Have you heard people tell you that swearing is unladylike? Probably. As with so many things in life, there seems to be a double standard when it comes to swearing. Men can do it, even though it might be frowned upon in certain uppity circles. But women who swear are an anathema. Why is this the case? Has it always been like this?
Why Did Women Stop Swearing As Much?
It turns out that up until the late 1600s, women were swearing just as much as men, and they were often praised for their ability to create and use expressive and colorful swear words and insults. However, it was in 1673 that a book was published called The Ladies Calling. The author, Richard Allestree, said that women who swore were behaving in a manner that was “biologically incompatible” with being a woman. The book went on to say that if women were to continue swearing, it would cause them to become infertile or to start growing facial hair.
Not only that, but Allestree also said that the sound of a woman cursing was repulsive to the ears of God. So, he managed to attack their femininity, their religious conviction, and their fertility all in one book. To say the book was misogynistic would be an understatement. You would think that people would ignore such drivel, but they didn’t. It was around this point that women seemed to stop swearing as much as men.
Do Women Really Swear Less?
No, they don’t, and they probably never have. The only difference is that for a long time, they tended to keep their swearing private and away from the delicate ears of those who might be offended. Even though women are considered to swear less than men, studies have shown that it isn’t the case. Women are still swearing, even though you might not always hear it. There are reasons for this.
The Double Standards
Surveys have shown that both men and women tend to judge a woman swearing more harshly. This is a massive double standard, but that’s something that is so common in the world that it shouldn’t even come as a surprise. The judgment that gets passed on women who are swearing is alarming. Research showed that when a woman who is suffering from arthritis or breast cancer swears because of their condition, they are more likely to lose friends. This is especially true of their female friends.
However, when men were discussing conditions they had and swearing, it helped them to bond. Research shows that when men swear, it’s a sign of honesty and sincerity. That sentiment does not hold when it comes to women though. Women who swear can be seen as abrasive, unladylike, and a problem.
You should also look at social media for some examples of the double standard that crops up all the time. Often, women who swear online at others receive suspensions from places like Twitter or Facebook for the things that they say. If the punishments were equal across the board and men were given the same punishments, it wouldn’t be as big of a problem. As it is though, it seems that women tend to get in trouble for this more often than men do.
The Swearing Gender Gap
In 2001, a study was conducted by Robert O’Neill at Louisiana State University. The study included 377 participants. They were asked to rate the offensiveness of swearing through examples provided to them. When they were told that an example was from a woman, they would read it and would rate the swearer as “weak” and “repellant”. However, the males who swore were considered to be dynamic and attractive. The results were similar for men and women participants.
Why is this the case? For a long time, we’ve been trained to believe that males swear and it’s normal. When a woman swears, it’s not becoming. The way some people act when a woman swears, you would think that she was uttering actual curses and ripping a hole in space for devils and demons to walk through. It’s not that serious, and there is quite a bit of good that can come from swearing.
Swearing Isn’t for the Smallminded or the Intellectually Inferior
There are plenty of people out there that try to tell you that people swear because they have a small vocabulary and do not know how to express themselves properly. They say that it’s a sign of a weak mind. That’s not the case, though. Studies have shown that those who have the largest vocabularies rent to be the ones who like to swear and who can do it with aplomb. It’s a nice creative outlet for some women.
There is Power in Swearing
Don’t let a book from 400 years ago or the antiquated ideas that still permeate so many of the world’s societies stop you from swearing. There is true power in swearing. Honestly, there is scientific proof that swearing can be powerful. Take pain, for example. Research has been done that shows swearing when you are in pain can make you able to deal with the pain better.
Interestingly, it’s the swear words that seem to help because when they are replaced with other words, like “fudge”, they don’t have the same effect. This is because of the nature and intent of the swear words. You know what they are for and you utter them when needed.
So, ladies, don’t fret about swearing. Swearing is a tool that is used to communicate, and it’s something that should be used. To hell with the double standards. Do it when it feels right and when you want. Own the words and start to make changes in the way that swearing is viewed for women. Sure, there will still be plenty of people that will look at you like you’ve sprouted wings from the back of your head but, honestly, fuck them.