Ever heard that stat that women speak 25,000 words a day and men only 10,000?
Or maybe you heard 15,000 and 8,000. Or 50,000 and 25,000.
There are so many iterations of it!
Well, in today’s podcast we follow the rabbit trails to find out where these claims come from and who seems to be the first big one to say it (the answer WON’T surprise you–who else tends to make up stuff out of thin air?).
But we also show you how believing the idea that “girls talk too much” when you’re in high school actually HURTS women in the long run.
That’s right–we’re sharing some more of our findings from She Deserves Better: Raising Girls to Resist Toxic Teaching on Sex, Self, and Speaking Up!
Or, as always, you can watch on YouTube:
Timeline of the Podcast
0:10 Reaction to last week’s podcast
6:15 God is not a jealous boyfriend
13:00 “Girls talk too much” true or false?
16:35 Internalized misogyny
19:10 Housework statistics tied to this belief
22:40 Where the numbers came from
32:20 Real study on the sexes talking
44:45 The fairy tale effect
47:30 In conclusion + what’s coming up
Let’s revisit the dating messages we were given.
After last week’s podcast on our findings from our survey of 7500 women about dating, we had a major thread on Facebook of women sharing stories about how they felt like if they didn’t love God enough, He wouldn’t send a boyfriend/husband. Or if they ever loved something else too much, God would zap them and take it away.
We call it the “God is a jealous boyfriend syndrome,” and it’s so common. We’re taught it so much. So we revisited this and shared some of your stories, before we shared about another finding in our book:
We walked through whether or not girls talk too much.
What happens if you believe in high school that girls talk too much? What happens if you believe it now? And why would believing it in high school mean that you marry someone who doesn’t do their fair share of the housework (another cool finding!)?
Plus we traced the origins of the claims that women talk more than men–and shared research that showed that in mixed groups, women don’t talk enough.
Listen up! This one is packed full of studies and info and it’s fascinating.
Things Mentioned in the Podcast
- Our book She Deserves Better! Pre-order it now (it helps us a ton), and then on Monday I’ll give you information on how you can join the launch team.
- Sign up for my email list so you don’t miss out on joining the launch team
- A study of gender differences in children and number of words spoken (hint, not much of a difference)
- An article explaining the issue of faulty claims, and giving the results of a study inspired by these faulty claims.
- The Mendelberg and Karpowitz study of gendered speech in mixed groups with decision-making
What do you think? Did you believe girls talk too much? Do you find it hard to speak up in a mixed setting? Let us know in the comments below!
Sheila: Welcome to the Bare Marriage podcast. I’m Sheila Wray Gregoire from baremarriage.com where we like to talk about healthy, evidence-based, biblical advice for your marriage and your sex life.
Sheila: And I am joined today by my daughter, Rebecca Lindenbach.
Sheila: She is the coauthor of our book, The Great Sex Rescue, and one of the coauthors of our upcoming book, She Deserves Better.
Rebecca: That’s right.
Sheila: Our other coauthor will be joining us later in the podcast.
Rebecca: Mm-hmm. But now we want to talk about what we talked about last week but take it a little bit further.
Sheila: Yes. So later in the podcast, we are going to be sharing with you something that evangelicals just made up in the seventies and eighties, and it became Gospel truth. And it’s something that we need to beware of in youth groups. But before we get to that, we want to turn something that we talked about last week in our podcast on dating. So we have an amazing book that is launching April 18th. It is called She Deserves Better.
Sheila: Raising Girls to Resist Toxic Teachings on Sex, Self, and Speaking Up. And why don’t you tell people about our survey?
Rebecca: Sure. Our survey—we did a brand new survey of 7,000 women where we asked about some—we wanted to get really deep into some questions that are typically more applicable during high school than they are later on. So we wanted to really get into the effects of the modesty message, right? More stuff about dating, about those kinds of things. Because while we had The Great Sex Rescue that assessed the effects of marriage teachings that you hear as a grown up, we also really wanted to understand what are our high school experiences. What are our adolescent experiences doing to set our girls up in the church as a—are we setting them up for success? Or are we actually priming them for disappointment, for frustration, for harm?
Sheila: Yeah. Because that was the biggest question that we got after The Great Sex Rescue. So many women said to us, “Okay, Sheila. I feel so much better now. I feel validated after reading the book. But I do not want to do this to my daughter.”
Rebecca: Yeah. “What do I do now?”
Sheila: What do I do now?
Rebecca: “I have a 13-year-old. I have a 15-year-old. What do I do?”
Sheila: So we decided we would take a data driven approach.
Rebecca: Of course.
Sheila: So we measured all of these different beliefs to see how they affected girls’ self-esteem in high school and their self-esteem today as women, their relationship health, all kinds of different measures. And it was super interesting. And last week we shared with you the findings that we had around dating.
Sheila: Around dating rules, around whether girls dated in high school.
Rebecca: And we talked about the really weird teachings that people like me heard growing up from places like Focus on the Family about how if you want to get a boyfriend the best thing that you can do is just do nothing. Just trust God.
Sheila: Right. Is just trust God and do another devotional and right in your journal and pray.
Sheila: About not dating.
Rebecca: About not dating. About God. Yeah.
Sheila: Right. And this we get.
Rebecca: Because if you’re praying about a boyfriend too much, then you’re not trusting God enough.
Sheila: Right. Facebook exploded about this.
Rebecca: Oh, of course.
Sheila: We talked about this on social media.
Rebecca: I was not the only one who heard this clearly.
Sheila: Yeah. And I thought before we get into our next major finding people wanted to talk about how this message really messed them up. And so I want to let our listeners hear some of the messages that were left on Facebook.
Rebecca: Yeah. Let’s go.
Sheila: And then we can talk about it.
