Cosmopolitan (Philippines) - - Contents -

It’s not just for sh*ts and gig­gles.

We love to pep­per our lan­guage with an “eff this” or a “no sh*t,” but there’s more to it than just throw­ing down a swear for sh*ts and gig­gles.

‘SCUSE my French,

but let­ting out a swear ev­ery now and then feels f*ck­ing good, doesn’t it? Not only does a lit­tle col­or­ful lan­guage show our pas­sion and bring some spice to a sen­tence, but it’s also been proven to be good for us on the in­side.

And we’re quite a sweary gen­er­a­tion, with a re­cent study find­ing three-quar­ters of Gen Y are com­fort­able swear­ing in the of­fice, com­pared to 58 per­cent of Gen X and Baby Boomers ( bunch o’ squares).


There has been a real change in our view of swear­ing. It wasn’t too long ago “shit” was bleeped be­fore the non-prime­time hour of 8:30 p.m. Now the F-bomb is probs be­ing dropped on your fave se­ries. OK, fine, your OTP might not be swear­ing (yet), but Monika Bednarek, se­nior lec­turer in lin­guis­tics at the Univer- sity of Syd­ney, ex­am­ined TV in the United States and found The Wire av­er­aged more than 100 in­stances of pro­fan­ity per episode. We’re like sponges, suck­ing up ev­ery word.

“The more ex­po­sure we have to swear­ing, the more likely we are to in­te­grate it into our own ex­pres­sions,” says psy­chol­o­gist Dr. Sa­man­tha Clarke. “It can change the way we ex­press our­selves. Some­one may have only sworn when they were up­set or an­gry, yet the in­crease of me­dia us­ing swear­ing as a form of hu­mor or en­dear­ment is likely to adapt the func­tion of swear­ing for the in­di­vid­ual watch­ing.”

Now we’re drop­ping much more than an “oh fid­dle­sticks” in front of our par­ents—and mom’s not clutch­ing her pearls! Aside from fam­ily ben­e­fits, swear­ing is good for our health too. From in­creas­ing our depth of emo­tions to cre­at­ing a sense of cathar­sis, there’s much good to be done by pep­per­ing our lan­guage with a few curses.

It makes us feel good and it also turns us into hard mo­fos. A 2011 study led by Richard Stephens of Keele Univer­sity found that peo­ple who swore were bet­ter able to tol­er­ate pain. They had 67 par­tic­i­pants place their hand in ice wa­ter and see how long they could hold it in there. When they swore, they could hold it twice as long. “In­creased tol­er­ance is linked to the activation of the lim­bic sys­tem, which re­leases adren­a­line—linked to pain re­lief,” says Dr. Clarke. “This is called the hy­poal­gesic ef­fect.” The ef­fects of pain re­lief were more ev­i­dent in those who did not typ­i­cally swear. Still, long­time swearer or not, be­fore you pop an Advil, why don’t you scream “F*CK!” first and see if that helps?


Not only does swear­ing help when we stub a toe, it down­plays our feel­ings of weak­ness and pro­vides us with a cop­ing mech­a­nism, mak­ing us feel more re­silient. It’s the feel-good hit of the sum­mer, re­ally.

So a swear a day keeps the doc­tor away* (*not ac­tual med­i­cal ad­vice), and it helps us in so­cial sit­u­a­tions. Due to the emo­tional ef­fect of the words them­selves, swear­ing helps us find our place within friend­ship cir­cles. Ac­cord­ing to Dr. Clarke, when some­one is pre­sented with a swear word, their amyg­dala, a cen­tral part of the lim­bic sys­tem, which con­trols fight or flight, is ac­ti­vated, show­ing th­ese types of words cause sig­nif­i­cant emo­tional re­ac­tions. “It can as­sist with bond­ing, cre­at­ing co­he­sion be­tween mem­bers of a group, par­tic­u­larly if there is a mu­tual view of swear­ing,” she says. And you can’t deny a play­ful in­sult is the cho­sen way for many peo­ple to con­vey af­fec­tion— the B-word is pretty much a term of en­dear­ment.


Sure, swear­ing can bring us to­gether, as it’s seen as a way of build­ing con­nec­tions with those you are en­gag­ing with. But be warned: when used in­cor­rectly, much like love, it can tear us apart. “Swear­ing can in­hibit a re­la­tion­ship from form­ing or even rup­ture es­tab­lished ones,” warns Dr. Clarke. “There are other ways to ex­press our emo­tions without hav­ing to re­vert to swear­ing, as it can still be viewed as ag­gres­sive.”

When used in the right con­text, there’s noth­ing bet­ter than a pep­per­ing of “f*ck”…but let’s treat it as a priv­i­lege, not a right—es­pe­cially now we know the more we abuse the words, the less good it feels. And if I’m ever caught mid-iced wa­ter crush a la Rose in

Ti­tanic, I’d like some sweet, sweet pain re­lief.

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