Tag Archives: humanity

Political Heartburn

Feeling the Bern

Flames leap with each beat

up my throat


How can so many




Every step countered


They don’t wave me over in the lot

I’m not of their Lot

They smell the liberal sprinkling of salt

Imagine me burning

Imagine us flailing

What’s left when all that’s left is anger

and entertainment

My chest is one match from explosion



Tired of the same

Begging for change

It shall come

From whom?

For whom?

The future is now

See the light

Feel the creeping cold


nuclear possibility


Who causes Armageddon?

Who brings Heaven?








“Think before you speak. Read before you think.” -Fran Lebowitz


Women’s tongues are like lambs’ tails – they are never still. –English

The North Sea will sooner be found wanting in water than a woman at a loss for words. –Jutlandic

The woman with active hands and feet, marry her, but the woman with overactive mouth, leave well alone. –Maori

When both husband and wife wear pants it is not difficult to tell them apart – he is the one who is listening. –American

Nothing is so unnatural as a talkative man or a quiet woman. –Scottish

Where there are women and geese, there’s noise. –Japanese.

The tongue is the sword of a woman and she never lets it become rusty. -Chinese

Women clearly talk more than men, right? The stereotype is so strong across so many cultures and places so clearly this is one stereotype based in fact. Right?


Well, let us look at the evidence.

Researchers reviewed sixty-three studies that looked at how much American men and women talked when put together in various situations. Out of sixty-three studies, women spoke more than men in exactly two.

In New Zealand, a researcher compared the talking time of experts and interviewers on television. In situations where the time was meant to be split into thirds, men took over half of the time. Every time.

Another researcher analyzed the talking time of men and women in 100 open forums. Women dominated those discussions…7% of the time. When the participants were equally divided along gender lines, men still managed to take two-thirds of the speaking time.

I had a meeting with a [female] sales manager and three of my [male] directors once…it took about two hours. She only spoke once and one of my fellow directors cut across her and said ‘What Anne is trying to say, Roger, is…’ and I think that about sums it up. He knew better than Anne what she was trying to say, and she never got anything said.

Let’s look at some other professional situations, shall we?

Years ago, while producing the hit TV series “The Shield,” Glen Mazzara noticed that two young female writers were quiet during story meetings. He pulled them aside and encouraged them to speak up more.

Watch what happens when we do, they replied.

Almost every time they started to speak, they were interrupted or shot down before finishing their pitch. When one had a good idea, a male writer would jump in and run with it before she could complete her thought.

A Yale psychologist tracked the speaking time of new senators and those with more tenure and leadership. She found that tenured male senators spoke much more than their junior colleagues, but female senators’ speaking time did not significantly increase with time or power.

After discovering this gender inconsistency, the psychologist asked professionals to judge the competence of executives based on how often they shared their opinion. Male executives who spoke up received 10% higher competency ratings. Meanwhile, female executives who shared their opinions openly received 14% lower competency ratings from both men and women.

Another analysis showed that women who make their companies significant revenue and contribute good ideas do not receive better performance reviews and are not seen in a better light by their bosses. Men, however, are.

A researcher at UT had various males and females suggest a proven idea for streamlining their team’s inventory. He found that the women who suggested the new idea were viewed as less loyal by their leaders and those leaders were less likely to take the suggestion. Even when the leaders were told that one member of their team was given unique, helpful information, the women were ignored.

Women do not talk more. They know that talking more will do them harm, both professionally and socially. All those pictures up top saying that women outpace men by thousands of words per day? False. The erroneous numbers seem to have started with someone trying to sell a book. The real numbers?

But in the end, the sexes came out just about even in the daily averages: women at 16,215 words and men at 15,669. In terms of statistical significance, Pennebaker says, “It’s not even remotely close to different.”

So, our daily averages are about the same, but in mixed and professional situations, men dominate time and again. There is abundant research that this starts early–we’re talking elementary school early. From the classroom to the boardroom, women are not heard in public. Being listened to in public is a confirmation of importance and social status. So what does this say about where society places women? What does it say about how women view themselves?

To be fair, many of those pictures up top seemed to be referencing couples, not executives. So:

Another study compared the relative amount of talk of spouses. Men dominated the conversations between couples with traditional gender roles and expectations, but when the women were associated with a feminist organization they tended to talk more than their husbands. So feminist women were more likely to challenge traditional gender roles in interaction.

