What are your first impressions of a person who curses a lot?
A video over at the Huffington Post glibly declares that cursing is good for you. It cites a series of studies that demonstrate the power that swear words have to create emotional release (which sounds accurate), and how a swearing habit can even lead to bonding among co-workers. That’s when I had to let out a little laugh.
If you were any pre-professional programs like LEAD or INROADS you learned very early on, if not explicitly then implicitly, that black people need to be sharper, neater, and all around better than their white counterparts to succeed. The same instruction is given at many black colleges and a look at the business world supports that theory. The last thing I was ever told to do is to belly up at the bar and throw back beers with my co-workers while talking like a sailor. Meanwhile, I’ve had jobs — very corporate jobs — whose culture dictated that I do so to “fit in” with the team and have friends and family members who have experienced the same. Cursing probably does help co-workers bond, but does that effect apply when you’re black, a woman, and that behavior could make you look more ignorant, sloppy, and “street” than part of the “in-crowd”?
Many of us were raised to never curse in front of our parents and still don’t. Shoot…I don’t even know what my mother would do if I swore at or around her and I’ve been grown for a while. We were trained to believe that cussin’ and fussin’ go hand in hand, and neither well-represented black people nor ladies run around spouting foulness. That sentiment is backed up by the icky feeling that men report having when they meet a woman who swears a lot. It sounds anti-feminist, but doesn’t it look kind of bad when a woman is speaking and spouts of swear word after swear word?