Thoughout the years, I've heard many people (mostly guys, but not just) mention how unbearably grating they find womens singing voices when it comes to bands like Bikini Kill, or even stuff like the Go Gos or Cyndi Lauper. To me, these people own the girliness in their voice, while still maintaining a fierce, sharp, loud sound. For riot grrrl types, many female rappers, etc., they are often aware that they are not making the most gentle, ladylike sounds while still sounding very much a lady.
After hearing many hours of the Beastie Boys recently, I realized how horribly grating I find that music. (No respect, of course, to the band, who seem like genuinally nice guys, but you know, haters gonna hate.) It was like nails on a chalkboard to me, with the endless screeching, shouting and posturing.
Anyway, my point is, that we rarely hear this same scorn for male artists. I'm sure people hate Jello Biafra's voice (FYI a friend confirmed that he's a total dick in real life, what a surprise) but I doubt they say, "I just can't stand to hear men's voices like that. He sounds like such a harpy shrew!"
To me the bottom line isn't simply that men are allowed to be abrasive and screech and women aren't, but that when women use these things that make them "feminine' (high voices, certain inflections, etc.) to be loud and aggressive, we view it as obnoxious in a way that we would never find men.
Anyway, I also tense up when I hear the Police, and not just because all their songs are about stalking thirteen year olds, but because I hate Sting's faux rasta/ Phil Collins voice. I also hate Phil Collins, what a tool.