Why are men so ill-mannered?

At the risk of offending half of the human race, I will say this: Men have no manners when it comes to cell phones.

I am traveling this week with plenty of time to pay attention to strangers, not that I have much of a choice. In the airport, men have cell phones pressed to their ears relaying critical information to their business partners such as "HI! I JUST LEFT YOU AN EMAIL AND A VOICE MAIL ABOUT THE DEAL THAT I HOPE TO DO IN THE NEXT 10 YEARS. I HOPE YOU GOT MY MESSAGE, I WILL CALL AGAIN BEFORE THE PLANE LEAVES AND AGAIN WHEN IT LANDS TO BE SURE YOU GOT MY MESSAGE."


I could go on. But wont. I will just say that the only woman I saw use her cell phone in a public place this entire trip, whispered so quietly and quickly that I, sitting right next to her, heard nothing.

So here is a question for you:

Are men more ill-mannered than women when it comes to cell phone use?

And if so, why?

More like this


Yup. The rudest cell phone user I have seen was a man, in a bank, talking on the phone at the teller window, treating the teller like she was a robot... invisible, not even worth a nod, much less a thank you. I wanted to smack him. I didn't. :-(

But that said, I think cell phone users are an ill-mannered lot overall. One of the reasons I do not have one.

not enough data to form a hypothesis, anecdotes are not data.

It seems people in general don't know/understand that the manufacturers of cellphones have worked their asses off to make their little microphones ubersensitive.

I speak loudly on a cell because I am a deaf idiot. I mean no ill will when I do it. (I am not of the manly species.) Whether men are more self-important? I couldn't comment on that; I may be biased.

By Anonymous (not verified) on 07 Feb 2010 #permalink

nice generalization you got over there and surely you have large sample size to pack up your claim.

Are men more ill-mannered than women when it comes to cell phone use?

Of course they , because men are piece of shit and should all be liquidated as anyone versed in feminist theory could tell you.

And if so, why?

for the same reason why all men beat their wives

Here in France, both males and females are OK with the way they speak on cell phones--polite and considerate (wish they would drive that way!) Now, the teenagers, that's another story.

Annika, Though I am an feminist, I don't want my husband (or any other man) to be liquidated. You criticize generalizing and then you do it yourself?

By Michelle B (not verified) on 07 Feb 2010 #permalink

Depends on the man. Both my farther and I will excuse ourselves from the table and go where we won't disturb others if we get a phone call while out at a restaurant.
Of course some other people are horribly rude, but it depends on the person.

Here in NM, the rudest cell phone users I see are women. It seems as if every woman I see driving is also talking on the cell phone. That's not only rude, it's dangerous. And while they're distracting themselves with their cell phone conversations they're failing to stop at stop signs and stop lights and they drive too fast and make dangerous lane changes.

I see lots of men drive with the same risky behaviors but I don't see them talking on the cell phone while they're driving as much.

I don't think one gender is more rude than another these days--whether using a cell phone or not. Both sexes seem to be very rude these days.

By NMObserver (not verified) on 07 Feb 2010 #permalink

If true (of which I really have no idea), there are a couple of possible reasons that come to mind:

Both of your examples sound like middle-management, middle-aged types. My father, for example, often is very loud on the phone, I suspect mostly because he's halfway to deaf, and seems to have trouble realizing that he's being loud. If there's a differential rate of hearing loss by sex, this could be a factor.

Also, some subcultures reward and encourage assertive, even aggressive behavior for men, but less often for women. This effect has been demonstrated in certain contexts (e.g. encroaching on personal space in crowded settings is more tolerated from men than from women). People seem to have differing levels of willingness to behave in ways that may irritate others, and this could also have sex/age/class/race/regional differences.

This is actually something that research could be done on---observe and try to collect demographics from people in public. It could be interesting to see.

The condition of being a dumbass transcends gender.

Well, I was a little discomfited by the woman who had a detailed conversation on her cell phone about her abortion IN AN ELEVATOR!.

Michelle B , it was attempt at sarcasm

I don't think that all feminist are but the message that "all the ills of world are because of men " has been very vocal here where I am from and seem as bigoted as men they supposedly are opposing. feminism by definition is bigoted is ideology it is promoting women not making society "gender-blind" society

It might be the case that not all men are American.

