I think Hillary Clinton can be criticized for a lot of things, but one criticism is particularly unfair — that she becomes “shrill” when she raises her voice during moments of stress, like during the early part of last night’s debate with rival Bernie Sanders.
I agree with people who contend that “shrill,” “grating,” “braying,” “tone it down,” and similar terms are code words for sexist notions. And when people start talking about things like Hillary Clinton’s “pitch” or “tone” or “volume,” they’re really communicating that they don’t think women should speak up and be heard, whether they intend to convey that message or not. It hearkens back to Victorian times when women were viewed as delicate flowers who couldn’t undertake vigorous physical activity and shouldn’t venture their opinions about politics and other subjects that should be reserved for a male-dominated society. It’s antiquated thinking, and comments about the volume of female politician voices are a byproduct of it.
No one criticizes the likes of Donald Trump or Chris Christie or any other male politician for yelling on the stump; it’s pretty commonplace at a noisy political rally where you are trying to be heard in a large room filled with people. At debates, male speakers often increase their volume and talk over their foes. Telling female politicians they can’t yell under the same circumstances puts them at an unfair disadvantage. If we tolerate booming volume from male speakers, we can tolerate it from the female side, too.
So yell away, Hillary Clinton! I may not agree with your positions on the issues, but I’ll defend to the death your ability to voice them as loudly as you please.