Do You Hear What I Hear?
Hillary Clinton made history as the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major party in the U.S.
Criticisms from political reporters and pundits, mostly male, included that her acceptance speech was “shrill” and “annoying” and had a “lecturing tone.”
Her presidential opponent declared the speech was “very average scream.” Have the same critics opined on his consistent well above average scream speech style? Were the 44 previous male presidential contenders critiqued for their speech intonation?
It wasn’t just U.S. press and pundits making critical comments. Below is my complaint to the BBC.
James Naughtie (well named), 65-year-old BBC special correspondent, described Hillary Clinton’s history- making presidential nominee’s acceptance speech, as “shrill.” The official BBC response to the immediate backlash to his remark was that he was “conveying in his commentary and analysis the perceptions of Hillary Clinton by U.S. voters.” Really? What factual data support his and the BBC statements? The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) should be renamed the British Broadcast(igating) Company.
With all due respect to Carrie Underwood, the negative commentaries brought her “Do you hear what I hear?” lyrics to mind. Many women and men in the audience in Philly and around the world heard the sound of the highest glass ceiling cracking and history being made. They were focused on the content, not the cadence and the perceived sexist speaking offensives.
Indeed, it was a very positive Clinton who exclaimed, “When there are no ceilings, the sky is the limit!”
As a 14-year-old, she wrote to NASA and was told they did not accept women. The first class with female astronauts was accepted in 1978.
Clinton has been a strong voice for women since her college days. Her Wellesley classmates chose her to be the first student speaker at the 1969 graduation. In Beijing in 1995, at the pioneering U.N. Conference on Women, she dared to declare “Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights.”
Speaking up for ourselves, and for others, has historically been more difficult for women. As in the presidential nominee’s experience, women are subjected to criticism never directed to men. Harvard Business School, 50 years after it admitted women in 1963, determined that female students needed guidance to speak up more in class, where participation composed 50 percent of their final grades. Stenographers were added to every class so professors had an actual speaking record to properly credit the women students,
For most of us who cannot benefit from speaker training at Harvard Business School, let us listen and learn from women who have achieved resounding success. Onward and upward to the White House. Hear Ye! Hear Ye!