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« Identity: Donning Our Many Hats | Main | Wake Up To The New Wonders »

July 06, 2007



Your observations are rock solid, as far as I'm concerned. When I was gabbing with a total stranger, a male, the other day, recounting my manifold achievements and relieving him of the burden of his own defective opinions, I... Just kidding.

But see the NYT story on this development. The byline's male, so it's brief.

The NYT story is predictably cute. All the males I have emailed the story to so far, have replied with similar humorous attempts at brevity ! But I do agree with the joke at the end - a constant source of irritation between me and my husband. His complaint? "Why are you shouting?" My exasperated reply? "Because you didn't hear me the last three times I said it in a normal voice!"

Now here is a way for women to say less and men to listen better - it was emailed to me by a friend when the insanity over Apple's iPhone was in the news:

Apple Computer announced today that it has developed a computer chip that can store and play high fidelity music in women's breast implants. The iTit will cost between $499.00 and $699.00 depending on speaker size.

This is considered to be a major breakthrough because women have always complained about men staring at their breasts and not listening to them.

Sujatha suggested that it would be even more useful if the music was interspersed with messages such as "Don't forget to take out the trash!"

I maintain that my wife mumbles. I can hear her mumbling, so obviously the problem is not my hearing deficiency.

Sujatha's suggestion should work independent of cutting edge prosthetic technologies. Recall the "backmasking" scandals of the '80s? Or, for that matter, the subliminal advertising hoopla of a couple decades earlier?

Maybe this explains why every time I play one particular recording of Beethoven's Op. 132 string quartet, I have an irresistible urge to do the dishes.

There are times when I wish my younger one wouldn't gab so much- she can talk the ears off anyone who is willing to listen. But then I look at myself and how I turned out as an adult, as opposed to being a very garrulous kid - I'm always accused of being too taciturn now!. I suppose that over a lifetime, the total number of words uttered by people of either sex would even out, which is borne out by this new study, since it tracked the total words spoken over longer periods of time than just a couple of hours with volunteers. Though, who knows what the results would have been if they had chosen a high school classroom, or a retirement home?

Me taciturn saw chatty as "more happening up above". T'is a sorry day for women, being rudely dragged down from their high pedestal and all.

I attended all girls' schools until I was eleven, when I started 7th grade among 12 and 13 year olds in a new school in a new part of the U.S. I remember the newfound presence of boys in the class as less memorable than the behavior of other girls. Noticeably, they contributed less in class discussions: both less than the boys, and less as individuals than girls had in my previous, all girls, schools. There was palpable pressure not to talk too much, mostly, in my memory, enforced by other girls. Girls who raised their hands to the same degree as boys were known as too talkative, a description which had overtones of oddly masculine. Mind you, this was 1987, not 1957. I don't know if these class dynamics were an adolescent development, or a continuation of those in elementary school. They did, however, bring me to the early conclusion that differences in the amount that women and men, as generalized categories, talk are solidly nurture, not nature. Since my entire family, male, female, cat, is very vocal, it took me longer to arrive at the realization that there's no particular valence between assertiveness in talking, and actually having something to say. My ostensibly taciturn (but talky-- and write-y-- as all get out, if drawn out, privately, on a subject of interest) better half helped teach me that.

Most women will be happy and relieved to see this particular pedestal crumble. Unlike your generous interpretation, it usually means "not much happening up above" while the "silent" male is supposed to exude the aura of deep thought. (Although one of the studies (the suspect one) indicates that they are thinking of sex "every 52 seconds" :-)

The phenomenon you point to, of confident and "vocal" girl children going "silent" in the presence of boys is very common and at some level, quite sad. It happens in every culture and for the most part, persists into early adulthood. I have noticed that most women fully overcome their reticence in public settings later in life - in their thirties and forties. The older the woman, less the fear of expressing their opinions.

Since my entire family, male, female, cat, is very vocal, it took me longer to arrive at the realization that there's no particular valence between assertiveness in talking, and actually having something to say. My ostensibly taciturn (but talky-- and write-y-- as all get out, if drawn out, privately, on a subject of interest) better half helped teach me that.

That's funny. My own situation and learning curve was almost identical, including the "ostensibly" taciturn "better half." (In our home, my mother was the "quiet" one) But the funny thing is that after more than three decades of marriage and five years of dating prior to that, my husband is much more garrulous in middle age and I more taciturn! They always say that long married couples pick up each others characteristics. The only person in whose company I revert to my old gabby self, is my sister.

Talking I think is also therapy, much needed for the stresses imposed on women by patriarchy. It is also a strategy to evade/escape/as well as confront oppression. I do think that women talk much more but isn't there enough cause for them to do so?

I never believed it, either. Especially as it contradicts the other studies telling us that boys talk more in school and at work (which jives with my own experience), where we spend half our time. Probably there is a difference in the content and style of male and female talk, which would be largely (though not entirely) determined by culture and environment. But a difference in the amount of talk? How can anyone believe it?

The real stunner in this article was that an average person speaks about 16K words a day, and yet there can be a 45K difference between the most and least garrulous. Yikes!

Interesting a read,though the same old wine or known fundamentals are packaged in a rejuvenated packaging :)
I will come back to this post again...but at this point, I would like to highlight what British Telecom tried through its path-breaking advertising campaign

The brand identified that middle aged men appeared to spend below average time on the phone. Therefore, increasing frequency and extending call lengths among this group became a core marketing objective....
a perfect campaign had been arrived at
“To make men better conversationalists”

women are made of different molecules within a distinct DNA structure as compared to that of men...n we women are also profoundly driven by the need to enable, enrich n sustain relationships, while men are more objective by tendency...

I will comment on this when I am at home...till then

I tend to subscribe to the second study that you'd mentioned here
If we remove the sex as the differentiating factor
-Garrulous or highly talkative (it's almost like a flurry of thoughts rushing past)
-Measured or Grounded talker
-Comfort seeking talker (he or she in his or her cocoon of friends n loved ones)
-Socialite or Page 3 talker
-Introspective yet Scandulous talker
-Extrovert yet Fumbling talker
-Silence Sanyasi......
such many combinations (psychographic and situations based) do exist around us as well as we see ourselves in a few hues
I tend to agree with this observation -in workplaces, showed men talking more....most times, in the meetings and presentations, men are verbose,heavy, sleep-inducing, Marathoners and do many laps before they breast past the line!
and if we observe how technology (hand-held I am hinting at especially in India) is influencing, one could see more men talking over their respective mobile phones than women in the streets...well, of course, we need to insert the fact that the ownership of mobiles amongst women is relatively lesser! chat longer and they claim that they hate it but they indulge in messaging too!
Garrulous males get more easily carried away by the resonance of their own voice ....absoloutely! what a neat scotch kind of observation!
men float on their conversations like those explorers who just found some land n running berserk here n there to celebrate the discovery of a patch of land that appears to have some spicy plants...!
I feel, it's time to kill all these cliches n explore the same universe "Communication or social interactions" in a different way..
it would be interesting to observe how a man handles solitude or being lonely Vs in a group scenario (same sex or opposite sex)...similarly a woman!I did come across a but - men when they are all alone, they tend to seek support from technology 0 could be their mobiles, or other handheld devices or laptop etc etc....

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