Rebecca: Yeah. One woman said this, “So many times I heard if we wanted a husband and didn’t have one yet it’s because we wanted it too much and we needed to get our priorities straight. Once we were completely happy being single, the Lord would send the right man. It was like a formula. It went hand in hand with the secular advice of the right one will show up when you’re not looking, which, of course, never fails to infuriate me. I’m married now, and it still makes me mad. That whole attitude did a lot of damage to my view of God and was a huge contributing factor to a period of spiritual rebellion in my mid-twenties after I had ‘done’ everything right and God didn’t deliver.” Yep.
Sheila: Exactly. Okay. Here’s someone else’s—had something similar. “I used to suppress my desire to be married because I thought I was supposed to be content with Jesus, and I tried so hard too but I wasn’t content. My counselor at the time helped me realize that I really did desire a relationship, and I should pursue that. Not long after that I met my husband on Christian Mingle. I’m so thankful for that counselor, who helped me see that repressing that desire wasn’t good for me and encouraged me to seek a relationship.”
Sheila: And if Christian Mingle wants to sponsor us—
Rebecca: Oh goodness, yes. Someone else said this, “Yes. But it was more of the inverse of this. Basically, that God wouldn’t give me a boyfriend or husband until I stopped thinking about boyfriends or husbands because I was so focused on serving Him. I think both of these come from the faulty assumption that idolatry equals loving something more than God. But God is not something that you put first on your list because God shouldn’t be confined to a list. Rather God is the very ground and air of our being. And I mean that metaphorically. God isn’t actually the ground or the air.”
Sheila: And this is really why I wanted to talk about that—about this today. Because while we do have some more findings we want to share with you that are really cool and they’re coming up in just a minute, this really resonated with people on Facebook.
Rebecca: It did.
Sheila: And I think what’s going on is that we ourselves—when we were teenagers—were given the wrong view of God, and I’m worried that we are passing that same view on to our girls because we are seeing God like this pagan deity that needs to be appeased. Because as soon as you want something too much God will be angry at you and will play whack a mole.
Rebecca: Yeah. Exactly. I heard that all the time. I mean this is what I grew up with, right? I grew up reading Brio magazine. And clearly, a lot of the people on our Facebook group did too—on the Facebook page did too. I think that what’s so hard when you’re growing up is—in these circles which teaches you, in essence, you are disgusting. Everything about you is wrong. The only thing that’s good about you is your ability to worship God, right? That’s, in essence, what we were told. So anything that you want, anything that you do, anything that you think, anything that you are that isn’t actively worshipping God is second best or is actively bad.
Sheila: And is taking something away from what you ideally should be doing.
Rebecca: Yeah. Exactly. Which is fundamentally different than what the Bible says, first of all. We are made in the Imago Dei in human form. God came down and was incarnated. He became flesh. We are allowed to be human beings. God is not mad at you for being a human being, right? That would be such a toxic, manipulative, horrible God to make you a human being and then say, “Ugh, I hate her for being a human being.”
Sheila: Yeah. This reminds me—and we tell this story in She Deserves Better. But there is one story in one of the books that we reviewed of a woman who—one of the authors who wrote this book told the story of how she had been dating her now husband for quite a while. And she felt like she had to break up with him because since she started dating him she was spending less time doing devotions. And she was holding his hand during church instead of looking up the Scripture references. And there were other reasons. And I’m not saying that God didn’t tell her that. There could have been other things going on in her life. But this assumption—this assumption that if you do fewer devotions because you are dating God is angry at you, and we need to prove to God that we love Him more than we love other people by doing more devotions, by volunteering more. So as soon as you get a boyfriend, you actually have to do more at church than you did before to prove that he is not taking away from God. It’s just really toxic. And think—we give that same message to new moms too.
Rebecca: Oh, just wake up earlier. Your baby is getting up at 6:00 in the morning. That’s okay. You can just get up at 5:00 to do your devotions now.
Sheila: You don’t want to love your kids more than God because if you do love your kids more than God—
Rebecca: Then your kids won’t love God because you’ve set up a bad example for them.
Sheila: Or you might lose your kids.
Rebecca: Yeah. Exactly.
Sheila: God might take them away. And we’ve heard that. I’ve had so many people tell me I was really scared that God would take my kids away because I was so overwhelmed by how much I loved them that I thought, “Oh, no. God is going to see this, and He’s going to be upset that I love my kids more than I love Him.” And what kind of a view of God is that? Because it’s like this commenter said, “In Him, we live and move and have our being.” It’s not that you love God less than you love your kids or your husband. It’s that because of God and through God we have love for other people.
Rebecca: Yeah. And I think this idea that idolatry is this (inaudible)—the issue is believing that idolatry is loving anything more than God. And we just have to reframe what we mean by loving, right? We should not love in terms of our heart’s orientation. Our life’s orientation should not be pointed to something other than God. Our life’s orientation should not be pointed towards hoarding wealth, right? Or towards hedonism. Or towards selfish pleasure, which, I guess, is just hedonism. Multiple different ways of saying the word hedonism, right? Our heart should be pointed towards God. And anything else is idolatry, right? If we are seeking success, fame, power, money, whatever it is. The issue is that feeling in the moment an active, acute love for something more than we feel in the moment an active, acute love for God is not the same thing as idolatry. Unless we want to constantly be hyped up on mushroom thinking about God, it is impossible to—it seems like what they want is for people to constantly live in this spiritual haze ecstasy state for Christ and for God instead of just actually doing what God says which is just live your life as you love one another. And that’s how you serve Me, right?
Sheila: Yeah. But this thought that we need to approach dating and marriage as an appeasement, so we have to prove to God that we love Him more if we want to get married, if we want to have a boyfriend can lead to so many unhealthy behaviors. And as said last week, it can also lead a lot of people to not get married who wanted to get married because they thought, “If I show any openness to a relationship, then I am somehow sinning.”
