Over the past decades, as the women’s movement continues, the gender roles within the society have undergone significant changes.

These changes also challenged the relationship between men and women, bringing new conflicts to the communications between genders. To reduce the conflicts, researches have been discussing the differences of the way men and women communicate, for the past years. Swear words, often representing aggression and violence, are always considered a factor that might trigger conflicts, and for the past few decades, the role of obscenity has also undergone significant changes.Some researches have proved that men and women do swear for different purposes and in different contexts.

Therefore, whether the difference of using swear words between men and women contribute to the conflicts of communications between genders becomes an important question. This paper argues that the different motives and perceptions towards swear words between genders and the different ways of using swear words under the guidance of gender stereotypes can create conflicts between males and females. First of all, men and women have different perceptions about swear words.Researches have proven that in many contexts, women are more sensitive about swear words than men and explained the sociological reasons for this phenomenon. One important reason is the traditional culture has expected women to use obscenity less. The use of swear words often conveys aggressive and offensive information and is often considered as a masculine activity.

Therefore, women using swear words might be considered as a means of constructing masculine identity and a transgression of traditional female image. Coates, 1993; de Klerk, 1991, 1997; Stapleton, 2003) Besides, swear words often function as a taboo, and women have been more fully subjects to the effects of taboos than men have. (cf. Guerin, 1992; Humphrey, 1993) Another important reason is that using expletives often represents social status.

Swear words often represent a culture from lower social status, and recent researches have shown that women are more sensitive about class and they try harder to avoid being associated with lower class culture. (Hughes, 1992; Stapleton, 2003).The cultural expectations and beliefs that women should not use expletives and the potential consequences of using them make women swear less than men do and more sensitive about swear words than men. Scientific researches also proved women are more sensitive about swear words.

The research of Stapleton proves that women are more likely to judge some expletives to be “obscene. ” For example, the research indicates that women often consider “vaginal” terms to be offensive while men tend to consider them as acceptable and use them more often. Stapleton, 2003) In a research conducted by Fine and Johnson, the results show that women swear more often to express anger and emphasize their points while for men, using swear words is more “out of habit. ” (1984) This indicates that while women use swear words for many different purposes, men are more likely to use swear words out of habit without any notice, which means that women are likely to be offended by the expletives men used simply habitually.

The research of Stapleton further indicates that women can be offended by the words that men consider acceptable and use with a harmless purpose.For instance, while most men claims that some of the swear words they used, such as “vaginal” terms, are not offensive, most women insist that if a word is offensive in the first place, then it is still offensive whether or not people use it to offend anyone. Therefore, the difference in awareness of expletives might create misperceptions that can cause conflicts in a communication. In a broader perspective, swear words also play an important part in the evolution of gender role, which per se creates conflicts between genders.

Given the context of women’s movement since 1970s, it is inevitable that the roles of swear words for women’s language are also changing along with social changes. The motives for women to use swear words have also included some new factors. Given that swear words are usually used to construct a masculine image (Bayard and Krishnayya, 2001) and are more inappropriate for women, the modern women started to use these swear words to challenge their traditional feminine image. As is stated in Stapleton’s research, the use of “bad language” functions to construct and enact new modes and versions of eing a woman. (Stapleton, 2003) Stapleton’s research also indicates that females are also using swear words in a certain community to show their intimacy and trust, while no man in the research admits that they ever used swear words to show intimacy in a group.

Therefore, as is indicated above, the social evolution has created new functions of swear words exclusively for women. However, the certain expectations of men and women’s role are powerful and deeply instilled in human minds for generations, challenging the old beliefs can be risky and cause many consequences that might increase conflicts.The linguistic evolution caused by social evolution also makes it harder to predict and understand the motives of using swear words in the communication between genders, hence, creating more misunderstandings and conflicts between men and women. Fine and Johnson’s research proves that although the general purpose of using swear words is the same between males and females, there are some exceptions that might make a difference in the communications between genders.While the research shows that both men and women use swear words to express anger and relieve the tension and frustration, men and women tend to have misunderstandings of each other’s purposes of using some specific profane words.

For example, men believe that women use sexual anatomy words such as “cock” “cunt” and “prick,” to “act cool,” “because it is a taboo for women,” or “to get attention” (Fine and Johnson, 1984) This misperception of motives of each other in a communication can often cause further misunderstanding and therefore, create conflicts.