Saturday, 17 March 2012

Deep voices

Did you catch a discussion on BBC Radio 4 a few days back, concerning politicians' voices? Apparently it's long been known (though it's news to me) that the voting public most trusts deeper voices. Mrs Thatcher, for instance, the former Prime Minister, began with a high-pitched and somewhat shrill voice, but ended office with a much lower and huskier voice. It's said that she actually received coaching to bring this about, to make her voice sound more serious, more trustworthy, and make it a better instrument for imposing her authority. She did indeed cease to sound like a hockey-playing Head Girl.

Is there something in this? Do deeper voices really generate more trust? Does one believe some pipe-smoking chap with a rich down-in-his-boots delivery MORE than someone who says the same thing with an airy-fairy sing-song voice? I can recall a Welsh union leader from the past (was he Clive Jenkins?) who had an irritatingly high-pitched voice, and I just couldn't take him seriously. The voice was the problem.

Is this general, that lower-pitched voices command greater attention and credibility? Certainly a lot of women's voices seem at a disadvantage, sounding squeaky and lightweight compared to men's - more suited to excited gossip and playing with babies than for any important debate. It's really quite hard for women to make a thundering, Churchillian speech. Certainly any woman can look impassioned in a way denied to a man, but her voice, lacking force, may let her down. And, quite separately from this, some trifling detail of her appearance may engage her listener's attention and subvert her message. Frustrating.

I always knew that crossing over to the female world would affect my ability to be taken seriously, simply because of prevailing attitudes. The way it is, men can definitely command more respect. But it seems that their deeper voices automatically give them an extra edge, regardless of whether there is really any substance in what they say.

How ironic that all the effort made, and money spent, to acquire a good female voice means that anything I may say will probably be dismissed as silly chatter!


  1. Listen to the Lady announcers' voices on the radio they are all pleasantly deep - for women's voices.

    I'm sure not every man will dismiss what you have to say as silly chatter. Though unfortunately, there are some men who don't take women seriously - they aren't worth bothering with anyway.

    Have a read of this:

  2. Perhaps 'gaslighting' was a bit strong for the point you are making in this post - sorry

  3. Yes, not quite the same thing...but no applogy is needed, Anji, and in fact many thanks for drawing my attention to the term 'gaslighting' and what it means. I recognise what it refers to, even though I didn't have a name for it before.

    You can easily see how the devious and controlling behaviour of some men would make them expert at undernining a woman's sense of reality. I suppose a woman is the likeliest victim, because of the emotion and trust she normally invests in her man. It would be so difficult to accept unpalatable truths about him, such as betrayal and cruelty. Gaslighting - undermining trust in one's own perceptions - simply makes it harder to see what is really happening.

    I don't see why I would be immune. If I ever have someone special in my life again, I'd want to believe in them, and might be inclined to accept their assurances despite evidence that they were no good.


  4. I was thinking along the lines of a father figure. It may be that we are subconsciously reacting to that image when we hear a deep male voice. As for females I think we have to accept that females need to approach leadership and forthrightness by means of persuasion, after all, that is the female nature. Sometimes it is better to listen to the softer and more gentle voice than the sound of a battle cry.

    Shirley Anne xxx

  5. I don't like to hear a high voice on any gender really, it just doesn't appeal to me. I'm sure why, maybe for the reasons you've mentioned.


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