Should we ladies write swearwords? Discuss.

Well, f**k my old boots and call me potty-mouthed, but I swear. I swear when I speak and I swear when I write. How about you other ladies? (Or if you want to be PC, “women?”)swearing by women Many of us “gals” the wrong side of 40 grew up believing that if Daddy stubbed his toe and said the F-word we would smile and tut-tut sympathetically, but if the same happened to us we would be told that swearing is unladylike and deserving of chastisement — not an ice pack and analgesia.

Unladylike? An ancient word?

No. It’s still around, sadly. However back in November 2016 Rachel Hosie wrote an article about it in the UK’s Daily Telegraph. In it she shared that…

A major new study conducted by Lancaster University and the Cambridge University Press, has found that women’s use of the F-word has increased by over 500 per cent since the 1990s, and we say s*** 10 times more than men … What’s more, a separate study recently found that millennial women have a much more relaxed attitude to swearing than previous generations, which isn’t really surprising considering we reject the traditional gender roles that defined the lives of our elders. F*** that s***.

Well, that was a good start, anyway. In January 2018, however, in METRO Faima Bakar brought up the three-letter S-word and in my view rather too gently suggested men need to dirty-up their acts where girl-swearing is concerned:

Do men find women who swear unattractive? … While they may not intend to take full ownership of profanity and also slang language, men who feel that women shouldn’t act this way just by virtue of being female, need to realise that this is essentially what they are propagating, that they are the sole users of this territory … If anything, studies have shown that honest and intelligent people swear more  – that may be why women are swearing more. While not all men feel that women shouldn’t swear and/or use slang terms, those who do might want to dig deeper and ask themselves why they’ve put up limitations on what women can and should do.

Too f**king right, Faima. Also in January 2018, Simon Worrall wrote about a new book on this subject for National Geographic:

Cursing masks pain and builds relationships at work. But if you’re a woman, letting a profanity fly can still raise eyebrows … Swearing is usually regarded as simply lazy language or an abusive lapse in civility. But as Emma Byrne shows in her book, Swearing Is Good for You: The Amazing Science of Bad Language, new research reveals that profanity has many positive virtues, from promoting trust and teamwork in the office to increasing our tolerance to pain.

Well, time now to see what Emma herself had to say about this in March 2018. And be warned: Emma is long way from being an old bra-burning feminist. She is a PhD AI researcher who has worked in the fields of genetics, neuroscience, and medicine, and knows her sh*t. At the time she was just launching this fascinating book:

Swearing is a communicative tool, and we owe it to ourselves to use it. And that’s partially because double standards about female swearing will only change if we challenge them. The emotional effect of swearing isn’t innate—we learn what is and is not acceptable as we grow up by the reaction of those around us. Toxic attitudes to women’s swearing—and to women’s anger—will never change while “niceness” is the norm.
And by January this year, we had major disruptions in the USA Congress over women using swearwords despite Trump casually mentioning motherf**kers in at least one speech that I’ve read about. That’s OK if you’re a good-old-boy NRA member, but in the UK’s Guardian had a few sharp words to say to them and their cohorts:

Women swear sometimes – let’s get the hell over it …‘Prominent woman says curse word’ has become a news genre unto itself – just ask Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Rashida Tlaib … The recent treatment of the congresswoman Rashida Tlaib is another example of the gender expletive divide. A video of Tlaib saying “we’re gonna impeach the motherf**ker!”, in reference to Trump, went viral and prompted lots of finger-wagging from both sides of the political divide. Representative Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat, told CNN, for example “I don’t like really like that kind of language.” I don’t know if Nadler has had a look at what sort of language the president of the United States uses, but it might make him faint … The amount of coverage Tlaib’s curse word generated also says a lot about where America’s priorities are. As Media Matters notes, Tlaib’s remarks got five times more coverage than the congressman Steve King’s comments about white supremacy.

Some thoughts for you to ponder about using and writing swearwords

funny poems with rude langauge

Want some sweary and very funny poems to cheer up your week? Click on the image…

Assess your audience carefully: we should avoid using swearwords just to prove that we can, when we risk upsetting people who older, have strong religious beliefs, are parents of young kids who are present at the time, and in any kind of formal business or professional services communication. And that applies equally to men as it does to women
Assess your own mood carefully: firing off an angry email full of effing and blinding may make you feel better when someone really has p*ssed you off, especially if you’ve had a couple of drinks, but you may regret it later when you’ve calmed down. Think first, swear later.
Asterisks: I use asterisks when I’m writing here on HTWB out of courtesy to some people who still find swearing offensive, and also because the site is open to people of all ages including children. When writing emails to friends as well as some clients and colleagues (not all!) I am not so priggish as some of you already may have found out. Similarly I swear away cheerfully in my book Mischieverse, which you can see up on the right here ——–^^^
When in doubt, take an aste-risk… (sorry, couldn’t resist)

Euphemisms: I have hated swearword euphemisms every since I saw a cartoon when I was a kid about two little boys, one of whom describes an aircraft as a “heckticopter.” His friend says “don’t you mean a “helicopter” and the first replies “I know, but I’m not allowed to say that word.” Even though I was only about 10 it made me want to vomit. Somehow I just feel it’s hypocritical: why not just write the real word with asterisks to protect the innocent? Similar words are:

Darn (damn)
Gall darn (God damn)
Gosh/golly/goodness (God)
Heck (hell)
Gee/Jeepers (Jesus)
Ruddy (bloody)
Crikey (Christ)
Flaming/freaking/flipping/frigging/etc (f**king)
Beggar (b*gger)
Twit (tw*t)
Sugar/spit/shoot (sh*t)
…and to a lesser extent
Pee (p*ss)
Poo (cr*p/sh*t)

Use them if you must … but I think asterisks are more honest!

OK, enough from me: what are your views about using swearwords in your writing and talking?

Let’s get a discussion going here — your views matter!