Now, you may remember Brizendine as one of the chief proponents of the “women talk three times as much as men” myth. Later, she amended the argument to “women have three times as many ‘communication events’ in a day.” What is a communication event?
The real phraseology of that should have been that a woman has many more communication events a day — gestures, words, raising of your eyebrows.
Ah, yes. Well, a nod’s as good as a wink to a blind bat, but that wasn’t so much what she’d said in her book.
At any rate, with the news that men and women talk at the same rate during the day, you may think Brizendine would be contrite. Au contraire.
Dr. Louann Brizendine, author of “The Female Brain,” was thrilled to see the persistent stereotype go down.
“What it really means is not that she talks too much,” said Brizendine, who directs the Women’s Mood & Hormone Clinic at UC San Francisco. “It’s that he doesn’t listen enough!”
At which point my head exploded.
Seriously, what the fuck does that have to do with the price of tea in China? There’s no evidence advanced in the study about whether men listen or not. Brizendine simply asserts it, ex cathedra, as proof that the central thesis to her book is not complete hokum because see, men are terrible listeners!
Of course, the Mehl. at al. study doesn’t “really mean” this. That is, that men don’t listen enough is not a logical implication of the fact that men and women are about equally talkative. What she seems to mean is that in face of these empirical findings, the closest hypothesis she can think of to the old stereotype that is not ruled out by the data is that men don’t listen enough. She doesn’t cite any evidence for her new hypothesis. Indeed, it is an inferior hypothesis, from a scientific point of view (but therefore a superior one from the point of view of popular writers), in that the empirical claims that it makes are far from clear.
But in terms of keeping everyone in their place, it’s as good as anything they can come up with. So babble on all you want, ladies. He’s still not paying attention. And men? Hell, we all know those women don’t say anything important ever anyhow.
(And thanks, Ginger Yellow, for reminding me of the sheer awesomeness of Language Log, which had somehow missed my last round of additions to my RSS reader, an error which I have already corrected.)