Dude’s got issues

Look at this. Just look.

Some dude called Dean Frenkel whining about the PM's voice

Some dude called Dean Frenkel whining about the PM's voice

Firstly, that headline should be “me” not “us”. Hey dude I’ve never heard of, don’t assume that everyone shares your petty and – I suspect – misogynist views.

Secondly, why has Fairfax got, as the most important opinion piece on The National Times, something about someone not liking the Prime Minister’s voice so she should change it. Some guy, with only 13 followers on twitter, reckons the Australian Prime Minister should change her voice simply because he says so. Wow, that’s arrogant.

The writer, Dean Frenkel – a voice coach trying to flog a book – singles out other people that he reckons have annoying voices: former NZ PM Helen Clark and South Australian Opposition Leader Isobel Redmond. Hmm, what do these three have in common? Could it be, perhaps, that he just has a problem with women in power?

He then suggests SIX ways she should change herself. And guess what? These six ways are about singing more and adding more “lightness” to her voice:

But she could do with some lighter and brighter tones that introduce more melodious qualities.

She should be more girly, more feminine, and then she’ll win the next election. Seriously, that’s what he said.

He can dress it up with whatever voice coachy crap he wants to, but this is essentially a personal attack. He is criticising something about her (aural) appearance and saying she should change it. So we can add this to The Australian‘s obsession with her earlobes and the fact that she doesn’t carry a handbag to media conferences, and constant questions about when she’s going to get married, and about her uterus. No one gives two hoots about child-free, unmarried male politicians who don’t take a briefcase to a media briefing.

Yeah, I’m going with my first impression, which is that Dean Frenkel just has a problem with women with power.

29 responses to “Dude’s got issues

  1. You are of course entitled to your view, and I often find your analyses interesting and well-reasoned. In fact, this is the only feminist source that I agree with on a regular basis, most (that I see, it’s very possible I just have a skewed experience ratio) tending to over-simplify things which are often very complex.

    However, with this one I’m a little confused. I can’t see anywhere in the article where he says she needs to be ‘more feminine’ or any indication that he’s writing this article because she’s a woman. As you pointed out, he’s trying to sell a book, and I suspect it’s likely he would have written the same article if the Coalition had won the last election.

    Just my view.

    • Allan, of course he’s saying Gillard should speak in a more feminine way:

      More lightness – there’s too much gravity in her voice. Add some occasional lightness that taps into a greater range of melody and more frequent higher melody… But she could do with some lighter and brighter tones that introduce more melodious qualities… Vocally – she appears to have little experience of singing and has not developed some vocal subtlety skills that pass across to speech. Singing could greatly help – but not the gung-ho footy anthem type.

      A light, melodic voice is not a male characteristic. And she should sing like a lady, not like a man.

  2. *coach 🙂

    I burn with hatred and loathing. What a puke party. Also, who only has 13 followers!?

  3. I actually don’t like listening to Julia Gillard’s voice and I inwardly cringe a tiny bit when I listen to her speaking for any period of time. Perhaps because it sounds in my inexpert opinion like she’s talking through her nose, not sure – think of the way she says “friends” – there’s heaps of nostril action going on there. But I definitely don’t think she needs to sound more feminine. It’s just the way she talks, and if she were male then I don’t think anyone would be making comments like “Frenkel-no-friends”.

    • There’s a big difference between not liking someone’s voice in private, and writing an opinion piece about it and sending it to Fairfax and them deciding to publish it and promote it in a prominent place.

      And the reason I’m so annoyed about it is that for every completely trivial thing like this, is one less opportunity for something that matters. Something about how a carbon price works in other parts of the world. Or about what’s really going on in detention centres. Or about Indigenous health. Or about successful programs for helping people who are homeless. Or about innovative education programs. Or about any number of things that Fairfax should be running pieces on if they want to be seen as Not News Ltd.

  4. Oi! Did he have a go at our Helen? She’s got a very deep voice, quite low and musical. Which makes it very clear indeed that he just doesn’t like women.

    • He did indeed. And it’s true, her voice is quite musical.

    • I’m pissed about that. You leave Helen Clarke alone!
      Yes, she does have a deep voice, but she is smart and funny and has no need to be anything she is not.
      An Australian complaining about how a New Zealander speaks is just beyond the pale (as it would be if it was the other way round), voice coach or not.

  5. Yes, and I think it has been published as a means of deliberately trivialising what she’s says by mocking the way she speaks. I can’t remember anyone publicly criticising John Howard or Bob Hawke’s way of speaking. Neither of them (particularly Bob) were that “melodic” to listen to either.

  6. Voice coaches for women in management aim to deepen their students’ voices. People pay more attention to voices with the qualities of male voices (deep, resonant) than those with the qualities of female voices (light, high pitched).

