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The intensity of the speaking voice

I rely heavily on an aural recollection of passages since recalling or re-hearing the intensity with which a point is spoken can significantly influence the analysis. During my research on shared parenting or joint custody after separation or divorce (Opie, 1988a) one woman, in talking about how she arrived at the decision to try shared parenting, said in a rather matter of fact voice, ‘I knew what I wanted’. She then launched into a page and a half of an intense and very detailed account of what ‘I didn’t want’, repeating this clause persistently. The emphasis and intensity with which she spoke in addition to the content of her speech focused the issues of power in the decision-making process and the extent to which the women in the study had been responsible for the decision. This contributed to a gender analysis of power and to the recognition of the paradox of women acting traditionally in taking responsibility for the children, yet radically in that the mode of custody they chose was potentially destabilizing of traditional gender roles within the family.