Make Room For The Stuttering

Posts Tagged ‘gender differences in stuttering

PamEpisode 175 features return guest Rachel Hoge, who hails from Springfield, Tennessee. Rachel was a guest here in 2011, when she was 19 and in college for her undergraduate degree. She returns now, at 26, with her Masters of Fine Arts in creative writing. You can check out her first podcast, Untamed Tongue.

Rachel now has a full-time job as a Production Book Editor and she writes freelance on the side. Her eventual goal is to write a book on the intersection of stuttering and gender. In this episode, we discuss the perspectives of women who stutter in the context of several beautiful essays that Rachel published recently.

Listen in as we discuss how her articles on stuttering helped her transition into a new workplace, as her articles were shared with her team. She didn’t really need to “come out” at work as the team already knew her thoughts on her stuttering. We also discuss how Rachel gets her ideas for her pieces and how she pitches them to editors.

We talk about self-expression and embracing self as a woman who stutters through the lens of her piece, Lipstick Highlights My Stutter, But I’ll Never Stop Wearing It.

And we talk about how our perspective as women who stutter has value, even though society may not recognize that yet. Rachel shares that most women who stutter are warriors, initially misunderstood and overlooked, but now forces to be reckoned with. See her provocative piece on silencing women, What Do You Call a Woman With A Speech Disability? Invisible.

We also discuss the National Stuttering Association and the importance of community.

I absolutely loved this conversation with Rachel, as we delved into the very soul and purpose of this podcast. I am delighted to see how Rachel is gaining visibility through her writing and thus shines a light on women’s issues as we manage stuttering in a fluent world.

Music used in today’s show owes to ccMixter.

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If you get a chance, please read my paper called “What Women Who Stutter Want To Talk About” that has been presented at this year’s ISAD Conference.

In my paper, I talk about John Gray’s classic book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus., where Gray suggests there are differences between the communication styles and emotional needs of men and women.

I draw some parallels to how this fits with the stuttering experience.

I have received many interesting comments from readers, mostly graduate students aspiring to be SLPs. Most note appreciation that this paper gave people something to think about when considering the different needs of people who stutter.

One comment however suggests that women should be taught to be more like men, so that stuttering can be overcome and so that women can be leaders. I was a bit concerned about this comment and its implications. Here’s the comment – what do you think?

  1. Thank you for your paper and your contributions of the stuttering community. It presents a thoughtful and interesting adaptation of the theme of a classic piece of literature. Could there be a Martian Venusian? Consider it like the case of having two passports. The person is a Venusian by heritage but is a Martian by birth. This person has been to Venus and has many Veniusian friends but was dismayed and discouraged by a culture that emphasized expression of feelings, acceptance of difference and empathy rather than a results orientation and survival of the fittest. Therefore, the person stayed a Martian because Martians emphasize achievement, survival, and independence. Three of the most prominent and most cited examples of overcoming stuttering are by Martians, James Earl Jones, John Stossel, and Jack Welch. Likewise, many of the non-SLP leaders in the stuttering community are Martians. Should overcoming stuttering be a goal and if so what role does being a Martian (either native or naturalized) play in one’s ability to do so? What is the role of the stuttering community in teaching Venusians Martian-like behaviors to become a leader and thereby overcome stuttering? Also, as you rightly point out, there are Martians who feel more comfortable with a Venusian existence. Should that be encouraged at the expense of achievement?

Today is International Women’s Day. This year’s theme is “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures.”

Each year around the world, International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8. Thousands of events occur not just on this day but throughout March to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women.

The achievements of women and girls who stutter have been celebrated on the podcast Women Who Stutter: Our Stories for almost two years.

We have heard courageous and previously hidden stories from women who stutter from all over the world. This is truly an international community of women, and we happen to stutter. We have heard from Sweden, Mexico, Ireland, Croatia, Bulgaria, Iceland, Canada, New Zealand, Slovenia, Australia, West Africa, Trinidad & Tobago, England, The Netherlands and The United States. We have also recorded from Poland and China.

These are stories of shame, discrimination, isolation, perseverance, triumph and acceptance. These are stories of ordinary women doing extraordinary things.

Several young girls have shared their stories here, which IS inspiration and connection. If you want to hear inspiration, listen to Aileen and Claire.

Today is International Women’s Day and March is Women’s History Month. Celebrate the accomplishments of the girls and women in your life, our daughters, sisters, mothers and friends.

Episode 6 of this series of conversations features Zachary Sterkel, who hails from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Zachary is 26 years old and works as a lead baker, with a focus on pastry work.

Zachary and I met on a stuttering forum on-line and chatted on Skype soon after meeting. We quickly scheduled a date for him to share his story here.

Listen in as Zachary very candidly discusses how he once let stuttering limit him, and why it no longer does. He talks about not liking it when people are too nice to him. You have to listen – he describes it best, and I am sure all of us who stutter can relate to this.

We discuss the value of stuttering groups and sharing experiences. Relating with others who stutter has helped Zachary better understand his own stuttering and how his stuttering affects others and even influences their behavior. We also discuss confidence, courage and pink elephants.

I took the name of this episode from a photo that is front and center on Zachary’s Facebook page. These words are shown on the side of a building: “Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.”

Please feel free to leave comments or questions for Zachary (or me!) Or just let Zachary know how impressed you were with his honesty, as I was.

