Everybody knows that women talk so much more than men that it’s unbelievable. I mean, men are reticent, stoic. We don’t need words. We primarily communicate using roundhouse kicks to the head and a series of grunts. Meanwhile, women just yack, yack, yack, until you just want them to shut up. I mean, everybody knows that women just talk so much more than men that it’s unbelievable, and that’s because the women are always gossiping about silly girl things while men are installing carburetors.
Yes, everybody knows that. And everybody is wrong:
Men talk every bit as much as women do, U.S. researchers said after painstakingly counting every word that 400 volunteers spoke.
Their study, published on Thursday in the journal Science, challenges the common wisdom that women are somehow biologically programmed to talk more — but the researchers said people do often fulfill gender roles when it comes to subject matter.
“Women and men both use on average about 16,000 words per day, with very large individual differences around this mean,” the researchers, led by psychologist Matthias Mehl of the University of Arizona, wrote.
Mehl and colleagues had been struck by widespread assertions that women talk more each day than men, and have a bigger vocabulary. “The 20,000-versus-7,000 word estimates appear to have achieved the status of a cultural myth,” they wrote.
“So we generalize and say that women just talk all the time,” Mehl added in a telephone interview.
Yep, and far be it from me to put my pro-feminist radar up, but there couldn’t be any ulterior motive to that myth, could there? I mean, I can’t imagine why we would be told that women talk too much and men not enough, unless it was to encourage women to quiet down and men to speak up.
But that’s just crazy talk, I know.
Of course, the myth’s not totally untrue:
“The data suggest that women spoke on average 16,215 words and men 15,669 words over an assumed period of, on average, 17 waking hours,” the researchers wrote.
Yeah! See, you chicks won’t pipe down! Why, that’s a three percent difference! And I’m sure that holds for all women and men, right?
The variation among the different men in the sample and among the women was far greater than the differences between the sexes as a group, Mehl said.
Of course, every article of this nature must at least leave us with one cherished preconceived notion intact, lest our heads explode from cognitive dissonance:
There were stereotypical difference in subject matter.
“Men talk more about technology, work, money. They also use more numbers,” he said.
“Women talk more about fashion and about relationships.”
Yeah! See, men are talking about important things, like numbers. Like, did you know Barry Bonds has hit 751 homers? That’s a number! Meanwhile, girls just talk about clothes. I mean, those gender differences are true no matter how many words you use.
But again, Mehl said, the differences between two men or between two women were far greater than overall sex differences.
Or, you know, it could be that men and women are quite a bit more alike than different, that much of our view of gender difference is based on our human propensity to declare everything either/or, which ends up putting chattiness and gossip in the feminine column and a lack of communication in the male column, when women and men are both capable of being chatty or quiet, obsessed with numbers or with clothes, concerned about work and concerned about relationships.
But I think this just proves that men spend their whole day talking about important stuff like numbers while women talk about frivolity. Which reminds me: how many of those homers do you think Bonds was juiced for? I think about 400.