Puzzling

Her voice at times was high, her manner deferential, even solicitous. And for a moment, it was possible to hear that 15-year-old girl trying to escape a bedroom where two older, bigger boys had terrorized her.

Yes. That’s exactly what I saw. And that’s exactly why it felt fake. This is a highly educated, successful academic. With a buttload of degrees in psychology and experience in public speaking. This cannot possibly be her public speaking persona. Is she a teaching professor? Because it’s not possible to keep control of a classroom with this shrinking violet spiel. You step out in front of an audience, and your public persona switches on. It’s automatic, it’s inescapable even when you are dying inside because something horrific happened to you last month.

It’s definitely puzzling.

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5 thoughts on “Puzzling”

  1. I disagree. I recently had to present something in a completely different context and felt so nervous. I could tell my voice wavered at times. I can’t imagine having to speak in front of the senate, let alone about one of the most terrible, vulnerable experiences of my life, in front of people I knew didn’t want to believe me. I think her persona was credible, and I empathized with it– especially as another PhD who is also used to lecturing in the classroom setting.

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  2. Yeah, I’m in the classroom all the time and do just fine, but when I had to speak in front of a couple hundred people at a Board of Trustees meeting, my voice shook a little. She was speaking in front of the Senate and via tv to millions of people, on a topic that has been a source of distress to her for years. Not everyone shifts into an automatic “persona” every time they step in front of an audience.

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    1. I guess it’s easier for me to see this as acting to the occasion than to accept that even the most privileged, hereditary rich, and successful women in this country are such shrinking violets in public. I respect powerful, scheming people more than these eternal teenagers who lisp and whimper in public. So I’m probably projecting a fantasy of a world where women are at least a bit stronger than this onto her.

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