Rebecca: God is going to see me and be, “Oh, she’s not ready yet. Zap.”
Sheila: Yeah. “I can’t pursue a relationship because I’m just supposed to pursue God and trust God.” And then you don’t realize this is all crazy until you’re 35.
Sheila: And it really is a problem. We don’t want to do this to our daughters.
Rebecca: Well, and the other thing too is I look at that and I think of the verses like, “Which of you if your son asks for bread will give him a stone or if he asks for a fish will give him a snake? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him?” This is the God that Jesus taught us about. The God that Jesus taught us about says, “Hey, your people—and frankly, people are dumb and kind of bad, okay? People don’t do things great all the time. And you know that if your kid is asking you for food, you’re not going to give them a poisonous creature.
Rebecca: You’re not going to hurt your kids. God’s better than you. So all of us are like, “I love my kids so much. I love my kids too much. I love my husband too much. I love this too much, this good thing that God has given me.” I feel so much love for this thing, and so I’m scared God is going to take it. God is not a father who gives you a stone or a snake, right? That’s what I think we forget is there are so many verses. Christ came to offer supreme comfort to people about how God was. Christ came to be God incarnate, to show us what God’s love looks like. God never looked at someone and said, “You love your kid too much,” and killed their kid.
Sheila: In fact, when Abraham tried to do that–
Rebecca: God stopped him.
Sheila: God stopped him. We need to remember that. I think about all of the women listening, and I’ve heard people go through this too who are dealing with infertility. They think the only way to get pregnant is to show God that I’m okay without kids, and that they’re not an idol in my life. I remember when my son who passed away when he was sick thinking, “Okay, how can I work myself up to believing enough that he’s going to be better?” As if we have to appease God. God does want to give us good gifts. Yes, we live in a fallen world. We’re not always going to get what we want, but isn’t it wonderful to know that God can sit with us in that disappointment rather than feeling like we have to hide the disappointment from God because then we’ll never get what we need.
Rebecca: Or if God is sitting with this disappointment feeling like he’s just saying, “I told you so,” or, “You brought this upon yourself.”
Sheila: Yeah, exactly. These are some of the messages that we told our girls when it came to dating that really messed a lot of us up in your generation especially. We don’t want that for our daughters. So we just wanted to share that because as we found on social media this week there is a lot of pain out there.
Rebecca: There is.
Sheila: I just encourage you if you’ve been trying to sort through your view of God and what you really think God is like–I had Krispin Mayfield on the podcast I think it was last year talking about attachments.
Rebecca: It’s weird how quickly it went but, but yeah, it was a long time ago.
Sheila: Yeah, so go check out that podcast. Episode Attached to God with Krispin Mayfield. That was really good, and that can help you too if you’re struggling in this. But now let’s bring on our coauthor, Joanna Sawatsky with She Deserves Better. We’re going to tell you about some more findings from our book. Well, we are here to give you some more data and fun findings from She Deserves Better so I am joined by my daughter Rebecca Lindenbach.
Rebecca: Hello. Hello.
Sheila: And from Edmonton, Alberta, across the country, we have Joanna Sawatsky.
Joanna: Hi, everybody.
Sheila: So Joanna is our stat person and the one who does all the magic with our numbers. So we want to share with you one of the weirder concepts that we measured that may not seem obvious as to why we measured it, but it actually tells a really interesting story. So we want to bring you guys along on a story that is going to involved people making stuff up in the eighties. It’s going–
Rebecca: It always does. Somehow it always does.
Sheila: It’s going to involve mental load. It’s going to involve all kinds of neat things so here we go. We are going to talk about the measure of the belief that girls talk too much. So, Rebecca, why don’t you explain why you wanted to include this in the study?
Rebecca: Okay, so I heard this all the time growing up. But the biggest reason I wanted to really include this was that as we were looking through materials that young girls were reading in the early aughts like in the nineties, that kind of thing, I kept on running into this idea in Brio magazine because I was reading so many old editions of this. There was this section they had where it was like guys said or guy talk where they interviewed these missionary kids that were all guys around the world or they’d interview dudes who were involved in a missions trip with Focus on the Family. It would be like Brett, 14, thinks–and it was supposed to be–honestly I struggle to understand why anyone thought this was a good idea because no one should be listening to advice on things from 14-year-olds.
Sheila: Yes, yes.
Rebecca: But anyway there was one almost every single response had something about girls talking too much in it. What do you look for in a girl? You know a girl who doesn’t talk too much. Or what do you wish girls knew? We just wish that you knew when you talk all the time it makes it hard for us to feel like you really listen. Every single response was something like that, was girls talk too much except for the one that was an accidental innuendo that was just–Focus on the Family needed some people who had actually been to public school to vet some of their stuff because they asked guys why they spit and they said, “Because I don’t want to swallow it.” That was a problem.
Sheila: Let’s just pause. That’s just a throwaway line, Rebecca, just put in the podcast. Everyone is going, “Excuse me.”
Rebecca: There was a question, “Why do guys spit so much?” Answer because we don’t want to swallow it. Yeah, that was it. Anyway this is the kind of article I was reading over and over again. But throughout Brio magazine, girls are told about making sure that you aren’t upstaging people, making sure that you’re being demure, making sure that in essence you’re seen and not heard. This is the recurring concept that we saw in a lot of books and a lot of articles, and I also remember having many, many boys in evangelicalism telling–not just me but my friends–you talk too much when we weren’t objectively. We were still talking less.
Sheila: Okay, and then when we looked–one of the things we wanted to measure in this study was an idea of–and this is going to sound complicated–something which researchers call internalized misogyny. Who wants to explain what that is?
Rebecca: Internalized misogyny is when women have internalized the belief that we are less capable, less worthy, less trustworthy, whatever it is. We are less than men, but internalize is when women take it upon themselves so now it’s not just that men are telling us that we’re not worthy. It’s also that women believe that we are not worthy.
