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November 02, 2004

Women, Men, Cellphones

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

On my walk to work this morning, I found myself thinking about something. I've long had the impression that women use cell phones more than men do -- good lord but a lot of women seem to spend the day gabbing into cell phones. Yakyakyak. But was I being fair? Since I enjoy looking at women more than I do at men, perhaps the only thing my impression represents is the fact that I spend so much more time observing women than I do taking note of men. So I decided to run an experiment. I resolved to spend the rest of my walk (35 blocks through midtown Manhattan) keeping track of cellphone use.

The results: I noticed 37 men using cellphones, and 52 women. Thanks to this scientifically-controlled, peer-reviewed experiment, I now feel confident that it's safe to assume that women are a bit more likely than men to use cell phones.

A couple of other things my experiment revealed: when using cell phones in public (at least at midday, in midtown), men are far more likely than women to be engaged in work conversations. Many of the men I watched were making points, barking commands, and taking marching orders -- while many of the women were weaving about, gesturing expressively, and making emotional faces, apparently involved in personal conversations. Although I suppose that all this might really indicate is that men and women have different behavior styles generally ...

In any case, when I was walking through business districts, there'd be more men than women on cell phones. When I was walking through shopping districts, there'd be more women than men on cell phones. And, for no reason I can hazard a guess at, I noticed that a remarkable number of the guys who were using cell phones were Orthodox Jewish men. The reverse seemed to hold true too; of the Orthodox Jewish men I noticed, a flabbergasting number were talking into cell phones.

What patterns do you guys notice in cell phone usage? Do you have the impression that women are more likely than men to use 'em? And can you venture any speculations about the mutual attraction between cell phones and Orthodox Jewish guys?



UPDATE: A little Googling turned up this Cingular study. Conclusions: men actually spend a little more time on cellphones than women do; women spend more time on personal conversations than men do; Americans spend on average seven hours a month yakking on their cell phones. According to a New York Times article, "men are using their mobile phones as peacocks use their immobilizing feathers and male bullfrogs use their immoderate croaks: To advertise to females their worth, status, and desirability." But this undergrad newspaper article from Houston indicates that many people think women use cellphones more than men do. This poll of Long Island cellphone use has a lot of interesting infobits. For example: women are likely to say that they purchased their cell phone "for safety."

posted by Michael at November 2, 2004


You have to ask! It is commonplace, Michael- Israel sends out RAYS thru cellphones; if you're Jewish Orthodox men, they give you xtra sex powers; if you're goy - fogeddaba'dit. [and if your name is Arafat, only lively Paris air and categorical "no" to cellphones can energize you, however fleetingly]

Posted by: Tatyana on November 2, 2004 4:04 PM

I've always assumed the cel-chick thing is to prevent unwanted masculine attention. "If I'm gabbing he won't bug me." Like reading a book on the subway.

Posted by: Brian on November 2, 2004 6:40 PM

I notice more women than men talking on cell phones in stores but more men driving and talking on cell phones.

I'm a little surprised at the very personal nature of some of the conversations I overhear. Sometimes I want to say, "Hey! People can HEAR you!" When people talk on cell phones it's like the rest of the world disappears for them. They're oblivious to what's going on around them and don't care that they might be getting in the way of other people shopping.

Posted by: Lynn S on November 3, 2004 12:44 PM

Lynn, you know what's even creepier? Hands-off cell phone, with tiny mike hidden behind long blonde trusses. One of the users was seating 2 seats down from me in the train this morning.

7:00 am; we are on top of Manhattan bridge, everybody quetly half-asleep or reading in a car. All of a sudden, she starts talking. To herself, it seams.
- Hon, it's me.I didn't mean it. It wasn't. No. It's just my period talking. Or something. No, I will not. I promise you.

Posted by: Tatyana on November 3, 2004 1:31 PM

I used to be able to assume train trips and waits in doctors' offices would be quiet time. No longer. For many people now, they're cellphone time.

A friend who commutes to Manhattan via train tells me he's overheard some amazing cellphone conversations, including loveplay/lover-talk stuff. "It was like she had no idea anyone else could hear," he said. I guess people on cellphones leave the usual here-and-now shared space and enter a kind of psychological zone of their own ...

Tatyana -- That's a known, self-evident thing, Israelis and Orthodox Jews loving their cellphones? I had no idea. I wonder what the attraction is. Why do cellphones mean a little something extra to them? Any hunches?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 3, 2004 1:53 PM

Michael, please reread CAREFULLY what I'd said above.
It's a Jewish Conspiracy!

Posted by: Tatyana on November 3, 2004 2:41 PM

In related news:

Don't get two cellphones on the same contract with your spouse, with a single itemised bill, unless you (mistakenly) think you will enjoy the monthly audit of how many more times she has called you than you have called her.

Posted by: Alan Little on November 4, 2004 5:40 AM


Jews like to stay in touch, be on top of things, on the off chance that if something big or bad is happening, they'll be able to do something before it's too late. And given that the diaspora spread them out far and wide, they've always been interested in communication technologies. Ex: The Rothschilds made a killing in the London stock market using homing pigeons delivering news about Napoleon losing at Waterloo. And Jews make up a disproportionate number of reporters, as I'm sure you've observed. Information is a blessing, and though gossip is a sin the lines are not always easy to demarcate.

A deracinated NY Jew myself, I have only had one personal experience with the topic. A pair of lovely Jewesses from Argentina invited me to partake in a meal with them during the recently passed holiday of Sukkot, where the Torah mandates that Jews dine in temporary hut-like structures. As I sat down in this dwelling -- a very large one erected in a parking lot near Stern College -- I asked what blessings were appropriate. The ladies debated for a bit, and not reaching agreement, inquired to a man dressed in Orthodox garb at the far end of the structure. He proceeded to whip out his cellphone and call his rabbi. The lady the caller was eating with relayed the information to us, as the rabbi apparently was debating with himself.


ps. By the way, when was the last time you called your mother?

Posted by: James M. on November 4, 2004 12:37 PM

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