Hayley is a Ghost

You can’t see tits on the radio, thankfully

Posted on: May 24, 2011

A couple of really good blog posts highlighting similar issues to the one I’m writing about have appeared recently, none more important than this one by Sasha Pixlee that, after reading it, made me feel a bit better about the way a couple of comments from a some listeners of the Righteous Indignation Podcast made me feel a few days ago.

On Facebook I’m happy to add podcast listeners as friends as long as they send me a message letting me know who they are and how they know me/know of me when sending a friends request. In the last few days I received two in which the people adding me let me know they listened to RI and liked the podcast. Upon sending a reply back stating I was glad they enjoyed the show the two individuals both replied with something along the lines of:

“the show is great, especially the latest one, and you have a cute voice.”

My voice doesn’t sound that fantastic to me, due to surgery on my ear and throat years ago my voice goes croaky and husky more than it should and I sometimes have trouble getting my words out (maybe that will answer the questions for those who continue to google “Hayley Stevens Speech Impediment“.)

However, my voice isn’t the point. That’s facts that such comments are inappropriate IS. The comments made me feel really weird because it’s not a normal thing for somebody to say to a stranger mere minutes after first speaking or writing to them, and I’ve written before about how such comments can make the contribution of a woman to a project seem irrelevant.

I put a lot of work into the Righteous Indignation Podcast that goes beyond simply recording the words, the reason you get to hear the show is because I’ve edited the whole thing down too. Out of all the hosts I put the most time in (not something I hold against the others either, I make the decision to because I want to and can) but the reason I write about that is because it highlights the fact that my voice isn’t the most impressive thing I contribute, and yet it is the thing I get complemented on the most, and that sucks!

When the messages were sent to me I tweeted shortly afterwards that I didn’t know if it was right to feel uncomfortable with such things being said to me by a stranger, I felt offended but I felt some people would tell me I was overreacting and I was told by some that the comments were probably meant as a complement and that I should take it as such. While I can see that it would be meant in that manner with no offence intended I would urge people to consider how they would feel if they worked really hard on a project only for a personal factor, trait or their looks to receive the main body of positive feedback. It’s not a great feeling.

Why not just write “nice tits!” and get it over and done with?

*the title of this blog post is the title of a Scissor Sisters song.

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26 Responses to "You can’t see tits on the radio, thankfully"

Saying “nice tits” really isn’t close to equivalent though. If you choose to do a podcast then your medium of delivery is through your voice, and that person has just listened to it for an hour so it is not a superficial thing to comment on it any more than it would be to compliment a blogger for their attractive page layout. Your voice and the passion behind it come through and define the listening experience – if you are not comfortable for your voice to be noticed then why choose a purely vocal medium?

I’m not sure why you tag this as sexism either because male podcasters get comments on their voice just as much. When it happens to me, on the odd occasion, I find it flattering – is it because I am more secure with my content so appreciate the compliments where I am most anxious? If so, where my own insecurities happen to lie are not the fault of the commenter!

Complimenting your voice and complimenting your content are not mutually exclusive too. People can like one, the other, both or neither. You don’t gain compliments in one area by rejecting them in others. Whether you should or shouldn’t appreciate the comment isn’t the issue – wouldn’t you be happier if you could accept whatever compliment each person was kind enough to give you in the spirit it was intended?

Firstly my blog layout is not at all the same as my voice, so the two don’t compare. I am not uncomfortable for my voice to be noticed, the fact is that people comment on it in a way that I find inappropriate and not needed, over other things they could comment on. I’m sure male podcasters do get comments about their voice, but I would question if it was “just as much”. See, my podcast has me and two male co-hosts neither of whome in over two years have been told they have “cute voices”, or other comments such as “a recepticle worthy of anyone porridge”. It’s not just the voice comments that grate me, but they contribute to an attitude which is offensive.

YOU may find it flattering, but I don’t, and that’s probably because I don’t have the privilege you do as a white male.

My gender is an issue for a lot of the people who listen to the podcast or who read my blog posts or who come to see me speak in public, and that is an issue for me.

I don’t know of any male podcasters who have listeners tell them that their voice is “cute.” There is a world of difference between saying a broadcaster has a pleasant or engaging voice and saying their voice is “cute.”

You and those commenters know that there is an attractiveness/sex appeal aspect to calling Haley’s voice cute. That’s not an aspect of Haley’s life that she chooses to share on with the public and, just as she said in her post and I did in mine, focusing on her appearance or cuteness undermines her hard work and accomplishments. If we lived in a world where men routinely had their looks and sex appeal singled out and commented upon with their accomplishments it would not be an issue of sexism. We don’t live in that world, though, so it IS about sexism. Any time you single out women to treat them differently from their male peers, regardless if how complimentary it would be in a more appropriate context, you are engaging in sexism.