Sheila: Right, and so when we were looking for measures of internalized misogyny, this idea of women’s voices kept coming up. So we put this in as one of the questions. “Did you believe girls talked too much? Did you believe it as a teen, and do you believe it now?” Joanna, what did we find?
Joanna: So 52.1% of women believed that girls talked too much when they were in high school, and 15.8% still believe it today.
Sheila: Right, okay, so that’s like over half believed it in high school–that girls talk too much. Now we don’t want to give away everything so in the book we show how this is related to a lot of different measures that really hurt girls, but let’s just give you two data points. So what have you got for us, Joanna?
Joanna: Okay, women who believed in high school that girls talk too much were twice as likely to have below average self-esteem in high school. Those self-esteem effects actually continue to the present day. She’s also 23% more likely to be dissatisfied with how much housework her husband does.
Sheila: Which is a funny finding. We’re going to get to that one in a minute because I want to unpack that one. But let’s just–a lot of the things that we were measuring in She Deserves Better were about self-esteem. I don’t know that people necessarily understand how big a deal that is because we think self-esteem is just like are you happy, are you confident? It doesn’t seem–
Rebecca: Do you think you look pretty in selfies?
Sheila: Right, exactly. But actually low self-esteem is highly correlated with a lot of negative stuff. Low self-esteem is actually correlated with later mental health, your relationship health, whether you’re going to make good decisions or not.
Rebecca: In essence, self-esteem can be used as a measure of emotional stability and health as well. It’s a very all-encompassing measure, and I’m sure any parent who is a parent of a teenager or who remembers what it was like to be a teenager, it’s not difficult to understand why self-esteem has such a big impact because it changes what decisions you make.
Sheila: So that’s why we really drilled down. We used a lot of previously validated self-esteem sets of questions in our survey. Yeah, so the self-esteem stuff was important, but what we really wanted to talk about today was the housework because it’s kind of a funny finding. I know, Joanna, you and I were on the phone. I remember we were on FaceTime, and we found this housework thing. We were like, “I wonder if we could drill down further?” So explain what we did.
Joanna: So thank you to all of you who filled out the survey because we have so many people who responded I can run the fun stats, deep in the cross tabs. So we looked at couples where both of them work outside the home. Women who believe that girls talk too much are twice as likely to do the vast majority of their housework when compared to women who have never believed that girls talk too much.
Rebecca: That’s of women who are also working a fulltime job. So husband and wife are both working probably around the same amount of hours in a week, and she’s still doing the vast majority of the work at home.
Sheila: Yeah, and it’s interesting how highly this is correlated with the belief that girls talk too much. So then what else? What else did we find?
Joanna: When women believed it in high school but they don’t now, they are 30% more likely to have an even split in the household labor than those who still believed that girls talk too much. They were 16% less likely to have an even split than those who never believed.
Sheila: Okay, so it’s like getting rid of the belief is helpful, but it doesn’t eradicate all of the consequences of believing it at all.
Joanna: Yeah, and if you are a person who deconstructed it, you and your spouse may have both deconstructed. So then there may be more parity, but if maybe only the wife deconstructed, that could happen a lot. So this is one of those times where it’s an aggregate measure, but I don’t know how much the aggregate is actually capturing the variety of different experiences that are going to be found especially in the deconstructed group.
Rebecca: If you deconstruct it, it might end up that yeah, it’s either great or it deconstructs, but still your spouse doesn’t get onboard. It’s more like you might be in this group, and your chances of being in the good group are lower even if you’ve deconstructed. That’s what we have to talk about because what this does–what we think this does, is it does a couple of different things.
Sheila: Yeah, let’s just go into why in the world does the belief that girls talk too much impact how much housework you do two decades later when you’re married?
Rebecca: I think the first one is that it tells women what their place is. Their place is not to be inconvenient to men. What’s inconvenient to men? Having to do housework. If you’re raising girls to think you talk too much, then what’s the measure of too much? What’s the measure? Is the measure just more than what the men around you think is appropriate? So then when you’re getting married, if you believe, “Yeah, I talk too much,” and then you’re more likely to marry a man who also believes, “Yeah, you talk too much,” you’re already primed to end up with a guy who doesn’t value your voice. The kinds of men who don’t value women’s voices are definitely not eager to take on the lion’s share of the mental load in the family. So I think it’s just one of those things where we’re setting our young girls up to just be prime pickings for men who want to take advantage of a woman in marriage.
Sheila: So yeah, it seems like a strange thing to be so correlated with housework, but it really was. So here’s the thing do girls talk too much? Like I think that’s a legitimate question.
Rebecca: It’s a legitimate question.
Sheila: Do women talk more than men? So what we did–we did a deep dive into this. We found a number of articles that were looking at how much women talk, and we found a number of claims, a number of articles that traced the claim about how much men talk versus how much women talk. So guess who it starts with?
Rebecca: We will give you guys one guess because at this point if you’ve listened to our podcast for a while or read The Great Sex Rescue, you might be able to have a very good guess.
Sheila: Who is someone who might have made up something–
Rebecca: Out of absolutely nothing.
Sheila: –in the seventies and eighties? If you’ve guessed James Dobson, you are right. So in his 1983 Love for a Lifetime which was published–it had several different editions that it went through. The earliest one that we could find was 1983, but in that book he said that women say 50,000 words a day while men say only 25,000. He would tell the story of how a man would get home from work, and he’s already said his 25,000, but woman may have only said 10,000. So she’s just bombarding him with words, and she needs to learn to be quiet because this is too much for him to handle. We heard about this a lot. We hear that kind of advice. That was Dobson in 1983. Then who’s next?
Joanna: Okay, so in additional pulling numbers out of thin air, Gary Smalley claims that women speak 25,000 words a day to men’s 12,000.
Sheila: Okay, so we have different numbers.
