ResearchBlogging.orgThe differences between male and female use of bad language vary according to age, class, and location. In very rare cases, women swear more than men, but in almost all settings, women swear more than men think they do!

A study of Myspace profiles (Thelwall 2008) showed that UK females were as likely as their male counterparts to use strong or very strong swearing whereas profiles from US users showed marked differences between male and female profiles. Of the 9,373 profiles studied 38% of UK female profiles used strong swearing vs. 33% of UK males, but UK males outstripped UK females in their use of very strong swearing (8% to 3% respectively).

I can’t help feeling a slight twinge of patriotic pride that both UK males and females use far more very strong swearing than their US counterparts (only 2% of male and female profiles US profiles contain the strongest set of swearwords). Gender differences are pronounced in the US for strong swearing, with 47% of US males using strong swearwords in their profiles, but only 38% of US females doing likewise. US females are more likely than their male counterparts to use language specifically aimed at denigrating other women, though: they’re more likely to be the ones using “slut”, “whore” and the oddly British sounding “tart”.

Thelwall, M. (2008). Fk yea I swear: cursing and gender in MySpace Corpora, 3 (1), 83-107 DOI: 10.3366/E1749503208000087

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