Virtual Oases XIV


  1. I just listened to the Carol Lynn Pearson podcast. What struck me (probably because I have been thinking about this a lot lately) was her voice. She spoke from a deep, powerful place. Last general conference I read a few complaints that people did not like listening to the women speak. I remember one comment saying something like “they sound like they’re speaking to the primary children.” People seemed to find the women annoying. I feel strongly that women in the church are socialized to not claim or express their own power. Those that rise to leadership have a kind of “sweet sister” way of being and speaking that is anything but interesting or empowered.

    I ache for more voices like Pearson’s.

  2. Amyb, I agree. I haven’t listened to this podcast, but I have heard her speak in person. She is a powerful presence. Perhaps I was one of the women who found the General Conference women speakers annoying. Particulary the presentation style of the Anne _____ (I forget her name – not Beck). I was struck by how ultra feminine her delivery was – the high voice, the breathy delivery. Ugh. I want a woman who speaks from her gut, with confidence and power. But like you said, perhaps those women simply aren’t picked for leadership roles. (exception: Sherri Dew and Chieko Okazaki)

  3. I think Dew and Okazaki had such a following precisely because of their voices (literally) — look around the room when a good, self-assured, confident speaker begins. We sit up, we pay attention, we connect despite ourselves. We remember their names — even the men in the ward seem to remember their names (Dew is quoted much more than the RS Prez she served under . . .). We may not hear it from all our female leaders, but we certainly respond positively when we do (so why don’t we hear it more often?)

    Incidently, my current RS prez has strong speaking voice — I love it. It seems to radiate from a place of confidence, wisdom and humor — and it makes her a more effective leader. She projects a competence that inspires trust. Little things that aren’t so little.

  4. It is interesting to consider the multiple meanings of the word “voice”.

    My hypothesis is that if a person feels that they “have a voice” which implies things like having some amount of empowerment, having words for their thoughts and feelings, having influence, feeling that ideas are heard, etc. . . leads to the physical speaking voice being more powerful and appealing to the listener.

    A person’s speaking voice says a lot about them. What does it tell us that many people find female speakers in the church annoying? I think it’s because those women don’t have a voice in the organization. I hope I’m not being too repetitive here. . . I’m working on my own voice. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Caroline- I’m interested in your characterization of the women speakers as “ultra feminine”. I think I can see what you mean, but I think it’s a stripped away disempowered version of feminity. I long for a more powerful concept of the feminine. I wish “feminine” weren’t synonymous with the way the general RS presidency behaves.

  5. I find it amazing that you would judge a woman by how she sounds rather than by what she says. That is the ultimate disservice.

  6. Public speaking affects public perception. Is the “primary voice” (as I’ve heard it called for years by men and women) bad? No. But I fear it makes it easier for others to dismiss our words, to take take women’s doctrinal expositions less seriously. On those occasions when I hear sacrement speakers quote female general authorities, it tends to be Okazaki or Dew. Why? Certainly other auxilary leaders have made eloquent speeches, filled with doctrine; speeches worth noticing. My guess is that these women spoke with an unsually authoritative tone. We should _not_ dismiss or ridicule the other speakers, but it’s worth paying attention to what helps the audience . . . pay attention.

  7. I also love it when women talk in strong, authoritative ways. I definitely think it matters. When our most public, visible women talk in a manner that makes it difficult for people to take them seriously, it reinforces the perception that the role of women is to contribute fluff rather than substance. Even when I disagreed with Sheri Dew on certain points, I liked the way she said them. And Chieko Okazaki is, hands down, my favorite General Authority ever. ๐Ÿ™‚

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