In Ottawa, a rule in the world of busking has banned street performers from being able to have amplification with them during their performances. A street variety performer who’s act involves talking, argues the fact that with this new rule, women street performers are not going to be able to work anymore by themselves as street performs as they do not have the volume to be able to be heard without the help of microphones. Her argument with the rules is as follows:
All streets performers are forced to speak loud
No women are able to speak loud
Therefore, no street performers are women
Her argument follows the form of:
All X are Z
No Y are Z
/No X are Y
This makes this argument a valid argument as the form is correct. To be a street performer who’s act requires you to be heard you must be able to speak loud enough over all the crowd and other ambient noises. But the factually correctness and soundness of the argument is a little more ambiguous. In the article, they bring in voice specialist Dr. Brian Hands. Dr. Hands states that women actually have thinner vocal chords, which makes their voice less powerful. When I first read this it actually surprised me, but we’ll get to that a bit later. He also says that normally the learned processes in childhood make women voices typically quiet.
And while Dr. Hand does confirm all this to be true, he does also state that with proper vocal training women are still able to speak just as loud as men. So in a sense, this makes her argument not completely factually correct and sound. While it’s true that by the nature of biology women may have thinner vocal chords, it still does not mean that women are not able to speak at a loud enough volume to be heard on the street at all. In my own personal experiences in situation where you must be heard such as in the theatre, I’ve actually had more experiences where all the women are much louder than a lot of the men which is why I said I was so surprised that when I found out that women have thinner vocal chords then men, because I always thought women to have been louder in any performance situation I’ve ever been a part of. So because her argument is saying that women are not able to speak loud enough to be street performers is false, the argument is not factually correct or sound.
The effects of this have a lot to do with continuing debates of discrimination against the sexes. Is this discrimination? I mean some could argue it is, for it could be harder for some women to speak loud enough to be heard, making them unable to still work as a street performer. But some could also argue that its not, for proper and safe vocal training could enable them to be able to be heard. And some could argue too that voice has absolutely nothing to do with gender at all, and is a completely different thing to every individual. So it draws a very interesting line in the sand for us to examine. Where is line where we decide between actual discrimination and some things just being easier for some people to do, but with proper practice everyone being able to do? And how much do we separate the two sides? These are very interesting questions to examine and take a look at and to examine as a society at large.