After analyzing 3.5 million books, researchers learn most common adjectives used to describe men and women

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I would not have guessed that “underhourished” and “underweight” would have appeared for women but not their converse, but I guess the first 3/4 of the 20th century was a different time


Desmond Morris’s (and other scientists) writings state that this “bias” is actually caused by natural selection. Humans males have been genetically selected to “prefer” women based on their perceived ability to bear and raise children. This manifests itself in judging a woman by physical traits (her body). On the other side, woman tend to look for male traits that will provide safety, sustenance, shelter, and security. These are typically more behavior-based traits rather than physical - in the modern world, this translates to power, authority, money, etc.


I’m interested in the source material. I feel like an inordinate ratio of print books in publication are romance novels, which would skew both sides heavily and weirdly. I’d love to see deeper breakdowns by genre. Most interesting would be non-fiction and sci-fi.

I realize I can access the source data, but don’t have the time to dig into that with the resources they had. Just looking at a trend for the word “Romance” for the same period returned interesting trends.


I’d like to take issue with “chaste” being positive and “uncomplaining” being negative.


You’d think “unarmed” would be a positive, but hey - I don’t live in Texas.


Very interesting idea, but I can see some problems with this method. There are many gender-specific nouns that are losing that distinction; as an example, use of “actor” regardless of the gender of the professional in question may be increasingly frequent, and the still-prevalent use of masculine pronouns as generic presents another difficulty.

Me, I’d see if machine learning could provide a better way to figure that out which adjectives are being used for what gender person.

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:heart_eyes_cat: (づ。◕‿‿◕。)づ :heart_eyes_cat:
So cute!!


Totally unrelated, that Unsplash image used to be my laptop wallpaper!

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Citations needed, preferably not from discredited evolutionary psychologists (a field which is almost completely post hoc rationalizations for shitty behavior based on “just so” unfalsifiable hypotheses).


How does a word get put into the negative category? why is “unmarried” negative? or “uncomplaining” (I need to google that definition b/c I am not even sure what it means).

Unsurprising but still depressing all the women’s words correlate to how men value or view women =/


Each have historical precedence. “Chaste” shouldn’t need any explanation given historical and religious context, while “uncomplaining” is lesser-known but similarly enforced.

What becometh a woman best, and first of all? Silence. What second? Silence. What third? Silence. What fourth? Silence. Yea, if a man should aske me till Domes daie I would still crie silence, silence.

Thomas Wilson, The Arte of Rhetorique , 1560

Women could be harshly punished and humiliated simply for talking too much or too publicly or in a tone of voice that seemed grating or nagging. They were labeled scolds or gossips and, unlike the crimes of theft, assault, or murder, no concrete measure defined their transgression.

For gossiping or any kind of public speaking out of turn a woman might be fitted with the bridle… She was then paraded through the streets to stand at the market cross or by the church.


I’d like to see a cross correlation with gender of the author factored in.


Me, too!
Totally anecdotal, but for sci-fi, check out The Martian. There’s a passage where he describes a female analyst by her outfit, but I don’t recall similar descriptions of any of the men.
Slight tangent, but I read a lot of R.Heinlein as a kid and loved it. In college I learned from some friends that he was viewed as a very sexist author. I was surprised, as my reading showed women as brilliant characters (who also happened to be buxom and attractive), who were usually sort of kindly manipulating the men to get them to do the right thing. Maybe he was a sexist personally, but I didn’t see it in his fiction.*

*caveat that I grew up in the “Revenge of the Nerds” generation, so am probably pretty inured to sexist references. Or I was, at least.

Okay, @frauenfelder. I just wrote this, and this is why, completely. I don’t think I used all the words, but damn, don’t issue a challenge like that. I had to take it up.

She had been a battered woman, her soul untreated. She could skew towards nagging, perhaps shrewish, although often uncomplaining.

She feared she was barren, even though she had been sheltered in an almshouse that resulted in her being underweight and undernourished.

But then, he appeared: Brave, honorable and just. His manner was peaceable, and his righteous commitment to a sinless life prodigious.

She found herself beautiful in his eyes. Lovely, and possibly fertile.

However, he was unsuitable. Unreliable, and brutish. His idle nature unarmed her, still. Yet his propensity for the lawless made her heart quicken.

She asked herself: Could she be both chaste and sexy? Classy even though classless?

After this chance meeting in a dark London alley/Scottish loch/American wilderness, she only knew that she would burn down this unjust world to be with him.


Yes. Exactly. In my misspent youth, I worked at a raggedy used bookstore and women would come with sackfuls of romance novels each week to trade. It kept them afloat. I hesitate to hazard a guess at the numbers of romance vs other forms of the printed word. I’m guessing only gov docs would exceed.


“Citations needed”

How about some citations for proof of blank slatism? When the word “discredited” is used, that usually means “I wish someone would discredit that because I don’t like it. I’ll just call it ‘discredited’ and hope people don’t check.”

When the same behavior shows up in virtually every culture and time period, it’s probably in our genes. Nobody says that makes it automatically “good.” Evolutionary psychologists, like any scientists, are supposed to describe what is, not what should be.

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I’m surprised the negatives of both genders were not more lowest-common-denominator.

Indeed. Fire making, cooking and making ceramics are genetic. There’s a cooking gene that compelled all human cultures to cook.

Knowledge and culture aren’t passed on - and humans don’t invent anything- they just follow genetic programming.

Of course- this includes evolutionary psychology… People don’t believe in it because they are convinced of its truth by compelling evidence- the subset of humanity that believes in evolutionary psychology do so because of a recently evolved recessives gene variation. It remains to be seen if it’s adaptive and will be passed along or a disease that will be eliminated by selective pressures.


All of those quotes you list imply that silence and a lack of complaint are virtues.
So why is “uncomplaining” considered a negative descriptor in this study?

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