What Does Tyrese Really Mean When He Says He Wants A Soft-Spoken Woman?

April 19, 2016  |  

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These days, no one is really surprised when Tyrese says something silly. It’s essentially a part of his brand now. The only difference is that now his platform, thanks to the good people at OWN, has expanded.

His latest observation comes from his Instagram page though. Interestingly enough, Tyrese used a picture of his fleet of cars to talk about everything from people who’ve used him as an ATM, chasing your dreams and the type of woman he wants to one day “wife.”

 

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All white fleet with beige guts…………. I was just asked today what qualities attract me at this point in a women…. I love a woman that's smart, confident, educated, self sufficient, (( available to be as spontaneous as this lifestyle I live.) Way back when I use to be attracted to women with HUGE personalities LOUD and AGGRESSIVE and those "type" of relationships would always hit a wall…. Now I'm in a zone where I am ONLY attracted to women who's voice is soft and energy is pleasant she has the energy and presence of grace and regal sophistication….. Not subservient REGAL!!! As sexy as my small collection is I never leave home I'm too grown for clubs and turn up every night….. Although I make moves sometimes…. I'm on my #GrownManShit heavy……. I can't wait to get home…….. I don't remember the last time I lost sleep over a hater….. This is a life and lifestyle that I've earned… I use to feel bad about being so blessed and allowed people to play me, use me, take advantage of me… Play on my emotions to get shit out of me cause I had more….. That ATM is shut all the way down…… I'm 3,500 flights, a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of stages and political warfare into this life and lifestyle if you want it get off your ass and GO GET IT!!!!!!! Message to my future wife…… Hello!

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For those who didn’t want to sift through the sh*t, the portion about women read as follows:

“I was just asked today what qualities attract me at this point in a women…. I love a woman that’s smart, confident, educated, self sufficient, (( available to be as spontaneous as this lifestyle I live.) I use to be attracted to women with HUGE personalities LOUD and AGGRESSIVE and I would always [hit] a wall…. Now I’m in a zone where I am ONLY attracted to women [whose] voice is so soft and she has the energy and presence of grace and regal sophistication….. Not subservient REGAL!!

I mean, I really don’t want to give too much credence or spend too much time on Tyrese’s thoughts. He’s proven time and time again how he really feels about women. But we can all read between the lines here, right? Though aggressive could simply be code for outspoken, I’ll give him a side eye and a pass on that one. Perhaps he meant aggressive as combative and argumentative. Still, if the same adjective had been applied to a man, quite a few women would raise their hands saying they’d take one.

I won’t even dissect the fact that Tyrese just characterized all his exes using the most lazy and trite stereotypes associated with Black women: aggressive, huge personality (read: attitude), and loud. We can all see the caricature he’s drawn. Y’all know her well. Partially from some real life women; but in my case, mostly from what the media has presented as the only type of Black woman out there.

While all of it is problematic, the most interesting point, for the purposes of today’s discussion, is “loud.”

I mean loud can be annoying and obnoxious and damaging to your ear drums. But it’s Tyrese’s next words that point to what type of loud he really means. Now that he’s moved on from the loud women, he’s ONLY attracted to women whose voices are soft.

Tyrese is not the first man or woman I’ve heard applaud women with soft voices. My grandfather bragged about the softness of his mother’s voice. He smiled thinking of the way he could barely hear her when she called for he and his siblings in the Jamaican countryside.

When I was a child, my grandmother, also Jamaican, scolded my sister and I because she could hear us laughing, talking and playing outside. I was completely confused by her statement. We were outside and thus, using our outside voices. What she was trying to communicate though was that it was unbecoming of young ladies to be heard making noise, even in the midst of play. We were supposed to be soft-spoken, or in this case soft-playin’.

I hope you’re beginning to see the ridiculousness. Are little boys told to tone it down when they’re playing outside? Are men with soft voices attractive? There’s a different implication when you call a man loud vs. when a woman is loud. With a man, you may very well be talking about the volume of his voice. With a woman, it likely speaks to character.

After all, what does the volume of someone’s voice say about them as a person and the type of romantic partner they’ll be?

Absolutely nothing.

It’s the implications of being “loud” or “soft-spoken” that tell the real story.

So, what is the obsession with women and softer voices? It’s a question I’ve been asking myself since my grandmother told me to keep it down, outside, all those years ago.

Essentially, there is power associated with the volume and tone of your voice. When someone describes a person as having a “booming” voice, you imagine that person, usually a man, standing in front of a crowd of people, commanding their attention. If a woman has a booming, loud voice, we imagine her yelling, nagging, talking too much, being too opinionated.

A woman with a softer voice is easier to swallow. I’m willing to argue that soft-spoken alludes to more than just tone but also an unwillingness to express her opinion at all.

But let me be clear here, there’s nothing wrong with having a naturally softer tone. There are some women who are born with those voices.

And then there are others who adopt that way of speaking in an attempt to please men.

I just completed Jane Fonda’s autobiography, My Life So Far. And it’s fully of gems. But one of things that stood out to me the most, came toward the end of the work, when she talks about her reaction to feminist psychologist Carol Gilligan’s work. In the introduction to her book, In a Different Voice, Gilligan explores the ways in which women choose to communicate, in using their voices and remaining completely silent.

She talks about women feeling things but not speaking them. She writes:

“Women’s choices not to speak or rather to dissociate themselves from what they themselves are saying can be deliberate or unwitting, consciously chosen or enacted through the body by narrowing the passages connecting the vote with breath and sound, by keeping the voice high in the head so that it does not carry the depths of human feelings or a mix of feelings and thoughts or by changing voice, shifting to a more guarded or impersonal register or key. Choices not to speak are often well-intentioned and psychologically protective, motivated by concern for people’s feelings and by an awareness of the realities of one’s own and others’ lives. And yet by restricting their voices, many women are wittingly or unwittingly perpetuating a male-voiced civilization and an order of living that is founded on the disconnection from women.”

I read that and Jane Fonda read that and thought about the ways in which making the voice higher or remaining completely silent had played a part in our lives. For me, I know I raise my voice particularly high when I ask someone, man or woman, for a favor. My voice is naturally deep so I can hear myself doing it. I don’t want him or her to interpret my request as a demand or command. And even though I rarely ask people to do things that are outlandish or exceptionally inconvenient, I make my voice higher because perhaps I want them to take pity on me, feel compelled to help. In my mind I know the request is reasonable but my voice conveys something different.

Jane Fonda says she’s able to track her growth and development as a woman in relation to when her voice began to drop. And she’s not talking about pre and post puberty. She’s talking about when she was already a full grown woman. Amazing.

I mentioned earlier that soft-spoken might mean unspoken. Every woman knows what it means to bite her tongue to save a man’s ego.

Just the other day, my sister posted a meme on Facebook:

Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 5.52.52 PM

I’ve watched my mother do it with my father. I did it too much in a past relationship and now I think I’ve found a good balance. And like Gilligan said, it’s a noble practice, attempting not to hurt the ones you love.

But there’s a flip side to it. Constantly silencing yourself for the sake of a man’s feelings can leave you voiceless. It happens quite often, actually. And y’all it’s dangerous for men to be the only ones speaking, the only ones heard, in relationships, in business, in society.

Any man who’s truly interested in knowing and loving a woman, in her entirety, better be prepared for her to speak up. And it might not always be soft.

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