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Why do guys love the raspy voice?

So what’s with the attractiveness (to men) of a raspy voice? Someone explain this to me. Because I seriously don’t get it

Posted August 30, 2010 by Catherine E. Toth

Earlier this year a new study shed light on the rules of attraction between men and women.

And part of that study focused on the sound of our voices.

For example, women with high-pitched voices apparently prefer deep-voiced, manly men. These women are not only thought of are sounding more attractive but often have faces others consider more attractive as well. (That’s what the study said.)

I’ve been thinking about this because, for the past few months, I’ve had this problem with my throat — and it’s causing me to sound like a veteran chain smoker.

Now normally my voice is fairly low. I don’t squeak or screech and can’t hit a high C.

But ever since I had a sinus infection — compounded with colds, flus and an allergy to mango flowers — I haven’t been able to shake this raspy voice.

And I get complimented on it. Complimented. Even though I sound like a teenage boy going through puberty.

So what’s with the attractiveness (to men) of a raspy voice? Think Demi Moore, Rachael Ray and Angie Harmon.

Someone explain this to me. Because I seriously don’t get it.


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  1. M
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    Hello Cat!

    I don’t get it too! maybe it sounds sexy…… :)

  2. M
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    Speak to me Cat!

  3. Ynaku
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    Raspy voice sound like grandma. Eh you and I get same allergy with Mango flower. That’s why I lost my tonsils at 25. Infections every year since I got married. Wait, I not saying my wife made me sick :)

  4. Posted August 29, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    @M I thought BRIEFLY about posting an audio stream of my voice so you can hear it. It’s awful.

  5. Posted August 29, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    @Ynaku I wonder if it would help to get my tonsils removed… I never thought about that…

  6. Posted August 29, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    Me neither, Cat! haha nah, hmm… I think there’s a difference between rasp and manly. What does the Dr. have to say about it? BTW, I can furnish that audio stream if you like… I have a few recordings of you in Dolby 5.1 that I’m sure the crowd would love to hear! :-)

  7. turkfontaine
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    because it sounds like gasping – as in; ‘oh, baby – oh, baby – oh, baby (gasp!) oh, baby. Kathleen Turner has it, so does Melane Griffith.

  8. turkfontaine
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    @Cat @Ynaku getting your tonsils out as an adult is more intense than when you’re five., but then, most early age tonsillectomies are unnecessary. however, for someone as healthy and fit as you are, you tend to get sick a lot, it might be worth a consultation

  9. hawaii2000
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    IMO, the appeal is it sounds sexy. Simple as that. I’m surprised at that study if it says higher-pitched women are perceived as more attractive. Personally, I find a higher-pitched voice unattractive. (Think Georgette on Mary Tyler Moore show.) But too low (Kathleen Turner, e.g.) and it’s downright scary.

  10. Posted August 29, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    @turkfontaine wow. haha come to think of it, I don’t often notice a raspy voice… unless it’s like Joan Rivers raspy… that’s pretty extreme though, eh?

  11. turkfontaine
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    @johngarcia Joan Rivers? now that IS scary.

  12. 808marv
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    I think women with raspy *singing* voices are cool, i.e. Kim Carnes, Joan Osborne etc. I’ve gotten compliments from women about my voice when I was sick too, which I also think is strange given the way I felt at the time. I guess low voice + throat cold = sexy sound for some people!

  13. turkfontaine
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    @Cat @M if you do post an audio of your raspy voice, say this, please: “fasten your seat belts, it’s gonna be a bumpy night.’

  14. strobie
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    I get it too every time I have a bad cold: Male friends say they want to record my voice because it’s so sexy. Maybe it triggers thoughts of smoky bars with mysterious/dangerous women crooning soulfully and low at the mic.

    Cat, your voice sounded really sexy on the Duke’s video. ;-)

  15. Posted August 29, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    @strobie Is it the same for guys? What kind of voice do women find attractive for guys? Deep and Barry White? :) heh

  16. MaxMaxMax
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    Hmmm… for me, I think your three examples aren’t very sexy in my book. Demi’s look, sexy… voice, not so much. Rachel Ray is like nails on a chalk board. I can take Angie Harmon OK, but it doesn’t do her any favors.

    I prefer low, velvety voices on women, just “without” the rasp. When I first came here in ’89, there was a girl in our office (21) who had the sultriest voice you’ve heard. EVERY guy in the office had her record their voicemail greeting, and some of the other girls too. She should have charged for it, haha!

    Normally my voice is on the higher side of medium pitched, so when I’m sick, I take advantage of it and talk up a storm, LOL!

    I’ve heard you on the old KHNL morning shows…nothing wrong with your voice Cat.

