Do men and women use language differently? I believe they do, and in this article I’m going to show you some of the differences, explain why this is vitally important for you to know – and then finally, I’ll tell you which gender is better at writing copy!
For example, this is what I wrote in my latest report:
In my own studies, I noticed that many male copywriters tended to use more aggressive, competitive language [in their sales copy] – they like to “slash”, “slay” and “stomp” the competition.
By contrast, female copywriters tended to use less aggressive language, and more connective, helping language – especially when they are appealing to a mainly female audience.
(Write To More Money: How To Ask For – And Get – More Money For Your Writing)
Or consider the publishing company Mills & Boon, which specializes in romance novels for a mainly female audience. According to an article in the British newspaper The Guardian, some 200 million Mills & Boon novels are sold every year – far more than Harry Potter!
All of the Mills & Boon staff writers are female, except for Roger Sanderson, “a gruff former rugby player Yorkshireman writing under the pseudonym Gill”.
The BBC News website wrote a fascinating article (Can a man really write a Mills & Boon?) on this subject. They interviewed academic author Jay Dixon, who had written a study in her book “The Romantic Fiction Of Mills & Boon”, and had read some 3,000 titles herself.
She was able to read some of the unsolicited manuscripts sent in to Mills & Boon, and noticed many differences between the male and female writers, such as the heroine looking in the mirror and admiring herself, “something a woman would never do as she would only see her flaws,” she suggests. Or the male authors tending to go into more details about how something works than women.
By contrast, Roger [Gill] Sanderson seems to have mastered the skill of writing romantic fiction for women. Says Jay Dixon: “I can find nothing in Roger’s romances that would alert even an experienced reader to the fact that he is a man… Roger is one of the few men who does have the knack.”
Now, what does this have to do with you as a writer or copywriter? Well, if you’re writing for someone else (like a client) and you’re using their voice and appealing to their audience… if their audience is mainly male or female, then you need to understand those differences!
Unfortunately for you, I can’t go into all the differences here, but I wanted you to become aware that differences exist. Often, just being aware of something is enough for you to pay attention to how people use language.
It’s why books like “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” are hot sellers. Nobody is really from Mars or Venus, but sometimes it appears that way because both sides are using language in a slightly different way. More often than not it’s a communication problem – and part of communication is the way we use our language!
Of course, this is true not just between men and women, but with every group of people. Whether it’s artists, poets, tech geeks, New Agers, Christians, athiests, men or women… each group uses language a little differently.
One technique I use if I want to write in the way a particular group speaks to each other, is I’ll spend time reading forum posts and blog posts written mainly to members of that group – and I’ll pay careful attention to how they speak to one another. Remember, the differences are often very subtle – but they are important enough that it can make the difference between Mars and Venus!
Of course, hopefully by now you realize that my post title was designed to be a little provocative. I don’t personally believe one gender writes better than the other… that’s like asking whether red or blue is better… but I do believe men and women use language a little differently.
And as copywriters, we need to pay attention to those subtle differences… because if we’re writing for a client, we need to make sure our writing connects with their audience!
So now I’ve had my say, it’s your turn. Do you think there is a difference between the way men and women write? Do you think one way is better than the other? Do you have any examples of this in real life or in writing? Let’s turn this into a fun and interesting discussion! Please use the comments section below.
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