It seems possible that both these factors – expert status and feminist philosophy – have the effect of developing women’s social confidence. This explanation also fits with the fact that women tend to talk more with close friends and family, when women are in the majority, and also when they are explicitly invited to talk (in an interview, for example).

So, women are starting to realize that they are worthy of a voice, both in their relationships and in public. We still only expect people to listen to us if they are close to us or if we are an expert on the topic, but it’s progress. But that is how we see ourselves, how do the men see the women?

When a teacher worked at giving equal talking time to both boys and girls, he felt he was giving the girls 90% of his attention and his male pupils agreed. They complained angrily about it, in fact. Got that? An attempt at equality is seen as overwhelming favor and bitterly resented.

The same thing happens at seminars and debates, too. At a workshop where 32 women and 5 men were in attendance, analysis showed that the 5 men spoke over 50% of the time. They said what they wanted to say and set the tone for what was to be said and how. The researcher noted that there was no hostility, but the pressure the men exerted on the conversation was accepted without comment or question.

When women are given equal time to talk, it is believed that women were given more than their fair share. After all, what is fair in a patriarchal society? Dale Spencer says this:

The talkativeness of women has been gauged in comparison not with men but with silence. Women have not been judged on the grounds of whether they talk more than men, but of whether they talk more than silent women.

How do we fix this extreme disparity? I’ll talk about that in my next post.

“I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.” -Gandhi

I’m sitting in my room with my headphones on. The low murmur of CNN is still detectable. There was another shooting today. My husband needs to know. I already want to forget.

I watched with him during some of the calmer moments–SWAT teams walking around a residential neighborhood, that sort of thing. The anchor and her guests were stating the obvious things about American police tactics that they always talk about during times of action, but no information. Then they talked of Paris and radicals, terrorism and bombs. They prefaced everything with acknowledgements of their ignorance, but that did not stop their mouths.

As they spoke, the never-ending scroll of information caught my eye: United States decides to start bombing after some debate; Britain to start bombing soon; Germany gearing up to start bombing; France asking for more bombs…

I am not a pacifist though I imagine I could become one before my life ends. Why do we keep doing the same thing and expecting different results?

I think of America’s Civil War and World War II and decide those were wars that needed to be fought, but I say that with the distinct advantage of hindsight. Would I have thought the same thing if I had been around at the time? Would I call them justified if they had ended differently?

How can you have a war on terrorism when war itself is terrorism?
-Howard Zinn

We do this thing where we spend millions and billions on war, then we leave. Maybe the fighting is done, maybe it isn’t, but we leave. We leave these people that we have terrorized with ruined homes and ruined lives and expect them to fix what we have broken. We may send a tiny fraction of the money we spent destroying them to rebuild, but never enough. We leave the ones we claim to have “saved” in squalor, usually worse than where they began, and are surprised when they grow to hate us.

We contribute to the cycle of violence with every act of violence we commit, regardless of our intentions. So, how do we stop? Can we stop? Evolution is a game of getting to the top and it was a bloody rise for humans. Societal evolution has been just as bloody, but even worse, for we have been violent whilst having a conscious.

My children’s first acts of violence came long before they could speak. I regularly played games in which I and my friends imagined ourselves in situations of heinous hardship. Our entertainment is not just laced with violence–violence is often the point. Our games are purposely ‘us versus them’. Do these casual examples of violence serve as outlets or provocations of our worst traits?

Fear is such a basic instinct. It is easy to lash out in pain, easier than to spread happiness. The dichotomy of good versus evil is uncomplicated compared to the complex reasons why people deliberately cause harm. Are we doomed to rinse and repeat the bloodshed until we are no more?

Imperialism is not our answer, but neither is willful ignorance and inaction. This is not a day on which I feel optimistic about the human race.

Blooming Society Sunday

A bloom is a small idea of how to improve our world.
Tend the garden of humanity with me by blogging with your own idea on any Sunday.
If you do, feel free to pingback here so we can keep the conversation going.


Today’s Bloom: Plant a Tree

Trees have always felt like a refuge to me. They’re the cathedrals of nature. Walking amongst them is guaranteed to impart a sense of belonging in the world at large. Maybe it’s because a tree can become home to literally hundreds of creatures. Maybe it’s because we didn’t climb down from them all that long ago.


