Please bear with me for a moment. Over the course of the next few minutes I'll be doing what lawyers call “laying a foundation.” I have a point to make, but I first need to establish myself as an expert witness and lay out the basis for the opinion I am about to offer. My point is an important one for women, so please have patience.
Have you ever wondered how many different things it is possible to do in a lifetime? I still don’t have the answer to that question, but I continue working on it. Here’s where I stand as of today:
So far, I have been a wife, hockey mom, waitress, itinerant vendor, bookkeeper, bank auditor, lawyer, writer, jeweler, numismatist, courseware developer, little league team mother, trainer, printer, screen printer, book publisher, graphic designer, and at least a dozen other things, in addition to Prentice’s full-time sweetheart. Over the last fifty years (and counting) I have worked in small firms, large firms, small companies, major corporations and in numerous entrepreneurial adventures. Many of these things I’ve done at the same time.
No matter how you define success, I’ve had my share of it, and I’ve learned from a few failures as well. I’ve had a prestigious title and a corner office, and I’ve slaved away sixty hours per week in a basement workshop for little reward. There have been times when I’ve feasted, and times when no end to the famine was in sight. I think I was a good mother, and I know I’ve been a good wife.
In short, I know something about being a woman in the conference room, the courtroom, the kitchen and the bedroom. I’ve accumulated a half-century of experience in every role a woman can fill. As to the matter of being a woman, I am an expert witness.
Now, take a moment to consider the following words:
Plebeian, common, ignoble, mean, low-born, homespun, rustic, boorish, unrefined, common, uncultivated, coarse, ordinary, gross, vile, loose, inelegant
Most people will agree that none of these words are flattering when used to describe a woman. Each describes a personal characteristic no woman would wish to have. No woman wishes to be the subject of a conversation in which any of these adjectives, either singularly or in combination, are used to modify her name.
Certainly, no educated woman of refined mind, no woman with cultivated skill in one of the professions or scholarly achievement in an academic discipline, no woman of dignity or gentle character, would ever wish to be thought coarse, low-born, common or inelegant.
The listed words appear in Soule’s Dictionary of English Synonyms as synonyms for “vulgar.” When we see a person acting in a vulgar way, we tend to form an unflattering opinion of that person. When we think of that person, adjectives like those listed above come to mind.
When we hear a person uttering vulgarities, we tend to form a similar impression. The more profane or obscene the speech, the more vulgar does the speaker become in our reckoning.
Now, to the substance of my testimony.
There is nothing so unbecoming a woman, nothing that speaks so persuasively against her competence and development of mind, nothing so distracting from her skills and accomplishments, and nothing that so diminishes her dignity, as profane and obscene speech in the workplace and in the public forum.
A vulgarity offered gratuitously in conversation with co-workers does nothing to promote camaraderie or the image of a woman as “one of the boys.” She is simply regarded by her co-workers as the woman who talks dirty, the broad with the potty-mouth. It erodes the level of esteem in which she is held and diminishes her effectiveness within an organization.
A four letter word pitched onto a Facebook status update or Twitter tweet like dice from a casino cup does nothing to add humor, interest or class to her remarks. Vulgarity is just vulgar. Once she clicks the Share button, her smutty flip becomes forever definitive of her online persona. No one thinks her smart, chic or cosmopolitan. On the contrary, she is thought rude, common, unrefined and less competent.
Have you learned a four letter word beginning with “F”? If so, forget it. Do the same with all profane words referencing sexual acts and organs. Wipe it all from your lexicon and never, ever, ever say any of those words in public again.
If anyone tells you that using those words is cute, they are telling you a lie. If anyone tells you that the use of those words is sometimes necessary to emphasize a point, they are not telling you the truth. If anyone tells you that talking dirty is smart, well... use your brain.
A woman’s use of those words in public does one thing and one thing only—it reveals a lack of respect for everyone else in the room, as well as everyone reading her publications, messages, emails and online posts. It is good for neither her personal nor professional image. She is made less by her words.
Believe me, when you are in the presence of people over fifty, when you are in my presence, using those words will result in an immediate loss of confidence in your professionalism, your competence, your judgment and your character. If anyone tells you otherwise, they are lying.
Fair? Maybe not.
The way it is? Without question.
“Okay, so what about men?” you ask. Good question. Here’s my answer.
While I think it a bad idea that anyone should act vulgarly, to lace their speech with sexual innuendo and profanity, I have absolutely no experience at being a man. I have been neither a young, middle aged nor old man. I am not a qualified expert on living life as a man. My opinions in that area lack authority, so I refrain from offering them here.
Preaching doesn’t suit me. A preacher is one of the few things I’ve never been. That’s why I haven’t touched upon the responsibilities of Christian women to model their behavior upon the example Christ provided. I will leave that discussion for another time, and I will now leave this entire matter to your deliberation.
You will give my testimony such weight as you feel it deserves. If you feel that obscenities strengthen your arguments and add authority to your ideas, you will continue to use them as tools for success. If you are persuaded that obscenities simply render your communications obscene, you may choose to fall back upon your intellect, talent, competencies and ideas to represent you.