Thursday, October 02, 2014

Gossip Is NOT Just a Female Thing!
Who Gossips More: Men or Women?

That’s actually a hard question to answer. It’s clear that women are more often thought of as gossips. I hear a lot of scorn heaped on women for gossip whereas the men seem to get a pass. Females are always the butt of the gossip jokes:
“What’s the best way to spread a message? Television, telephone, or tell-a-woman?”
I was surprised in my study of gossip in the Bible, however, to see gossip noted as a temptation for both genders. Certainly, 1 Timothy 5 says that women are prone (and see 1 Timothy 3:11 and Titus 2:3, as well). But the Proverbs–a book primarily written by men for young men–present gossipers in a more masculine context. And the brothers who were idle in Thessalonica were definitely becoming busybodies.

Gossip Is Not Just a Female Thing. 

Men often fall into gossip, but we do it in masculine ways–the locker room scuttlebutt, the board room rumors, the two buddies in a deerstand or pickup truck sharing a shameful story about someone who isn’t there. I said it this way in Resisting Gossip:
Let’s be clear: this behavior is not just a female thing! Women get blamed for being gossips more than men do because they are more relational by nature and more interested in the things that make up stereotypical gossip. Gossip, though, is a gender-equal sin. The busybodies Paul confronted in Thessalonica included a number of unemployed men (see 2 Thess 3:6-14). If we are not busy with productive, purposeful, godly activity, any of us can easily be sucked into being a gossipy busybody (pg. 56-57).
On the Other Hand...

Conversely, it is possible that gossip, while a temptation for both genders, is more of a temptation for women than men. [See my interaction last January with sharp-thinking missionary and blogger Paul Schlehlein on this question.] I can’t say empirically that men have just as many opportunities to gossip as women do or that gossip isn’t more tantalizing for more women than men. It is certainly true that many many women have reported struggling with this temptation (and I’m thankful for the women’s ministries who have written me thank-you notes for how Resisting Gossip has helped them). I wish I had more than anecdotal evidence to go upon for answering this question.

Perhaps it has less to do with gender than wordiness and relationality. Those people, male or female, who talk more and are more extroverted are probably much more prone to sinful gossip. “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise” (Proverbs 10:19).

I know for a fact that, in my house, the husband is at least 500% more likely to gossip than the wife.

Resisting Gossip Together releases on Tuesday, October 7th.

View The Resisting Gossip Video Teaching Series online or order the DVD.