Arguments and Women…Where’s The Justice?

Definition of ARGUMENT (ar•gu•ment noun \ˈär-gyə-mənt\)

1. a reason given in proof or rebuttal
2. discourse intended to persuade
3. a coherent series of statements leading from a premise to a conclusion.

arguementArguments matter. Without them we’d be living in a one dimensional universe. How could we ever evaluate our own point of view without hearing  arguments in support of others? If one has a strong conviction and the courage to argue it, it’s assumed that there is a premise to support a conclusion.

And the purpose of an argument need not always be persuasion. Because let’s face it, nobody can persuade 100 percent people into total agreement.

An exchange of diverging or opposite views need not be heated or angry; it doesn’t have to dissolve into a quarrel, a squabble or a fight. It can have a very satisfactory result if one can achieve understanding. The “I don’t agree but I get it,” statement. Disagreement is much more palatable that way. Not to mention, a whole lot more civil.

But it’s been my experience that some women don’t know how to argue. I’m not certain why, but often when you tell a woman that you disagree with her premise, what she seems to hear is, “You think I’m stupid…or ugly…or fat.” So instead of justifying a conclusion, she’s apt to launch a down and dirty personal attack. Because I am a great proponent of women, this embarrasses me. I realize that nobody has appointed me guardian of the gender. Still…

Recently I questioned a woman’s statement that she had made public, yet her conclusion was unsupported by any discourse. I wanted to know…what was the production of this utterance? I expected “a reason given in proof or rebuttal.”

Instead, I received a scorching email that basically said, “How could you do this to me? I was totally wrong about you. I’ll never read your blog again.” I replied with a patient, “I merely disagree with your conclusion. I’m looking to understand why you would make that particular statement. Further, I didn’t attribute the quote to you…but they were your words…can you defend them?”

An email shot into my inbox with the speed of lightning. It was a lengthy missive that said I was old, ugly, wrinkled and bitter and further…there was a reason I’ve been divorced twice. That was just the beginning. I think she even stooped as low as to suggest that I needed to “get laid.” In short, a napalm deluge whose only intent was to personally hurt.

I found myself once again dismayed at the absurdity. Seriously? What if I AM all those things? What’s that got to do with my question?

I emailed her an apology that she had taken my blog about her statement so personally and received an automated message that my IP address had been blocked from all of her communications.

Forget the argument or even a fight. She threw a virtual sucker punch and ran out the back door. Sigh! Here’s a good place to reference Shari Stauch’s excellent guest blog from last week regarding the EHaters. (I doubt she would have said these things to my face) and the ripple effect of overreaction.

arguments and women, where's the justice, jacquelinegumI call the girls (intentional use) who engage in mud-slinging “gender benders” because I feel they diminish an entire gender! MY gender! The tactic is simply not intellectually honest, and what have we been fighting for all these years if not intellectual and rational relevance?

Arguments matter. Language is the manner in which we deliver them, so words matter, too. I’d like to lasso the “gender benders” and force them to learn both.

In most circumstances, a personal attack is a guaranteed fail/fail. It surely fails the persuasion/understanding test and ultimately reflects poorly on the mud-slinger.

When I see a girl engage in this graceless and inappropriate manner, I find myself overwhelmed with an urge to wrench off their stilettos, strip off their bras and divest them of any other feminine accouterments until they grow up and are able to wear the very proud mantle of “woman.”

In my career days, I worked mostly with men. I can’t even conceive of a meeting where I voiced disagreement and been met with “Yeah? That’s because you’re ugly.” Instead I heard, “But I would argue in support of my proposal….” Yeah…that’s the way to do it.

I hope you have some stories to share or can pass this on to someone who does [subscribe2]

52 thoughts on “Arguments and Women…Where’s The Justice?

  1. Hello Jacqueline,
    I love to have arguments with sensible people who knows how to argue! many-a-times in the past I learned about my weakness, mistakes etc from such arguments. It is very important to raise questions. But there are people, as you mentioned who lacks the art of healthy argument! How shall we manage them? Shall we ignore them or shall we still argue with them?

  2. I used to be a waitress at a sports bar where they only hired mostly women. During a shift I was working, two girls got into a verbal fight because the other one stole her table. She went back into the break room and through her lunch in the trash. I laughed so hard because it was silly behavior. I go by the motto of do not take anything personal and do not have expectations. 🙂

  3. I have been lucky that I mostly do not receive personal insults but I have had some very weird responses to things I have said and even lost friends over things that just made no sense.
    The written word however can be taken quite offensively I have found in the past, so even though you have no intention of insulting, the way it is read and interpreted can be very different to how it was meant. I have received a few written comments that have made me think what??? I have written some that have been taken way off the mark.
    I will never understand attacking someone personally though.

