Perhaps the most unnecessary question since “What do women want?” but Rassin and Muris decided to try to understand why the delicately nurtured resort to indelicate language. Actually, they looked at the reasons why Dutch undergraduate females swear but that wouldn’t have made for as snappy a title, I guess!

The authors discovered that their cohort of 72 students was a mildly sweary bunch, with an average number of 3 swearwords per day, although the variance was surprising with some women claiming to never swear – or perhaps allowing themselves a token expletev a year – and others saying they swore up to 50 times a day!

58 of the 72 women confessed to using “shit”, 54 use “kut” (cunt), 51 “Godverdomme”, 30 “klote” (bollocks), 21 Jezus, 15 “tering” (TB[1]), 8 “kanker” (cancer), 5 “lul” (prick), and 4 each for “tyfus” and “bitch.”

So why do women use such a colourful array of profanity? Unsurprisingly the repsondents said that they were most likely to use swearwords to express negative emotions (“Oh shit…”) and least likely to use them to express positive ones (“Fuck yeah!”) Rather more surprisingly, they were also highly unlikely to use swearing to directly insult someone.

The participants filled in questionnaires that rated their aggression levels: those with the highest levels of physical and verbal aggression were the ones most likely to swear frequently. However, there was no correlation with scores on the satisfaction with life survey: apparently swearing is equally likely, whether you give a fuck or not!

[1] Dutch is fairly uncommon in that it uses disease names as swearwords!

Rassin, E. & Muris, P., 2005. Why do women swear? An exploration of reasons for and perceived efficacy of swearing in Dutch female students. Personality and Individual Differences, 38(7), pp.1669–1674.
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