Hillary Clinton took the stage last night to make her historic acceptance speech, but male pundits wondered: Didn’t she sound a little... shrill? Wasn’t she... maybe... shouting? Can’t she do something about her... tone? Welcome to the next four months of nuanced, non-sexist political commentary, which also functions as a descent into Hell!
The least subtle version of this criticism came from Fox News’ Brit Hume, who isn’t a fan of Clinton’s “sharp, lecturing tone:”
Hume suggested that Clinton could “make herself more appealing” to voters. Her voice, he added, “makes you feel like you’ve been called into the principal’s office to be read the riot act. Tonight, in the beginning, she spoke more softly. She sometimes as though acts as if she doesn’t understand that when you speak into a microphone like that, there’s such things as amplifiers and speakers and you’re gonna be heard.”
Hume is, however, a fan of Clinton’s “radiant smile,” which makes up for her “not so attractive voice.”
Wonderful and very smart! For the progressive version of this very hot take, let’s turn to Andrew Sullivan, live-blogging for New York magazine and defending himself from criticisms that he sounds sexist when he criticizes Clinton’s voice. Or, as he puts it, “the gender thing:”
I should address the gender thing. Readers lambasted me for every criticism of her speaking style on feminist grounds. And I understand how Clinton carries an enormous weight as the first woman presidential candidate that makes the usual criticisms of her – that she’s pedestrian, uninspiring, and hectoring at times – sound sexist.
But there were many, many women in this convention who spoke far more memorably than she did, who held the crowd in more rapt attention, who were able to modulate their speeches in ways that helped people understand their message better. This is not, in other words, a woman problem; it’s a Hillary Clinton problem. She simply doesn’t have certain gifts of oratory and connection with people that other more natural politicians do. It’s a weakness in a presidential candidate.
You just have to “modulate,” Hillary! Fresh and vibrant criticism from a man treating liveblogging as a very new innovation!
For the British version of this same, very original perspective —ooh, posh— let’s turn to someone named James Naughtie, who works for the BBC, and who, as the Huffington Post notes, called Clinton “shrill.” Very good. I feel done with this one!
Vox has a roundup of some other tweets about Clinton’s voice, and a helpful explainer that maybe sometimes criticizing a woman for being shrill can sound sexist. Preposterous. After all, one very important person had the same, tirelessly original thought last night, and this man has zero problems with women.
I can’t wait to listen to variations on this brand of political commentary until I claw my own eyeballs out and self-remove my eardrums to get away from it!