“Why is it that the girls don’t swear?”

Audio from the Nixon White House

Nixon: Why is it that the girls don’t swear? Because a man, when he swears, people can’t tolerate a girl who is a—

Haldeman: Girls do swear.

Nixon: Huh?

Haldeman: They do now.

Nixon: Oh, they do now? But, nevertheless, it removes something from them. They don’t even realize it. A man drunk, and a man who swears, people will tolerate and say that’s a sign of masculinity or some other damn thing. We all do it. We all swear. But you show me a girl that swears and I’ll show you an awful unattractive person… . I mean, all femininity is gone. And none of the smart girls do swear, incidentally.

The exchange between Nixon and his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman on swearing in public. It’s one of several audio tapes from the Nixon White House now up on Vanity Fair.


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  1. R. Harding

    Girls do swear, and did . . .always did. Not as much as males and mostly due to societal norms and how and by whom they were raised. There have always been bolder kids who tested limits, why should girls be any different. People buy into generalities and stereotypes. In a way the “she-swears-like-a-sailor (and has the tattoos to prove it)” woman of today may be bold, but there are sacrifices for it. Society isn’t what it was, both good and bad.