Vote 2020 graphic
Everything you need to know about and expect during
the most important election of our lifetimes

Ladymags Now Using Non-Ladylike Language

Illustration for article titled Ladymags Now Using Non-Ladylike Language

In November of 2011, Cindi Leive, editor in chief of Glamour magazine, wrote the coverline "12 Ways to Get Your Sh*t Together." Then for the September 2012 issue, there was a coverline "Sh*t Girls Say About Clothes." Yes, in both cases, the "i" in "shit" was an asterisk, but still. It should have been a pearl-clutching moment: A four letter word, on a magazine for ladies?

Advertisement

As Christine Haughney writes for the New York Times, Leive "waited for the angry letters to pour in. They never came."

No one gave a shit about "shit."

"The culture has changed, so we've changed," Ms. Leive said. "It's how our main staff, many who are under 30, talk. Certain words have gone from being shocking to being neutered."

Advertisement
Illustration for article titled Ladymags Now Using Non-Ladylike Language

What Leive doesn't say is that we've been doing this shit for ages on the internet. Before "Shit Girls Say" was a YouTube sensation, there were approximately one zillion "fuck yeah" Tumblrs. This site has had four-letter words in headlines from the get-go. In the year 2000, one of the hottest sites was called Fucked Company. And so on. Of course the internet is full of all kinds of graphic stuff, from porn to corpse photos, but it does seem like How We Talk Now is influenced by the way we communicate online: In addition to abbreviations and icons like brb, wtf and smiley faces, we're uncensored, using words like fuck, shit, hell and ass to help convey emotion in the world of pixels.

Historically, cursing has been considered unladylike. But we've come to believe what's good for the gander is also good for the goose, and ladymags are keeping up with the times.

Advertisement

Still, the New York Times doesn't believe in using "unprintable" words, so the piece about using the word shit never actually uses the word shit. That shit's for ladymags and the internet, I guess.

As Graydon Sheppard of "Shit Girls Say" puts it in the Times piece: "Complaining about swear words on the Internet is like complaining about sand in the desert."

Advertisement

50 Shades of Vulgarity [NY Times]

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

emmabrocker2
emmabrocker2

I'm a middle school teacher, and I'm struggling with how seriously I should take situations where I hear my students curse. In the hallways, I tend to give a sharp, "Watch your language!" and in my classroom, I have students complete a written reflection; if it's towards another student and is hostile (i.e.: telling someone to "Shut the fuck up"), I call home.

Does this sound way too lenient? Way too harsh? I know that all of my students curse a lot, I personally curse like a sailor in my personal life, and I'm wondering if my policies are some antiquated trying-to-preserve-illusions-of-childhood that don't really have a point.