Jason Cundy has said ‘sorry’ for being a misogynist live on TV but we are well within our rights to ask is he apologising for his comments or the backlash they caused and why do men just not get the problem?
When Piers Morgan calls you a ‘sexist pig’ you know you’ve crossed a line.
Talksport presenter and former Chelsea defender Cundy was appearing as a guest on ITV’s Good Morning Britain this week when he propelled himself to national prominence with his comments about female commentators at the World Cup.
“I found it a tough listen,” Cundy told the Good Morning Britain’s hosts when discussing Vicki Sparks becoming the first female commentator for a live World Cup match. “I prefer to hear a male voice. For 90 minutes listening to a high-pitched tone isn’t what I want to hear.
“When there’s a moment of drama, which there often is in football, I think that moment needs to be done with a slightly lower voice.”
For a man who is married to a woman, that must make life very hard for him whenever his wife needs to speak, especially if she happens to be excited about anything. Living with Cundy, that might not be too much of a problem.
“It’s nothing to do with her insight, the way she delivers it or her knowledge or her ability to do the job – it’s the voice,” he continued.
It’s a common refrain from men and they simply don’t get the problem. ‘It’s the voice’ they exclaim! ‘It’s not anything against women in general, I just don’t like the way women sound!’
As old as talking itself
Attacking the voices of women has a long history.
A 1926 survey about talk radio reported that 100 respondents found male voices preferable for every 1 who preferred listening to a woman.
But it goes back even further than that.
In the 19th-century, women training as telephone operators “took mandatory lessons on how to speak in soft, melodious and deferential timbres”. Mandatory.
Examples can be found as far back as ancient Greece and medieval England, and thousands of places in between, of society policing not only the tone of women’s voices but the content as well.
‘Shrill’ is a word reserved solely for the sound of women’s voices.
Women don’t laugh, they ‘cackle’.
If women get passionate, they might be accused of ‘shrieking’ or ‘screeching’. These are insults reserved solely for women and how they speak.
There are no male equivalents.
You’ll also hear many men telling you that it’s just a ‘personal preference’. There are plenty of men they don’t like listening to, they say, yet I’m still to hear a man complain about the pitch of a male commentator’s voice and I’ve been watching football on TV for 38 years.
And if they do criticise male commentators, they criticise them alone.
Mark Lawrenson, for instance, is well known and widely disliked for his constant misery. But people don’t claim they don’t want to listen to all men because Lawro is a mardy f**ker. They just don’t want to listen to him.
See the difference?
Cundy apologised on Twitter and it was a hearty one. “I want to sincerely apologise for the comments I made on Good Morning Britain. I came away realising just how foolish and out of order they were and how I deserved the backlash I have received.
“There are times when you have to hold your hands up and admit you are wrong and have been an idiot – and this is definitely one of those times. I regret the comments and also the hurt and anger they caused. I realise there is absolutely no place for these demeaning attitudes towards female commentators and I’m truly sorry.”
“I regret my comments and the hurt and anger caused. I’m truly sorry.”
Jason Cundy issues a statement. pic.twitter.com/NyYIHZvZY2
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) June 25, 2018
As I read his apology, I couldn’t help but think that he still doesn’t get it.
Like Roseanne Barr apologising profusely for her racist comments, she was doing so because her actions had consequences. Try asking her if she regrets her hateful comments about trans women that came with no consequences. I doubt you’ll find her as apologetic
It’s the same with Cundy.
I find it almost impossible to believe that in the space of a few short hours someone managed to get through to him the real reasons why what he said was unacceptable.
His PR team saw the backlash and mobilised. Without a negative reaction on social media, I feel reasonably confident saying Jason Cundy would still be of the same view.
To be honest, I think he’s still of the same view anyway.
What men, who claim ‘it’s not because she’s a woman, I just don’t like her voice’, fail to realise is that this common and tiresome trope has been used for centuries as just another way to shut women up.
If the public don’t like how women sound then we can’t give them airtime, can we?
And because it’s so commonly held that women are ‘shrill’ and high-pitched to the point of ear pain, this seems an acceptable argument to make.
But like Cundy with his wife, how they do these people operate in their every day lives with women around them if women’s voices are such an issue? Are they not tormented to the point of madness by these tones and tenors that they struggle to deal with on TV for 90 minutes?
Have millions of men been suffering in silence, tortured by the everyday sounds of women talking and laughing? Should the government look at starting a task force?
Of course not, that would be totally ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as claiming to dislike women’s voices is nothing to do with sexism – whether you realise it or not.
Yes, you are allowed to find some things disagreeable without being sexist, but first, perhaps you should examine where that opinion comes from in the first place.
In this instance, if you’re truly honest, you’ll find the problem isn’t actually with the voices of women, but with the voices you’ve let into your head that told you there was a problem to begin with.