Analysis on “Between the Sexes, a Great Divide”

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Updated: Apr 30, 2024
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Analysis on “Between the Sexes, a Great Divide”

This essay will provide an analysis of Anna Quindlen’s essay “Between the Sexes, a Great Divide.” It will explore Quindlen’s perspectives on gender differences, communication gaps, and societal norms that influence interactions between men and women. The piece will discuss how the essay reflects on gender stereotypes and the potential for mutual understanding and respect. On PapersOwl, there’s also a selection of free essay templates associated with American Literature.

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For many years now, people have viewed their opposite sex in many different ways, both good and bad. People get these views from everyday interactions with each other. It can be as simple as saying “Hello” to a fellow coworker in the office or having an intriguing conversation with a fellow classmate. But why, when It comes to certain interactions, between males and females to they tend to keep away from each other?

The essay “Between the Sexes, a Great Divide” by Anna Quindlen talks about a few reasons why this may occur.

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Something that people tend to forget though is that these interactions with each other are what makes us human, we help each other, we are there for each other. We should not have trouble helping one another despite the simple difference of being the opposite sex. Quindlen starts the essay off with the simple analogy of the experience of the first school dance. “The boys stood one side of the room and the girls in the other” (Quindlen 164), this statement alone has a significant impact on Quindlen’s reason for writing this essay. The separation of sexes starts at an early age; however, it does get better in some parts where the sexes start to work together. But, that gap between the two sexes does still exist in everyday life, in jobs, in pay, and in others. Quindlen goes on to support her claim on why there is still a divide between the sexes in the rest of the essay. The author starts the essay off with a good point about the school dance but categorizes everyone’s first school dance experience as the same. The author does not take into the fact that there are many different schools, many different communities, and many different atmospheres within each individual school. She also forgets to take in the fact that it also depends on the time period in which someone grew up. Back then it may have been that boys and girls are divided on each side of a gymnasium at a first school dance. Now of days, kids tend to be a lot more open minded and are a lot close with each other before the dance even occurs. The kids are not afraid of going over to talk with a friend of the opposite sex, and just talking and having fun at the dance together.

The difference in the time period in which a dance occurs has a massive impact on that division between boys and girls at school dances. Quindlen then goes on to talk about her own experience with her family and friends and how they have showed her that even within a family, a divide can small, but is still there. She writes about her experience with her son and her husband, and their interaction with the “onion in the bathroom.” The son had walked into a bathroom and Quindlen’s home then came out asking her the question, “Why did you put an onion in a pot in the bathroom?” (Quindlen 165). Then later in the day, the husband came out of the bathroom asking the same question. She then concluded that everyone in her household thought of her as “Mom. Weird. Women.” Where this would have made her mad before, she says it has gotten to a point where she is used to it now. Simple things like this, Quindlen has learned to let go and forget about, but inside she feels nothing would ever change and this would always be like this. Finishing off the essay, the author goes back to her beginning analogy of the first boy-girl party in which everyone has attended. She talks about even though there was the space between the two sexes, they still managed to break that space and ended up finding someone to dance with. “It’s the dance that’s important, not the difference” (Quindlen 165-166). In the authors opinion, it should not matter on the differences between two people, because in the they will end up together and the differences just disappear for that special moment. “Between the Sexes, a Great Divide” was a well written essay. Anna Quindlen did a tremendous job highlighting her reasons for writing the essay, and did a decent job writing the information the support those reasons.

As Michael G. Conner, a clinical and medical psychologist, wrote in his essay on “Understanding The Difference Between Men And Women” he stated, “avoid taking their differences as personal attempts to frustrate each other, and to compromise whenever possible” (Conner). Throughout most of the essay written by Quindlen, she talks about her struggle with dealing with her family and how she believes they treat her as different. She brought up situations that some people of both genders would react the same as she described her family reacting. The situation that really popped out to me was the “Onion” part of the essay. It would be hard to know what the bulb in the bathroom was unless either you bought it, or you are a florist. Something as simple as that, is a difference that made Quindlen upset. But, she finished off her essay with a strong ending. She talks about her son having a friend over, except it was a girl. Quindlen talks about both kids not caring that the other is the opposite sex, but soon, they will be “in one another’s arms” (Quindlen 166). With the difference in generation, there is always space for improvement. Her son having a friend over could be exactly that. Just two kids having fun as friends. Just because the two are of opposite sex, does not mean that one day they will be with one another. People view things in diverse ways, it is just how much thought they put into something which could end being seen as the wrong thing. Moving from generation to next, so many things can change. What some of the older generations can have trouble believing is that the interactions between two sexes have changed as well. There is a lot more diversity in schools, and in the community. This allows the two sexes to interact a lot more and allows them to feel more comfortable around each other. Where back then, the difference between the two was a lot larger. Now of days, that difference is much smaller, and both have learned to coincide. Difference is still there however, but we are moving forward to trying to become as equal as possible. 

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Analysis on “Between the Sexes, a Great Divide”. (2021, Jul 06). Retrieved from