There is a tree just outside of where I live.

Well, there was.


A few of the tree’s branches were beaten by storms. Its roots were grasping at the earth beneath a utility box. Its existence had become inconvenient.

When I saw the orange paint streak of death on its trunk, my heart sank. It’s been a few weeks now. A tree-like bush that grows pink flowers has taken its place.

There are more of these elsewhere on the property. They’re pretty, but it’s rare to see an insect on their branches. The leaves they grow are sparse. The shade they offer is weak.

The entire plant sways in the wind like a child learning to walk. It will never learn to stand on solid ground, the grip of its roots is too weak. I don’t imagine its tendrils will ever wrap around wires. It will never grow strong or tall. Its branches will never dent a car. It will never offer refuge and will rarely be called home.

The demolition of the former tree ripped the grass from the ground. So, the green and yellow blades were replaced with dainty squares of pre-grown grass. The seams left behind by this unnatural planting have started to fill in. In the city, nature takes what it can get.

I live in a state where temperatures in the summer are expected to reach and hover around Fahrenheit’s triple digits. I live on a planet with a finite source of drinkable water — a planet where people routinely do not have access to clean water, let alone drinkable. Yet, every day I see concrete being watered as inept sprinklers fail to spray the precious liquid on grass that will never stay green anyway.

Even in the massive metropolis where I reside, there are stretches of highway that cut through open fields. But every time I travel them, I notice the open spaces are shrinking. ‘Land for Sale’ signs are the orange paint of meadows.

I recently saw a wild sunflower patch flattened. What replaced it? A parking lot for a hotel. Want to know how many hotels were already standing in a one block radius? Three.

I’m not against cities. I live in the fourth largest metropolitan area in the United States. I throw no stones. Still, I think to most of us, this massive and invasive urbanization feels wrong. Humanity’s main problems stem from choosing hubris over harmony.

Planting a tree is reaching a hand out to Mother Nature. I just hope she’ll take it.

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.
-Chinese Proverb

Get 10 free trees from the Arbor Day Foundation
Apply for tree seedlings from the National Wildlife Federation
Learn how to plant a tree

Blooming Society Sunday

A bloom is a small idea of how to improve our world.
Tend the garden of humanity with me by blogging with your own idea on any Sunday.
If you do, feel free to pingback here so we can keep the conversation going.

Today’s Bloom: Let People Speak for Themselves

If you read my recent post, you know that I was discouraged by a study I learned about that turned out to be falsified. The study claimed that when people who opposed same-sex marriage spoke to queer canvassers about their lives and why they opposed marriage equality, their stance was likely to become more liberal and stay that way in the long term. Not only that, they were likely to change the minds of others they knew who shared their previous opinion. Furthermore, the personalized method was also said to be effective when canvassers who had an abortion spoke to anti-abortion voters.

The study was largely falsified and the stories behind the results were almost entirely fabricated. The study was a sham, but what about the idea behind it? Is the key to lasting empathetic change polite personal conversations between conservatives and the people whose rights they oppose? It’s so simple. It certainly can’t hurt, right?

I don’t know how large a change can be wrought from a short conversation between strangers. If a significant change of mind is experienced, I don’t know how long it might last. I do know that humans don’t like to be proven wrong. Even when facing direct evidence of our wrongness, we tend to dig in our heels twice as deep.

As someone looking to affect lasting social improvement, I am loathe to dismiss a possible solution, especially one so straight-forward. I do what I can to speak out and up — to improve the world by filtering my experiences and relating the lessons learned to others. Yet, speaking is only one part of the empathy equation. Listening is the other.

There have been many issues that I have wanted to speak about, but have held my tongue instead. I make this choice when I know others will speak better than I can. It is time to listen when others’ experiences are relevant and mine are lacking. Many times, I have no experiences to distill at all. I do a lot of listening, but I don’t think I have done enough to boost the signals of the voices I turn to.

This means more retweets and shares and reblogs, but it also means deferring to others more eloquently and regularly offline. Humans digest stories more readily than statistics. Co-opting narratives does little to help anyone. We must help each other be heard, rather than yearning to be the loudest.

Two videos that explore today’s bloom: