Monday, October 13, 2008

Friendship Gender Gap

Last week I watched an Oprah show on how to handle sticky situations. The show featured two ethics experts: Randy Cohen and Faith Salie. On almost every situation that was presented to them, they disagreed. It must have been frustrating to the people asking for advice, but it was pretty entertaining for the rest of us and very interesting. Here are some of the situations that were presented to them (minus all the minute details.)

If a friend’s husband propositions you, should you tell the friend?
Randy said no.
Faith said yes.

If you found out your 12-year-old son was getting sexually suggestive texts from a 12-year-old girl, should you tell the girl’s mother (a complete stranger) what is going on?
At first they disagreed- Randy said yes and Faith said no.
But after discussing it, they eventually did meet in the middle and agree she should tell, but to be careful how she did it and to make sure she keeps the trust she has with her son so he will come to her in the future.

In a male dominated work environment, how can a woman let men know when they are being “total pigs” (sexist towards you and/or other women) without losing them as clients?
Faith said to try to use humor.
Randy said that humor wouldn’t work and you needed to call them on it when it happened.

If your friend is dating a guy you know is bad for her and she asks you what you think of him, should you tell her?
Randy said no.
Faith said yes.

There were some minor issues they agreed on, but I found their disagreements so interesting and indicative of the different “rules” and boundaries males and females have when it comes to friendship and communication. The woman seemed to offer advice that was much more open and honest in situations that involved friends and less so with strangers, instead choosing to remain neutral or compromise. The man suggested being less honest with friends so you don’t unnecessarily “rock the boat” with them, but being much more straight-forward and honest with complete strangers or acquaintances. So I guess the moral to the story is if you REALLY want to know if those jeans make your butt look big, ask your best friend, not your husband.

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