Joanna: I suspect that he just remembered that one of the numbers was 25,000, and then remember it was half and then rounded down.
Sheila: I did a deep dive into this, and I found a number of articles where people were trying to find the citations because we’re quoting what was said in Christian books, but this was also said–like this went into the news media. It went into women’s magazines–this idea. Nobody had any citations. So there were all these scientists trying to find the citation, and then we have the one that actually prompted a lot of research. So do you want to do this one?
Rebecca: Oh yeah, our good buddy, Louann Brizendine, who is a pop psychologist, neuro psychiatrist who consistently writes books that are to be generous a grandiose imagination of what the research could say and calls them science based.
Joanna: It’s never good when Nature writes a book review of your book panning it. Like when the best journal out there is like, “This is so important that we demolish the bad idea,” like this is how bad it is. You have to pass a really high bar before Nature is going to take on your book.
Sheila: The reason why Louann Brizendine might sound familiar to all of you is because Gary Thomas quotes her a lot in his book.
Rebecca: Even though the research that he quotes from her is already outdated by psychiatry standards, and also she’s been widely panned in the academic literature.
Sheila: But he holds onto–
Rebecca: But she’s convenient because she says that men can’t help but be ravenous sexual pigs. So she’s convenient so that’s why we still promote her in evangelical circles. She said on the original dustcover for her book The Female Brain that women say 20,000 words a day to men’s 7,000. So 7,000–so 20,000. So this is more than 50%. So this is bigger. This is almost three times. Again no citation.
Sheila: No citation.
Rebecca: No citation.
Sheila: She claimed that she got it from I believe like a study of children, but people couldn’t find it. So she actually had to take that claim off the dustcover in subsequent publications.
Rebecca: What I think is happening as somebody who did study cognitive development psychology pretty intensely is what I think is happening is there is lots of study–there are lots of studies that show that girls tend to have a higher vocabularies and develop their language capacity before boys. So they tend to be ahead in language. They have more words. They speak earlier. They tend to have better diction in a lot–there’s just a lot of different things. However, the research community is also asking but why? Is it that there is something inherent about women where you can’t even get a two-year-old to stop talking? Is it a reason like that? Or is it just that we are more likely to do things that encourage speech with girls. We expect girls to sit down and read a story with Mommy, and we send boys into the backyard. We expect girls to want to sing songs, and I can say this even as someone who did baby swimming lesson classes. The parents of little boys were not quite as into the songs often as the parents of the little girls because the little girls were expected to want to do the actions. The boys were expected to want to jump into the water. I think there’s also a level of where–this is what we talked about when I was in school that–we had debates about this all the time whenever we talked about the differences in the sexes and how they develop in cognitive issues. Is this a biological difference? Or is it that every kid has the capacity for language development? We simply stoke it more in girls than in boys. We just kind of let boys figure it out along the way a little bit more, and so they are a little bit more behind.
Sheila: So I’ve got two big studies to share. The first one is a meta-analysis. We all love meta-analyses. Joanna, do you want to explain what a meta-analysis is?
Joanna: Okay, so you roll up to your first day of class talking about study design. I don’t know what class it is. Maybe you’re in a psychology class. Maybe it’s sociology. Maybe you’re in public health. I don’t know, but what are they going to do? They’re going to show you a slide. On the slide, there’s going to be all the different kinds of studies. They’re going to start with a case report which is where you go, “Huh, there was somebody. They were kind of different. Let’s talk about it.” Then you go work your way up, and then the top–the crème de la crème, the best kind of study for anything is a meta-analysis, which is where you bring a bunch of different studies together, look at all of their stats, crunch a bunch of numbers, a bunch of really fancy stats of people who do meta-analyses will do to try to aggregate all of those studies, to kind of come to a consensus and answers, to summarize the literature, and also to get a point estimate–a statistical estimation that brings in the data from all of the different studies. It’s a very big job to do them. I have so–I’m kind of in awe of meta-analyses. But yeah, they are the gold standard.
Sheila: Right, so let me tell you about this meta-analysis. It was done on all of the studies about speech and children, okay, and gender differences. So what they were looking at was three different measures. They were looking at talkativeness, affiliative speech, and assertive speech. Statistically significant average effect sizes were obtained with all three language constructs. On average, girls were slightly more talkative and used more affiliative speech than did boys whereas boys used more assertive speech than did girls. However, the average effect sizes were either negligible or small. So not a big deal in children. Now what about adults? So here is a story of when Louann Brizendine’s book came out with that finding, a bunch of scientists at a university were like, “Where the heck did she get this?”
Rebecca: I know.
Sheila: I’ve read the article in Scientific American telling this story of how they were like, “We just don’t even see any citations.” They went on this big–
Rebecca: You can’t see what doesn’t exist.
Sheila: They were on this big deep dive. They found the Brizendine stuff. They found the Dobson–they found all of this stuff with all of these claims with no backing. So they decided they were going to do a study. So they had recorders on both men and women.
Rebecca: They actually studied it.
Rebecca: They just studied.
Sheila: They listened to men and women. Here’s what they found. In most of the samples, the average number of words spoken by men and women were about the same. Men showed a slightly wider variability in words uttered and boasted both the most economical speaker with roughly 500 words daily and the most verbose yapping at a whopping 47,000 words a day. But in the end, the sexes came out just about even. Women at 16,215 words, and men at 15,669. In terms of statistical significance, it’s not even remotely close to different.
Rebecca: Yep, exactly, and so when you look at all those things, men speak half the amount of women citation, citation misogyny. It’s not anything real.
Sheila: Yeah, so here’s their conclusion in The Scientific American article writing about this study in the journal of science. “As for the legend’s origins that women talk to much, University of Pennsylvania linguistics professor Mark Lieberman speculated in a blog last year, “My current best guess is that a marriage counselor invented this particular meme about 15 years ago–it was actually longer–as a sort of parable for couples with certain communication problems and others have picked it up and spread it while modulating the numbers to suit their tastes.” Okay, so conclusion one, girls do not talk–
Rebecca: More than boys.
