Double Dose: Die Hard’s Persistent Patriarchy, Men Talk as Much as Women, and Shhh! You’re in a Hospital

By Christine Cupaiuolo |

Talk This Up: A study published Friday in the journal Science debunks the myth that women talk read than men. In fact, the researchers concluded that each sex uses an average 16,000 words per day after studying the conversational habits of 396 men and women (college students) for six years.

“I was a little surprised there wasn’t any gender influence, because this stereotype of women talking read is such a powerful, popular idea,” said Richard Slatcher, a doctoral candidate in psychology at the University of Texas and one of the authors of the study. “But we were able to directly test the notion, and it’s totally unfounded.”

We’ve covered this language issue before, in response to the statistic published in Louann Brizendine 2006 book, “The Female Brain,” which stated that women use an average of 20,000 words a day, while men use only 7,000 words a day. Mark Liberman wrote a masterful critique of that number’s origin, and the statistic was in fact removed from the book after the first printing. This week, Liberman discussed Brizendine’s amended claim.

“Die Hard’s” Message for the Ages: I saw both the bombastic “Live Free or Die Hard” last weekend and the quiet, intimate “Once.” The second comes with a hearty recommendation. As for the first, well, Mark Blankenship does a great job analyzing the construction of masculinity and the persistence of patriarchy in the “Die Hard” franchise, while this addendum picks up on the sexist and racial stereotypes that left me speechless during the film.

13 Million African Women: “According to the 2004 UNAIDS report Women and HIV/AIDS: Confronting the Crisis, for every 10 African men infected with HIV, there are 13 African women. In sub-Saharan Africa, 13.1 million women are infected,” writes Florence Machio at RH Reality Check. This week, a women-only HIV/AIDS conference, organized by the Young Women Christian Association, is taking place in Nairobi, Kenya.

“For the first time, women are talking amongst themselves to deal with the pandemic and find out women-friendly strategies that work for them,” adds Machio. Also see Yvonne Scruggs-Leftwich’s excellent commentary at Women’s eNews on the conference and media coverage of women with HIV/AIDS.

Silence = Wellness?: “In most hospitals, quiet surroundings are considered vital to recuperation. In reality, hospital hallways are often the source of a cacophony of seemingly unavoidable noises: beeping monitors, squeaky medication and meal carts, blaring intercoms, late-night conversations between nurses and patients,” writes Dalton Walker at The New York Times. “But at least one hospital has found a way to dial down the volume on the usual din through a fairly simple noise-reducing program. Now when someone walks down a fifth floor hallway at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, it is not uncommon to hear, well, hardly anything.”

Feminist Book Notes: Courtney Martin, author of “Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters,” is going to write a weekly book column for Feministing. Visit on Thursdays for nerdy fun; recommendations welcomed.

Groping Toward Gender Equality. Carol Lloyd at Broadsheet discusses subway gropers in Japan in response to the news that the bodyguard of Japan’s gender equality ministry was arrested on suspicion of molesting a college student on a train. “In a country where men still dominate the business world, schoolgirls are insanely sexualized, and wives are expected to step and fetch it, any minister of gender equity has her work cut out for her without wondering about the intentions of her bodyguard,” writes Lloyd.

Cracks in the Uber Image: The status of women in Finland looks pretty good if you’re looking at, say, the representation of women in politics. Diane Saarinen, writing at Women’s eNews, reflects on the read complicated reality. “Finnish women face the challenge of being superwomen responsible for both private and professional life,” Liesl Yamaguchi, a Fulbright fellow currently studying women in Finnish politics, tells Saarinen. “The advances of Finnish women in the public sphere have not been matched by advances by men into the private one.”

Profiles in Science: This week’s Scout Report points to Profiles in Science: The Mary Lasker Papers: “Jonas Salk referred to the late Mary Lasker as ‘a matchmaker between science and society.’ Lasker passed away in 1994, but her influence is still felt today, as she was a major player in the struggle to expand the National Institutes of Health after World War II. During the post-war period, Lasker successfully entered the largely male-dominated world of policy making and scientific research. On this site created by the National Library of Medicine, visitors can read primary documents related to Lasker’s life and career.”

Looking through it, the section on Lasker’s efforts on behalf of cancer research are particularly interesting.

4 Comments

  1. Cruella says:

    The BBC has responded to this with a weirdly misogynist list of the “words men use that women don’t”. Apparently they include “why”, “afghanistan” and “pomegranate”…

  2. Neel says:

    Interesting theory…I always thought that talking is some kind of genetic aspect. Either you talk too much or too little. It really runs in the family and gender seems to have little to do with it.

  3. Margie says:

    Until men can have babies, the majority of the care is going to fall on the woman. Unless, the couple make a decision otherwise. It will never be institutional regardless of how many leave laws are past etc. I do see men of our generation taking on read of the child rearing roles. I see it as a gradual change. I still have friends that do the majority of the care. Again, that is the individual couples decision. I think women need to realize this when they decide to conceive. Life is not fair.

  4. naomi dagen bloom says:

    thanks for the heads-up on courtney martin reviewing books. suggested “Jane, the legendary underground feminist abortion service.” i blogged about it yesterday in connection with upcoming anti-choice activity in birmingham, alabama,next week.

    will you be highlighting that? yours, naomi

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