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Are Women Writers Using More Profanity? The New York Times Thinks So

Are Women Writers Using More Profanity? The New York Times Thinks So

The role of “women’s magazines” in advancing women in journalism is a complicated story that The New York Times digs up in this piece on the role these magazines play in an apparently new trend: women swearing in print.

The issue of whether or not to drop an f-bomb or its equivalent in print is one every writer faces, regardless of gender. But, according to the New York Times, it’s inherently different when women choose to swear in print. That’s because, according to the piece, women using profanity is still seen as “dangerous” or unconventional, or at least it was until magazines like Glamour started “normalizing” it.

According to the Times, it’s not that women writers are using more profanity in print, it’s that women editors are more comfortable printing pieces written by women that contain profanity. It’s an important and nuanced point that is easy to brush past. Women swearing, in print or otherwise, isn’t really a big deal to other women. Regarding the antiquated notions that a propensity for profanity is in conflict with gender norms, well, that’s just good, old-fashioned patriarchy talking.

Furthermore, I’m astonished that a trend piece on an uptick in women swearing in print would completely leave out the role blogs have played in such a phenomenon. Sites like Jezebel have no doubt helped normalize the practice, as has the rise of blogs in general. As journalism has evolved in the public imagination to include not just reporting, but memoir-style “personal” writing, and as more and more women run spaces that print such pieces, this evolution is not only inevitable, it is not news. It’s not even a trend. It’s simply market expansion.

On that note, the Times, once again, misses an opportunity to talk about something significant — that is, how in both traditional and digital journalism, the more women editors we have, the more women writers we publish. If the result is that we see profanity in places we did not expect, like the cover of Glamour, that says nothing about the writer and everything about our own cultural expectations.

So do women writers swear more than men? I fucking doubt it, but for the New York Times, it’s apparently an open question.

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Photo from iROn leSs via flickr.

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98 comments

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9:39AM PDT on May 1, 2013

what is the point? if men can use it, so can women. Are we to be held to a higher standard because we are female. If you don't like an author due to the language they use, don't read books by that author. There, problem solved

2:15PM PST on Mar 5, 2013

"Women swearing, in print or otherwise, isn’t really a big deal to other women. Regarding the antiquated notions that a propensity for profanity is in conflict with gender norms, well, that’s just good, old-fashioned patriarchy talking."

Well I hadn't noticed it but then even if I had, I wouldn't @#$%^&^* care one way or t'other. Sauce for goose and all that. If it helps make a point and isn't, like, every other word, the way it is when it is just the boys (which DOES annoy me), I don't pay attention to it nor am I shocked by it. Colorful language has become a more commonplace occurrence in our language, written and spoken, than in my younger years, that doesn't bother me either. I'm far more concerned about sticks and stones, than words.

7:08AM PST on Mar 5, 2013

Thank you Jessica, for Sharing this!

8:50AM PST on Feb 1, 2013

Now, that's when someone took the advice to write engaging content literally with the use of the f-bomb like some digital eye candy. I saw this debate on eQuibbly about the use of profanity in writing and all I can say is that there's a reason why we use proper English - because no matter how these swear words connect with readers on an emotional level, a news item needs to evoke the reader's intelligence by sounding credible with the use of the formal language form; not street lingo.

1:24AM PST on Feb 1, 2013

I don't like swearing in writing, either by men or women, unless it is part of dialogue from a character who realistically would swear. Otherwise, it is the sign of a poor vocabulary and lazy writing.

8:28AM PST on Jan 17, 2013

HA HA HA!

8:23AM PST on Jan 14, 2013

there are far more impoetant things to say and do in this world, i wish those who put this tripe on care2, get a life!!!

4:53AM PST on Jan 14, 2013

And?

2:45AM PST on Jan 14, 2013

any other stupidity to discuss?

12:20AM PST on Jan 13, 2013

Big deal

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Lindsay Spangler Lindsay Spangler is a Web Editor and Producer for Care2 Causes. A recent UCLA graduate, she lives in... more
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