So here is a question for you:

Are women more accepting of anecdotal data as actual evidence?

I love ScienceBlogs. Sometimes I even find actual science content! Usually it's hiding between the gender bigotry and the Greg Laden "I have the ideological maturity of a one year old" blog or PZ's Squids-N-Hate-Fest.

Oops. Gotta go. Need to take a cell call on my Mototola Misandry 2000.

Sheesh, this place... I check in once in a while, but it never gets better.

By Avery Rudeman (not verified) on 07 Feb 2010 #permalink

Ted, I think you hit it spot on.

I wrote this note before I heard Sarah Palin speak last night.

Of course men are louder and more pompous and intrusive on cell phones than women. This is because men are louder and more pompous and intrusive than women in general. We live in a society where men are the entitled class, and women the subjugated. Men and women are quite aware of this, and they generally comport themselves accordingly in public.

HA HA HA! I overhear a bazillion cell conversations when I am traveling and it is always the dude in the suit with the bluetooth. Hilarious that I am not the only one to notice it!!!!

Is there a Poe's law for feminists? If so, I call it on CPP.

Dude, how clueless can you be about what goes on around you every single fucking day? Do you think there is no reason that men are loud, pompous, intrusive douchebags in public much more frequently than women are?

Perhaps it depends on the age cohort. I teach at a college where most students are between 18 to 25 years of age. They have lots of cell phones. The women are jabbering on them nonstop as they walk to and from class, and they do so loudly. (I suspect they're hearing impaired from turning their iPods up too high.) The men use the phones significantly less to walk and talk. They, however, are more likely than women to try to send text messages during class.

One thing we could do, you know, is answer loud-talking people as if we think they're addressing us with their booming voices:



Just being helpful. ;-)

Loud? Pompous? Intrusive? Of course, CPP. Congratulations.

I have a friend who works in a museum for Alexander Graham Bell. He tells me that a lot of people are compelled to call friends/family on their cellphones to say "Hi! You'll never guess where I'm calling from!" That's okay.
He says it's the business men who insist that their wives/families go on through the museum while they stay in the lobby area that's intended for people to rest, relax. There they proceed to carry on their business as though they're still in their offices, loudly, pacing back and forth oblivious to anyone else. They're just too important. It's all about them and it's always men.
Bell, an extremely polite, considerate man, must be turning over in his grave to think that he started this.

I will stay out of the gender argument. But in my observation, the volume of the voice is inversely proportional to the intelligence of the speaker.

As someone pointed out, there is no real data - just impressions and anecdote. So, here is my anecdote: I was sitting in my local public Library (where the normal rules of quiet are enforced) while I was there three people got phone calls (two women and one man). The man quickly and quietly answered his call and immediately went outside before talking. The women answered their phones and the first one began talking in a normal loud voice, until a librarian came over and told her to take the call outside. The second woman answered her phone in a soft whisper that gradually increased in volume to a normal talking voice and when other patrons gave her dirty looks she cut her call short.

So, who is ill mannered with cell phones? Depends on where you are and what you are sensitive to.

"Well, I was a little discomfited by the woman who had a detailed conversation on her cell phone about her abortion IN AN ELEVATOR!."

I had a similar experience on a bus.

I'll go with the generalization that the people who use cell phones more, and especially the ones who use cell phones for work more, tend to be the ones who don't notice that other people are being forced to listen. Stands to reason, since with cell phones glued to their ears they rarely have the opportunity to be on the receiving end.

Well, now that you have formed that opinion you will find it difficult to escape confirmation bias.

Maybe there is a cultural explanation (like entitlement or no one expecting dudes to be considerate), but I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with dudes regarding this problem, if it is really a problem.

I haven't noticed many people not acting like knobs on their phone in general.

At the risk of offending half of the human race, I will say this: Men have no manners when it comes to cell phones.

Mission accomplished, you've offended half the human race. Not men though, you've offended the half of the human race who understand that you cannot make blanket sweeping statements about behaviour based on the presence or absence of a Y chromosome any more than you can based upon skin pigmentation or sexual orientation.

Women are emotional and undependable but nurturing. Gay men are effeminate, lisping and dangerous to children. Straight men are rude and pompous and loud. Bigoted, ignorant bullshit all. Shame on you for indulging.