Sheila: More than boys. Here’s another study which I found fascinating. It’s quite a famous study. It’s the Mendelberg and Karpowitz experiments from Cambridge University. Here’s what they did. So they got a bunch of male and female students, and they put them in groups of five. All of these groups–well, not all, but they arranged them with different gendered groups. So some had five men. Some had five women. Some had one man, four women. Some had four men, one woman. As many different–
Rebecca: As you can make.
Sheila: As you can make. They told them that what they were there to do was to figure out the most equitable way to do something–economic redistribution. They were going to have–they were given a problem, and they had three hours or however long it was to study the problem and come up with a solution. So they were supposed to be debating all of this in the group of five and come up with something. They weren’t told that the real purpose of the study was to see how often men and women talk in groups of different gender dynamics. So they were just told they were supposed to do this. So a couple of interesting findings. First of all on the whole, men were overwhelmingly likely to be rated as the most influential in a group and the one who talked the most. But I want to read to you one of the findings. Equality would suggest that each person in a group of five has the floor 20% of the time. So if everyone is speaking equally, they would speak 20% of the time, but it took not just a female majority, but a super majority meaning four out of five for women to finally speak their proportionate talking time. At best, outnumbered women in the study spoke three-quarters of the time a man spoke. On average, women spoke just two-thirds as much as a man, and missing voices means missing perspectives. A lone female spoke the least. A lone male nothing will hold him back. Karpowitz and Mendelberg found men are willing and eager to jump into conversations, and they come with a level of confidence where they just expect themselves to be influential. They go for it no matter what.
Rebecca: Yeah, exactly, and so this is the thing. We’re all told that we talk too much when in reality our voices are way more likely to be ignored or suppressed, and so when people say girls talk too much, what they’re really saying is I don’t want to listen to you. They’re not actually saying you’re talking too much. They’re saying you’re in my way.
Sheila: Just think about that, okay? So the only way that a woman will speak–
Rebecca: As much as a man.
Sheila: –as much as a man is if 80% of the group is female. Even 60% of the group is not enough to have women speak equally, and if women are the minority in the group, they just don’t get a lot of words in.
Rebecca: They get 66%, right?
Sheila: Yeah. So think about how women’s voices have been silenced. It’s not that women talk too much. It’s really that we don’t talk enough in many cases.
Rebecca: I think that we don’t talk enough because men have not been taught to listen to women. Men have instead been told women are there, and they’re taking your–they’re taking the attention and time from you. It’s just frustrating that we have to support this feminist agenda. That’s what men are told genuinely. I know it’s happening in the church because we hear it all the time. We hear it all the time.
Sheila: I always get told that I’m preaching the feminist agenda, and I just want women to be over men. No, look at what’s happening.
Sheila: Here’s another thing though this idea of–if we look at it from another perspective of whether women talk too much and men don’t, just a simple measure. On the MBTI–the Myers Briggs personality type indicator–one of the spectrums–what do you call it?
Rebecca: The constructs?
Sheila: The constructs is extroversion versus introversion. That’s not completely correlated with how much you talk. So I’m oversimplifying this, and I understand that I’m oversimplifying it.
Rebecca: The reason that we’re talking about extroversion/introversion is most of the marriage materials and the advice assumes the husband to be an introvert who does not want to talk and assumes a wife to be a talkative, chatty extrovert.
Rebecca: That’s why we’re simplifying it is because we’re just going with the assumptions that evangelicalism has given us.
Sheila: There certainly is a tilt in one direction, but it’s not huge. So if you look at women 55% are extroverts, 45% are introverts. For men, 42% are extroverts, 58% are introverts. So it’s not huge.
Rebecca: It’s not a huge difference.
Sheila: It is not a huge difference.
Rebecca: We’re not talking like 80 and 20 and then 20 and 80.
Joanna: Yeah, and the other thing is this would not–a lot of couples are not going to fit into that mold that evangelicalism has for them.
Joanna: Most couples will not. Additionally this is a really helpful, but the Myers Briggs isn’t super statistically valid. It’s not–this isn’t a measure of talkativeness that’s utilized in studies evaluating the effect of talkativeness on outcomes. This is a really helpful personality typology, and even here we see a very subtle, still present, but subtle difference in the genders based on introversion versus extroversion.
Sheila: But what do we hear in marriage books–think about, and a couple weeks ago we did Joanna (inaudible 38:00) and I looked at all the difference ways that Emerson Eggerichs misused Scripture in the book Love and Respect. One of the things he does over and over and over again–I think his favorite verse is to win him without words in 1 Peter 3 where wives are told to win him without words. He says that over and over again, like don’t speak.
Rebecca: The worst thing a woman could have is words.
Sheila: If you have something you need to bring up to your husband–
Rebecca: Every time he talks about women, he talks about the nagging, quarrelsome wife. So again, words, opinions.
Sheila: That she is saying too much, and you’re not supposed to bring anything up. You’re only supposed to speak two to three sentences every ten to twenty minutes–
Rebecca: Limit your words.
Sheila: –if you have something that you are upset at him about because your words are bothersome to him. They’re disrespectful. In one of the chapters where he’s giving advice to women on men, he’s talking about how he just wants you to be there without talking. So it says she wants to talk to be close, but in this chapter we see the natural bent of the male is to be shoulder-to-shoulder with a lot less talking. Just as sometimes he must make the effort to be with you face-to-face, you must also make the effort to be with him shoulder-to-shoulder. When he calls you to be with him and you just do it with little or no talking, you will see the energy flow into him.
