It’s been more than six months now since Renee Young transitioned from being primarily a backstage interviewer and panel host to becoming the first full-time female commentator in WWE, joining Michael Cole and Corey Graves on the Monday Night Raw announce desk. She’s gotten a variety of reactions ever since, as she learns the ropes on weekly television.
In the newest episode of her podcast Regular Girls, Renee casually mentions one note she keeps getting from the colleagues tasked with her on-the-job training: they think she should consider talking less. (Transcript via 411Mania)
So I’ve been working each week — I work with Tom Phillips, this week I worked with Vic Joseph — but we’ll go back and watch [and] listen to my commentary on Raw or on a pay-per-view or whatever and like, dissect it. They’ll give me pointers, et cetera, et cetera, and it’s extremely beneficial to me. But yeah, that was kinda the note where they’re like “You don’t have to talk as much as you think you need to talk. Maybe just sit back and listen a little bit.” I was like, “Okay.” And that’s like, really no easy task for me. I’m so used to being like, the talker. And keeping the ball afloat. So when I don’t have that ball, to keep it afloat, I think that’s an uncomfortable spot for me and then I end up, just like … diarrhea of the mouth because I don’t have a firm grasp on what’s happening.
No matter what you think of Renee’s particular skills at commentary, anyone who knows anything about gender and communication could have predicted that this would be the criticism the first woman on commentary would get. The entire job is talking, but naturally she should talk less. Studies have shown again and again that women are perceived as talking far more than they do, while the amount of conversational space men take up goes less policed. So the question is whether Tom Phillips and Vic Joseph, in addition to their own commentary training, have been trained in overcoming their gendered biases about communication. I, for one, have doubts.