Hillary Di Menna
Since high school I have been told to stop faking my “girly” voice. I have become so self-conscious of it that I actually have to try and not speak so quickly and comfortably. Apparently, my natural voice is girly, a.k.a feminine, a.k.a unprofessional, a.k.a obviously not that of a man’s.
I’m not the only female to have a “too female” voice, nor am I the first to have people react negatively to it. Margaret Thatcher actually took formal lessons to lower her pitch.
A Psychology Today article by Audrey Nelson, Ph.D dated April 25, 2013 reads: “Men react negatively to female vocal characteristics that undermine authority: high pitch, slow pace, or increased inflection.” Nelson conducted a survey about “female communication weaknesses” where men reported that women need to speak with more strength and presence, and that their pitch needs to be lower.
And, in 2012 Meredith Lepore wrote an article called “Why Women Should Never Ever Use The ‘Girly Voice’ At Work.” It lists the apparent reasons women use “girly voices,” which include: to minimize their power or to stave off aggressive input, and because it manipulates people into doing things.
Women are conditioned to be more appeasing and less assertive, and women are in the majority of those who suffer from imposter syndrome. However, like regular folk, women aren’t all the same. Some may have naturally higher voices and shouldn’t have to mask the “femininity” in their voices.
When one gender is taught from day one that their value is in the superficial things like their physical appearance or the tone of their voice, there is no winning. One can’t possibly catch up to others if they keep getting held back by second guessing things they can’t change. There is an idea out there that unless a woman is actively trying to be “more masculine” and succeeding in doing so, that she is incapable of intelligence or a professional career. (Though the two are not synonymous—that is another a post on it’s own …) But a person’s worth or intelligence is simply not based on the size of their voice.
A former This intern, Hillary Di Menna writes Gender Block every week and maintains an online feminist resource directory, FIRE- Feminist Internet Resource Exchange.