Women Are Nicer, But Just As Assertive, As Men On Facebook, Study Shows

We know that women are heavier social media users than men, but can you imagine how much worse the Internet would be if they weren't? A new study found that women are nicer on Facebook than men, and by a pretty disturbing margin when you look at the language studied. Interestingly however, the study also found that women and men were equally, highly assertive in how they expressed themselves — women were simply warmer and more positive, while men tended to be colder and more aggressive. Literally, who is shocked?

The specific traits women were said to embody are "expressions of positive emotion and warmth towards others" while men were more likely to deploy "swearing, criticism, [and] controversial topics." Uh yeah, maybe because when women put effort into tackling a controversial subject matter in a nuanced, thoughtful way that makes space for other people's experiences, they get threatened with rape and murder.

Researchers from the universities of Pennsylvania, Melbourne, Cambridge and Stony Brook looked at the language of 10 million status updates from 52,000 users across two years to study both the topics men and women most frequently wrote about and their verbal demeanor when discussing them.

Women were found more likely to use emotion words (eg., "excited," "happy," "blessed," "grateful," "thankful," and "loving"), while men were more likely to talk about objects: politics, money, sports, music, video games, and (of course) guns. Another disturbing trend was that, while women used a huge array of affectionate terms for friends, family, and partners, men used a huge array of violent terms, like battle-based discussions of winning and losing using terms like "defeat" and "victory," excessive cursing, mentions of killing, weapons, and death.

Of course, #notallmen are threatening to murder people, but it's a great example of how toxic masculinity works to demonstrate how men express any idea using violent war terms, while women express ideas by talking about emotions and their interpersonal relationships. And it's a useful argument against language-policing women in the workplace.

Women are coached to be "more assertive" (eg., to stop saying sorry, to stop saying just, to stop using vocal fry or uptalk), but really, that's just a coded way of saying "speak more like men." The study shows that women express themselves just as assertively as men do; they simply don't find it necessary to use language that implies a threat to bodily harm or autonomy (ie, "way to dominate that meeting, girl") to do it.

Images: Fotolia; Giphy