Katie Britt’s Phony Fundie Baby Voice: What That Whole Performance Was Supposed to Tell Us

I purposely stayed away from Katie Britt’s response to the State of the Union address for days. I’ve got a lot of cool shit happening in my life right now. I just don’t need another Conservative Darling with a blow out interrupting my peace to tell me how lost our nation is. But last night, I made time.

And all I could think was, what a fucking shit show.

Listen, my problem isn’t with Katie Britt. My issue is with the Republican Party that curated every detail of that performance to evoke feelings of conservative, white, Christian nostalgia from a time when women knew their place. It was designed to look “off the cuff,” like she just set up her camera and recorded from right there in her kitchen. But the entire thing was highly manufactured.

They positioned her in a perfectly clean, minimal beige kitchen. Her green shirt was meant to symbolize hope, harmony, and mutual respect. Importantly, the absence of any red colors (representing the Republican Party) was likely intentional, meant to make viewers believe that her nearly twenty-minute performance wasn’t about politics but “kitchen table conversations” that all Americans need to have.

Speaking of, did you happen to notice how many times she mentioned her kitchen, or her kitchen table? Not an accident.

The low neckline of her shirt allowed her gold cross to be prominently displayed. Her hair, her makeup, the entire aesthetic, was expertly designed to resemble the look of tradwife influencers who show viewers a leisure class lifestyle where women’s work is all about happily caring for their families (while, of course, perfectly polished and coiffed).

But by far the element of this performance that got under my skin the most was Katie’s phony fundie baby voice.

I was listening to the performance on my iPad, and my husband, who was on the other side of the room, couldn’t see what was on my screen. After a few minutes of the footage playing, he asked, “Are you listening to Michelle Duggar?”

If you haven’t heard of Michelle Duggar, she is the matriarch of the TLC show 19 Kids and Counting. She and her husband, Jim Bob, are part of the fundamentalist Christian organization called the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP). And though the name Michelle Duggar might not ring a bell, you’ve probably heard of her son, Josh Duggar, who is the disgraced former director of the Christian Family Research Council and is currently in prison for child pornography.

Michelle is known for her soft, whispery baby voice. It’s quite recognizable. She is seldom heard raising her voice. She perpetually sounds like she is either talking to a baby, or is one herself. Even when speaking to adults. And this is not just Michelle’s way of speaking. The fundie baby voice is a well-known trait of women who come from this religious sect.

As far as Michelle is concerned, I don’t care how she chooses to speak. I don’t care how anyone from her religion chooses to speak, for that matter. But I do care deeply about a female Senator—who is intentionally seated in her kitchen instead of her office—leaning into this vocal stereotype.

The fundie baby voice used by Katie Britt in this video bothers me for several reasons. First, it perpetuates harmful gender stereotypes by reinforcing the idea that women should speak in a soft, high-pitched, and submissive manner to appear more feminine and nurturing. This portrayal not only limits women’s autonomy but also suggests that femininity is synonymous with passivity and dependence.

Second, the use of this vocal style tends to undermine women’s credibility and intelligence, as it can be perceived as infantilizing or patronizing. Third, by conforming to such a vocal stereotype, women who use the fundie baby voice contribute to the normalization of traditional gender roles and expectations, which can hinder progress towards gender equality and empowerment. Overall, the fundie baby voice serves as a manifestation of deeply ingrained societal attitudes towards gender, and its use in this video is disturbing.

Katie Britt was used as a projection of white, Christian, Conservative men’s deepest fantasies about women and their role in the world. Quiet, unassuming, submissive. Fearful, tearful, but “brave” despite being helpless. A “good Christian woman” who loves God first, her family second, and if there’s anything left over she takes a little love for herself.

But Katie Britt is a goddamn Senator! Say what you will about her ideals, her values, and that performance even—she is by all accounts a successful woman. She won her election by a pretty large margin. She’s a member of Congress, working daily to influence the values and future directions of our nation. To belittle her this way by plopping her in a kitchen with her gold cross and her baby voice should be insulting to all of us, regardless of what we think of her personally.

Of course, she does have some culpability here, and I’m not denying that. After all, she could have said no to this pitifully obvious plan. But I see little sense in tearing her to shreds when we all know who was really pulling the levers behind that performance.

And that’s who my issue is with. I am greatly distressed by seeing a successful female Senator reduced to harmful tradwife tropes and the way they are intended to depict women.

Many women, and Black women in particular, have warned us all for quite some time about the dangers of the tradwife aesthetic we’ve seen gaining popularity online. They told us that this was not harmless; in fact, it was incredibly harmful.

The tradwife trend is worrisome because it revives outdated and harmful ideas rooted in white supremacy and patriarchy. It romanticizes traditional gender roles where women are expected to be submissive homemakers, reinforcing a time of oppressive dynamics and racial hierarchies. This trend not only stalls progress towards gender equality but also perpetuates harmful narratives that uphold white supremacist ideologies. Personally, I feel that it may also begin to put a lot of us in danger as white men cling more closely to the possibility of this conservative American dream being realized.

It’s so much more than a kitchen, or a cross, or a baby voice. It’s a manufactured, deliberately thought-out, stylized production that is meant to make Americans miss a time that served a few at the expense of the rest.

And it’s crucial for us to see that.


Amber Wardell is a doctor of psychology and author who speaks on women’s issues related to marriage, motherhood, and mental health. Subscribe to the free newsletter to get exclusive content delivered to your inbox and to never miss an upload.

Check out her blog called Compassionate Feminism on Psychology Today to join a feminist conversation centered in openness, empathy, and equity.

Follow on Instagram, Threads, TikTok, & YouTube for more content!

Subscribe

Leave a Reply