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Austin Cline

Catholic School Makes Girls Alone Responsible for No Cursing

By February 18, 2013

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Queen of Peace High School, a Catholic school in New Jersey, has created a "no-cursing" pledge for students -- but only female students. Yes, only girls are expected to promise not to curse. Boys are free to continue behaving as they have been in the past.

Angelic Girl, Evil Boy
Angelic Girl, Evil Boy
Photo: Annabelle Breakey/Getty

This is an excellent example of a common and long-standing problem with traditional, patriarchal religion: holding women fully responsible for manners and behavior while letting men generally off the hook. This is an attitude which is used with great success to control women, limiting their freedom and restricting their opportunities.

Lori Flynn, a teacher who launched the civility campaign at Queen of Peace High School in North Arlington, said the rationale was simple: "We want ladies to act like ladies." And besides, the principal, Brother Larry Lavallee, added, the girls have the foulest language.

That's bull, according to an unscientific sampling of students of both genders who were hanging out in the hallways before the morning ceremony. Research by psychologist Timothy Jay, a professor at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and author of "Why We Curse," backs the view that men are typically more profane. In general, people who are more extroverted, dominant and hostile tend to swear more. ...

Avoiding cursing isn't easy. Jay, the researcher, estimated that people on average utter 80 to 90 taboo words a day, including those that are sexual, scatological, blasphemous and related to animals. Swearing has become a persistent part of everyday speech, used to add emphasis, emotion and humor. ...

Queen of Peace girls in blue tops and khakis met in the school library at 8:20 a.m. to take the oath in front of the cameras from the student news show. Girls in their homerooms were also asked to stand and raise their right hands.

"I do solemnly swear not to use profanities of any kind within the walls and properties of Queen of Peace High School," they said in unison. "In other words, I swear not to swear. So help me God."

Source: NorthJersey

Technically, the pledge was supposed to be voluntarily -- but not as voluntary as you might expect:

Rebecca Silva said she stood in protest Friday because she felt the school was singling out the girls and not asking male students to take the same oath.

"I didn't say the pledge. I had to stand there, but I didn't say the words," Silva told CBS 2′s Christine Sloan. "They pulled all the girls from my homeroom and another homeroom I believe and they just took us to the library and expected [us] to take the pledge. We didn't volunteer."

Source: CBS News

The no cursing campaign was arranged to take place at the same time a Catholic Schools Week. The theme for 2013 is "Catholic Schools Raise the Standards. -- apparently, the "standards" here are only really supposed to apply to women.

After a lot of criticism from the media and the public, the Queen of Peace High School relented and decided to boys take the pledge if they really wanted. I wonder, though, if they were administered the pledge in the same circumstances as the girls -- which is to say, under the same sort of official and peer pressure? I doubt it. They certainly didn't take pictures and release them to the media, as they did with the girls.

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