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    ED 375 349 CG 025 683

    AUTHOR Twohey, Denise TITLE Can We Talk? Case Studies Regarding Gender and


    PUB DATE Aug 93 NOTE 30p.; Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the

    American Psychological Association (101st, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, August 20-24, 1994).

    PUB TYPE Speeches/Conference Papers (150) Reports Descriptive (141)

    EDRS PRICE MF01/PCO2 Plus Postage. DESCRIPTORS *Attachment Behavior; Case Studies; Females;

    Interpersonal Relationship; *Intimacy; *Language Attitudes; Males; Psychological Patterns; Relationship; Self Disclosure (Individuals); *Sex Differences; *Sex Role; Sex Stereotypes

    IDENTIFIERS *Gender Aware Therapy; *Gender Issues; Mutuality

    ABSTRACT Gender inevitably influences intimacy. This paper

    examines how gender differences can inhibit intimate relationships. In the analysis of two cases, it was observed that the researcher unconsciously had a tendency to defer to male perspectives regarding intimacy, and suggests that many female clients may do the same. Researchers have speculated that women and men express themselves and respond differently: women strive toward relationship and mutuality, whereas men seek autonomy and authority. The key issue revolves around "voice." Frequently, society misrepresents a woman's voice-a metaphor to represent self-definition--deeming it ill-formed in some way. Women who desire increased mutuality and a deeper emotional connection with their partner should be encouraged and not be treated as aberrant. In the above cases, the men's incapacity or unwillingness to provide a context for the women's continued growth created difficulties. The men strove for independence, making the women seem cloying or needy. The women seemed unclear about what they wanted--their relational "selves" had been invalidated by a culture which emphasizes independence over relationship. It was found that even an effective therapist for these women can become caught up in the hopelessness of these women's implicit requests for greater mutuality and intimacy. (Contains 39 references.) (RJM)


    Reproductions supplied by EDRS are the best that can be made from the original document.


  • Can We Talk? Case Studies Regarding Gender and Intimacy


    Tuo ley


    U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION Office of Educational Research and improvement


    C This document has been reproduced as received born the person or organization originating it

    C Minor changes have been made to improve reproduction quality

    ePointsofyieworommonsstMedmthiscloc, men) do not necessarily represent official OEMmsitionmPonCy

    Denise Twohey, Ed.D. University of N. Dakota

    Box 8255 University Station Grand Forks, N.D. 58202-8522

    (701) 777-2635 or (701) 775-3695


    CO Paper presented at the symposium "Who Said What--Men and Women in %.0 Communication", 101st Annual Meeting of the American Lc\ Psychological Association, Toronto, Canada, August 20-24, 1993.

    C) C-r)



  • Gender and Intimacy 2


    Two case studies were originally selected to portray gender differences in definitions, needs for, and expressions of intimacy in heterosexual relationships. As the manuscript developed, however, the author's own struggles with gender biases within psychology began to parallel those of the clients described. The author concludes by challenging the concept of "independent" self (both personal and professional) and by demonstrating how gender constructs not only intimacy but professional relationships as well.


  • Gender and Intimacy 3

    If you were the woman and I was the man Would I send you yellow roses Would I dare to kiss your hand?

    Cowboy Junkies

    Gender inevitably influences the expression of

    intimacy. In fact, women and men. usually experience

    intimacy in different ways (Bergman & Surrey, 1992;

    Kantor & Okun, 1989; Osherson, 1991). According to

    Pollack and Gilligan (1982) men fear intimacy because

    it threatens independence, while women fear

    independence because it threatens intimacy.

    Mindful of the biases involved in either

    overstating or understating gender difference (Hare-

    Mustin & Marecek, 1988; 1990; Wilcox & Forrest, 1992),

    this writer demonstrates how gender differences

    regarding intimacy can create problems in

    relationships. Through the analysis of two case

    examples, the author points out her own (previously

    unconscious, but becoming conscious) tendency to defer

    to male perspectives regarding intimacy, and suggests

    that many female clients may do the same.