  4. I have been in the business world all my life and I would rather have an argument with a man and than woman. All the things you say how a woman sees an argument is so true. I am very much a woman and feel that woman have a lot to give but they are also hard to deal with. I would much rather work for a man, as they are more understanding and respectful . When I told one of my employees that I wanted her to do something a certain way and I explained why. Her comment was I have been working for you for seven years, I have tried to diet (I have no idea where that came from ), I get migraines but still come to work. I was telling her to contact a customer as they were upset with the with she handled them. Her next comment was that the customers are just impossible to deal with. I said no one is saying that they are perfect, but at the end of the day, they pay the bills.

    Another thing recently happened. I am looking for a web developer as my previous one has decided to take up Karate. I know go figure. I have been doing a lot of interviewing. Of all the people I interviewed, the one I had the most problem with was a woman. She sent over her contract. Here is what I wrote

    I have a couple of questions:

    What is Top of Quene Service? If you do use it what happens?

    Dedicated Programmer-Otherwise anyone works on your site?

    Please explain Analysis and User Interface Design, Consulting/Business Analysis and Project Management?

    I know what they mean but in relation to her business I needed an explanation.

    Her comment blew my away.
    I have revised the draft to make these services clearer.

    For more information about User Interface Design see

    For more information about Business Analysis see

    (Requirements) Analysis see

    I bit my tongue because I felt like writing back and saying rude and giving her the link to wikipedia.

    To me her response came across as I was stupid. However, I do not know what other way to react when you send someone to look up the terms in your contract to wikipedia.

    Sorry for the long comment…

  5. Arguing is a complex matter, with too much emphasis on who “wins” or “loses”. I think the idea is to make a point and support it. Of course, it depends what you’re arguing about, but some spirited debate is healthy in any relationship. What a boring world it would be if we all agreed on everything! As for gender differences, it’s been my experience that both men and women can be heavy-handed when they feel backed into a corner. You can’t go wrong taking the high road, and I’m glad you did!

  6. I love a good argument, not a fight, a good argument. Asking me to back up my position on a subject will likely lead to me rubbing my hands in glee and digging in. I say this only to express how bizarre I would find it if someone attacked me personally because I asked for clarity. I’ve seen it in men and women, but I do find it more surprising in women because I think we spend enough time in our professional roles trying not to get ignored, or torn down because of our gender, that wasting that kind of energy with another woman seems so stupid.

    You may not be feeling particularly generous at the moment, but I’d be more inclined to feel sad for her. She has a pretty poor toolbox for managing challenges. If she can’t define or defend her own position on issues, she’s in for a very rough ride. This is particularly true if she’s in the habit of blowing bridges on her way out of town.

    • Excellent points Debra and precisely why it bothers me that women seem to have a propensity for this! Actually, I started feeling sorry for hr the minute I read the email. The content did not bother me as much as one might think. There’s the old saying…consider the source. More to the point, I was saddened to see this type of behavior still around. Women have come some distance. Things like this are sort of like a stutter step back.

  7. I have had this experience myself and have found that no matter what you say to specific people, they will always fight. It is so unprofessional and a lot of times it is done in a public forum. Great job on maintaining your composure. 🙂

    • Well I am so sorry that you had the experience. On the other hand, there is small comfort in numbers! At least it makes one feel as if they haven’t completely lost it!

  8. Wow isn’t is amazing how personal some people take things. You were not “attacking” this person. You were creating a conversation. Sometimes it is always easier to just not fight with a person like this. 🙂 It is a no win situation.

  9. Jacqueline – This post cracked me up! I hear the third party results of these arguments very consistently. I think to myself, seriously, are you listening to what is coming out of your mouth. In all honesty, I have heard guys get to this level, well maybe not the ugly and fat part, but take it down to a personal level. Unfortunately, for some they have not evolved from the school yard bully tactics that they have employed for years. They have gone unchecked, and as a result are shocked when they are on the outside of an organization looking in (if karma has occurred). They tend to lack any emotional intelligence and have a need to be right all the time, regardless of the situation.

    Great post here!!! Thank you for sharing!!

    • Thanks Mark! Truly, I’ve never seen guys get down and personal in the work environment! The bar maybe… LOL Thanks for reading and commenting on the post. Glad it made you laugh!

  10. That kind of reactions are horrendous, Jacqueline. But it’s not only women with low self esteem who behave like that. Men that feel inferior do as well.