The behavior you're describing arises from self-centeredness, and obliviousness or indifference to the comfort of others. Females used to be taught, perhaps, to focus on the comfort of others more than males were. Not sure that's still true - now I'm not sure anyone is taught to focus on that! In my raising, it was just called "good manners". In any case I've experienced females being just as hair-raisingly inappropriate as males when it comes to cell phone calls and other obnoxious behaviors. The one that really slays me is when they carry on a conversation while using a public toilet.

If you can't use a cell phone when and where you want what good are they?

Anytime Isis or, anyone else, wants to experience some wominz rocking the rudeness on the cell phone please visit Los Angeles. Every other doodette driver on my bike commute is either texting or talking on their cell phone. I guess it's not rude, just life threatening. Though I'm sure the patriarchy made them do it.

By Treespeed (not verified) on 07 Feb 2010 #permalink

Nope, I've seen (or rather heard) plenty of women talking like that too. Even MORE women talking on cell phones while driving in the car...

Although, I've only ever seen men using their cell phones "walky-talky" style, so that the whole world could hear BOTH sides of the conversation with that annoying little chirp inbetween. Ooooo, that drove me up a wall when I worked in retail!

Well, if it's time to throw about out any tired, thread-bare clichés we can find near to hand, since women yack on day-and-night about any old trite inane bollocks, whereas men have clipped, perfunctory, to-the-point conversations, then, however bad men's phone manners might be, the total irritation caused by women must surely outweigh that caused by men many times over. This is based on some stuff my mate told me in the pub last night about that bird Shazza who lives down the road.

And am I alone in thinking that using 'men' as a synonym for 'Wealthy American men who eat in "elegant, quiet restaurants" and have conversations about minority-interest sports and guacamole' is a bit, well, shit?

NYCer here, and no, not true. women are just as rude as men when using a cell phone. case in point: i was riding a cross-town bus that was crammed to its gills with people who were just trying to get home after a hard day's work. sitting next to me was a women who was talking on her cell phone about her gynecological problems. LOUDLY. in excruciating detail. who the hell was she talking to?? of course, i was standing right next to her and because i am tall, everyone on the bus stared AT ME. nevermind that i didn't have a cell phone.

i wanted to choke the loudmouth to death. but the bus was too crowded for me to move my arms sufficiently to wrap them around the woman's throat and squeeze, so i was instead left wishing for death.

In my experience, men just have louder voices than women on the average. Of course, I know some very loud and rude women, too, at least one of whom seems to consider her cell phone usage public entertainment.

But when I'm walking to my car in a lot after dark and a voice suddenly shouts, "Hey," and I whip around to see which random stranger is trying to approach me, it almost always seems to be some clueless dude yelling on his phone.

By speedwell (not verified) on 08 Feb 2010 #permalink

"HA HA HA! I overhear a bazillion cell conversations when I am traveling and it is always the dude in the suit with the bluetooth. Hilarious that I am not the only one to notice it!!!!"

I call that a womansplanation

I find more women on cell phones and thus more bad cell phone behavior coming from women. Everything from texting during movies (oh boy, a nice bright light for everybody behind you because you're too stupid to keep it in your lap like you're pretending to pay attention in lecture) to incredibly loud conversations.

Why is it that so many dudes seem to understand that racism towards white people isn't the exact same thing as racism towards minorities because the context and consequences are so different, but can't seem to make that leap in the arena of gender? Sexism against women is a constant and without exception consequential feature of every day life for women. Sexism against men does not work this way.

Annika doesn't know anything about feminism. I have yet to meet a person who says the whole cliche 'they want more rights than men/are just sexist against men/are going too far!!!1' rant after actually reading a friggin book on the subject. Hell, a glance at wikipedia shows how you can't blanket statement much of anything about feminism. Give it a shot sometime.

Jean- hey, you don't need a new word to describe women talking in an irritating fashion. Nagging and bitching are generally the words that are already there, or hey you could just describe a woman as a shrew. The 'women talk so much and should really stfu' meme has been popular for ages. I am sure you can think of many commercials or television shows or jokes featuring this kind of thing, and hey, there are a few people in this thread saying it. It is kind of cute to see you get so worked up about a word like this for male irritating behavior when it is some crazy new thing instead of, you know, an unquestioned component of the society you live in. You wouldn't last a day in a girl's shoes when you get so freaked out over something as mild as feminists using the word 'mansplain'. dear lord.