Rebecca: I mean it’s just absolutely not true. There are going to be some people who just really crave that togetherness without having to have the mental effort of conversation. I know lots of people who are very introverted or even just a little bit of–who are just really tired and just want to sit on the couch and just kind of be together while you each read books separately. That sounds lovely. I mean Connor and I do the whole millennial thing where we’ll sit and each be looking at memes and text them to each other on the couch. There’s a good time for this. Sometimes we’ll clean the house and both have our podcasts on in our ears so we’re not talking, but we’re doing it together, and it’s. It makes the load lighter. This is not a sex thing, like a gender thing. This is just a people thing. The fact that it’s her words that are the problem versus there being different things that feed into a relationship–it’s not about his words are ever a problem. It’s not ever that she’s touched out. She’s exhausted from hearing, “Mommy, why? Mommy, why? Mommy, why?” for 18 hours straight because you know they don’t sleep because they’re asking, “Mommy, why?” They don’t have time to sleep. There’s nothing about that. There’s no understanding that she might also just want to just relax, but also the idea that him going face-to-face and having a conversation with her is something that he has to brace himself to do is so problematic. Again these guys have no concept of balance. There’s no concept of balance here. Just because sometimes you’re not in the mood for deep, heartfelt conversations doesn’t mean it’s normal to never be in the mood for deep, heartfelt conversations. Just because sometimes you’re tired after work doesn’t mean that you’re excused from being misogynistic piece of work who doesn’t want to hear his wife talking because, “Oh, my goodness, she’s so naggy.” You don’t get to get away with this because sometimes you want the other thing, and we can’t just call it God’s design and allow men to remain emotionally stunted and misogynistic and believe this kind of crap when instead we can just tell people, “Be decent human beings for Pete’s sake.” You had roommates in college. You know other human beings, right? You have friends, right? You talk to people, right? So maybe don’t treat your wife like a piece of cow poop compared to the other people in your life who you actually treat with consideration.
Joanna: 100%. So when I was in high school, I took a class at the University of Pittsburgh. There was a grant that let me do it for free which was really nice. So I rolled up to Russian fairy tales, and in Russian fairy tales, strangely we read Grimm’s fairy tales because there wasn’t a lot of scholarship on specifically Russian fairy tales. It’s a bit dubious, but anyway, we read this reading of Cinderella and other fairy tales. My head exploded. I have not recovered. Sometimes I’m like, “Why am I doing this job?” Then I remember that day at Pitt reading that article, and I think, “This is why I’m doing all of the things.” They looked at the Grimm’s fairy tales, and what they found is that the least talkative character are the heroines. So Cinderella will not say, “I am afraid.” She will cry out. The story does not actually purport her speech. The most talkative characters are the evil stepmother and the evil witches throughout Grimm’s fairy tales. So what is a woman supposed to aspire to? She is supposed to aspire to be a demure heroine to whom the story happens, who is rescued as the damsel in distress, and who does not speak. It hasn’t changed. Ultimately these ideas come to us from fairy tales. Fairy tales which are overtly misogynistic and just behind the times.
Sheila: So this is something that many of us grew up with feeling like girls talk too much. Girls talk more than boys. There isn’t evidence for that, but here is something else really interesting that we ran. Do you want to explain this one, Joanna?
Joanna: So we also looked at how the girls talk too much idea correlates with the difference modesty messages that we looked at. We actually looked at modesty using four different statements because we really wanted to understand how that plays out in the lives of girls and women. We actually found that they are extremely correlated to each other. So you’re three or four times more likely if you believe that girls talk too much to believe each of the four modesty messages that we measured.
Rebecca: Which was amazing. But what that really says is that you can say like the girls talk too much is that girls should be seen and not heard, but the modesty message says you shouldn’t even be seen. So the modesty message and the girls talk too much message, but they both say is how you are–your opinions, your body, everything about you is inconvenient and dangerous to men. So girls just simply need to be erased from the equation. They shouldn’t be heard, and they shouldn’t be seen. Because the whole point of the modesty message is about not drawing attention to yourself. Which we don’t disagree with the idea of not drawing undue attention to ourselves, but any of us who grew up with the modesty message can attest that it was not just about not drawing attention to yourself as in don’t post a bunch of butt pics on Instagram.
Sheila: Don’t brag.
Rebecca: It was about don’t be noticed. It was about become part of the background. Be humble but in a toxic way, not in a be truthful about yourself and don’t be proud, but don’t let other people think about you. You need to obey. You need to be underneath. You need to make sure that your presence is not affecting anyone. Instead of telling other people, “Hey, maybe you need to make room for girls. Maybe you need to learn how not to be a creep around girls who have girls’ bodies.” They were not told that because we were the problem. We talk too much. We take space from boys. We have breasts. That offends the boys. It’s just something we see over and over again that women are not only to be seen not heard. They are neither to be seen nor heard.
Sheila: Here’s what we concluded. I’m going to read you–this is from She Deserves Better. This is how we concluded this. “If girls talk too much is a well-established measure of internalized misogyny and the modesty message corresponds with it so consistently, then perhaps the modesty message is also a sign of internalized misogyny. After all, the modesty message prioritizes men’s comfort. It says men’s needs to be free of temptation and discomfort are greater than women’s needs to be free of shame, objectification, and harassment. Once again, men matter more than women.”
Rebecca: In She Deserves Better really a lot of the questions we’re asking of mothers come down to, have you given informed consent to the kinds of things your daughter might be exposed to? Or are we just closing our eyes and hoping that it will all be okay? Because a lot of moms if you actually take a second and you step back and you’re like, “It’s weird that my 25-year-old youth past is policing the fact that my daughter wore shorts that he thinks are too short.” That should be a red flag.
Sheila: Yes, and we will talk about the whole modesty thing on a different podcast. We’re going to go into this in-depth.
