During the last election, a voice analyst on public radio discussed what one might glean from the voices of John McCain, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton.
She said that Hillary was unlikable and perceived as whiny when she raised her voice because as a woman, she is the “voice of civilization” and no one likes to hear the voice of civilization sound peeved. She explained that the voice of civilization tells you to take a shower, take your vitamins and make your bed. She said that we can take it when a man raises his voice because it’s acceptable but the voice that maintains order in the home must be sweet. A woman sounds trashy, while a man sounds, well, manly.
There have been more than a few times in my life when a man has shouted, “don’t yell at me” when I’ve raised my voice just enough to be emphatic and if I’ve been foolish enough to insist in a firm voice that I am not yelling, I’ve been shouted back at by someone who doesn’t seem to notice the irony.
I’m wondering who was trying to fool us when they made a commercial for some antidepressant with a woman doing the voice-over in a reassuring, confident, voice of civilization kind of trustworthy way. She’s letting me know I might be depressed even if I don’t think so and that I can get a pill that will keep the depression away. She’s a siren luring sailors to a drowning death, cooing like Snow White to her seven dwarfs, convincing me to take the pill which can cause me to kill myself or have a stroke or destroy my liver or cause tremors and nausea. Those things don’t even sound dangerous when she describes them like she’s sharing her secrets for immortality.
Is this the tone a woman must take to be heard as she campaigns against men for the presidency? Shall she manipulate her tone to be a voice that we can hear without being reactive?
The answer is yes for some of the public and my advice for Hillary Clinton as she campaigns in 2016 is to put on the veil of illusion that is not much different from any other political manipulation that we are so aware of because it will allow her to even the playing field as a woman. Give them the voice of civilization as men perceive it. That would be a masterful political stroke. That is the strongest voice there is and this is a year of the master game.
You have only to take a page from Donald Trump’s playbook to see how simple it is to manipulate people when you give them what they think they want. I do not imagine he would break bread with most of the crowd he has amassed. He is not one of them but they have missed that being so caught up in his relentless performance.
If this election points out anything it is that people are frightened. Period. Give them the cool hand on the scorched forehead, Senator. Let the vehicle of civilization lure them, lull them into your lap.
Trump’s wife and beloved daughter know that. He told the rabid crowd in Arizona yesterday that they both urged him to act presidential. Listen to your women, Trump. They are the voices trying to civilize you.
Author’s note: This post was revised from a post I wrote in 2008 railing against drug sales on television which I found doubly heinous when done with a woman’s voice over. This is not a campaign rally for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump but a point of view on the differences of the sexes.