Wow, who knew that this post about rude men on cell phones was really an invitation to say that women are bad at driving?

hey CPP,
how do you know what goes on around me on a daily basis?

I am a white male (feel free to reject my opinion based solely on those two facts) who, when talking on my cell phone in public, will go to uncomfortable lengths to ensure that no one in the vicinity is subjected to more than the absolute minimum of my voice both in terms of volume and words spoken.

I commute to work via public transportation, and no matter how hard I think about it, I cannot decide whether I encounter loud obnoxious men on cell phones more frequently than their female counterparts.

So now we have conflicting anecdotes; I, however, will not make the assertion that your personal daily experience must be identical to mine or else you must be fucking oblivious.

Agreed (to an extent) with skeptifem, but I do think the "feminist" ladies around Sciblogs seem to intentionally fuck with men indiscriminately and at every opportunity. This post is a relatively tame example. All I'm learning from that is which blogs to avoid reading completely.

Someone pointed out men (usually) talk louder than women. I know some exceptions, but I bet you could scientifically come up with a very strong correlation between gender and dB. A good point. Further, I've noticed more women are more offended by loud voices than men, so if the men are offending you, I think it's more a matter of the Golden Rule's failings ("I wouldn't be offended by this so I forget anyone else could be").

The people I notice being offensively loud on cellphones? Black people on the bus. Maybe I should make a blog post about it. That wouldn't offend anyone.
Yes, I know it's different when it's a minority targeted, but I'd argue racist or sexist humor can be done right (in such a way as to not deeply offend the target, like Dave Chappelle usually was) or wrong (Carlos Mencia anyone?). Zuska is the Mencia of SciBlogs.

By CS Shelton (not verified) on 08 Feb 2010 #permalink

Why are men so rude? Why do tiresome old white ladies think that absolutely anything that bothers them is immediately a feminist issue, rather than a mere pet peeve? Why is a professor unable to place an apostrophe in the word 'won't', or correctly spell the word 'Oaxacan'? Mysteries of the universe, my dear, mysteries of the fuckin' universe.

If some people talking loudly on their phones is the worst you have to face in life, maybe you're not the horribly oppressed minority you like to imagine yourself to be. Maybe you're just a typical egomaniacal white American lady who thinks the world should revolve around her.

And of course, the counterfeminist arguments are a million times more offensive than the original post, so, yeah, Y'all ladies got a point or two.

By CS Shelton (not verified) on 08 Feb 2010 #permalink


Clearly, people are a lot more interested in commenting on gender jabs than science (on my blog at least).

White men, please dont take this too seriously- my favorite husband is of your gender/race and truth be told, he is much more polite and quiet on his cell phone than me.

But he is a farmer, rarely uses his phone and is not often in the airport.

CS Shelton, that was me who called attention to men's voices being louder than women's voices. I'll tell you why I said so. I was a secretary for many years and also a choir performance major in college. I have a lot of experience listening to people talk on their phones to other people, and I have some experience with vocal anatomy and acoustics.

Nine men out of ten, in my experience, were audible in other offices if they were on the phone and their own office door was open. Only about one woman out of ten was audible under the same circumstances. A boiler room full of male brokers seemed to me to be significantly louder than a telemarketing room full of saleswomen. In these cases I believe the difference is more cultural than anatomical; the manner in which women are taught to conduct themselves on the phone is different (gentler, quieter, firmer, less argumentative) from the way in which men are taught to conduct themselves (louder, more confrontational, looser). My own phone manner falls somewhere between the two, because I added "male" mannerisms to my phone "persona" deliberately. The combination of a firm, musical, feminine voice with a masculine bold intonation and low resonance seems to grab people's attention and encourage cooperation. I currently work in software support, and it absolutely makes a difference in how people react to my girl-geekery.

