Since Kim Kardashian is the role model of the 21st century, all women must want to be just like her, right? To be a true Kardashian, one has to emulate her voice, and apparently all women today are doing this.

People are taking notice of this change. Numerous commentaries, studies and parodies regarding the way in which young women speak are nothing new. In the last few years, however, discussions regarding this topic have reached an unprecedented level. From research studies about the inflection of women’s voices at the end of sentences to trending on Twitter about #ShitGirlsSay, this cultural phenomenon is here to stay. And I’m saying well, like, it’s all bogus. Seriously.

For decades people have assumed that the “popular girls” on television shows and movies are the sole subjects of women’s envy. When Alicia Silverstone played Cher (a popular high school student in California) in the forever-quoted ’90s movie “Clueless,” people claimed that the rise of the phrases “whatever” and “as if” — Valley Girl Speak — was due to the desire of young women across the country to sound like her. This Valley Speak is said to persist throughout speech today. In September, CNN wrote an article describing how Valley Speak is inhibiting women career-wise because it’s stopping them from being taken seriously.

Apparently Cher is not women’s only inspiration — brainiacs like Britney Spears and Ke$ha inspire them as well. A September study published in the Journal of Voice describes a phenomenon called vocal frying. Found in college women, vocal frying is described as a croaking and creaky sound given to words, usually at the end of sentences. Some singers use the technique in their songs, such as Lady Gaga and Zooey Deschanel, and a few celebrities speak using the technique as well.

While the study claims to apply to women in college across the country, only 34 college females in New York are examined. While these 34 women from New York obviously do not represent the general college female population, this still has become a national obsession featured on major networks such as ABC and NBC. According to reports, many women supposedly look to Kim Kardashian and Ke$ha for tips on how to be cool when talking.

Not only do college women supposedly croak words at the end of sentences, they also say a variety of the 100 or so phrases trending on Twitter as #ShitGirlsSay. From “First of all, ew” to “Twinsies,” women apparently love to talk about well, shit. Conversations about literature, politics and religion are topics that readers likely assume women do not discuss on a regular basis. A YouTube video featuring phrases from the twitter account @ShitGirlsSay shows a man dressed in drag quoting Twitter. The female clothing sends a strong message that there is a distinct separation between the things men and women say.

Classifying the way college females speak is grossly over-exaggerated. Women do have other role models than just the average gossip columnist or narcissistic celebrities. Britney Spears in “Oops I Did It Again” is not a person most women are striving to become. To say that women are inhibiting themselves career-wise because of the number of “likes” they use in daily speech or the inflection they place at the end of their sentences is unjust and simply incorrect.

This generalization is a reflection of the real problem — that women are more likely than men to be judged on many things, even their way of speaking. Though many women hold the “likes” and have never said “as if,” people assume this type of speech is commonplace.

It’s easy to make this claim, and at times doing so asserts power in a subtle way. Without specifically saying this, society is able to claim that young women are inferior to men because of their unintelligent speech that is perpetually influenced by what they see or hear in the media. Things like @ShitGirlsSay may be funny, and women can laugh along with it at times, but really it’s just plain sexist. Excuse me though, I have to go, can’t miss “Kim and Kourtney taking New York” tonight.

Adrienne Roberts is a LSA sophomore. She can be reached at adrirobe@umich.edu

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.