Make Room For The Stuttering

It Depends Who You Talk To

Posted on: September 23, 2010

Three of my friends who stutter (all male in this instance) have said the same thing in different ways about feeling free to stutter comfortably. Now this is not a profound conclusion at all. It is merely just an interesting observation!

All three have said (in different words) in the last month that they feel very comfortable stuttering when they talk to another person who stutters. Specifically, they have noted that they feel very comfortable stuttering when talking to me. Now, I wonder, is it ME they feel comfortable with, or the fact that I am a woman who stutters? Would they feel comfortable stuttering with any woman who stutters? Hmmmm . . . . . .

My friend JT and I talk all the time. In person and on the phone. He frequently tells me about what a bad speech day he had at work. He almost never stutters around me, or if he does, it is very relaxed. I have asked him about that, and he always says the same thing, “I am so comfortable around you . . . . it’s not an issue. But at work, forget it!”

My friend AA and I talk a lot on the phone and he always seems absolutely comfortable stuttering with me, to the point that he easily tolerates me gently teasing him sometimes. He thinks I purposely pay him compliments just to get him to say “thank you”, which he always stutters on. (I don’t do it purposely; he really is a terrific guy and warrants me occasionally telling him so!)

My new friend BA and I have talked on the phone twice recently and both times he has mentioned that he feels quite comfortable stuttering with me, but works very hard at being covert at work and would never stutter publicly with ease with anyone else.

I could very well be reading way more into this than what is . . . .  we are all friends and friends feel comfortable with friends. But I wonder . . . . .  is there anything to the gender difference? Might men who stutter feel more comfortable stuttering around women who stutter?

What do you think? I’d love to know your opinion! Or tell me honestly that I am just imagining it!

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6 Responses to "It Depends Who You Talk To"

Haha, maybe I should rectify this a bit (assuming that I have a relationship with this Mr ‘BA’). I feel I can stutter comfortably when I speak with most persons who stutter, including Pam of course, but also others. At least, since recently. It was not the case until one or two year or so.

As a covert stutterer, I would feel much less comfortable stuttering in front of non stutterers. But of course this is made more complicated by the fact that I stutter less, if at all, with persons I feel totally comfortable with, so there is a bit of chicken and eggs issue there.

Whether I would feel more comfortable stuttering around women who stutter… err … that’s very hard to say. The trouble is that so far most of the men who stutter I have met also belonge to other categories of people I don’t quite like talking to (such as: bosses, or, people always complaining about me, or both at the same time). So maybe this is the reason.

Now, I also have to say that, when I was younger, I would hardly have dared speaking to any woman at all, as a general principle. So I can’t compare with this either. Now, I feel generally more at ease (perhaps too much in fact), so this applies also to women who stutter.

I think where you (and your male friends) have a point is that there seems to be more women in the stuttering community who are willing to share and help than men. (I should discount the famous inventor of the “NSA nation” concept though).

On average, of course, that’s just a rule of thumb.

I don’t wan’t to fall into the trap of the prejudice like “women have more empathy” or so. It must be something more complex, perhaps linked to the odd ratio between women and men who stutter. But clearly, my most striking experiences of sharing feelings about my stutter has been with women, by far. Oh, well, maybe it’s me being much too latin…

I’d be interested to hear what the others think.

Hi Pam-
I think it is easy to talk to someone who is non judgmental, accepting of you not only for stuttering but all of you as a person. Also, everyone needs encouragement and praise. It makes a difference. I don’t think it is a gender difference. I think it is a matter of friendship, love and support. You are so easy to talk to. It is a gift. Embrace it. Lori

When you said “stutter comfortably” I first thought, are your friends’ speech patterns forward moving or blocks? I ask because I am currently working on getting forward moving speech. Stuttering but in a way it doesn’t interfere with communication.

I have very few people I see in my life I am truly comfortable stuttering or struggling infront of.

Hm…. Very interesting question. I think I’m comfortable with both stuttering genders because we understand what stuttering is. So yeah, I do stutter a lot more comfortably in front of female stutterers 🙂 That said, I stutter comfortably in front of fluent women who I disclose to.

Good observation Pam. The majority of my freinds are female and I’ve never analysed why. However, that said, I can usually tell in a very short space of time how my stammer is going to go when I first speak to someone by their tone and body language, be it male or female.

@Paul: I truely think that women are more empathetic and that that really puts you at ease. I know that I am more comfortable around women.

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