The use of curse words have become part of male and female’s everyday language. No longer is it uncommon to hear a person use an offensive word to express their emotions. Not only is it unusual to hear in general, but it has become normal to hear obscene/profane words come from a female’s mouth as well. It has come to my attention through the media and listening or participating in everyday conversations that cursing has become something that was once a taboo to socially acceptable for both male and female.
In my research, I observed ten college-age male and females and analyzed their use of least profane (ex. Damn, hell, shit) to extremely profane (ex. Motherfucker, cunt, nigger) curse words. To analyze them I have either listened in on or took part in conversations at my workplace, Stix, for seven days. My prediction before researching had been that it would not make a difference whether they were male or female; both sexes would have around the same or even amount of tallies for each word that I took note of.
After observing, contributing and analyzing for seven days, my hypothesis for this project was proved correct, except for the words “cunt” and “nigger”. For those two words I only heard males actually saying it in their conversations, whereas, I never heard a female say those two words in their dialogue with others. As stated in the article, “Memories of Punishment for Cursing” (Jay 2006: 123-124), “Gender differences in cursing are common (Jay, 1992, 2000); for example, boys use more offensive language, do so more frequently, and have a more extensive production vocabulary than girls do”.
Before starting this project I had not thought there were gender differences in cursing because I believed that the amount of various curse words used were equal between men and women. For the other words I took note for, it was unsurprisingly common to hear. In the article “Curses! ” the author believes that, ““Swearing is basically a way to relieve anger and frustration in a nonphysical way,” he explains. Because they’re so uniquely expressive, he says, curse words play an important–even privileged–role in our language and minds” (Strand 2004: 81).
Although my project was not on how media affects our language in our conversation, it appears that ““The language used on network television has changed dramatically. The overall use of profane language has skyrocketed over 500 percent since 1989” (Wachal 2002: 196). Reading that the media does not prevent too many curse words on air and reading what Strand wrote in his article, it seems clear that this once taboo on curse words is not a taboo at all anymore. If anything it seems that it would be a taboo for one to not curse in their talk.
In conclusion, as seen through this research we now know that cursing is not a taboo anymore. It has become socially acceptable for both male and females to use. Although it is normal to hear profanity in conversations between college-age male and females, there are gender differences in cursing. The two most obscene words that were on the list were not spoken in any conversations from a female’s mouth, but it was spoken from a male’s mouth to either females or other males.
Courtney from Study Moose
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