Friday, August 14, 2015

This Summer’s Media Tsunami Over the Way Women Speak: 4 Camps – Who Are You Bunking With?

Whether it be an Amy Schumer parody, an NPR thoughtful “trialogue,” a linguist, doctor, student or an ex-Google executive’s take, this summer’s media tsunami over whether the way women speak affects how they are perceived continues to splash up on our shores.  But like sand in your bathing suit, why is the issue so irritating and why is it creating such a rash?   

We’ve obviously hit a (vocal) nerve.  We all want to speak in a way that inspires confidence – that compels others to listen.  To build rapport, to gain consensus, to be civil in our discourse, many women (including yours truly) use uptalk, filler words (so, like, ya know?) and apologies as a more humane way of communicating.  But the fact is, for better or worse, the way we speak does affect how we are perceived.  Today’s verbal fashion trends – vocal habits including filler words, up-talk, vocal fry and incessant apologizing -- are contagious and pervasive.  They weaken our speech, making us sound unsure, and yes, maybe even incapable.  

Suffice to say, I am fascinated by this summer’s voice-patrol-mania, the abundance of coverage, the positions taken, bragging rights, and the breadth of outlets that are making this issue their feature story.  With my own #sayitlikeyoumeanit mantra and blog – I’ve had my ear to the sand, tracking the coverage.  

So, who is winning the media war over the way women speak?  

It’s time to take stock.  Here are 18 summer stories on the way women speak broken down into four camps.  I am sure I have missed some goodies (please send them along!), but from this very unscientific media analysis, it seems that, like, ya know, sorry to say, but...making a change wins.

1. Let it Go!  (5)
2. Both Sides Now (3)
3. Funny the Way it is (3)
4. A Change Would Do You Good (7)


“There is no way to take the woman out of her own voice, nor should there be.”  
- Lara Devgan,

Huffington Post, "Want A Lesson In How People Judge Women's Voices? Start A Podcast," Emma Gray and Claire Fallon., "Just talk how you want, ladies. Just, okay?" Amanda Marcotte., “TheProblem with the Way Women Speak,” Lara Devgan


“Should we change because women with years of experience advise us to alter our word choice and vocal chords? Should we stay the same because there is power in that as well?” 
- Susan Cohen, The Forward

NPR'S Fresh Air with Terri Gross, “From Upspeak to Vocal Fry: AreWe Policing Women’s Voices?” Linguist Penny Eckert, Journalist Jessica Grose & Speech Pathologist Susan Sankin.


"Sorry, did you want that?"
"Sorry, can I scoot by you?"
"Sorry, I'm just grabbing something."
"You wanted to talk first? Oh, sorry."
- Inside Amy Schumer, “I’m Sorry Skit”

Inside Amy Schumer, “I’m Sorry”

Saturday Night Live"I Can't" (from March, but so great!)

The Toast, “Examples of Male Vocal Fry” Jaya Saxena


We should not ask young women to put on fake voices or to alter essential parts of themselves. But in my experience of teaching voice to women for two decades, when a young woman is encouraged to own her power and is given basic skills in claiming her own voice then huge, good changes follow.”  - Naomi Wolf, The Guardian

ManRepeller, “A Week Without Sorry,” Margaret Boykin

New York Times, Sloane Crosley, “Why Women Apologize and Should Stop,” Sloane Crosley.

So, who are you bunking with?

No comments: