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With the Access Hollywood video of Donald Trump and the “This Pussy Fights Back” response by women, societal standards toward gender-specific language and appropriate conversation topics have become center-stage in our society. The concept that “boys will be boys” normalize vulgar conversations between men, whereas women who “swear like sailors” are seen by society as unprofessional, to have bad manners, limited vocabulary and to be seeking attention or “trying to be like one of the boys”. Such stigmas, although aim to make the perspectives of so-called “unladylike” women obsolete and invisible, may actually end up doing the complete opposite by attracting more attention. That attention, however, often translates into shock; not an actual understanding of her argument. On the flip side, when men use profanity or speak of vulgar topics, no one is outraged because it’s just “locker room talk”.

Through quantitative data acquired from surveying over 400 students, and qualitative data acquired from interviews with ten students, this paper will examine the disparities between what is considered taboo discussion subjects and language for males and females. The perceptual survey asked students to rate the level of obscenity of various words and phrases and whether such a level is affected by a male or female speaker.

Profanity Survey.pdf (69 kB)
Profanity Survey.pdf



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