Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew and Gerry Adams' bad language: Is it worse for a woman to swear than a man?

By Claire Williamson

Is it worse when a woman swears than a man?

Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew is the latest politician to be caught up in a row over bad language after she launched a personal attack on a DUP MP.

Ms Gildernew's comments were recorded at the same meeting where Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams used a slightly more profane 'B' word.

Referring to Mr Campbell, Ms Gildernew said: "All Gregory has to do is be a b*****ks."

Mr Adams had gone a step further when he spoke about "breaking the b******s" - something unionists were quick to take umbrage at.

Mr Campbell had been strongly criticised for mocking the Irish language in the Assembly and at the DUP's annual conference.

"Curry my yoghurt, can coca coalyer," he said - a reference to the Irish phrase "go raibh maith agat, Ceann Comhairle" (thank you, Mr Speaker).

UUP councillor Jim Rodgers said he was disgusted at the language being used in what passes for political debate in Northern Ireland. More controversially, he added that it was "worse" to hear a woman swearing.

"It's appalling for any public representative to use that type of language. I don't like to hear anybody swearing but I do think it's worse to hear a female. It's bad enough a male, but it's even worse a female. Not everybody would agree with me on that," he said.

"But I don't think it's right or proper for anybody. We all lose the head, we say things we shouldn't say including bad language from time to time, but whenever I hear a woman effing and blinding and using terrible language, I just look at her and say: 'My goodness that is disgraceful'.

"Equally women would feel the same about men. I just don't feel it's right."

Leesa Harker: Yes, bring it all on... it can be so funny

I don't see anything wrong with swearing. I think the question is, is it OK to swear? Men and women shouldn't even come into the question. It's ridiculous.

It's back in the 1950s where women are supposed to wear aprons and do the dishes while the men are out working, smoking and swearing. It's so backward it's laughable.

I don't like swearing in front of kids, but I love language and it's part of language. Stephen Fry did a documentary and one was about swearing.

He put his hand in a bucket of ice cold water and they had different pain receptors, then they did it again and told him to swear throughout. When he was allowed to swear, the pain went down, his body wasn't giving off as many signals.

So swearing made a painful experience not as painful. I think, bring it on because swearing can be funny, in my play the character Maggie Muff swears and she talks about sex in the way people would associate men talking about sex.

Women should be allowed to express themselves in the same way as men.

  • Leesa Harker is the author of the racy novel 50 Shades Of Red, White And Blue

Baroness May Blood: No, when you curse you've lost argument

It's extraordinary that these educated people have to use swear language. I don't think it serves any purpose. It's easier, in a sense, to listen to men swearing than women.

As women we like to portray ourselves as angelic almost, but that's not necessarily true, I know women who can swear as hard as any man. I don't really see it as necessary, particularly in public life.

You lose your point when you have to revert to that because people just switch off. When you have to resort to swear language there is something missing. It's irresponsible, people just loosely throw them away and before you know it there are children picking it up.

It ill behoves any leader of any party or anybody elected to a position to use language like that, it says something about them and it says they don't really value their audience. But for some reason if you heard a woman swear you probably would take more heed. But if you have to use that kind of language, the audience focuses on the bad language, whatever they intended to say is lost.

  • Baroness Blood was the first woman from Northern Ireland to be given a life peerage

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