. Even my own husband sent this to me along with a message asking forgiveness for all the times he never truly listened to me.
It’s not necessarily that this is offensive. No, it’s more that this viral video makes men and women look stupid. I am not denying that men and women communicate differently. We do. If anyone wants a great example of these communication differences should check out my dear friend Rachel Thompson’s books, A Walk in the Snark and Mancode: Exposed for comedic commentary on this. I am saying that this video does nothing more but oversimplifies and reinforces the stereotypes of these communication styles.
It is generally accepted that men are considered “the fixers”, which is why when women come to them with a problem or complaint they will become frustrated by men’s attempt to fix the situation. This frustration stems from the societal assumption that women are “the talkers” — the people who simply need to talk out their feelings in order to process the situation. And while these generalities are just that — generalities — they seem to be the case more often than not.
So sure, men will come home from a bad day at work and want their spouse or partner to have possible solutions. Women might come home from work to their spouses or partners and want to be listened to for an hour. This is basic interaction. Textbook interaction. Flowchart interaction. Not individual relationship interaction.
We have interactions with various types of people on a day to day basis. Women and men will go to each other throughout any period of time and need to communicate, solve problems, and analyze situations. Unfortunately, not all women, men, problems and conflicts will fit into neatly categorized boxes.
Because of this, do we really want to perpetuate a stereotypic view of communication between the genders? Is it any wonder that women are viewed as people who can’t make decisions and men are the ones who are problem-solvers? Shouldn’t it at least be considered that by continuing to highlight the differences between “the fixers” and “the talkers” we are only reinforcing a social expectation and not an evolutionary one?
Consider this, can a woman really be so stupid as to not know there is a nail in her head that she has to talk about her feelings and how she feels? In an age of social-awareness I am thoroughly surprised that more people have not pointed out that if the video were presented differently, such as with two individuals of different ethnicities, religious beliefs, sexual persuasions, etc., that the response would be enormously different. Yet somehow, because a woman simply wants to process her feelings by talking out the pain in her head, this is okay. Likewise, can a man really be so stupid as to not insist on pulling a nail out of this woman’s head? Or seek medical attention? Maybe tell her to shut up and listen?
There is a time and place for the distinct roles of “the fixers” and “the talkers”. There are also times and places for people to learn how to accept the fixing and the talking. But in the end, we can’t simply just sit back and sigh, “Well, he’s a man. What do you expect? They’re always trying to just fix things.” Or worse, “No wonder nothing gets done, the department is run by women. All they do is sit around and talk about how they feel about things.” People need to learn how to communicate in both styles, how to fluently speak both Talk and Fix so that a conflict can be resolved at any given moment.
Maybe if men and women both spoke Talk and Fix there would be a lot fewer problems needing to be talked through or fixed. This world has so many metaphoric nails in its head and it seems nobody wants to just go up and pull out the damn things.
It is about the nail, stupid.