    In Sweden some successful women are subject to harassment online from weak men. Some of them immigrants, some Swedes. At the moment someone I know is being insulted and harassed by a man who produces pornographic pictures with her face on them and post in her Facebook groups. He comes from a patriarchal society, is probably as well, if not better, ecucated than she is. But because of his foreign name he never made it. So he is envious and can’t accept the fact that a woman is more successful than he is. So he takes revenge by calling her the worst things you can imagine and posting horrendous pictures. He is also into posting pictures of number two. Charming guy, don’t you agree.:-)

  11. Thanks for the argument definition. I have seen this behavior with men and women. I too worked with men only the first XX years of my career. XX only because I am still sensitive about saying my age! LOL. I see it as the woman who you confronted with, “Can you defend your position?” likely does more of a flight from situations like this. Maybe you blindsided her and under the stress of it, she attacked you personally. Not many of us learn the skills we need to confront, or fight, in a way where all parties self-esteem is maintained. No doubt this woman put you in her cross hairs Jacqueline. But it’s likely she just doesn’t know a different way. As always, valuable insights here.

    • Absolutely right! I guess I don’t see a direct approach as necessarily confrontational, but it’s important to look from the other point of view. That’s a great reminder, Patricia. I appreciate the comment very much.

  12. Alas, I find men can fit into the category of taking a disagreement too personally as well.

    It seems that the argument took place via text. Over the years, I have learned that disagreements and arguments should not be done as text. Anything negative in text comes out at least 10 times worse then the person who wrote it intended. Of course, sometimes bad news via text is unavoidable so I personally try to let them now – I’m not attacking, I’m curious. Sorry for the argument you had – remember there are many of us who enjoys your blog and don’t mind an opposite point of view 🙂

    • Wow! A text? I agree that it is not a good venue for an argument…unless your keyboard has an emotion font! Words without expression can be so easily misunderstood! Thanks for the kind words regarding my blog! I’m very much enjoying yours too!

  13. Lol, this makes me laugh and cry in the same time.

    Laugh because I am one of those women who are not that well versed with arguments – hahaha – I tend to move forward more based on intuition when it comes to personal relations and there is a narrow list of topics where I am really interested, have strong opinion and of course, use arguments. My boyfriend teases me that my favorite phrase on some intuition based (on my part) discussions is “let’s agree to disagree” 😀

    But it does make me cry, too. It’s not so much embarrassing than sad to me that there still are such women like the one you described in this blog post. It begs the question – what motivates such behavior and more importantly – is there anything we (other women) can do to help them realize such behavior hurts them the most, and not us?

    Because let’s face it – stereotypes will always exist, but end of the day – I am sure you will return home happy, knowing what you are and have achieved – and that other woman will return home happy because she has called you ugly, fat and whatever else she has called you. Yeyyy, what a victory, she showed you alright! It’s sad…

    • I’ll never understand what motivated the behavior either. But you gave me another perspective…I hadn’t thought that she would be happy to have said all those things, but you are right! She probably is! But truly I was less affected by the words, than the behavior. I hate to give corporate America, or the men, another reason why women shouldn’t excel. I think reacting emotionally does just that! Thanks for your very considered comment.

  14. This is hits a nerve with me. I have learned to be careful how I disagree or even ask for clarification from a girlfriend so that she doesn’t take it personally. I enjoy having intellectual discussions with girlfriends but as I wrote in my blog posting last week, I usually feel that we need to agree up front not to take any difference of opinion as a personal attack. We all know that there are some women who are more sensitive than others and we have learned to act accordingly around them. It’s too bad because we miss out on some great debate.

    • Too bad we have to tip-toe around sensibilities! Not that we shouldn’t be mindful of feelings…but seriously, must women have an emotional response to everything? Sometimes it is intellectually directed and wish it was answered in that manner

  15. Conflict? Oh, yeah, I’ll happily walk in the other direction. In part to avoid those ad hominem attacks, which are never warranted. I wish I were better at facing an argument and calmly discussing facts instead of barbs (I do neither). I do read a lot of blogs, mainly written by men, who are quite good at arguing.

  16. You’re right on! More than once I’ve expressed an opinion that’s contrary to what some other woman (or man) has said/posted — politely expressed — and received negative feedback. As writers we don’t want to alienate potential readers, but … seriously. I’m constantly amazed at the things that ruffle a person’s feathers. Lighten up, folks, and listen to a different point of view. You might learn something!

  17. Hi Jacqueline. Great post. I like to think I get along with most people. Over my55+ years on this planet, I’ve come across 3 people who have held a grudge with me despite (my) efforts to clear the air and start fresh. No go! I would never refuse someone the opportunity to clear the air and move forward. And I’ve never encountered a man who reacts this way. What is it with us women?

