There's Nothing Wrong With Being A 'Foul-Mouthed Female'

I am a foul-mouthed woman. Despite the fact that I did not grow up in a home where swearing was encouraged--or even tolerated--once I got to be about 13, my friends would be hard pressed to hear me in conversation without dropping the f-bomb or the s-word. (I say friends because I was diligent about refraining from the language in front of my elders lest my mom come down on me with her unmistakable fury. She didn't play that. Ours was a Christian household.)

Now, a decade later, an encounter with me without a vulgarity is rare. For the moment, I'm off the sauce, drugs are bad, and I don't fornicate with nearly enough regularity, so the questionable language provides my release. It's good, not-so-clean fun.

I've contemplated giving it up. But why? Is my propensity for cuss words a poor reflection of my character? Fuck no.

According to some, women like me are a scourge on society. Our crude language and racy humor are corroding the moral fabric of America, a fabric which women are expected to mend.

Georgea Kovanis of the Detroit Free Press finds the rising acceptance of potty humor among the fairer sex offensive. She writes:
It's not that women are new to swearing or telling off-color jokes or repeating brutal gossip or engaging in bad behavior...It's just that now, many of us are loud and proud of it. 
Natural biological functions and anatomy are apparently off limits too.

The piece opens with a series of recent scenarios meant to elucidate the depth of the problem. Joan Rivers mentions tampons on a morning show! Isn't that disgusting? Tina Fey and Jane Lynch make a dick joke at the Globes! How dare they? Miley Cyrus takes a picture with a penis cake! What about the children?

Women did not, as Kovanis concedes, just discover swear words and dick jokes. We have delighted in them privately since the dawn of time, but only recently has popular culture reached a point wherein women can indulge publicly and avoid life or career ruining social stigma. That's a good thing. With each generation, it gets better.

The dismantling of Victorian ideals provides cause for concern.
Being ladylike, it seems, is a thing of the past.
Oh, Georgea. How laughably anachronistic of you.  The author and others of similar ilk conjure up an idyllic, imagined past where women provided the panacea for bad taste.

Yes, let's go back to the good old days when the broads knew their place, and all was right in the world.*sigh* I blame The Help.

We can move beyond the desire to be "ladylike." Hopefully, we're approaching an age of female self-definition. In which women feel free to define their womanhood for themselves and not by antiquated dictates of acceptable behavior.

Comedians like Kristen Wiig, Margaret Cho, and Mo'Nique do not relinquish their rights to womanhood because they dare to be lewd. Asserting such is sexist and ridiculous.

In truth, I'm not a huge fan of that particular brand of humor, (That's why I've avoided watching Bridesmaids despite the rave reviews. Watching someone move their bowels in the middle of the street is precisely what I don't need in my life.) but I loathe shallow, restrictive gender norms even more.

Not simply because they're largely nonsensical but because they're so unevenly applied. Is it a coincidence Kovanis' disappointment resides with the misdeeds of white women?

As a black woman, I could have surmised that screed wasn't directed toward me. Women of color have not historically  been expected to adhere to the same standards of decency as white women. (Though, for better or worse, the Age of Michelle Obama may be changing that.)

Handwringing over the declining morals of society reveals an indictment of the increasing agency of formerly oppressed classes. Women are stepping out of the culture of shame. Misogynists find this to be problematic.

The question isn't why so many women are now comfortable using coarse language, but why are so many men and women intent to maintain the status quo that diminishes our liberty?

Women who express themselves in an "unbecoming" manner are not "following in the footsteps of men" as Kovanis writes. They are embracing their fullest, freest selves.

It's time to stop perpetuating faux concern about the dissolution of feminine morals. Women are getting fouler because we are getting freer. Deal with it.

Note: I do not ever refer to myself, or other women, as females in conversation. The title refers to Kovanis' original post.

Kimberly Foster is the Editor and Publisher of For Harriet. Email her at with comments or find her on Twitter.

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