Sexy baby voice
Lake Bell demonstrating "sexy baby voice" (at the beginning) and contrasting it to her normal voice (after 0:12)
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The speech patterns at issue are described as sounding "like Minnie Mouse on helium", or a "mousy squeak [with a] handful of gravel tossed across the very top of the register". Actress Lake Bell described the style as an amalgamation of "valley-girl voice" (characterized by "upspeak" and vocal fry) and high pitch.
"Sexy baby voice" is controversial in the context of discussions about gender equality and related issues. Bell and others have argued that the use of "sexy baby voice" is problematic because it demeans the speaker, who appears as a "submissive 12-year-old trying to be a sex object", or because its use in film and television, as a tool of sexual manipulation, exploits contemporary culture's "fetish for adult sexuality wrapped in adolescent packages".
Other commentators questioned the purpose of critiquing the use of the speech pattern, asserting that "picking at the vocal quirks of your own gender is just as much of a nuisance as harping on the bodies that belong to them". Phonetician Mark Liberman wrote that it was not clear that the discussion about "sexy baby voice" referred to any identifiable speech style, instead of to a "long list" of vocal features people objected to in female speech. He also noted previous discussions about similar female speech patterns in earlier decades, such as a controversy about "uptalk" in the 1990s.
- Hornaday, Ann (10 August 2013). "Lake Bell talks about ‘In a World . . .’ and the politics of dialect". Washington Post. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
- Lynch, Tess (13 August 2013). "Talk Like a Woman: Lake Bell vs. 'Sexy Baby Voice'". Grantland. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
- Grose, Jessica (9 August 2013). "Why Is Lake Bell Dissing Women’s Voices?". Slate. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
- Lahey, Jessica (18 February 2014). "Why Middle-School Girls Sometimes Talk Like Babies: And how teachers can respond". The Atlantic. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
- Liberman, Mark (15 August 2013). "Sexy baby vocal virus". Language Log. Retrieved 1 March 2014.