When may dad was a teenager he went travelling all around Europe. His packing pre-travel wasn’t intricate but there was one thing he did make sure to do:
He learnt how to say ‘I love you’ in every single language he could.
But, as it happened, he need not have worried because my then not-yet-Dad quickly discovered something many of us know.
Accents are fucking sexy as all hell, and they can get you laid.
The Language of Love
It’s something that movies and other media has known and mocked for ages – the so-called ‘Language of Love’.
One of my favorite meta bands, Axel of Awesome, even saw fit to tackle the topic. Making the perhaps low-blow of attributing German to Nazi sentiments far more than affection, it deemed that certain languages simply could not be the language of love.
But the trick that many miss, at least in my opinion, is that the language of love is not about language at all but, rather, lies in inflections, tone of voice, points of emphasis.
The language of love is no language at all: It’s an accent. All accents. And, for some, it is a sexual deal-breaker for casual encounters.
Is it vapid to allow ourselves to get drawn in by the allure of certain accents? Perhaps.
No more, one could argue, than any other arbitrary aspects that draw us to each other.
Attraction may be blind but we all still have our ingrained and instinctual likes and dislikes and following such preferences is not something to be shamed
Now, if some jackasses decided to shame people for not being ‘their type’ that’s another thing altogether and should not be condoned. But getting hot under the collar at the assertiveness of the German tone? Or the cadence of a comforting Louisiana lilt? By all means, enjoy.
And, as it happens, there are some tangible reasons as to why we all love foreign accents, though not all are reassuring.
The most obvious scientific reason for enjoying a different accent is a matter of mating preferences.
When hearing a different accent we attribute the voice to an unfamiliar individual – someone from outside of our geographical mating selection – and thus our brains attribute them to a diversity of genes.
Pairing with such a person would therefore increase our offspring’s chances of good health and survival and we find ourselves turned on.
But, alas, if only things were that simple!
A Matter of Audible Taste
If biological diversity were the only aspect of attraction that matters when it comes to accents then we’d find ourselves equally attracted to all unknown accents. But this is not the case.
Instead, psychology believes that accent attraction is heavily linked to your own social, cultural, and personal beliefs rather than the desire to simply diversify.
A British accent, for example, may be deemed attractive because it is attributed to sophistication, money, and, thus, social security.
An Italian or French accent may be deemed attractive in Western society due to the stereotype of romance that has been imprinted on it.
And, in a more worrying revelation, a German accent may be a turn-off if you’ve been conditioned to associate it with Nazi Germany, or an African accent may be a turn off if you come from a racist family.
The degree to which we allow accents to dictate our attraction may, therefore, be an unconscious indulgence of our own prejudices and presuppositions.
That is, if we indulge it in a lackadaisical manner.
Responsible Accent Attraction
Given this, is there any way to responsibly enjoy an accent without reinforcing potentially problematic beliefs?
I would like to think so.
As humans we are all fallible and none of us will ever be truly objective (nor should we really want to be). This doesn’t mean we can’t recognise and act upon all the subjective and emotional elements that make us Us.
If you like an accent consider why that may be and openly admit it to yourself. Assess whether any of those reasons are worth addressing then disassociate them from the individual that you like and take their accent (and your feelings for it) on its own terms.
Let them know that you like their accent, if you wish, but, more than that, let them know you love how their voice sounds – the various different elements of it – and empower them as an individual.
I know I certainly feel flattered when I know that my voice is a point of admiration and arousal for some, just as I appreciate sweet sentiments about the softness of my hands. I’ve had little control over either of these aspects of myself, but suddenly realizing that they are a point of desire sets my heart a flutter.
I suppose it’s because it reminds me that even the things I don’t notice about myself – the things I wouldn’t even thing to consider – can be sexy and are. It helps me check the negative thoughts and counter firmly ‘No. I am a lovable, attractive, person. Even if I can’t see it, that’s true and attempts by my negative self to obscure that may work on me, but it doesn’t reflect the truth of the matter, nor what others see’.
And when a love of accents can do that – can be used to foster our appreciation for each other and ourselves – then it can’t be a bad thing.
When people ask me to post audio of my reviews because they ‘adore my accent’ I blush a little and consider it at times, but often place those requests to one side. But maybe I shouldn’t, because those people are right.
My accent is fucking sexy. And so is yours. Everyone’s. Not to all but to some and, if you allow it, to you.
So go fourth and practice ethical accent appreciation. You never know where it will get you, or just what it might mean to someone.