Op Ed

Discussion Link: Cursing Isn’t Ladylike? F*&$ That!

A Catholic high school in New Jersey made the news recently for having its students take a pledge in which they promised not to swear at school during the month of February. Correction, the female students had to take the pledge; male students were exempt and instead were merely asked not to curse in front of the girls. Because cussin’ ain’t ladylike, y’all!!

Someecard with a drawing of a Girl Scout raising her fingers in a pledge, captioned, "I swear I will try to stop cursing all the damn time. Oh shit. This isn't going to work out..."
My version of the pledge.

If the mere pledge wasn’t enough, the girls were also given pins that have a red line through a pair of pink lips (which you can kind of see in the photo here). I’m sorry, to me that means “no talking” more than “no cursing.” The girls were also promised lollipops for compliance. Lollipops!! For teenage girls, not kindergarteners. I cannot. Meanwhile, they hope that the boys will just follow the girls’ good example and give up swearing on their own to be gentlemen. Girls are weak; they need pledges and prizes to give up swearing! Because it’s gross and unattractive for them to behave in such a fashion! But boys will just do the “right” thing for its own sake, and if they don’t, well, boys will be boys! Are. You. Fucking. Kidding. Me.

It’s just another example of society holding women to a different standard than men, and I’m sick of it. Fine, maybe I’m slightly sensitive about this issue because my one and only trip to the principal’s office in high school was because I was cursing, and I got a demerit along with a lecture (from the male vice-principal) about how that sort of language wasn’t ladylike. I don’t fucking care if it fits some arbitrary definition of how “ladies” are supposed to act!

Some ecard with a line drawing of a woman in business attire, captioned, "I do not spew profanities. I take my time and enunciate them properly. After all, I'm a fucking lady."
Goddamn right!


By [E] Hillary

Hillary is a giant nerd and former Mathlete. She once read large swaths of "Why Evolution is True" and a geology book aloud to her infant daughter, in the hopes of a) instilling a love of science in her from a very young age and b) boring her to sleep. After escaping the wilds of Waco, Texas and spending the next decade in NYC, she currently lives in upstate New York, where she misses being able to get decent pizza and Chinese takeout delivered to her house. She lost on Jeopardy.

14 replies on “Discussion Link: Cursing Isn’t Ladylike? F*&$ That!”

I shit you not. When I hear some asshole talking bullshit about how fucking unladylike swearing can be, I respond with a goddamned beautiful rendition of this bloody great movie moment:

(I like to think that society is Geoffery Rush in this scene, egging me on.)

Clearly, I have no fucking problem with cursing, but I do have a problem with people who use language as a means of controlling people. Obviously, I have no objection to people not using offensive (racist, sexist, etc.) language, but otherwise, telling a population (women, the Black community, teenagers) that they can’t use certain language (cursing, AAVE, “text speak,” as much as that drives me nuts) because it makes them seem less intelligent, less classy, whatever, is just another means of trying to control them.

Fuck that.

I tend to think that cursing for emphasis is different from cursing to be obnoxious. Like, the average young teen who’s decided that dropping “fuck” at random is edgy is obnoxious. And context matters. Cursing in a bar is different from cursing with friends is different from cursing at work or in class or at church. And, well, I have an English degree; I judge cursing that is grammatically incorrect.

But this “ladies don’t curse” or “cursing makes you sound uneducated” shit? Fuck that. I will use the words that work best in the fucking context, and don’t particularly give a damn about being “ladylike”.


I feel instant rage the when I see/hear the word ladylike. It brings me back to 6th grade and being told I had to wear skirts to church and couldn’t go play football with the boys. I can curse like a sailor and play football and wear dresses and wear pink and love scarves and dislike children and do whatever the fuck I want and I’ll be a lady just because I’m a woman. That’s all there is to it. If you are female (or identify as female) you are a “lady” just because you are. Defining gender by actions is such an aggravating thing to me.

On the other hand, I want to stop cursing just because I’d rather not. I don’t think it’s a “lady” or a “man” thing. People curse. It is what it is, and words shouldn’t be that scary. I just don’t want it to be such an integral part of my vocabulary anymore.

You know, I’m so fucking like this posting better than the crappola I read about how I, because I am female, should spend my time painting my god damned nails with little balls….goes without saying, doesn’t it? Who wants little balls? And hey, every so often I can get into an artificially sweetened lollipop. Cherry flavor rocks — the kind with the gum in the middle. I buy it myself whenever I want one, with some spare change I have in my own pockets. Let me say I’m damn proud to be of the first actual generation of women in my family permitted to swear like a sailor whenever I feel like it. Which reminds me, gotta change the cat litter…again….some how my husband keeps avoiding this task. I read someplace that ladies shouldn’t change cat litter, should I remind him of this “fact”? I could say, “Dude, it’s your turn to change the mother fucking cat litter. I’m going to the corner store.”

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