The Unpleasantness of (Many, Most?) Female Voices

I had a thought recently that struck me as a bit odd, but I should probably prefix this article by pointing out that I normally do not talk at length with women. I think most have nothing interesting to say anyway, and for transactional conversations in my day-to-day life, the phenomenon I’m about to describe does not seem to kick in. In short, the issue is that is seems that a significant number of women have unpleasant voices, i.e. they start to sound unpleasant if you listen to them for too long. This hit me really hard in a recent video meeting a work. I work in banking/finance, which is full of women, and this sector is also getting force-diversified at a pace you’d find incredible. In this meeting, the majority were women and, unexpectedly, the most important participants were also women, so they talked a lot.

After about half an hour, I got a headache, which is quite rare for me. It was not due to the lack of focus in any of the contributions of any of those women. In fact, one of them made me recoil slightly whenever she opened her mouth. I really had a physical reaction to the tone of her voice. It was not that she was talking in a bossy manner or was acting unpleasant in any way. Instead, the pitch of her voice was grating on my nerves, but it was not a high pitch.

I’ve been thinking more about this, and I think there is something to it. It may very well be that this is not a general female phenomenon. However, what I think is true is that male voices are, overall, more pleasant than female voices, by virtue of being deeper. On the other hand, women who deliberately try to lower their voice sound almost as off-putting as those who speak with an artificially high-pitched one. (Article continues below.)

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I can’t quite put my finger on the underlying cause yet. I was tempted to say that the issues is shrillness, but this implies that the voice is high-pitched as well as piercing. Yet, female voices can apparently be piercing almost no matter the pitch. In a completely unscientific experiment, I listened to several female politicians, and found them, without exception, grating. Here is a “highlight reel” of AOC, who probably did the world a lot more good when she was tending bar and hooking up with random dudes in Boston:

The effect her voice has on me is not unlike scratching a blackboard with your fingernail, and that’s only after having been exposed to it for a few minutes.

Here’s Hillary Clinton whose voice is even more unpleasant than she is ugly:

On a related note, this woman is a total piece of shit:

Margaret Thatcher is another example. The clip below is very short, but even that is almost too much to bear. Sure, I’m exaggerating now, but I think it is difficult to make the argument that the best female orators can match the best male ones.

I wonder who might be the best political speaker we have recordings of. I somehow can’t think of anybody right now. His name is on the tip of my tongue, though. In any case, if my hypothesis that female voices are, in general, less pleasant to listen to than male ones, then one possible explanation would be due to evolutionary pressures. Sure, today our occupiers love to install yentas into positions of power, but think back to saner times. Never in history has a woman raised an army. There is no female Cesar or Napoleon, and the supposedly most powerful female leader in antiquity, Cleopatra, was a whore. In Ancient Rome men like Ceasar funded huge private armies. Even on a smaller scale male leadership was important because you indeed could have tasked with defending your city or country with a sword. Due to being physically inferior, no woman would have been able to succeed in leading a company, a so-called “contubernium”, let alone a legion, and not because of some kind of glass ceiling in the armed forces.

We obviously have no recordings of the speeches Cesar or Napoleon gave to fire up their armies. Yet, I find it inconceivable to assume that they weren’t good orators as without this ability you simply would not be an effective leader. Furthermore, male hierarchies are built on competence, which is also the foundation of any kind of authority in the real world. This is no longer how we lead our countries and companies, which may explain who nothing works properly anymore. You accept your leader due to his competence and authority. Yet, you need to lead by action and words. On women, there was no evolutionary pressure to develop competent-sounding, authoritative voices. This might explain why this is an area many women are severely lacking in.

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13 thoughts on “The Unpleasantness of (Many, Most?) Female Voices

  1. Gals should always keep there voices and their weight down 🙂

    I remember starting a discussion about women having soft soothing voices as a great trait. You mention that girls were trained to speak that way back when they were raised to be good wives and mother’s. Women weren’t meant to lead, by and large. They should go back to their natural supportive roles.

    1. Yeah, I remember your conversation. In my country, a female voice can be described as bitter, or resemble the voice of fish store owners. The implication is that it has much to do with shrewdness. There are other terms that are hard to translate into English.

    2. Look up what “shrewdness” means. It has nothing to do with the human voice. You probably mean something else.

    3. “Look up what “shrewdness” means. It has nothing to do with the human voice. You probably mean something else.”

      For some reasons I thought they were the same. I think I don’t know this term shrillness at all. Yet upon reading through, I thought you mean they were unpleasant because they were a shrewd.

      Yet this is the result of an even more profound misunderstanding. I thought “a shrewd” is a girl who is verbally vicious. But shrewdness means something quite positive and is completely different.

      So mistake all three words at once, shrillness, shrewdness and shrewishness.

      What I mean is shrewishness.

    4. I would say that historically, shrewdness has been negatively connoted. It may be that this term has been used too often in connection with members of our favorite tribe, which may have caused some dictionary editors to change the definition.

    5. My initial perception before checking an online English dictionary is that it is almost equal to “insidious”. The Vietnamese dictionary brought me the term “quỷ quyệt”, which is “insidious”. But “insidious” has an element of sneakyness as well so I am not sure if shrewdness has it.

      Somehow, I always link this term linked to Buffett, so I think it could be positive. I guess his PR image is very powerful.

      “thanks to the shrewd leadership of Warren Buffett”

      I personally think most successful businessmen should possess some degrees of shrewdness, as in calculating, opportunist and law bending. It is a necessary trait to be successful as a businessman or woman. When you think about it, it does have that sense of negativity, because it means they exploit others in some ways. The term is certainly related to ruthlessness.

      But I think these terms are somewhat ambivalent, compared to their Vietnamese equivalents.

    6. This discussion had prompted me to look up the definition of shrewd. I used to think it was negative. Amusingly I had first heard the word in Batman Returns. Christopher Walken’s character reluctantly refered to himself as shrewd. The negative definition is currently considered archaic.

  2. I agree with Sleazy on the voices of those two first female politicians.

    But for Magaret Thatcher, it is perhaps due to the mitigating effect of the British accent, some feminity is restored to her voice. British accents, in general, are to me more feminine than American ones.

    1. I also don’t find those 2 voices grating to the effect that Sleazy’s describing. I guess this is a bit subjective.

    1. “Vocal fry” is a different phenomenon. You’ll much more often find this among younger women, maybe up to the early 20s. The female voices I am referring to are unpleasant to listen to, even though there is no vocal fry.

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