It has a name! Not only a name, but a whole controversy! I am not the only one to notice it and be driven mad by it. The vocal fry.
I blame Paris Hilton for it. She’s the first time I remember hearing it, that bored, drawn out growlish thing at the end of sentences. (Not sure what I mean? Video demonstrating it below). And she created the Kardashian monster, first bringing Kim into our living rooms on that awful reality show we’d all like to forget. And heaven knows the Kardashians are the worst offenders, vocal frying the hell out of every sentence.
Or maybe it began as a bored Los Angeles “too-much-money” teen thing? However it started, it seems here to stay. Turn on any TV show or movie with a female character under 25 and you’re bound to hear it. Like a fungus, it has spread slowly but steadily.
Last week, noted feminist author Naomi Wolff wrote an op ed entitled, “Young women, give up the vocal fry and reclaim your strong female voice.” (Link below). In it, she talked about how young women undermine their credibility with things like vocal fry and “uptalk,” the act of ending sentences on a higher note, like questions, even when they’re not questions. She got unexpected backlash from those who say that it’s not women who need to change their speech patterns but others (read: men) who need to stop trying to find reasons to demean women’s speech. The Society of Teachers of Speech and Drama wrote a letter to the editor supporting Naomi Wolff’s position. It became that unique brand of internet clusterf$#@ that is so amusing to watch. Vocal Fry-gate.
Those against Naomi Wolff’s position make a good point. Except, can I just say… the vocal fry grates on me in ways that nails on blackboards never could. Is it wrong? Do I need to give back my “good feminist” card? Maybe it’s just that too many episodes of Real Housewives have turned me into a closet woman hater (I really have to write a post about the corrosive effects of watching women make fools of themselves for money and the guilty pleasure that keeps me coming back for more). But I just hate the vocal fry. If this is what speech looks like in the 21st century, I finally give up and want to go back to the 20th.
Naomi Wolff’s “Young women, give up the vocal fry and reclaim your strong female voice.” Click here.