We don’t like women’s voices for a lot of reasons. They’re not low enough. They’re not intimidating enough. They’re not powerful enough. They’re not even processed by the same parts of our brain. But even if a woman makes it to a platform where her voice is heard (literally), that platform is already slanted against her.
We police women’s voices until we can hardly hear what they have to say. Take vocal fry, the “epidemic” sweeping over millennial women and NPR podcasters alike. Those who spoke with vocal fry were thought to be less authoritative and intelligent, while the Ira Glasses’ of the world continued to be heard without listener complaint, vocal fry and all. Despite what we like to think about our progress, our expectations of how people should talk are surprisingly gendered and still put women, especially powerful ones, in an impossible bind.
For the first time in history, these expectations are playing out on a grand stage in the 2016 presidential election. For the first time there is a woman nominee, and on September 24, that woman nominee will debate yet another male nominee, and our unconscious biases could mean a hell of a lot more than liking a podcaster.
So what do we expect out of Hillary and Trump?