Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Yada, Yada Yada

When I think about the times in my life that I couldn't get a word in edgewise, I think of conversations I had with my younger brother. These weren't conversations in the traditional sense, where one person speaks, the other listens and considers a response, then takes a turn speaking while the other listens. My younger brother has some zen-yogi master way of circular breathing that allows him to speak even while he is gathering air. Please understand, I find him fascinating, but sometimes I feel the need to take notes so that later I can respond to the often lyrical and amusing notions that pour out of his head.
The other thing that should be pointed out at this juncture is the fact that there were several years in which my younger brother said nothing. It wasn't like he took a vow of silence, he had one enforced on him by his older brothers. His "quiet time" came about primarily from the luck of the draw, being the youngest, and therefore he got stuck listening to his older brothers and his father hold court at the dinner table, and social gatherings, and antisocial gatherings. All of this stifling led, no doubt, to his rather profound ability to walk and talk in his sleep. It was the only time that was left for him to be interactive.
Then, suddenly, there were no more roadblocks to his train of thought. When my older brother and I left the house, suddenly his voice rang out. A decade and a half of sitting quietly while the same tired stories and heated objections were passed around in front of him, the way was cleared for him to spout forth. His monologue began slowly, but began to build steam as he went to college, and then to the free speech haven that is California.
And this brings me, at last, to my point. Dr Luan Brizendine of the University of California says the average woman works her way through 20,000 words per day, compared with just 7,000 for the average male. This "self-proclaimed feminist" psychiatrist has arrived at this conclusion after years of research (and plenty of discussion, no doubt), saying "women devote more brain cells to talking than men." I think it's even easier to figure out than that. Imagine, for the sake of argument, that we lived in a world where women were kept out of the "really big conversations" about politics and religion for thousands of years. Wouldn't they eventually find other avenues of expression? Constant elucidation on their own state of affairs and feelings with their female counterparts, while men sat in rooms, glumly mumbling to one another about stock prices or global thermonuclear war. If you can imagine a planet like this, it's no wonder women talk so much.
It's not so much a matter of brain chemistry as much as keeping a genie in a bottle. If you don't believe me, ask my younger brother - just make sure you have a few minutes to spare.

1 comment:

mrs. id said...

An incisive commentary on the twentieth century, dear. Perhaps we could discuss further when we get home. (Or I could discuss, you could listen.)