Paper bullets of the brain



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Using the social networking site Facebook as a corpus, I collected 1,500 random samples of interactions between friends. I tracked the use of jokes and disparaging humor between same- and opposite-gender pairs to discover that there is a strong correlation between the style of joke-making evoked by the speaker and the gender of both the speaker and the hearer. The men in the study were about eight times more likely to make insulting or degrading jokes with other men than the women were with each other. Following the study is a discussion where I address methods of politeness across genders, approaches to humor, and how sex, culture, and gender expectations influence our communicative choices. Though the discussion is based in our linguistic choices, the results of the study reflect trends that are present in countless aspects of society, and the issues that are raised go far beyond the spoken word.