Sunday, February 3, 2013

The "S" Word

As I have waited nearly a full two weeks and it does not seem to be dying down, I have some things to say in regards to the issue of women cursing.

For those of you that do not spend your spare time looking for and running into things to be annoyed at as I apparently do, a few weeks ago Patrick Madrid made the following comment on Twitter/Facebook:

“I hate to mention it, but what is with this recent disconcerting trend of Catholic women bloggers who think it’s cool & somehow “smart” to use 4-letter swear words in their blog posts? #ugh #inane”

This discussion lead to comments on his radio show (have a listen) such as:

“I don’t like it when I run across situations where women use profanity…. I have a feeling that quite a few men would share that opinion.”

“I find profanity jarring, and especially when it is coming from a woman, and maybe more especially when it is coming from a Catholic woman.”

It also evoked messages such as the following on social media:

"It is disgusting for all women not just Catholic women to be potty mouthed”

(Mr. Madrid) “I find it obnoxious and repellent when I hear (or read) a women using vulgar language. Men are far more likely to do that, which is why it's more jarring when women swear.”

(Mr. Madrid) “I see it as self-demeaning for both but even more so for women because it is even more contrary to their more civilized nature.”

(Mr. Madrid) “…some of the more popular #Catholic women bloggers have really let themselves go in this area.”
 There was also this observation made by Cari:

“…between "major turnoff" and "letting themselves go" I find your language (about) this to be physically focused.”

Here are some initial thoughts:
  1. Who is this guy? I have never heard of him.
  2. Words are created by humans. (See Calah’s post that speaks to colorful language as a literary tool.)
  3.  I know a plethora of blush-worthy words that are worse than your run of the mill George Carlin list. They also do not typically have four letters. (Is that petty? I apologize for the snark.)
  4.  Why should women alone be called out for potty-mouths?
  5.   If language matters, shouldn't we also be mindful of singling out specific genders for behavior that both genders engage in?

Sure. You can argue that blogging is dominated by women as of late. You can argue Mr. Madrid is the nicest man on the planet and he loves kitties.  I would not disagree with you on any of these points because again, I do not know him and this is the first time I have ever heard his name. However, I will note that he is not defending himself or his words with these qualifications, and I am confident that this line of thinking gives way to…

Q: Merriam-Webster: What is the definition of sexism?


Whoa! The “S” word?! There you go, Feminist: throwing around ‘sexism’ without thinking it through. You don’t know him, so how can you possibly assume he is sexist? Being sexist and saying something sexist are two very different things. It is important to note that the very best of men can say things that are sexist. Mr. Madrid took a conversation that easily could have been about cursing in our culture as a whole or as a generational phenomena, and then repeatedly called women specifically out for cursing, and used words that inferred women should not curse so they will be attractive.

I am not here to argue about whether or not cursing is pleasant or even sinful. The point of this post is what happens when we allow for men (and women) to specifically call women out for saying or writing unpleasant words and write off the fact that men say and write unpleasant words.

What would you say if I told you that a Catholic high school is having their female students sign a “no-cursing” pledge, but not the male students? Does that make the issue more or less relevant now? Is it more or less sexist?

I am not an avid blog reader. I do attempt to keep up as best I can on the Catholic scene, and I have not noticed a trend of women bloggers cursing. My own posts have not always been without cursing. In an effort to be honest as to who I am, when I recall events for the purposes of posting or even when I write down my initial reactions to things, cursing is sometimes involved. I am only human, and I am not going over-edit myself in a place that I created so that my voice may be heard, flaws and all. I can’t pretend that I am anything other than who I am, and I am admittedly the parent responsible for the fact that my three year old knows how to use words that he should not know how to use. The year that I gave up cursing for Lent was the most difficult Lent of my life, and I probably only accomplished said goal because a friend bet me $20 I couldn't do it. That being said, I felt exhausted by Easter and did not feel like I actually improved or prepared myself for Christ, (something I plan to discuss in the upcoming week!)

So, how about we are a bit more honest with ourselves? Women and men alike should be allowed to have personalities and flaws. If we are going to talk about cursing or obscene language, let's talk about .it in a broader context than that women cursing is "#inane." Women and men are different but they are both human and flawed. Things such as cursing and chores do not have gender qualifications attached unless we attach them. Why, oh why, do we do this? I will end by saying the following:

I know many women that would bristle at being told they need to make their man a sandwich whenever he wants it, but how many of those same women would also think nothing of being told it is against their nature to curse? Is one more sexist than the other, and why on earth can’t he make himself a sandwich?! (See what I did there? I resisted the urge to add a four letter word to that sentence when it really could have used it!)


  1. Agreed...if you are offended by cursing, it should just be the cursing, not the gender of the person cursing.


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