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Do Our Voices Always Reveal Our Gender?

If "sex" is anatomical, and "gender" is a construct, then it can be assumed that our vocal range would establish sex, while the way that we speak establishes gender. Or does it?

The clip above was made by a teenage boy, who frequently gets mistaken for a girl. He took to the streets of Santa Cruz, CA to ask random strangers if they think he's a boy or a girl. The results were mixed, but amazingly (and hilariously), everyone had an opinion, and was more than willing to share it. I think the confusion may revolve around his androgynous haircut, young age (which includes lack of facial hair, somewhat high-pitched voice, etc.), and the fact that a lot of street wear is unisex.

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Interestingly, today on Rachael Ray, there was a segment about women who were unhappy with their voices. The woman in the clip below is Karen, and she says that when she talks, people think she's a man. However, if you close your eyes and listen to her, I think that a more accurate description would be that she sounds a bit like a flamboyant gay man, and that has a lot more to do with the cadence, not tone, of her voice. And I don't think it sounds particularly "unfeminine".

Karen works in the fashion industry, and in the clip she says, "People call and expect to get…" I swear she was going to finish with "a gay man." But she instead she said, "a sweet, sexy voice." And I found that odd, because having once worked in the fashion industry, I pretty much always expected to get a gay guy on the line.


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"Am I a boy or a girl?" [FourFour]

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DISCUSSION

triana-orpheus-old
Triana Orpheus

You should also ask do our voices reveal race. My friend will swear on his not-yet-born son that black people have deeper voices.