I was sitting in a meeting this morning when someone mentioned ‘vocal fry’ to me. At first, I thought this was yet another dumb trendy word or phrase like ‘get woke’ or ‘fleek’ that would force me to smile politely while silently judging the ineptitude of made-up words. But no, turns out vocal fry is an actual thing, specifically, it is a vocal register that forces an obnoxious croaking sound.
Watch this clip to hear what I mean:
I’d rather listen to someone chewing their food with their mouth open than listen to vocal fry. Not only is it deeply annoying to listen to, but is problematic to the speaker, particularly female vocal fry devotees, for a few reasons.
According to The Atlantic, vocal fry could actually hurt the job prospects of women who force their voices to croak:
“Researchers at the University of Miami and Duke University asked seven male and seven female young people to say the phrase “Thank you for considering me for this opportunity” in both a normal tone and in vocal fry. Then, 800 men and women of a variety of ages were invited through an online survey to listen to the samples and select which speaker (normal or fry) they found to be more educated, competent, trustworthy, attractive, and appealing as a job candidate.”
Can you guess who was considered more educated, competent, trustworthy, attractive, and appealing as a job candidate? I’ll give you a hint: it wasn’t the men and women who spoke with vocal fry.
Slate magazine took on the hot topic of vocal fry by wondering if perhaps the reason for the vocal fry backlash is because old men can’t stand the idea of young women coming into their own without having to conform to male standards. Author Amanda Hess writes,
“I suspect that the spread of “creaky voice” makes Garfield so mad because it represents the downfall of his own mode of communication, which is swiftly being replaced by the patterns and preferences of 11-year-old girls like Ida and her peers. As women gain status and power in the professional world, young women may not be forced to carefully modify totally benign aspects of their behavior in order to be heard. Our speech may not yet be considered professional, but it’s on its way there.”
While I applaud the pro-feminist stance that Hess is taking in her article, aptly headlined, Why Old Men Find Young Women’s Voices So Annoying, I’m going to out on a limb and say that old men (and lots of other people) find vocal fry specifically to be irritating.
The Guardian points out that vocal fry is damaging to feminist women. Forget the old men wincing at vocal fry talk, Naomi Wolf points out women who use the croak are consistently misunderstood and not taken seriously. Gee…I wonder why.
“Many devoted professors, employers who wish to move young women up the ranks and business owners who just want to evaluate personnel on merit flinch over the speech patterns of today’s young women. “Because of their run-on sentences, I can’t tell in a meeting when these young women have said what they have to say,” confided one law partner.”
Of all the trends out there for young women right now, vocal fry has got to be the most annoying and damaging one yet. Listen, ladies, you have a voice that is meant to be clear and strong. In a world where women of all generations are currently fighting with all their grit and tenacity to keep – and further empower their voices, you talking like an inept teenager is one giant step backward.
Also, it is really damn annoying to listen to.