Philobiblon: Speak out, deeply

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Speak out, deeply

The pressure to be "feminine" still hits hard on teenage girls in the West, but generally in the East it is far, far worse. I noticed when I lived in Thailand how high women's voices generally were - and yet listen to old recordings and Western women used to speak at a similar pitch, showing how much this is influenced by social norms rather than any sort of biological effect.

And now it is getting worse: women in China are having voice-alteration surgery in the hope that speaking with a higher pitch will impress male interviewers.

Traditionally, a great deal of store is set by a woman's voice in China, with the perfect female pitch identified as a high, sweet falsetto. As a result, those with deep voices feel stigmatised.
... In one procedure, tiny titanium plates are inserted between two muscles in the throat, causing the vocal cord to stretch, which raises the pitch. Alternatively, an incision can be made in the vocal cord, or part of it can be burnt away with a laser. The resulting scarring stiffens the cord, again raising the pitch.

And you have to wonder what other damage it is likely to do long term.


Britain is generally pretty good at protecting its historic heritage, but it seems not the Thornborough Henges in Yorkshire, a huge 5,000-year-old site threatened by gravel quarrying. There's a petition if you'd like to support it.

When you think of how much more information archaeology can extract today from sites, compared to 50 years ago, imagine how much more will be possible in the future. But not, of course, if sites have been ground up and enclosed in the concrete of a car park.


Heavily pregnant women are being transported around Britain for long hours in what amounts to a metal broom cupboard, without padding, or seat belts. Something the "pro-life" people really should worry about ...

A source within Styal prison in Cheshire said a 27-year-old inmate had spent four hours in a van the day before her baby was due. She expected to be taken to court in Liverpool by taxi and complained when told she would travel in a prison van. She was then offered a thin cushion.
The trip from Styal to Liverpool should have taken less than an hour but lasted two and half hours because the vehicle had to drop off other prisoners. The prisoner was allowed one toilet break. After an hour-long court hearing, she made a 90-minute journey back to Styal.


Blogger la peregrina said...

...women in China are having voice-alteration surgery in the hope that speaking with a higher pitch will impress male interviewers.

This is as disturbing as Vietnamese girls having their eyes done to look "Western" during the Vietnam War, maybe more so.

2/01/2006 08:36:00 pm  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home