  18. Go, Dr. Johnny! Know the feeling (and not even a male!) The biggest difference I’ve found through the decades, outside a few close friends who “get it” is that as a generalization (yes, there are always exceptions on both sides of the gender border) women take themselves too seriously when it’s the project/issue they should take seriously… So then you just try not make any sudden movements or loud noises… but then you’re patronizing. After a few rounds of that you learn 🙂 Hang in there – those who would demonize you are having predominant thought syndrome issues…

    • Ditto Shari. Been there a few times myself… ergo, the post:) Thanks for chiming in. Predominant thought syndrome issues? Hilarious!

  19. Wow. Let me see. How brave am I? Hmm! Well, here goes. Maybe you and I will be on, “Film at eleven,” or whatever time you get the local news. In the past, I have hired women, but have had to walk on egg shells, in order to avoid, confrontations. Women do tend to read opposite of what is, or has being said. Do I know what’s behind this phenomenon? As a Behavior Therapist, I should know. Ha! If I did, I would be the richest man on earth.

    An argument can be deemed as brainstorming. You present your argument, everyone discusses the pros and cons, and all go home happy, or not. In your argument, certain women misread it, and read something totally different. In their mind, they were perceived as ignoramuses, or ignorami. You take your pick, but remember, I’m not saying you are any of these two. Whew!
    When a woman feels demeaned, she will demonize you, and voila, the fun begins. Too bad, because their intuition has prevented many ships from being sunk.
    “Women, listen to me. No one is calling you stupid. We are just disagreeing with you.” Well, no matter how hard we try, some who will read this, will accuse me of misogyny.
    Hmm! I Better quit while I’m ahead…or am I? Blessings.

    • Well, I hope they don’t interpret your comment as misogynistic…fact is, you made my point beautifully! And thanks for that…blessings to you too:)

  20. This is the first time I read a definition of “argument”… I always thought it was just a hell lot of a good time until I get what I want. LOL
    I hope you’re fine – and I love this post!!

    • Now that is hilarious… particularly in that it works for you that way!Which would indicate to me that you must be an expert arguer, if the outcome is always positive 🙂 Thanks Raani.

  21. Great point and observations. And, I agree! Women need to raise the bar in terms of actions and reactions. In the work place women are more likely to be negative toward underlings where men are more likely to give them a hand up…..probably because men feel more secure in the work place. But I have witnessed women in my previous office being downright wicked to each other where the men just stayed out of it all. It embarrassed me too FOR all of us. Sad really. Thanks for giving voice to an issue requiring mindfullness from us all…..

    • You may have just answered one of the age old questions as to why women seem to have a hard time breaking that glass ceiling. There is also research that claims that the most successful folks in business, and in life, are those that practice true generosity of spirit. That would include mentoring

  22. Wow! That’s unfuc**** unbelievable! It makes me wonder if there isn’t a web site to go to … to list offenders — I’m sure there is, and this woman needs to be added to such a list so that others are forewarned to stay away from her. She needs to be isolated. There is no appeal to her better nature — because her better nature doesn’t exist. Could she not be sued for slander?

    Love ya,


    • Unbelievable, right? Truth is that the content of her diatribe bothered me less than her clichéd need to fight rather than argue…to hurt rather than justify. I truly am distressed that so many women choose this avenue. Truly, it embarrasses me FOR them!

  23. In all fairness to the fairer sex, it’s not just women who engage in this kind of outrageous behavior on line. There seems to be a whole class of people out there, the Internet Trolls, who seem to delight in ad hominem attacks, and not just when they’re disagreed with. Heaven preserve us from those who can’t disagree without being disagreeable.

    • You are right. It’s just that I take particular offense when women choose this means of personal attack, rather than a good old fashioned agree to disagree argument. Because none of the classic rules of arguing could ever be applied to politicians, who classically fight real dirty, I wonder if we see and read too much of that in our daily lives and therefore find it acceptable.

  24. Oh my…another mystery of life is examined here. Maybe that’s why I like playing golf with men more than women. My chosen profession of nursing (obviously, mostly women) has even studied and done articles on how seasoned nurses “eat our young”. This references how we aren’t willing to support, mentor, or coach to success other new nurses. I’m sure there is research available on women to women friendships and the psychology of those relationships. There have been books written on the nineteenth century relationships between women and what a powerful bond there was in these partnerships. Has our evolution to female independence and individualism made our view of other women as only competitive? Has social media and electronic communication skewed the meaning of our discourse? Not sure the cause but it’s worth examining.

    • I’d never heard that about the nursing profession! But you are right in that it holds true for women today, no matter the profession. That is such a valid point that in today’s competitive professional environment perhaps women have skewed the meaning of competition. I have always wanted to do an experiment where everyone is dressed in garb that hides their identity and use some means to mask their voice and see how we react to folks when we have no idea of their gender.

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