Real Men Don't Sing: Crooning in American Culture
Crooning’s queer sounds were culturally marginalized in the decades following the 1930s, to the extent that they indicated the subversion of gender or sexual norms. This chapter traces the imposition of masculine vocal norms on speaking voices in the twentieth century, analyzing speech pathology textbooks employed by the American medical and education systems to identify, stigmatize, and attempt to “cure” adolescent boys whose persistent high pitch was perceived as a sign of immaturity and potential homosexuality. Some crooning voices have nevertheless persisted in popular culture because of desires of young females audiences, themselves stigmatized as tasteless and silly. The chapter concludes with a discussion of hopeful changes in this persistent cultural effemiphobia as represented by the success of tv stars like Adam Lambert and programs such as Glee and The Voice.