Chances are the people you hang out with talk in a certain way that is specific to that group of people. And if that group of people happens to be girls there’s a chance that you communicate using traits known by some as ‘girl talk’. And chances are if you speak ‘girl talk’ there is a lot of criticism out there about your communication style—criticism from the media, from teachers, from parents, from cranky old men, from your male-identifying peers, and even from other girls. Just yesterday I was walking down the street at night and witnessed two teenage boys approach two teenage girls and start mocking their voices. Out of nowhere. For no reason other than that they were talking.
Here’s the thing about girl voice and its ‘annoyingness’: it’s not real. Your voice is fine. The way you communicate is great. Don’t let anyone try to convince you that you need to change something about your voice in order to make them happy. You have cooler things to do and to talk about—like the things you’re already talking about.
We talk about women’s bodies being objectified in a world that systematically changes them into sex objects that have to ‘look’ or ‘be’ a certain way in order to be successful, liked, and valued. Demeaning women to a certain ‘sound’ or ‘style’ and then deciding whether or not that person is worth listening to based on that sound or style is the exact same problem: seeing women as a single trait and then fixating on that trait. The idea that certain ways that girls communicate are obnoxious and need to be fixed is problematic, because it is an idea that values girls only for how they communicate rather than what they say.
But the most important thing that all of us need to work on is this: to stop calling or thinking of women as “sluts.” Ask yourself, if it were a man who exhibited similar or parallel behavior, how would you react? Make an effort to support other women in their decisions, to not leap to conclusions about others, and to understand the underlying and internalized misogyny in all of us. From Kristen Stewart’s unfairly overblown portion of the cheating scandal to that little thought that goes through your head when you see a woman who dresses differently, will yourself to not slut-shame. Only by we becoming aware of our behavior, will we have the power to stop.
There are also “catty” women who are considered petty, malicious, and aggressive, though also somewhat entertaining. Society enjoys pitting women against each other for the amusement of others (see: the majority of reality television) while also trivializing our anger. This is exemplified in the notion of the “bitch,” a word which nearly every single woman has heard aimed in her direction at least once, perhaps because one must only show the slightest expression of passion, anger, or discontent in order to be considered bitchy. As soon as she becomes indignant and raises her voice, a woman loses credibility because she’s considered annoying, whiny, high maintenance, or “nagging” (a nag is an old, tired horse).
Kanye asked and we answered: is the word “bitch” ever acceptable? Read some highlights from the SPARKteam below, then click through to read the whole piece and add your input:
“ To be honest, my main problem with the word bitch is the way so many people use it to perpetuate the myth of girl hate - we’re often encouraged to resent girls who work hard or are leaders, because, as we’re told, for a girl to be so successful automatically makes her a bitch, right?” - Georgia
"People need to stop saying "bitch" when we refuse to talk to them or answer their calls or respond kindly to their street harassment. People can’t call us bitches to dominate us or hurt us or murder us or disempower us or ruin our swag. They’re using the word wrong. And it’s our job to be bitch enough to fill them in." - Carmen
“I think that if women were equal to men in every way possible referring to women as animals probably wouldn’t even be a thing anyone would consider doing.” - Ty
“Yet this word that made me feel like a terrible person, by being called a bitch or naming someone a bitch, a few years ago now makes me feel empowered; the look of surprise on people’s faces, especially on the faces of androcentric, misogynist men, when I openly call myself a bitch, it deters people from calling me or other women bitch.” - Jenny