• Fri, Jan 11 2013

Why Young Women Like Zooey Deschanel Have Vocal Fry

zooey deschanel speaking

Ladies! Men hate your vocal fry! That thing where your voice sounds creaky and strained, sort of like your grandmother? That is vocal fry and Bob Garfield over at NPR thinks you sound vulgar, and awful, and you need to stop doing that vocal fry thing right now. It’s not cool, okay? That means you, Zooey Deschanel:

Why do women keep doing this?

Look, as a woman, you are trained to make yourself non-threatening in a variety of ways. Speaking in a loud, booming, commanding voice is the most threatening way to speak, because it implies that you are well educated, well brought up, and assertive. While these are all objectively good traits, they are also traits that can scare people who seem less secure. So women are always trying to find ways to speak that make themselves sound less threatening.

Remember Valley Girls? Valley girls spoke like lobotomized children:

But then we were told that you couldn’t do that. Like, really, you could not. No one would ever take you seriously if you phrase everything you say as a question. But, again, if you talk like Margaret Thatcher, which is to say, perfectly (in part because she was coached by Laurence Olivier):

Unless you are the PM, people are going to think you are somehow being affected or pretentious or trying to make them feel stupid by comparison. If women are trying to modulate their voices to sound less scary, well, there’s almost nothing less scary than a grandmother with a bit of a sore throat. It sounds feeble, and weak, and, yes, creaky. But it does not sound threatening to anyone. And, I think especially if you have a persona like Zooey Deschanel’s, which is built upon not being threatening, that would be the kind of voice you’d want to cultivate.

So, that is why young women keep doing this dumb, annoying thing,

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  • Cee

    Gah I have always hated the way Zooey speaks. Being raised in a family where a third of them have very harsh high pitched noises has made me very sensitive to voices to the point where I shrug up my shoulders to shield certain people speaking and vocal fry does this to me at times. I think maybe women do it in a way to mimic people they want to become friends with or in their social circle..start dressing similarly and all that stuff, you know? Sometimes I am happy I have a slight Spanish speaker’s accent which may have saved me from having vocal fry.

  • haily

    You know why I’m happy? Because I don’t give a fuck about what one guy on NPR has to say about how a woman should or should not speak. Once you start getting all flustered over what men in the media say about how a woman SHOULD or SHOULDN’T be – whether it’s her weight or voice or how “slutty” she dresses – then you’re just letting yourself get defeated. Anyone – and this goes for both genders – has the right to say whatever the hell they want even if it puts people down. Here’s to being so desensitized that the whole “legitimate rape” scandal makes me laugh at how ignorant some people are as opposed to feeling offended! One a related note, NPR has always made me fall asleep because they all speak in monotone.

    • Zimmm

      Thank you for this response. They keep coming up with new things to criticize women about and instruct us to change about ourselves. It’s disheartening and infuriating.

    • Carlos Rivas

      ladies kind of an image problem, one of weakness, you don’t cure that making yourselves sound meek and soft or dumb.

  • Sara

    Um, what Zooey is doing is annoying, but it isn’t vocal fry…

  • jamiepeck

    The Zooey video is not an example of vocal fry. But I know what you were getting at. I actually think she does a pretty good job explaining the theme song here. She knows a ton about music, and her musical output has always been my favorite thing she does and the reason I have yet to write her off…I guess that’s why her inflections don’t bother me. I think my own voice is atrocious when I hear myself recorded (I am a writer for a reason) so I have sympathy for people who talk funny/girly/whatevs.

  • mochamadness

    I just like that one of the arguments is “Ladies, you should stop doing this because it drives men crazy!” Oh, men don’t like some of my habits? Better change them immediately!

  • http://www.facebook.com/susanlynnldp Susan Lynn

    Version:1.0
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    SourceURL:file://localhost/Users/deanna/Documents/VocalFryResponceToMikeVuolo&BobGarfield.doc

    Don’t we all love to hear a girl or woman’s voice that is
    soft and smooth and clear as a
    bell.

    This “creaking” or “vocal fry” comes
    from the vocal cords in a state of constriction due to the physiological
    experience of emotion, and the self confidence to communicate, while
    experiencing emotion. I know for myself, that when I have more tension in my
    throat, due to emotion, my voice becomes a bit more gravelly. There are many
    possible emotions which a person could be experiencing, while expressing with a
    creak, but one common denominator is that this person has the strength of
    character, to express themselves through or in spite of this emotion.

    Creak is a combination of involuntary, due to vocal cord
    constriction, and voluntary, intentional speech characteristics, language
    characteristics from a lexicon which is, and should be available to everyone,
    not just older men. When someone is saying “oh that feels good” or
    “Hmm, I’m not so sure about that.” They might be experiencing a welling
    up of emotion which leads them to have a somewhat gravelly voice. Creak is
    naturally physiological, in addition, to being cultural, therefore, both
    incorrect and inappropriate to deem, a mode of communication, just for men.

    The statements, that vocal fry in a young woman, is
    completely repulsive, purports an exclusivity of range, only available for use
    by men. This is sexist on it’s face because it states that women have to be
    pretty and young to be attractive. Sorry for living, and not always being a
    pleasure giving machine, made of sugar and spice with a voice always as clear
    as a bell.

    It is funny that I don’t find this labeled
    “creak”, in anyway annoying. There are many possible reasons that
    some men find this creak annoying in young women. When someone has a creak in
    their voice, they are saying, I think critically, I don’t need you, I am as
    strong and powerful as you or maybe more so, and I might even make fun of you.
    Creaking can also be an expression of emotion, which literally, in it’s self,
    makes some people uncomfortable.

