Are Women's High-Pitched Ladyvoices Holding Them Back?


Research shows that people prefer listening to instructions from deep, rich baritones over nags from high tittering trills.

It’s especially hard to be a high voiced ladytype in politics, a world that values men that talk like Ronald Reagan and look like an elderly Ken doll with an NRA membership. What’s a lady to do?

The Guardian reflects on a bit of research that found that voters prefer listening to male voices over female voices, and it asks an important but uncomfortable question: If voters prefer candidates with lower voices, do women, need to lower their voices in order to get elected? Margaret Thatcher did.

Does the Margaret Thatcher standard apply to past, present, and ascendant American female politicians? Let’s use our magical time machine to compare.

The late Geraldine Ferraro, the first female Vice Presidential nominee of a major American political party, spoke with a mid tone and measured tempo when she became Walter Mondale’s running mate in 1984.

Whoa! It’s Hillary Clinton in 1992. Even then, before the State Department was barely a glint in her eye, she had a low, commanding voice.

Michele Bachmann’s infamous Tea Party Express response to the State of the Union speech this year featured a whole lot of looking off in an indeterminate direction, but not a whole lot of high level tones.

Massachusetts Senate candidate/the woman upon whom liberals have decided to project all their dashed Obamaian hopes Elizabeth Warren has a low speaking voice.

Sarah Palin, seen her at her most terrifying and powerful, accepting the Republican nomination for Vice President in 2008. Palin’s speaking voice isn’t necessarily one known for its rich low tones. During this speech, it sounds as though she’s been coached to take her tone down a notch.

(If you can get through this entire speech without crying and assuming the fetal position in a corner of your bathroom, I owe you one bag of peanut M&M’s. Redeemable if we ever meet.)

Another one from 2008, this time Missouri Senator/Awesome Machine Claire McCaskill speaking at the Democratic National Convention. McCaskill’s got a higher speaking voice than the other women on this list, and so far it’s served her well. But she’s got a tough re-election fight ahead of her in 2012— will her campaign encourage her to talk at a lower pitch?

Nancy Pelosi, first female Speaker of the House, has a low speaking voice naturally.

In contrast, here’s some footage of Elisabeth Hasselbeck, someone who will never be elected to anything. God, let’s hope.

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