Sandra Cisneros’s “Only Daughter” vs. Deborah Tannen’s “Sex, Lies and Conversation”, Essay Example

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Essay

“Only Daughter” by Sandra Cisneros and “Sex, Lies and Conversation” by Deborah Tannen show the reader similar aspects in reference to communication and gender. Yet, the structure and the purpose of each of the essays are different in their position, reasoning, and information. The reader can see outcomes that are normal to society based on gender and the development of identity for women is clearly seen throughout both essays. The comparison and contrast of each of these essays are highly important. The specific position of gender, the structure and purpose of the essays as well as the outcomes of each essay and the development of identity will give the readers of this essay a clear and concise idea of what Cisneros and Tannen meant to do with their essays. These women wanted to show their readers the differences in gender and how men and women communicate so differently.

            The idea that women are meant to be seen and not heard as well as the idea that women are inferior to men is evident in both essays. Sandra Cisneros in her essay “Only Daughter” describes how her gender and being the only daughter of a Mexican father and Mexican-American mother with six brothers made her feel inadequate as a woman and an impartial party to her family. This essay shows the reader that her father was not concerned about what she had to offer as a female as he always stated he had “seven sons” even after she would correct him. Her father believed that daughters were meant for husbands and that was all her identity stood for. She always felt as if her father did not listen to her because she was female and did not have important things to say like her brothers did. Deborah Tannen’s essay “Sex, Lies, and Conversation” shows much of this as well in relation to gender. The essay gives the reader the impression that men are allowed to speak whenever they feel the need to do so, but women do not have anything worthy to discuss. This essay informs the reader of the differences in gender in reference to communication and connects it with how each gender socializes. Nonetheless, gender plays a specific role in each of these essays that tells us that men and women do not communicate the same as each other.

             Cisneros provides us with a narrative essay describing her life as a young girl living with her father, mother, and six brothers whereas Tannen’s essay takes a more informative approach in relation to gender and communication styles based on socialization. The purpose of “Only Daughter” attempts to explain how Cisneros felt as the only daughter and how she wrote in order to woo and earn her father’s approval. This essay shows the reader that Cisneros’ father expected her to go to college and find a husband and live as a housewife rather than go to college to receive an education and make something of herself. This was what most fathers expected at this time, especially those of Hispanic descent. Cisneros’ goal was to prove to her father that she was worthy of his adoration, approval, love, and communication even though she was female. She spent her life trying to convince him that women can be more than housewives just as we continue to do with society today. As stated, Tannen’s essay was more informative in an attempt to explain gender differences with regards to communication. She explains that there are communication differences among men and women as they are socialized differently. Women expect intimacy and attention when they are speaking and often feel as if men are not listening to them because they are not attentive like other females. She explains the hierarchal culture of men and how they “struggle to avoid the subordinate position of the group” (Tannen). Therefore, men communicate in settings where they are in a position that they could lose their superiority and women communicate for intimacy. Finally, Tannen educates her audience on the differences in listening based on gender. She states that women imply that they are listening by using phrases such as “mhm,” “uhuh,” and “yeah.” Women expect what Tannen calls listener noise whereas men consider this interrupting, intrusion or a lack of attention (Tannen). Therefore, the audience sees some gender differences in this aspect as well. Men and women are wired differently and think of communication in completely different ways. Tannen’s article is very informative in relation to communication and listening skills among men and women.

            Each of the essays show the reader positive outcomes as each essay gives men and women specific examples of how to communicate with one another. In “Only Daughter,” Cisneros finally receives the approval of her father and he begins to understand who she is as a woman. He is excited about her writing and wants to share it with the rest of the family and he realizes just how good she is even though she is a woman. In “Sex, Lies, and Conversation,” Tannen ends on a very positive note. She explains that once each party learns to understand the other, it is easier for them to adapt their behaviors so that the other person feels as if they are communicating with them properly. She informs the reader that it is all about communication in the first place, and once the other party learns to adapt their behavior, there will be more success in the area of communication between men and women. This shows the reader that it is possible for men and women to communicate and understand each other as long as they take the time to understand where the other is coming from in reference to listening and communicating. These essays can provide the reader with techniques that will help them in their everyday relationships and communication in general. The action of writing assists with development identity as it gives the writer a clear focus of who he or she is and how they can contribute to society in their own way. In Cisneros’s case, she writes because it is inside her. She writes because she is a born writer and she wants to tell the story of who she is, where she came from, and how she has achieved success both in her professional life and her family life. Tannen writes because she is a writer as well, but she writes to inform society of things it needs to know. Their identities are completely separate, yet they have a bond as writers that can transform the thinking of everyday Americans as they provide knowledge and information to all of us.

            Throughout the essays of Cisneros and Tannen, we see specific positions of gender. We see that women and men communicate differently by Tannen and we see what fathers expect of their daughters from Cisneros. We see that women can do anything if they put their minds to it and we see that men are able to adapt their behaviors if they understand why they are doing so. The structure and purpose of each essay is different. One is to narrate while the other is to inform. However, they both give us very useful information and show us how gender plays a role in many different areas of life. The outcomes were both positive and that leaves the reader with hope which is the best way to end an essay. The action of writing assists in the development of identity because it allows the writer to be themselves as they write, it shows who they are as a person, and it provides a knowledge that no other person can really understand. These two essays are very similar yet different in their own ways and they provide information that will last a lifetime to their readers.

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