Kim Kardashian Can’t Teach Caitlyn Jenner Vocal Fry, Sadly
The Debrief: You see, the croaky way so many women speak is under question right now…
As Caitlyn Jenner transitions to appearing outwardly female to match how she’s always felt inside, she’s showing us just how strange it is that women are treated. For example, before she came out, her every outfit change was not pored over, but now, each outfit, each accessory, is eagerly discussed as if any outing is a strut along a catwalk.
Now she’s seeking to ‘feminise’ her voice with the help of Kim Kardashian.
A teaser from I Am Cait shows the tutorial:
As you can see (or maybe you can’t see, maybe you can’t watch it right now), Caitlyn’s ‘woman voice’ isn’t any less deep than her ‘normal’ voice.
She explains her frustrations that Kim doesn’t quite get the whole reason why Cait wants a feminised voice: ‘Women cannot relate to the whole voice thing. They don’t see it as being that important, when it is that important’.
Maybe it’s for the best Kim can’t help with Caitlyn’s voice, because, according to the experts, Kim’s voice is crap anyway.
Linguists, professors of the throat and feminist Naomi Wolf – say that Kim has been consciously putting on something called ‘vocal fry’. It’s that croaky way that e.g. Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian and Scarlett Johansson speak? (We’re not even sure if Scarlett can make the list, as we’d peg her as more husky) That, and the rising inflection, you know? When every sentence? Sounds like it’s a question? That Zooey Deschanel does? They’ve been criticised.
Naomi Wolf, who wrote the anti-cosmetics bible The Beauty Myth in the 90s and has since written a book called Vagina where she made vagina-shaped pasta, explained in a piece for The Guardian that all these ways of talking: ‘undermine these women’s authority in newly distinctive ways.’
She explained how this way of speaking can ‘dilute many young women’s advocacy powers and thus their written authority.’ Meaning they’ll annoy teachers, lecturers or potential employers, and won’t be treated seriously by those who are otherwise more than happy to listen to women.
We’re not American, so we don’t hear people doing the Valley Girl voice much. But while there are still men who’ll use vocal fry – Noam Chomsky, the philosopher, linguist and political commentator is one who pretty much always does – or just put on a voice so deep you have to wonder if they’re just talking in burps, we can’t see why a girl’s voice should hold her back.
Maybe, for all of the ‘whateverrrrr’-ness of their tone, these girls are actually just optimists, and just assume that girls should be in a position where they’re respected so much they can growl their way through a conversation and still be understood and taken seriously.
As for Caitlyn – her transition is a process, and we’ll see to be honest, most 65-year-old women’s voices are pretty deep anyway, but if you can see any in the public eye, see how seriously they’re taken…
Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson
At work? With your gran?
You might want to think about the fact you're about to read something that wouldn't exactly get a PG rating