And more to the point, Haley is an adult human being and it makes her feel inappropriately sexualized. That is all anyone needs to know.

“Cute voice” is a little… weird. I mean, okay, I have heard it said about men by women – generally people with strong English accents who have come to America – but that’s the sort of thing that someone blurts out moments after hearing someone talk for the first time (or about a celebrity, say, Alan Rickman), and not as your first message to someone you’ve presumably listened to dozens of podcasts of.

…I mean, one might not discuss the podcast in the first comment, and instead say something like “You sound friendly”, which, you know, might serve to explain why one friended them on facebook. But even still, “cute voice” is… at the very best, a horrifically bad attempt to explain you like, say, the passion and energy she brings to the podcast. I suspect that may be giving them too much credit.

The reaction you feel is the reaction you feel, and if something makes you uncomfortable you should not have to apologize for that.
The cultural and societal norms of how women are treated still have a long way to go. I find a lot of men seem to have trouble differentiating been women they have a relationship with ( ie. girlfriends, sisters, etc.) and women in a professional or casual situation. Sometimes it is innocent (ignorant) and sometimes its the tip of a nasty iceberg.
Good job standing up for yourself, and know that you have listeners out there who support you.

LOL… Craig said it all “When it happens to me, on the odd occassion, I find it flattering” And I really want to know how many times anyone has called his voice “cute” … more likely he has a “nice” voice or a wonderful accent … or perhaps he has been told he has a “sexy” voice on the ODD occasion. I doubt anyone has ever called his voice “cute”.
It is a far cry from Hayley’s “In the last few days I received two” indicating this is not abnormal, not odd, just a fact that often times this is the first thing that many people say to her. If it were something that only happened on the “odd occasion” she would probably not find a need to blog about it.
The fact that her cohosts never get comments on their sexy voices, or deep voices, or any comment on their voice indicates that this is a SEXIST issue… or perhaps women just need to start telling you guys how adorable your voices sound … so cute, like Peter Pan, rather than commenting on the content of your words.
Is it that women just prefer to treat others as they want to be treated or are women just afraid to tell you guys that your voice sounds as sweet as a sugar cookie tastes? Think about it …. cute is kittens, puppies, a 5 year old girl. It implies someone is young without much substance. It is a comment that can be stated so much more creatively and constructively and simply. “I enjoy listening to you speak” for instance implies much more than “cute voice”. It actually implies that someone not only likes your voice but your ideas.

It is a shame that the response to my comment was anger rather than thoughtful consideration as I believe there were some reasonable points there. To ignore these and instead focus on my gender and race and to make assumptions on what I feel as a result suggests you might want to rethink your own prejudices. This was the first time I read your blog but I can tell when my type are not welcome so will not make the same mistake again.

your type?! Craig you clearly didn’t read the blog post and the points I was making properly as you already had an opinion on what I was writing about. Feel free not to come back to my blog if me being offended offends you!

You also should take into account that not everybody has an english sensibility towards these things.

You can’t see tits on the radio, but you can hear one if you listen to Chris Moyles.

I understand why it cheeses you off but I think you have to put this sort of thing down to the price of ‘fame’. If you put yourself in the public eye I think you are going to inevitably receive attention/comments from a small minority that you’d probably rather not have. I’m pretty sure someone saying you have a cute voice is the more pleasant end of the spectrum. It could be much worse, so I think I’d look on the bright side and try to take it as a compliment even if it does annoy you a bit.

How far does that go? What complements are okay and aren’t ok? Who decided that? I do.

You do decide and any inappropriate comments are wrong all I’m saying is I wouldn’t hold you breath waiting for this kind of behaviour to end, unfortunately.

Our community is small and needs everyone and looking down at anyone on our side is stupid. One of the strengths of the other side is loyalty to their kind, we really need to be also. Political correctness has it’s place in loyalty to our team, bringing up everyone, finding out everyone has the ability to not only contribute, but potentially be better than yourself. The sooner the white males of the skeptical movement understands this the better.

‘Cute’ in this context is demeaning. “Your voice is great to listen to, you’ve got wonderful diction, the timbre of your voice makes listening more enjoyable” all would be apropos and are gender neutral. Side note, my wife is a voice actress so I pay a lot of attention to that sort of stuff. Marsh has a great voice as well for radio, Tristan is a bit nasal.

And once again I find myself embarrassed by association thanks to other idiot men. Seems to run rampant these days.

“a recepticle worthy of anyone porridge”

I don’t even understand that, nor do I want to, but it makes ME feel gross.

A podcast (albeit not a skeptical one) often occasionally has recorded messages from women saying they want to “fuck” one of the male podcasters.

I’m not trying to side step the Hayley being patronised, but I was just curious what offer commenters feel about the reversal of gender and much more aggressive sexual overtone of the above case I’ve stated.

