Stop Shaming My 'Valley Girl' Voice, It's Just As Legitimate As Yours?
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Politics

Stop Shaming My 'Valley Girl' Voice, It's Just As Legitimate As Yours?

When women use dominant declarative statements, we are seen as pushy and too masculine. But when we use uptalk to soften the blow, we’re not taken seriously and become a target of ridicule.

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Stop Shaming My 'Valley Girl' Voice, It's Just As Legitimate As Yours?
Kim Kardashian / Instagram

In recent years "uptalk," a speech pattern characterized by the use of upward inflection to end declarative statements, has received notable media attention due to its prominence in pop culture with the rise of celebrities like Kim Kardashian. This has provoked a controversial nationwide debate over the appropriateness of different types of speech patterns

Because the heightened intonation used in uptalk sounds similar to the heightened intonation used to end questions, some people believe this speech pattern makes one sound uncertain, unconfident and unintelligent. The problem with this sentiment is that uptalk is most commonly used by and associated with females like myself, who become the target of jokes and criticism as a result, leading to the "stupid valley girl" stereotype.

The issue is that gender stereotypes have conditioned the way women in our society speak.

Women's speech is governed by rules of politeness while men are expected to exude masculinity and assertiveness. Some women speak with a lack of force to avoid appearing bossy or pushy. From birth, society conditions a woman to speak like a "lady," somebody who never impresses her ideas and beliefs onto others. Somebody who remains subordinate to the authority of men. (I changed the entire paragraph)

By softening declarative statements with uptalk, women try to communicate information in a non-pushy or "ladylike" way. This attempt at softening speech is only met with harsh criticism from men who see these simple rises in intonation as a sign of a lack of confidence, ability and intelligence.

To me, it seems as though the problem is that our culture has equated all types of speech made by women, whether submissive or declarative, as something to be ashamed of.

When women use dominant declarative statements, they are seen as pushy and too masculine. But when they use uptalk to soften the blow, they're not taken seriously and become the target of ridicule.

You're damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

The connection between the use of uptalk by women and a lack of intelligence or ability is socially constructed and so is the connection between declarative speech made by a woman and pushiness or masculinity. Because our language reflects the power imbalance in American culture, perhaps we should shift the way we actually think about women, rather than attack them for using the submissive speech that society has conditioned them to use from birth.

Let's get rid of the association between women's use of uptalk and the "stupid valley girl" persona. Let's also get rid of the association between women's use of declarative language and masculinity. Suggesting that women alter their speech just because you don't like how "uncertain" or "pushy" they may sound, will only lend itself to the overwhelmingly obvious sentiment in this country that all "women's speech" is inferior speech.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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