  • Gender and Intimacy 4

    Intimacy, Sex, and Love

    Levine (1991) believes the capacity for intimacy

    rests on three separate abilities: (1) knowing what one

    feels and thinks; (2) using words to express these

    thoughts and feelings; and (3) saying them to another

    person. In addition to self-expression, intimacy also

    requires obtaining a response. According to Levine

    (1992), under ideal circumstances the response conveys:

    (1) non-critical acceptance of what is said; (2)

    awareness of the importance of the moment to the

    speaker; and (3) understanding. Intimate partners need

    to feel as though they arc heard and understood.

    Both Gilligan (1982) and Levine (1991) suggest the

    motivation for self expression and response differs for

    women and men. This difference occurs because women

    generally strive toward relationship and mutuality,

    whereas men more often strive toward autonomy and

    authority (McClelland, 1975; Tannen 1990). This

    difference often causes misunderstanding between women

    and men.

    Another source of misunderstanding concerns the

    relationship between intimacy and sex (Jacobson, 1989).

  • Gender and Intimacy 5

    Time magazine recently called this confusion a chicken

    and egg dilemma (Gray, 1993). Which comes first,

    intimacy or sex? The answer may depend on


    Scarf (cited in Kantor, et al., 1989) states that

    for her emotional intimacy increases sexuality. She

    claims that trust is sexy. The opposite view, which

    attributes sexual interest to mystery, uncertainty

    and/or an intermittent reinforcement schedule is more

    prevalent in the psychological literature (Berscheid,

    1983; Sternberg, 1987). However, intimacy does not

    equate with trust, nor does mystery preclude trust.

    Levine explains that "we gravitate toward our

    theoretical simplicities in our need to understand or

    create the illusion that we understand" (personal

    communication, June 4, 1993). Additionally, Levine

    wonders if Scarf understands the meaning of the word

    sexuality at all.

    Yalom (1989) distinguishes between intimacy and

    falling in love. For Yalom, intimacy is a "giving to"

    not a "falling for." Both Yalom (1989) and Levine

    (1991) emphasize the psychological aspects of intimacy


  • Gender and Intimacy 6

    over the physical. Thus, these men counter the

    cultural stereotype, whereby men simply equate intimacy

    with sex (Levant, 1990; Livermore, 1993).

    In 1977 Klassen explained:

    In our euphemistic intellectual jungle swamp

    we may think intimacy means sex and/or sex

    means intimacy (p. 2).

    But we would be wrong, he implies. He then articulates

    what he sees as gender related difficulties with

    romantic love. Conditioning teaches women to be sex

    objects and men to objectify them/us (see also

    Stoltenberg, 1990). And then, according to Klassen

    (1977), we strike a deal exchanging sex for intimacy or

    intimacy for sex. Under these conditions the intimacy

    is often lacking, and the sex is disappointing.

    What has changed since 1977? Levant (1992) still

    identifies aggression as a core feature of masculinity.

    And although aggression is not always negative, McGrath

    (1992) and the APA task force on women and depression

    (McGrath, E., Keita, G., Strickland & Russo, 1990)

    report that over 50% of adult American women have had

  • Gender and Intimacy 7

    at least one significant incident of physical or sexual

    abuse before the age of 21.

    Returning to a female perspective, Weingarten

    (1991) stresses equality, reciprocity and the mutual

    construction of intimate moments in relationships.

    According to Weingarten, the accumulation of these

    mutually constructed intimate moments (which may or may

    not include either sex or self-expression) creates

    intimacy in relationships.


    Intimacy requires voice, a metaphor used in

    feminist literature to represent self-definition

    (Ellsworth, 1989). Care and justice, examples of

    certain culturally developed voices, refer to how women

    and men often differ in approaching the moral dilemmas

    in their lives (Gilligan, Ward, & Taylor 1988)