Music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.

Episode 80 features return guest Elaine Robin, who hails from Seattle, Washington. For this great episode, Elaine shares from her present location, which is Shanghai, China. Elaine is a SLP who stutters and first shared her story here in episode 43.

I was excited to have Elaine back on the show, to tell us about her experiences living in China. An opportunity became available for Elaine to work in Shanghai for a year at a speech clinic. Elaine shares with us the excitement and culture shock of moving to, and living in, a very different part of the world.

We talk about stuttering, of course, but also about the fascinating perspective of an American who does not speak Chinese trying to navigate in a new country. We talk about the Chinese educational system, how disabilities are viewed and handled and the stark differences between Eastern and Western cultures.

Elaine also had the opportunity to travel to India at the end of December 2011. She had planned a visit to India while in Asia anyway, and had the unique opportunity to visit and attend the first ever Indian National Conference for people who stutter. The conference was organized and hosted by The Indian Stammering Association.

Listen in as Elaine describes the profound moments she experienced as a small group came together to celebrate, learn and support each other about stuttering. We discuss advertising, acceptance, self-help and pushing out of comfort zones.

Elaine also shares the very personal insights she learned about facing fears, taking chances and what she has learned about herself.

Please leave feedback here in the comment section. We would love to hear from you.

Music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.

(Also, note there may be a couple of editing errors in the audio. Sue me – I do the best I can!)

For the past several months, I have been communicating with a young man who stutters from Mumbai, India. His name is Devayan, and we started emailing each other in September.

Devayan learned about me after getting actively involved in the internet stuttering community. He started listening to StutterTalk and my own podcasts here and reading this blog.

Devayan connected with me by email in the fall, after realizing that I live in upstate New York, close to a college he was interested in attending. Devayan was hoping to come to the United States to pursue graduate studies in speech language pathology.

He asked my opinion on the graduate essays he was submitting to two colleges. He wanted my honest feedback. He got that, maybe even more than he bargained for!

Devayan didn’t mention in his first draft essay to The College of St Rose that he stuttered. I thought he should, as that would set him apart from other candidates. That and the fact that he is also a HE. Male SLP students are fairly rare.

So I suggested that Devayan rewrite his entire essay! He did, and soon after sending it in, he emailed me to let me know he had passed the first phase of admission. He would now be invited for a face-to-face interview.

We discussed that, and I suggested he ask if he could interview via Skype. It took a while for the college to confirm that a Skype interview would work. So in the interim, Devayan asked if we could chat via Skype. He wanted to pick my brain!

We coordinated the time zone difference and finally “met” over Skype, where we had a great conversation about what to anticipate in the graduate admission interview. Since that time, we have chatted via Skype a few times.

Soon after Devayan had his graduate student interview, he emailed me to let me know he was accepted. Then, in the course of just weeks, he satisfied his student visa interview and purchased his plane tickets to fly from Mumbai, India to Albany, New York, USA.

Devayan is scheduled to arrive here sometime in the first week of January 2012. We plan to meet in person soon after that, which to me is amazing and so meaningful.

It is amazing to think that one person can impact another in such a huge way that one is willing to make such a leap of faith and move half way across the world. It shows the power of connection, and what happens when we share our personal experiences honestly with another.

I don’t think either of us thought in September that we would be really planning to meet in person in January. But we are!

And the flurry of emails continues. I have given Devayan some ideas of what clothing to pack and buy for the cold Northeastern part of the USA, which is quite different from India. And he has asked me about joining Toastmasters here, as he joined a club recently in Mumbai, and wants to stay involved with that once here.

I am excited to introduce him to some of my friends here in New York, and get him involved in our monthly Chat & Chew social gathering of people who stutter.

This will be a huge change for my young friend from India. One that will change his life. And one that will likely change many lives when he eventually returns to India, armed with new tools and resources to help other people who stutter.

People who stutter can help other people who stutter, one person at a time, just by opening up, talking, sharing and connecting.

I look forward to adding more details to this story as it continues to unfold, and adding a picture of the two of us when we finally meet in person.

I have received comments and emails since starting the women’s podcast last year from men, asking why men are “left out”. One reader commented, “I wish someone would create a podcast for us men.”  

Of course, men have stories too, that are just as compelling and inspiring as the women’s stories. I went with the women’s niche since we are the minority within a minority, and nowhere else do women have the chance to share in a unique space just for us. (The other US podcast interviews both genders, but is more geared toward famous people who stutter or SLP’s or researchers).

I cannot have a male on the show “Women Who Stutter: Our Stories”. That would be just too confusing. I’ve been asked by a few men if I would make an exception and allow an “honorary woman” once in a while. I don’t feel comfortable with that either.

But I am thinking we could have a male guest once per month and make it distinct from our Women’s Stories. I have even toyed with a unique title. And I have the first male guest already lined up. But I want some feedback.

What do you think? Would there be interest? Should I “branch out?”  And should it follow basically the same format? A conversation about stuttering between two people who stutter, one who happens to be female and the other who happens to be male? Let me know your thoughts.


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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Same protection applies to the podcasts linked to this blog, "Women Who Stutter: Our Stories" and "He Stutters: She Asks Him." Please give credit to owner/author Pamela A Mertz 2017.
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