I've always been bothered by the Orthodox concept of "Kol Isha," that a woman's voice is inherently too sexy for your shul, too sexy to rule... ok, technically it's "ervah" or nakedness, meaning that a real Jewish guy hearing a woman sing will automatically become so horny he can't possibly concentrate on anything worthwhile and Torah True like saving orphans or oppressing stockbrokers or whatever.
Why am I bothered by this?
Well, for one thing, I'm a woman, and nobody ever asked me if I get too turned on by a guy singing and really want them to shut the hell up. (I guess it would depend on the guy. Barry White, for instance, should never chant the Shema.)
Also, it gets used as an excuse, among others, to prevent women from leading or even participating in communal worship and other activities that become the province of these same men who supposedly can't control themselves.
Seriously? You don't trust them to hear a woman sing, but you'll let them make halachic rulings? Way to go with the logic.
But the real clincher, for me, as to why this is a bogus argument when it comes to chanting or leading parts of a worship service, is embodied in the occasionally encountered tone-deaf Orthodox rabbi. Stay with me, here.
We pray, instead of offering up burnt offerings in the temple, because that's the substitute the rabbis came up with when the second temple was burned down.
Back when we had a temple, we had all sorts of rules about what offerings were acceptable, and who was qualified to make them. Left-handed kohens? Out. Cute little sheep with a twisted ankle? No way. No, really, people got KILLED (by GOD!) for bringing the wrong kinds of offerings.
So, if you accept that prayer is how WE make offerings, and that our prayers must be good enough to be considered proper offerings (who is this? Anyone who thinks you should have a gabbai, or who has ever argued about whether form or kavanah is more important), then prayer is, by definition, NOT singing - since you let someone who can't sing do it.
So, here's the deal. Either stop using Kol Isha as an excuse not to let women lead services, or ban tone-deaf rabbis. That's all I ask.
It will improve things for everyone either way.