Gals, have you ever woken up in the morning and thought, Gee, whiz. I sure do hope someone who I do not know personally gives me directions on how I should conduct myself during my daily life as though I'm a gurgling, guileless idiot today? (Every morning!) Then I'm about to make your dreams come true — some brave etiquette heroes have offered their unsolicited advice about what sort of language you should be using in your workplace.
The lawlubbers over at Above the Law engaged in just such a debate about lady etiquette yesterday, with some parties expressing their disdain for women who swear at work are dirty and crude.
I know that I may get my bra-burning card revoked for this, but I think that it's even more appalling when it's coming from a woman. Of course, not everyone agrees with me - one of my fellow editors thinks women should be able to drop as many expletives as they want. Before you tell me where to stick it, let me explain…
It may not seem like it from my posts on ATL, but I tend to hold women to a much higher standard than I do men - which is probably why I get so enraged when women do stupid things. I'm not anti-woman, I'm anti-stupidity, and I think that cursing in professional situations is one of the most stupid things that a woman can do. Whether you'd like to admit it or not, many people think it's a turn-off, at least on a subconscious level.
Wait, when did they start issuing bra-burning cards? I haven't renewed mine, is that okay? If I get pulled over a cop when I'm burning a bra and I don't have my bra-burning card with me, do I have to go to jail? Better make a note to investigate.
Another author was equally annoyed that we're still, during the yeare of our Lourde two thousand and twelve having conversations about how ladies should act so as not to offend.
What is this? The 1840s? A lady shall never wear pants, she shall never use coarse verbiage, and she shall always ride sidesaddle!
Anyway, swearing is not stupid. Swearing is awesome. Being a tone-deaf boor is stupid, and swearing at a totally inappropriate time (your boss calls you in for a performance review, and you begin by saying "WELL COCKSUCK ME GENTLY YOU OL' HORSEFUCKER!") is a strong symptom of being an idiot, like showing up to an office job in Rollerblades and an American flag bikini might indicate you're an idiot. But condemning swearing, just across the board? I really give zero fucks what other people do. I trust that most adult humans can make their own decisions about appropriate behavior in specific contexts. Most of us possess the emotional intelligence to read social interactions.
Besides, sometimes swearing can help break the ice. I almost constantly, except when I'm around children and puppies (because for some reason I feel like puppies can understand swears). I've sworn during job interviews. The last time I had a professional meeting with someone who I had just met, I made more than one dick joke. But my job is to swagger around and act like a tough broad who doesn't give any fucks, and that meeting was with a person who writes comedy for a living. Dick jokes are encouraged.
What's disturbing (maybe not disturbing — annoying) to me about this whole undead "let's all weigh in on how ladies should act!" discussion is that it inevitably leads us to a question of how much sound it's acceptable for women to make. Space and resources are for the men, and so in order to Woman correctly, we need to be passive, shrinking, silent. If you're a fat lady, you're offensive because you're taking up too much space. If you're a loud lady, you're offensive because you're taking up too many soundwaves. If you're swearing, you're ruffling too many feathers. If you're drinking, you're having too much fun. If you're sexy, you're drawing too much attention to yourself. If you're ugly, you're a useless waste of space — why aren't you more quiet and decorative? I'm fine with people in general being courteous to one another, but courtesy is different than telling an entire class of people that they need to shut up.
Swear at work if it's a part of the office culture, and if it's not, then don't. It's not rocket science.
But let's not break down etiquette advice by gender. Telling ladies how to be ladylike is just another way to bully them into shutting up, and shame them for expressing emotions. And there's a word for that: bullshit.