Reading Steven Pinker's excellent article about cursing, I couldn't help but wonder if the problem is simply a disconnect in their minds caused by the fact that I am not just clean and blonde and pretty, but also very good at performing my femininity. In other words: girls don't shit. But we do! And we piss and fuck and use the most remarkable language when we get cut off in traffic or stub our beautifully-shod toes. And as I read along, I felt sure that Mr. Pinker understood all of this. Until:
Men swear more, on average, and many taboo sexual terms are felt to be especially demeaning to women-- hence the old prohibition of swearing "in mixed company."
A sex difference in tolerance for sexual language may seem like a throwback to Victorian daintiness. But an unanticipated consequence of the second wave of feminism in the 1970s was a revived sense of offense at swearing, the linguistic companion to the campaign against pornography.
Apparently, we're all prudes: either Dworkinites or Victorian throwbacks. And in two relatively short paragraphs, he almost managed to ruin the whole article for me, relying on lazy (and nonsense) evolutionary psychology arguments about how women have so little to gain from sex and are thus uncomfortable with even discussing it. Nowhere else in the article does he fail to consider the ways in which social structures influence our usage and understanding of language, so the misstep here is puzzling.