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What Makes a Woman “Too Loud”?

A feminist sentiment- because there shouldn't be restrictions on the tone of my voice.

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The Libertarian Republic / Via thelibertarianrepublic.com

I'll be frank- as a young and (almost disgustingly) liberal college student, I have been #FeelinTheBern for about a year now, but before I even knew that this beautifully jewish old man existed, I was all about Hillary Clinton- she was the "best thing" for me at that time, and though my political preferences shifted with the introduction of a new democratic candidate, I have always and will always support Clinton as a powerful woman in politics and a well-qualified democratic presidential candidate. With the impending presidential election, I find that one of my largest pet peeves is hearing Sanders supporters trash Hillary Clinton and other candidates from the same party. Full support is needed in order for any candidate from a political party to win the nomination. Though I personally #FeeltheBern, if Hillary wins the nomination, then #ImWithHer. This post is not meant to persuade readers to vote for a certain party or candidate; However, I do feel the need to touch on a very important topic that directly relates to the election. This blog post is not just about Hillary Clinton, but about women in general, so grab onto your seat belt of feminism and buckle in for a bumpy ride on the train of social justice! It's going to be a wild one.

Understandably, Clinton does have valid flaws as a presidential candidate, as all candidates do, but she is undeniably politically knowledgeable and an intelligent debater. Realistically, due to the current election polling numbers, there is a high probability that Clinton will be the Democratic presidential candidate. Many will be ecstatic to see a smart and powerful woman on her way to the White House. Others will critique her while using arbitrary terms that many of us have heard before. She is often referred to as a liar, unreliable, and inconsistent, but one critical adjective has recently been thrown around that strikes a very negative chord with me- "loud." Clinton has been described as shrill, off-putting, crass, shrieking, and simply too loud by political pundits and even other political candidates. On February 3rd, 2016, Mediaite Online cited that MSNBC journalist Bob Woodward said on his talk show Morning Joe, "She shouts. There is something unrelaxed about the way she is communicating." In March, FOX News correspondents Brit Hume and Howard Kurtz suggested that Clinton should speak in a "more conversational tone" rather than "shouting."

Reading through these sexist quotations disturbed me. I have personally always been reprimanded for my naturally loud and deep voice, and I have a habit of unconsciously raising my vocal tone when I speak passionately of something I care about. I have been told on countless occasions that my voice is "weird," "off-putting," and "masculine." I am consistently and patronizingly shushed by those who have no interest in what I have to say. I have been told on MULTIPLE occasions that if I am "always screaming, people will tune me out." Often, these critiques come from majority groups, AKA Straight White Men. (Coincidence? I think not.)

This begs many questions that I honestly do not have clear answers to. At what point does a woman's tone shift from "strong and powerful" to "too loud?" Can a man ever be "too loud?" What even is the definition of "TOO loud?" To me, these critiques sound like a strategic way to continue silencing powerful women, a tactic to which our country has well conformed. The saddest part is that I believe that this "silencing" isn't always intentional. It has been coached into human nature. What is so intimidating about an outspoken female figure?

As the stereotypical Millennial that I consider myself to be, I related these critiques against Hillary to a TV show that I have been binge-watching recently; FX's American Crime Story: The People Vs. OJ Simpson, which is a recounting of the OJ Simpson murder trials. In these trials, the attorney hoping to convict OJ is named Marcia Clark. She is clearly the most informed and passionate lawyer on the stand, but she is not taken seriously due to her "offputting" characteristics. Clark is told to soften her hair, soften her makeup, and soften her voice. Her important words are not heard because the people of the court are so concerned with her aesthetic and feminine features. Her colleagues literally suggested that she should stop wearing pantsuits and start wearing skirts. The year was 1995.

The year is now 2016. Twenty years have passed. While watching those episodes I could not help but relate Marcia's experiences to that of Hillary Clinton. Clinton is not loud. She is not shrill. She is not a "bitch." She is a passionate and powerful human being. She speaks louder because as a woman, she feels that she has to in order for us to listen to her.

If I can ask for one favor, please treat Hillary Clinton as a serious candidate. Talk about her policies, not her pantsuits. The tone of her voice should not overshadow her actual words. She does not want to scare us away. She just wants us to listen.

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