If it makes the male co-hosts feel uncomfortable then they should ask people to stop.

The podcast is called Sick and Wrong, there’s not much that makes them feel uncomfortable!

Thing is, that listening to the RI podcast people only know you as a co-host, they do not know that you are largely responsible for the research/production/editing of the podcast but I guess saying all of that at the end of the show could seem like a bit of an ego trip for you, to some listeners.

It is a possibility that you and your voice could be one of the main reasons that some people are interactive with you, the websites and podcast? Cynical old sod that I am, I believe that your ‘following’ could probably be as much about who you are perceived as, than what you actually do. I can’t believe that any skeptic has not realized this before, rightly or wrongly, you are skeptic totty!!! Sadly though I do not think that you will get much in the way of honest answers from guys, except from old farts like I.

Regarding your voice, personally, I find it grating at times with your colloquial renditions of words and your ‘ums’ and ‘ers’ so I guess I am in the opposite camp to many listeners. However, I do tend to be more interested in what you and the guys are are saying. I have always found Trystan to seem camp but likeable and Marsh a OTT when he gets going against pedlars of woo, but when the three of you are podcasting it all works VERY well, we have balance. I miss Trystan’s input these days though. I would love to know how much you guys actually have cut from each episode!!!

Just remember, that this is the kind of attention you are getting from a mere podcast, if you ever got onto TV then you really will have something to contend with!!! How much for a signed photograph? 🙂

Personally I am glad that the only tits we get to experience on the podcast are dodgy psychics and woo believers.

see, calling me ‘skeptic totty’ pisses me off too.

Also, treating somebody as an object – whether it’s a “cute” voice or “totty” is wrong and disrespectful. No offence to you, but you don’t know me!

Maybe I’m missing the point but if I have always considered cute a word put on a feature which is endearing, that endearment not necessarily being sexual. My daughter is cute. So is my son. My wife sometimes says cute things. My wife agrees that her sister has a cute voice…it doesn’t mean we want to see her tits though.

Perhaps it’s just me but if someone thinks I sound ‘nasal’, ‘camp’, ‘sexy’, ‘awesome’, ‘intelligent’, ‘God’s gift to humanity’, ‘cute’, ‘Lexington Steel-esque’ or whatever adjective (cue Mark Naimarc) they choose I just take it on the chin and get some amusement from it. I think anyone who puts themselves in the public eye to whatever extent is always going to attract an assortment of comments.

Don’t let it get to you and remember: you can’t control what people say about you within the remit of the law.

Jacque…wanna see mine?

Interesting. I think a good part of the problem is the imbalance between broadcaster and listener; listeners feel they know you, the broadcaster, which is an experience you don’t have. They’ve spent hours listening to you being yourself – what amuses you, what makes you angry, what moves you, what you care about etc. In some ways a lot of regular listeners probably think of you as something like a friend; albeit one they’ve never actually met, but one they think they’d get on with IRL.

I can see why people might forget that the relationship is a one-way thing, and chime in with the sort of thing they might to a real-life friend, without realising it’s inappropriate.

To my mind, “nice tits” is not analogous, because it’s a deliberately crass and offensive; nobody says that expecting a positive response. Complimenting you on your voice is, I suspect, more of a misflighted effort to be friendly.

I don’t see the sexism in this to be honest. To my British mind ‘cute’ implies a more of a girlishness than a sexiness. A view echoed by my wife when I asked her this morning what her response would be if a client described her voice as cute? She spends much of the day on the phone. She went on to say that for her it implied imaturity more than it did sexiness.

Of course the intend could depend on who it was who said it. Was it some from Britain, the US or elsewhere? Cute could mean different things to different cultures.

That’s not to say the intent wasn’t to try and ‘chat you up’ over email, that is possible, and certainly would be innapropriate, but also they might not be. They might have been genuinly trying to be friendly and only having your voice as a personal reference, that’s what was used. Using your professional skills as a point of compliment is not very personal and a tad geekey.

Without asking them directly what their intention was (and hopefully getting an honest response) is it fair to make the sexual connection? That is your reaction to what was said because that’s how your interpreted their intention. If someone makes a genuine and well meaning compliment and the recipient takes offense, who is at fault?

To be blunt, reading your post and your response to Craig, it comes across (to me at least) as a ‘woe is me the down trodden feminist’, which I think weakens your point.

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Hayley is a ghost

Hayley Stevens is an advocate for science-based research into seemingly paranormal experiences and occurrences. With a background in the pseudo-scientific research into ghosts, Hayley offers a unique insight into the strange world of ghost hunting through her experience.

She describes herself as 'a ghost hunter who doesn't hunt for ghosts' and this is her personal blog where she writes about ghosts, people, and other interesting things. Read more here.

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