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Warning: there might be swearing.


"ah, fork me!"


Last week, I was having drinks with a dear friend, and we started talking about swearing. I shared how I love to swear and how I used to drop more f-bombs and s-bombs than I do now. This habit developed for two reasons: I loved how I felt after expressing myself with a hearty "F*ck yeah," and I also enjoyed getting a rise out of my mom, who didn't swear and would always say something like, "Meridith Ann Crosley, we do not use those words in this house!" This was BS, though, because my former Marine father swore all the time. It has been confirmed today that she believed it wasn’t appropriate for a girl or a woman to use those words. In her words, "it wasn’t ladylike." So, naturally, due to my stubborn nature, I did it more. I never used swear words as a weapon, though. They were always for emphasis, humor, or to endure the occasional stubbed toe but never to hurt someone.

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The more I entered into the professional world, however, I stopped swearing as much because when I did, I would occasionally be publicly shamed by another woman, "Well, Meridith cusses like a sailor," followed by an awkward laugh or judgmental tone. When I started to hold this part of myself back and my flavorful word choices, I noticed 2 things: my natural humor was suppressed, and my passion for some things was also hindered by lack of expression—-because, let's admit it, saying "fork yeah!" will never be as satisfying.

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Naturally, this conversation and my observations got me more curious about the gender dynamics of swearing, and I started to think about men, like Gary Vaynerchuk or Gordon Ramsay, who swear all the time. Then I started to think about who some of the women might be in professional settings, and all I could think of was stand-up comedians. So, my curiosity took me on an internet search where I asked, "Who are professional women that swear a lot?" And sure enough, Sarah Silverman and Chelsea Handler were mentioned, and Sheryl Sandberg was not mentioned as someone who swears, but rather, advocates for authenticity. When I searched the same question for men, yup, Gary Vaynerchuk was at the top of the list, followed by Mark Cuban, Elon Musk, and the list goes on. Sadly, I was not at all surprised and I feel like I could do a whole dissertation on this subject, but alas, this is a newsletter.

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I did find this nugget, however, from a study at Stanford University that found that men might be seen as bold or powerful when they swear, yet women are often unfairly labeled as less competent. This double standard sheds light on the tangled web of societal norms that shape our views on language and expression. As we navigate these waters, especially in professional contexts, understanding this bias helps us use our voices more consciously and powerfully, challenging outdated norms and embracing authenticity.

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In other words, I say we start claiming more spaces with F-bombs because this sh*t is ridiculous. If Gary V can sit on stage in a hoodie while tossing out an F-bomb every other word, then so should a woman. And if not, then why, and how can we start to shift our own biases and assumptions over a simple word, that I feel, society gives way too much weight regardless of intentionality.

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So, the next time you’re wondering if you should drop an f-bomb or s-bomb on stage, in the conference room, or in a one-on-one, I say, why the hell not? Just make sure it’s truly you and right for the moment. It’s not just about the swearing; it’s about making real connections, being your genuine self, and maybe, just maybe, changing a few minds about what it means to be "ladylike."

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