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Swearing Isn't Ladylike... F*&K That

The unapologetically profane Nicki Minaj summed it up when she asked: 'Why do people ask me to lose swear words? Do people ask Eminem to lose swear words? Do they ask Lil Wayne to lose swear words?'

Girls are made from sugar, spice and all things nice. But boys are made from slugs, snails and puppy dogs tails; or so my grandmother used to tell me. Aside from being a gross misunderstanding of human biology, Grandma's odd rhyme exemplifies an age-old belief that a more prim, demure nature is expected of women. We've come a long way since the days of apron-bound repression, but irritatingly this archaic logic still persists when it comes to swearing. We're still made to feel annoyingly guilty for it.

The music industry is one area where contrary expectations are applied. Eminem. Jay Z. Macklemore. The list of obscenity loving male artists goes on forever- and no one bats an eyelid.

But Britney. Rihanna. Gaga. Miley. We fling soap at these wild women, a plea to make them scrub out their mouths and be the glimmering examples to young girls that their mother's always wanted them to be.

The unapologetically profane Nicki Minaj summed it up when she asked: 'Why do people ask me to lose swear words? Do people ask Eminem to lose swear words? Do they ask Lil Wayne to lose swear words?'

I'm by no means an advocate of unnecessary swearing, especially when children are the captive audience. Swear words have numerous misuses; they're a cheap cue to laugh employed by mediocre stand-up comedians in obscure village comedy clubs. They're the crutch of pubescent teenagers desperate to be dissociated with their exhausted childhoods; and a coming-of-age signifier that a Disney star has made the transition between cute and innocent to abominable train wreck.

But they're also a satisfying and effective means of communication. It's simply unfair if the boys get to play with the toys, while the girls have to sit in the sad, boring sand pit of sensibility.

Double Standards

My French friend Laura grew exasperated recently as she told me of how her brother swears fragrantly in front of their mother, unpunished for his potty mouth. To her frustration, the same standards are not applied to her. If she is to let a 'putain' or a 'merde' slip, her mother rebukes her for being vulgar and 'unladylike'.

Laura's response to this mindset nowadays is to fire back the least feminine response in her arsenal; 'Je m'en bats les couilles.' This vulgar phrase essentially means, 'I don't give a damn', with the literal translation of 'I beat my balls'. Although some smart aleck is usually there to point out she doesn't have any, she nonetheless has no intention of censoring her language just because she doesn't possess the same tackle as her brother.

In fact, in terms of equipment, Alice Vincent from the Telegraph quite rightly points out: 'Today's most offensive swear word came from what's between our legs - so surely we should know best how to use it?'


Perhaps this is largely a matter of juxtaposition. People can't handle seeing women swear because they're so caught up in the idea of us as the fairer sex.

I was gratefully pointed towards a food blog recently, called Shannon's Kitchen, written by a nutritionist nurse. The language is absolutely foul. But although this is a key factor of its impact, Shannon's writing style is nonetheless intelligent, witty and bristling with irresistibly likeable character.

One reason it's so joyously funny is simply the fact she's a cute, effervescent young woman writing about healthy eating- a sensible subject normally reserved to the green tea sipping advocates of the wholesome life. Yet her mouth is as filthy as a medieval jailhouse chamber pot.

Admittedly swearing may mar the once prescribed tasteful, reserved nature of a woman. But believing we should adhere to this outdated expectation is no longer realistic or acceptable.

A Matter of Joy

When Adele was recovering from her 2011 throat operation, her prime method of communication was an app that would speak what she typed. The singer admits she specifically sought out one that would allow her to swear.

'I love to swear,' she told CBS. 'Most of the apps you can't swear on, but I found this one... so I'm still really getting my point across.' Without this specific no-holds-barred app, something was missing. She simply couldn't communicate quite as effectively as she wanted to. Anyone who has dropped something on their foot, missed a train by seconds or received a speeding fine - amongst countless other everyday life experiences - will likely sympathise. Note that none of these incidents are limited only to men.

People averse to swearing often say that it is the language of the uneducated- those who have a limited vocabulary can't find the right word and so they swear. Well, with a little research I have found two markedly intelligent people who argue the contrary. They claim that it's actually an effective means to get one's point across and, more importantly, it's enjoyable. One of these people is the super smart megabrain, Stephen Fry; the other is Professor Mike Thelwall of the Department of Information Science at the University of Wolverhampton (UK).

Fry said in a 2007 short about swearing: 'The people I know who swear the most tend to have the widest vocabularies'. He went on to call those who think swearing is due to a lack of verbal interest 'fucking lunatics'.

'People who hate swearing always say people who swear are uneducated -," says Thelwall. But in his professional opinion: "It's a way to communicate effectively. People who don't like swearing are focusing on the actual meaning of the word."

We're not about to let the boys hog the s, f and c-bombs. It's time for parity in profanity. After all, with things like periods, childbirth and the menopause to deal with, of the two genders we're surely the most entitled to blowing off steam verbally. As the ever-eloquent Stephen Fry assures us, swearing is one of the joys of life.

A joy that we're sure as shit entitled to.