If there are people that are being promiscuous or they do things that don’t reflect well on the women of the community, then women have a perfectly good right to try to police the neighborhood, and that’s frequently what they are doing when they gossip.
Dr. Nicholas Emler, the author of the gossip study, calls the practice “essential,” and told the British Science Festival: “Language evolved to allow us to gossip and develop more complex societies … In fact it is gossip that sets us apart from other animals. It is fundamental to being human. It allows us to know about people that we have never met.”
Dr. Michelle Callahan, a contributor to Women’s Health, disagrees: “We put too much weight on the biological and we forget the cultural and social norms we are buying into here. It’s one thing to share information ... it’s another thing to be snarky, nosy, really attacking the person you are talking out,” she told CBS. It’s important to differentiate between bonding and bullying, sharing information and spreading misinformation.
But while we often think of gossip as tearing friendships asunder (see: “Gossip Girl”), gossip can also build stronger bonds between friends: “If you give out personal information, you elicit other personal information, which gives you something to share,” says Fuller. Callahan also pointed out to CBS that gossip is used to build status and alliances; in saying “you and I are not like that” -- in judging others, we build up ourselves.