1. motormouth
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    motormouth Member

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    being condescending/partonising

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by motormouth, May 28, 2012.

    Im trying to work out a relationship between 2 characters. 1 is a deaf girl. the other a really nice guy. When he learns that shes deaf , he wrongfully assumes that shes incompetent and needs his help to do things. As well intentioned as it is. he really doesnt realize that he's insulting her by trying to be so helpful. And she as a results is very aggressive to him This comes off of actual ways people treat the disabled as if their children, not realising their actual competent adults. What i need is way for him to be condescending w/o being too obvious
     
  2. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just in general, I'd say make those condescending actions incidental to the main action in the scene. For example (and I'm just going to assume she reads lips for my purpose), they're talking about something important and she starts to get a cup of coffee. Still talking, he reaches over, takes the cup, smiling at her, and fills it; all the while, the conversation continues. The conversation remains the focus of the scene, but the condescension is shown via the beats.
     
  3. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Pouring the girl a cup of coffee isn't condescending at all. I find this modern concept of men generally being courteous towards women being branded as something evil ridiculous, TBH.

    It becomes condescending in what he says, I think. If he's always feeling sorry for her, always checking up on her like "Are you sure you don't need any help?" and giving her "apologetic" smiles rather than just being normal - that's condescending. THEN the act of pouring her coffee would come across as patronising - not because the act itself is patronising but because of the guy's attitude towards her.

    For example, have the guy INSIST on helping her. Now that would be condescending, because the girl would've clearly expressed the desire to do it herself but he would be ignoring her wishes.
     
  4. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Who said it was evil? Good grief. It was an example of how someone (male or female) will do things for people (males or females) who are perfectly capable of doing it for themselves simply because they have some 'handicap'. Obviously there's a difference between being politely helpful and being condescending - but that's shown in the writing, and since the author didn't ask me to write it for them, I merely gave an example - and, as asked, one where the condescension wouldn't be "obvious".
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Condescension is not precisely identical to Chauvinism, even though they really are closely related.

    Chauvinism: He stops her at every street corner, and leads her by the hand across every intersection whether or not she tries to indicate she doesn't need him to do so. Clearly, she can't cross without his assistance.

    Condescension: She tells him she has learned to cross streets on her own, and he says, "Of course, you have managed it, but you don't fully understand all the risks." He never explains, it's too complicated to get into.

    Chauvinism is the assumption that a difference is a handicap, and that the chauvinist is being helpful by helping the person through the perceive difficulties. Condescension is putting on the air of a superiority that cannot be bridged and implying that there is nothing to be gained by trying.
     
  6. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Random thoughts:

    - When he knows her business, he talks for her. For example, he moves ahead of her and says, "My friend would like to mail a package," in the post office, rather than letting her do that transaction on her own. He asks her what she wants in a restaurant and orders for her. That could just be very old-fashioned courtesy, but when other people are in the party, including women, he lets them order for themselves.

    - He gives advice and information that he wouldn't give to another adult. "I see that you got your ballot. This number indicates your precinct, and this is the address to go to to vote. I can give you a ride there. Would you like to talk through the issues on the ballot?"

    - He crosses boundaries in her physical territory. He flicks on the wipers in her car when it starts to drizzle, he replaces the light bulb on her back porch with a higher-wattage bulb because that's safer, he locks her back door even though she prefers to leave it unlocked.

    - He crosses boundaries in her finances. He tells her that the NetFlix streaming subscription is a much better deal and that she should cancel her disk subscription. When disks keep coming, he comments on them, in an offended sort of way. He checks the due dates on her library books and scolds her about how much she'll pay in fines.

    - He crosses boundaries in her personal relationships. When she complains about her mother, he assures her that her mother really loves her, and that she should call (or the equivalent for the deaf - I've forgotten the name of the service around here) to patch up their latest argument. Later, he asks if she's done so, and again acts a bit offended that she didn't do so.

    ChickenFreak
     
  7. indy5live
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    indy5live Active Member

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    Key is eye contact and not talking over a deaf person like any other person. If they are at a restuarant together it might seem awkward for the guy that isn't deaf to be speaking out loud while the deaf girl is just lipping words she doesn't know how to say. So he decides to mouth words back instead of speaking normally.Also, he could tell all her stories in a big group, instead of giving her the chance to interact with the group. When I had to work with a person with disabilities I made sure I treated them exactly like I would treat a normal person until they specified otherwise. If they needed me to talk louder I would, If they needed me to talk slower I would. If they needed me to write information down I would. But all of this was at their request. Otherwise, I assume they understood and appreciated the fact that I didn't alienate them.
     
  8. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    One thing I've heard deaf people complain about is people who talk louder to them, even though they're deaf enough that it makes no difference, and talking loudly distorts your lip movements.

    Plus using 'parentese' (the style in which people usually talk to a small child, you know, high-pitched, simple sentences, etc). This speech style actually helps you communicate with a small child, or with some people with language disabilities (I met an autistic kid who only understood you if you spoke like that) but people will talk that way to anyone with any communication problem whether or not it actually helps. And most people consider this style of speaking condescending.
     

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