    Women with “girly” voices are simply not heard. His advice is rubbish as well as being misogynist and ludicrously published in a national news outlet.

  7. I find it funny that he is suggesting she lighten her voice. I have been advised that to work as a Domina I would need vocal teaching to develop a deeper more masculine sounding voice.

    I don’t have the same feeling of revulsion for her voice that I had for KRudds. I always had to change the channel when he came on.

  8. Good catch, that guy had it coming. Keep tweaking (oops I mean tweeting) that news

  9. “there’s too much gravity in her voice. ”
    Since when has it been important for politicians, leaders of the nation etc, to have less gravity (in their voices)?

    @Allan, suggesting that you understand matters are complex, and that feminists often don’t handle them well smacks a little of mansplaining. Just saying.

  10. Dean Frenkel

    Dear Kim,

    You really have made some errors here. You’d be aware that as the writer of the article I was not responsible for the headline. Also, I never said that Ms Gillard should speak in a girly way, but that she could use more of her melody range (what a crime!) and that singing would help (what a crime). I would say the same about a male and have done so. Indeed many politicians have recently been speech analysed by me and published – Anna Bligh and Kristina Keneally scored much better ratings than their male counterparts. Your suggestion that I have a problem with women in power is way off mark. If you want to be close to the facts then I suggest that you adjust your antenna and focus your rage on those who really do have ‘issues’ and not on someone who does feel passionate about the feminist cause.


    Dean Frenkel

    • Hi Dean Frenkel, welcome to the News with Nipples. Yeah, fair enough, you didn’t write the headline. But I’m going to stand by my call that you said she should be more girly because this:

      But she could do with some lighter and brighter tones that introduce more melodious qualities.

      is not advice that would be given to a man. I don’t see anyone suggesting that Tony Abbott or Bob Brown should have more melody in their voices. And I didn’t suggest that singing was a crime. I said that you suggested she sing, but not sing footy anthems.

  11. Oh Kim it sounds like you’re the one with ‘serious issues’. Certainly you shoot first before getting your facts right, your observations are littered with errors and your analysis is deeply flawed. Indeed why wouldn’t “some lighter and brighter tones that introduce more melodious qualities” be applied to a man? And yes I have written such things about men including about Jeff Seeney, John Brumby, and Greg Combet’s limited speech melody. And I stand by my belief that politicians of all genders should add more colour and tone to their speaking voices – melody doesn’t mean ‘more girly or feminine’, just more interesting and lively, as opposed to heavy and monotonous. How ridiculous that you deem my analysis as a personal attack – I’ve been vocally analysing Federal and State politicians as a professional exercise. I never said that I don’t like Ms Gillard’s voice, nor that her speech skills weren’t good – I did say that most of her speech skills were very good but pointed out a few areas that I thought could improve. Re the ‘footy anthem singing’ – it doesn’t develop vocal skills or speech skills like other forms of singing. Finally, I am personally more comfortable with women being in power than men. Your radar needs re-adjusting!!!

    • Well Dean, if that is what you believe, then you need to be more careful with your language. Be smarter about the words you choose to use, because the ones you have been using send a very different message. I would have thought that someone who looks at language for a living would be more intelligent about using that language.

      And perhaps rather than coming on here and suggesting that in order to understand your opinion piece I need to have read every other single thing you’ve written, that you read the other comments and see how your opinion piece made people feel.

  12. Goodness. The headline on this post is getting more apposite by the day.

  13. Dean Frenkel

    Dear Kim Powell.
    Falsely labeling someone sexist is every bit as insidious as the worst case of sexism itself. You launched into outrageous and untrue claims without bothering to research or look deeper into the issue. You now claim that my unintelligent choice of words warrants me, an anti-sexist person to be branded as sexist by your site? If you really are a journalist with respect for truth you will remove this salacious and untrue post from your site. You really don’t want to be “News with FALSE/FAKE Nipples”.

    • Dean, get your hand off it. What research? You wrote an opinion piece. Why should I do extra research in order to understand what you mean?

      You now claim that my unintelligent choice of words warrants me, an anti-sexist person to be branded as sexist by your site?

      Uh, no, that’s not what I said. I said you should be more careful with the choice of words you use in an opinion piece, because the ones you used conveyed a sexist message.

      If you really are a journalist with respect for truth you will remove this salacious and untrue post from your site. You really don’t want to be “News with FALSE/FAKE Nipples”.

      Yeah, you’re not making a lot of sense here. This blog is for my opinions. It is not the news. I am perfectly entitled to my opinion about any topic – including about things you’ve written – just as you are perfectly entitled to your own opinion.

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