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?
Julie’s text came like a smoke signal in a windstorm. My friend was safe but scared. As a resident of downtown Dallas, her fear and confusion was swept up into the frantic response of the news.
While the media reported on the stages of this incident, Google news catalogued top and recent stories, the first of which I recognized as a radical, blog-based source. Appalled at the idea of hearing some inhumane twist on the tragedy, I closed my computer and resolved to wait until the truth was sorted. In our information age, it is essential to temper our need for breaking news with our responsibility to the truth. But that stance comes from a privilege of place: I was far from the incident and already knew my friend was ok. However, a few weeks before, I had been swept up in the twister of fear.
Why do so many white men show up in a google search for Beyoncè?
My google search and aim was simple, “beyonce lemonade.”* I wanted write a blog post to about the album I had on repeat for two weeks, and after listening to some of my favorite people on social media speak on the blackness of the album, I knew the post should be a list and that my list should be made up of mostly black women. My simple google search unearthed a sneaky area of systematic racism that I was unaware of: the racism of information. Despite the fact that black women had written about Lemonade all over the internet, the majority of my search results were white, many were male.
The world is 80 days away from the 2016 Olympic games and the coverage is predictably bleak. The issues for Rio are mounting: Brazil’s political turmoil, the threat of the Zika virus, recent breaks in the ongoing doping scandal, sewage in the water, and perennial concerns on the benefits of hosing an Olympics. All of the issues beg the question: are the Olympics even worth it?
It must have started when I realized the improbability of Harry Styles halo of hair. Or it may have started when the 5 part harmonies of boy angels hit just the right notes in Story of My Life. Or it may have started much earlier than even I remember, maybe somewhere between 1999 and 2005. Regardless, I now call myself a fan of the little known band One Direction.
It is not the origins of this passion that matters but more what I found in the way of tumblr fandom. This medium opened both a community, a goddamn pit of a time suck, and a lot of realizations about the importance of diversifying your media.
A preview of what I’ve been working on.
“If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I’m neurotic as hell. I’ll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days.” -Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
As a student of post-graduate English classes, the last two years of my time in university felt like I was straddling two worlds: the scholar world, which I was so desperate to be a part of, and the social world, which I was desperate not to give up. But these worlds rarely overlapped. It was impossible for me to discuss the theories of Derrida and Cristev with my friends as it was impossible for them to discuss the theories of micro and macro economics with me.
They come on like those random waves of nausea in the morning that sometimes make me think I’m pregnant. Swiftly, these regrets mudslide through my mind. The barren dirt, of course, is all of the terrible things I’ve done in my life. Things I regret. Like that time I drunkenly peed in my hallway and my sweet, sweet roommate cleaned it up. Or that time I quoted that song “The Bitch Went Nuts” to someone telling a sad, very-not-funny-to-her story. The torrential downpour can be almost anything. Too much time in my own head. Too much Facebook. etc.
I like to think these shame spirals are something everyone feels. Despite what we say, we hold on to things tightly. It’s not even the specific memory or the people I’ve pissed off, its just that feeling. The clench-jaw, furrowed-brow cringe.