As far as sheer anatomical differences are concerned, men have, on average, larger lungs, heavier musculature to operate them with, and thicker vocal cords to have to push breath past. When a man adds shrill falsetto tones to his voice, it can be incredibly penetrating. I've heard that Roman army officers shouted battlefield orders in this sort of voice so that they would penetrate the din of war. I'm sure it worked.

By speedwell (not verified) on 08 Feb 2010 #permalink

if this was satire, you're not very good at it.

and the old "I'm not a racist, some of my best friends are black" defense has never been convincing. By this standard, no married man could possibly ever be a misogynist.

the last sentence doesn't help; if he weren't a farmer and did use a cell phone a lot, presumably he would be as ill-mannered as the rest of us assholes. Being a man, he wouldn't be able to help it.

@Speedwell - By correlation, I didn't mean to imply anatomical difference. I think it's mostly cultural. It's noteworthy to me that when my brother came back from the army, his voice was much louder than would be accounted for by slight loss of hearing. His voice aggravates my girlfriend quite badly, and she is very prejudiced against loud people of all stripes.

By CS Shelton (not verified) on 08 Feb 2010 #permalink

White men, please dont take this too seriously- my favorite husband is of your gender/race

Some of my best friends are Jewish...
It's interesting that you think it's only white men taking this seriously. What's next, only women can be feminists? Only visible minorities worry about civil rights? Prejudice is a problem regardless of whether or not I happen to be the immediate victim.

I am a white male (feel free to reject my opinion based solely on those two facts) who, when talking on my cell phone in public, will go to uncomfortable lengths to ensure that no one in the vicinity is subjected to more than the absolute minimum of my voice both in terms of volume and words spoken.



So all men are assholes. Those who consciously strive not to be assholes and who defend themselves when you call them assholes just for being men are just childishly looking for attention and approval. What an enlightened, mature viewpoint you enjoy.

If you're offering, I like macadamia nut. Men still are allowed to like cookies, right? Unless that's an implicit endorsement of the woman's-place-is-in-the-kitchen patriarchy. I don't think I have the most recent edition of Acceptable Male Behavior handy.

Do you know why you don't scream into the handset on your landline? The engineers (probably rude and callow white males, since they dominated the industry back in the 1930s) quickly learned that some feedback was necessary from the transmitter to the receiver, otherwise people tended to scream into the microphone and overdrive it.
Unfortunately such a feature is disallowed on cellular handsets (probably designed by more rude and callow white males, but Finns really don't talk that much, and so they aren't too loud) because there's no way to modulate the transmit signal back to the receiver section without overdriving the receive circuitry. So most people, both genders, tend to speak loudly into their cell phones because they don't hear the usual - expected feedback signal they hear on the handset of their landline. Sort of like talking to someone wearing headphones and their music player. Unless the person is aware, they usually raise their voice, thinking that the other end cannot hear them.
Fascinating that it took 54 response before a rude and callow white male (engineer by training, former wire jockey too; now working in a dev bio lab where the women dominate by a 2:1 ratio) gave you the answer you were not looking for... but then again, when you put up troll bait, you get trolls. And having lived in many countries, I learned that speaking loudly in English doesn't make yourself better understood; but I noticed many tourists tend attempt that practice... The frau is Italian and I hear every day...

I assume the next post will ask why Aggies are such clods. I don't have that answer, although I did train in an Ag school myself...

By Onkel Bob (not verified) on 08 Feb 2010 #permalink

Sorry, I couldn't absorb any of this article as I was reading it in a coffee shop and a group of women were loudly discussing their husbands' faults. I mean, really. Why are women so ill mannered?

Honestly this is not an issue of men versus women. I think both are equal opp offenders. Typically it stems from a poor up bringing where manners where not taught. The other case that I see alot is that people feel the need to feel important or impress strangers. The feel that talking loudly makes them seem important. Losers!

"Clearly, people are a lot more interested in commenting on gender jabs than science (on my blog at least).

White men, please dont take this too seriously- my favorite husband is of your gender/race and truth be told, he is much more polite and quiet on his cell phone than me.

But he is a farmer, rarely uses his phone and is not often in the airport."

your post reminds me of this
" I am not a racist I even let black people use my bathroom"

hi all

Commenting is closed on this one.

Conclusion? Both men and women can be ill-mannered on cell phones and off. But I guess we all knew that before we started.

Time to get back to scienceblogging.