    Women are often better at expressing emotion, and their free
    range of motion within socially conservative or traditional cultures, in areas
    of expressing character and style, are considered greater than men. The vocal
    fry that Bob and Mike speak of, happens when someone is saying something
    emphatically and intellectually or emotionally loaded . The person speaking with vocal fry is,
    intentionally putting an emphasis on something of weight. This action reveals a
    lexicon of intellectual and cultural intention.

    To say that the instance of women inserting staccatos or
    vocal fry at the end of their sentences, or that building a cadence of
    perpetual creak, is for the sake of dominance or to be like men is as much a
    falsity as the thought that women wore shoulder pads in the forties and
    eighties to be more like men. Women did this to be like other powerful women.
    Powerful vocal fry, utilized in speech patterns by women, demonstrates, women
    not afraid to show their emotional intelligence to accent their intellectural
    intelligence. This is, strong women of any age, picking up, or initiating a
    strong language of women and yes, men, but most importantly, people in general.
    Women from many cultures have had vocal fry, since the beginning of time. Most
    elderly women, have vocal fry throughout their speech. Vocal fry has always
    been an expression of authority. It is not, owned by men. To say that vocal fry
    is acceptable only for men and completely undesirable in women in the same
    breath, not only demonstrates very tired notions of aging, worm eaten, Anglo
    Frisian decay, but sexist, antisocial repugnance.

    Often, men’s entire vocal presentation is made up of a
    steady, sometimes monotone, vocal fry or creak. I bet that if you studied the
    wave form of Mike VocalFry and Bob Garfry’s voices through spectrograms, you
    would find that their voices lower to somewhere between 30 and 40 htz at the
    end of their sentences, throughout their entire programs, not just when they
    are making fun of vocal fry. They both creak constantly, as a characteristic
    emphasis in their speech.

    Men are destined to eventually use vocal fry as their mode
    of speech. Young women, might just, interpret and incorporate these
    sociocultural motivations of vocal fry earlier than young men.

  • http://www.facebook.com/susanlynnldp Susan Lynn

    Don’t we all love to hear a girl or woman’s voice that is
    soft and smooth and clear as a
    bell.
    This “creaking” or “vocal fry” comes
    from the vocal cords in a state of constriction due to the physiological
    experience of emotion, and the self confidence to communicate, while
    experiencing emotion. I know for myself, that when I have more tension in my
    throat, due to emotion, my voice becomes a bit more gravelly. There are many
    possible emotions which a person could be experiencing, while expressing with a
    creak, but one common denominator is that this person has the strength of
    character, to express themselves through or in spite of this emotion.

    Creak is a combination of involuntary, due to vocal cord
    constriction, and voluntary, intentional speech characteristics, language
    characteristics from a lexicon which is, and should be available to everyone,
    not just older men. When someone is saying “oh that feels good” or
    “Hmm, I’m not so sure about that.” They might be experiencing a welling
    up of emotion which leads them to have a somewhat gravelly voice. Creak is
    naturally physiological, in addition, to being cultural, therefore, both
    incorrect and inappropriate to deem, a mode of communication, just for men.

    The statements, that vocal fry in a young woman, is
    completely repulsive, purports an exclusivity of range, only available for use
    by men. This is sexist on it’s face because it states that women have to be
    pretty and young to be attractive. Sorry for living, and not always being a
    pleasure giving machine, made of sugar and spice with a voice always as clear
    as a bell.
    It is funny that I don’t find this labeled

    “creak”, in anyway annoying. There are many possible reasons that
    some men find this creak annoying in young women. When someone has a creak in
    their voice, they are saying, I think critically, I don’t need you, I am as
    strong and powerful as you or maybe more so, and I might even make fun of you.
    Creaking can also be an expression of emotion, which literally, in it’s self,
    makes some people uncomfortable.

    Women are often better at expressing emotion, and their free
    range of motion within socially conservative or traditional cultures, in areas
    of expressing character and style, are considered greater than men. The vocal
    fry that Bob and Mike speak of, happens when someone is saying something
    emphatically and intellectually or emotionally loaded . The person speaking with vocal fry is,
    intentionally putting an emphasis on something of weight. This action reveals a
    lexicon of intellectual and cultural intention.

    To say that the instance of women inserting staccatos or
    vocal fry at the end of their sentences, or that building a cadence of
    perpetual creak, is for the sake of dominance or to be like men is as much a
    falsity as the thought that women wore shoulder pads in the forties and
    eighties to be more like men. Women did this to be like other powerful women.
    Powerful vocal fry, utilized in speech patterns by women, demonstrates, women
    not afraid to show their emotional intelligence to accent their intellectural
    intelligence. This is, strong women of any age, picking up, or initiating a
    strong language of women and yes, men, but most importantly, people in general.
    Women from many cultures have had vocal fry, since the beginning of time. Most
    elderly women, have vocal fry throughout their speech. Vocal fry has always
    been an expression of authority. It is not, owned by men. To say that vocal fry
    is acceptable only for men and completely undesirable in women in the same
    breath, not only demonstrates very tired notions of aging, worm eaten, Anglo
    Frisian decay, but sexist, antisocial repugnance.

    Often, men’s entire vocal presentation is made up of a
    steady, sometimes monotone, vocal fry or creak. I bet that if you studied the
    wave form of Mike VocalFry and Bob Garfry’s voices through spectrograms, you
    would find that their voices lower to somewhere between 30 and 40 htz at the
    end of their sentences, throughout their entire programs, not just when they
    are making fun of vocal fry. They both creak constantly, as a characteristic
    emphasis in their speech.

    Men are destined to eventually use vocal fry as their mode
    of speech. Young women, might just, interpret and incorporate these
    sociocultural motivations of vocal fry earlier than young men.

  • Peter

    Psychologists call this envy.