Rebecca: But when we actually think about these things, it makes sense that it should be weird that our daughters are in churches where their voices are not only not encouraged, they’re actively taught to silence them, to dampen them, for the sake of the boys who have just as much opportunity to speak as the girls. Instead of empowering everyone to use their voice, we’re telling girls this is not your place. Mothers who are honestly thinking about this, I really believe you can see what’s wrong with that. This is really about opening your eyes, having informed consent, and not just assuming everything is safe because it says it’s a Christian church.
Sheila: It always seems like it’s James Dobson who makes that stuff up.
Rebecca: Every single book we can count on their being one ridiculous factoid that James Dobson came up one day while brushing his teeth or in the shower. He was like, “Yeah, that’s a great way to increase misogyny on this planet.”
Sheila: Then it just goes out like bread upon the waters.
Rebecca: Honestly I don’t know. This man’s ability to just promote absolute trash, garbage that’s not based in evidence is ridiculous.
Sheila: So that’s our plea, right? Let’s just get evidence-based–
Sheila: Jesus said you can recognize them by their fruit.
Rebecca: If this guy had been held to even the most basic standards of having to cite his sources, none of this would have happened.
Sheila: Exactly, and let’s keep our heads on straight. Let’s not ignore data. A lot of stuff has been going on in social media in the last two weeks.
Rebecca: That’s an understatement.
Sheila: Yes, my social media has blown up because there’s been some really big stories going on in evangelicalism that haven’t been part of this podcast. So if you listen to this podcast but you don’t follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, I would really encourage you to go take a look because there has been a whole mess of things.
Rebecca: I don’t even know where to start. I mean there’s–
Sheila: First of all, there was the pastor.
Rebecca: There was the pastor, who–
Sheila: Jonathan Pokluda, who objectified women in his sermons, and I said quite about that.
Rebecca: Discussed that.
Sheila: There was that horrible article by The Gospel Coalition.
Rebecca: That compared the Holy Spirit to–if anyone hasn’t read it you will not believe me, but this literally–who compared the Holy Spirit to semen.
Sheila: Yes, it was very, very, very–
Rebecca: Very bizarre.
Sheila: Very bizarre.
Rebecca: And very, very objectifying and horrible and a lot of scholars are saying very blasphemous too.
Sheila: Yeah, so they did pull the article. The book that it was based on is still being published as of today.
Rebecca: Yes, but they’re just throwing the author under the bus instead of dealing with–yeah, we have a problem with seeing women as sex objects here. Like, no, just him.
Sheila: So some of you may have seen my name around because I kind of got in the middle of it so now I’m being quoted in different places so again just do follow me on Twitter so that you don’t miss some of this.
Rebecca: But also what we’re saying–the reason we’re bringing this up is also to take heart that two big things happened where women were horrifically objectified, were totally seen as just sex toys. It was disgusting. Both of them had to apologize and retract because there’s actually a movement now where you are not able to say these things without pushback anymore.
Sheila: Exactly, and so thank you to everyone who pushed back–
Sheila: –and who joined us on social media on that. We were not the only ones talking about this either.
Rebecca: But the more that people are saying no more, the more likely it is that the people who are spouting this kind of take where women are seen as objects will be seen as a liability, not as theologically savvy.
Sheila: Exactly, and you know what? We all deserve better than that.
Sheila: Everyone deserves better than that, and our back She Deserves Better launches April 18.
Rebecca: It does.
Sheila: You can preorder it now, and on March 13, which is next Monday–
Rebecca: I can’t believe it’s already next Monday.
Sheila: I know. Our launch team launches, and for those of you who were on The Great Sex Rescue launch team, it’s so much fun. We have an exclusive Facebook group. We have weekly Facebook lives where we talk about stuff.
Rebecca: We’re already preparing a huge webinar to go over the really nitpicky stuff in our findings that so interesting and are answering a lot of the questions that we get in our comments all the time.
Sheila: Yeah, yeah, so that’s going to be fun. We’ve got some preorder bonuses about deconstruction and modesty, and of course, if you join our launch team you get access to the book right away. All you need to do is preorder anywhere, and then just take a screenshot of your receipt or forward me your receipt. The email address is in the link, in the podcast notes, so you can just forward that. Then on Monday, on March 13, you’ll get invited to the Facebook group, and more instructions to come. So it’s super fun. We would love to see as many people there as possible. Remember when you preorder the book, it helps us too because it means more online retailers order lots of copies. It can become a bestseller in some of its categories, and that encourages bookstores to order it in as well.
Rebecca: It also guarantees you get the lowest price.
Sheila: Yes, because if the price drops because of lots and lots of orders, then you will–yeah–get that lowest price.
Sheila: So helps us a ton. Get the word out about She Deserves Better, and we’re really excited to share even more findings with you next on The Bare Marriage Podcast. Bye-bye.
All About She Deserves Better!
Podcasts about She Deserves Better:
- Do Girls Talk Too Much?
- Should We Kiss Dating Goodbye? What Dating Rules Work Best
- How Did Modesty Messages Affect Teen Girls Long Term?
- Why Are Women Supporting the Modesty Messages? Plus How Youth Groups Handle Date Rape
- Trauma, EMDR, and "Himpathy" (and why we sympathize with abusers)
- "Nice Guy Syndrome" and Boundaries
- What We're Fighting For: A Glimpse 20 Years Down the Road
- Pink and Blue Faith: Plus We Take a Submission Quiz!
Posts about She Deserves Better:
- 10 Defining Features of Purity Culture We Need to Eliminate
- How did we think calling 8-year-old girls' bellies "intoxicating" was okay?
- The data on why we need to stop calling girls "stumbling blocks"
- Feeling responsible for her own Sexual Assault: A Youth Group Case Study
- What do the toxic teachings have in common?
- Are we giving our daughters only half the gospel?
- 32 Things Your Daughter Deserves to Know
- 3 Things That Make it More Likely Your Daughter Will Marry an Abuser