  17. MaxMaxMax
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    @808marv — Let’s add to the list… Bonnie Raitt, Bonnie Tyler… Good call on the raspy singers.

  18. MaxMaxMax
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    @hawaii2000 — Dude… when Body Heat came out in the ’80s, Kathleen Turner’s voice was probably the sexiest of all time. She was Jessica Rabbit afterall. She, and her voice, did not age well however.

  19. Ben
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 12:01 am

    It’s not really a big deal

  20. hawaii2000
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 1:01 am

    @MaxMaxMax Yep. Should have specified Kathleen Turner NOW.

  21. MaxMaxMax
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 1:13 am

    @hawaii2000 — I love her oversexed agent character on Californication. Somehow, her gravely voice enhances it!

    “Oh, you can play hard to get all you like Runkle…
    But Sue Collini, always gets the weenie.”

  22. strobie
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 3:43 am

    @johngarcia Barry’s a little intimidating… well, for me. He could be talking about changing out the oil in the Benz and it’d feel like he was seducing everyone in the room, right?

    I don’t think about guys voices, actually. I’d notice a squeaker (I was thinking about that bromance set-up in “I Love You, Man” – the gym guy screaming “Give it all you got!” over and over). Good for comedy, not for “bow chika bow bow”.

  23. 808marv
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 3:44 am

    @MaxMaxMax yeah the “Bonnies” are great too!

  24. nonstopmari
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 4:12 am

    since i’ve only known u a couple months, i thot that was ur normal voice. now i’m wondering how u really sound???

  25. Posted August 30, 2010 at 4:53 am

    Everyone likes a little texture in their sounds. Even a violin isn’t perfectly smooth, and I think that’s part of it’s appeal. If you want to take the ultimate test, you should just autotune your voice and see how many people compliment you then ;-] heheh

  26. Maxcat
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 4:55 am

    I don’t understand it, but I love it. Guess it’s just a guy thing. And, I love Willie Nelson’s raspy voice cuz I know he’s drunk a lot and smoked a lot.

  27. Posted August 30, 2010 at 4:57 am

    @Maxcat Especially with Willy, the alcohol induced raspiness adds a ton of character. Not sure *that* same kind of raspy would be quite as attractive on a female ;-)

  28. Posted August 30, 2010 at 5:53 am

    @nonstopmari You should call my cell and listen to my voicemail message. That’s the REAL Cat. Meow.

  29. Posted August 30, 2010 at 5:54 am

    @turkfontaine I forgot about Kathleen Turner!

  30. Posted August 30, 2010 at 11:40 am

    @umiworkshop haha awesome idea. Cat — I can make this happen as well… would be fun to test audio also. :) LOL just say the word!

  31. Posted August 30, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Just stumbled upon an old voice over session recording with Cat and Diane for her top 10 list in iTunes… doesn’t sound raspy at all… maybe we should do a follow up complete with before, after rasp and auto-tuned, iJustine style?! :) haha!

  32. Annoddah_Dave
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 12:16 pm


    Hawaii 2K mentioned Georgette on the MTM show who happens to be Georgia Engle a former Hawaii resident. The voice was a put on as she was type cast quite a bit using that sweet high pitch voice. Remembered her as Morgana the witch in a UH production, same voice. It also reminded me of Rose Marie who had a raspy voice on the same show. I think men like raspy voices because it does not remind them of their little sister…women who have a huskier voice evokes some intrigue, curiosity, and mystique because it is very uncommon. On one hand you have Rachel Ray then you have Ina Garten on the other end. Her voice is so melodious it puts you to sleep. Can you tell I watch the Fuud Network???!!!

  33. BYggdaddyjayz
    Posted September 2, 2010 at 12:39 am

    who knows, but its sexy…its must be part of our primate brain for us guys, natural selection. you know like the deep sound of a rumbling exhaust from a V8 engine. it represents something strong and powerful…unlike the high pitch from a mosquito from a 4 cylinder rice cooker of a wanna be race car you see now days. weak and timid…who knows…LOL

  34. nemoniente
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 3:26 am

    Because a raspy voice gives the impression of maturity and strength in self esteem, whereas a 30yr old with a teenage pitch, tone and modulation belays airheadedness and high maintenace… as simple as that.

About Catherine E. Toth

Born and raised on O'ahu, Catherine E. Toth has been chronicling her adventures in her blog, The Daily Dish (, for four years. She worked as a newspaper reporter in Hawai'i for 10 years and continues to freelance — in between teaching journalism full time at Kapi'olani Community College, hitting the surf and eating everything in sight — for national and local print and online publications.

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