The Resting Bitch Face of Punctuation

Do you abuse the exclamation point?

If you do, it might be because using the good old period is, when it comes to punctuation, the equivalent of resting bitch face. (“You’d be so much prettier if you smiled more.”)

At least, that’s one of the comments in a recent Facebook discussion about the gendered use of punctuation.


  • Let’s get this project moving forward.
  • Let’s get this project moving forward!

A female boss might write the second sentence—along with a smiling emoji—so that she’s not perceived as being too aggressive, too bossy, too something. It’s an attempt to appear enthusiastic while avoiding stepping on someone’s fragile ego, which is a dance familiar to many female bosses, no doubt.

Me, I use exclamation marks when trying to be funny or when injecting levity into a conversation. But I’m not a fan of their excessive use. I’m definitely on team period, resting bitch face be damned.

I’ll monitor this gendered use of the exclamation mark in my own email interactions and report back.

The Wonderful World of Gender Identity

When editing or writing, I try to be aware of bias. For instance, as a woman, I’ve often felt left out by male-centric language, and I don’t want to similarly cut others out of written communication. Cue the gender revolution and the ways it’s challenging language. The gender revolution is also the cover feature ofContinue Reading

Good Riddance, Boys and Girls

I recently read Sam Sommers’ Situations Matter (2011). Sommers is a psychology professor, and in the book, he deftly—and humorously—details how context affects our responses. (Our sense of responsibility plummets when we’re in a crowd, for instance.) What I find most interesting is his take on gender gaps. Turns out many gender differences are surprisinglyContinue Reading

Progressing My Editorial Knowledge

I had some free time today, so I perused Peck’s English Pointers. (Frances Peck is a well-known Canadian editor.) Here’s a sentence submitted to Peck for her scrutiny: The department continues to progress this matter at a high priority and, given the magnitude of change and rule harmonization required for reflectorization of every rail carContinue Reading

Live from Corinne Wasilewski

Corinne Wasilewski is a new Mansfield Press author with a recently published novel called Live from the Underground. Last week, I attended Mansfield’s fall book launch, where I had the pleasure of hearing the author read and the opportunity to buy the book. (Full disclosure: Wasilewski is my sister.) This is a thoughtful, well-written storyContinue Reading

Find Your Inner Curmudgeon

I recently came across a pithy little book of 35 life tips, written by older baby boomer Charles Murray and addressed to millennials. The book is called The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead, and I disagree with reviewers on Goodreads who dismiss the author as an old white guy hiding behind the ruse of curmudgeonlinessContinue Reading

Invisible Me

Kirstine Stewart, vice-president of Twitter, has a new book out about female leadership. (Flare posted an excerpt.) No doubt Stewart has many stories to tell. And I’m always eager to hear the experiences of women, because the female experience is rarely articulated—and females are often not articulated to. I was lamenting recently that there are many so-calledContinue Reading

Edit for Good, Not Ego

My last post was about persnickety copy editors, dubbed assertionists. This xkcd cartoon beautifully conveys the problem with assertionists. Maya Angelou once said that people will forget what you said or did, but they’ll remember how you made them feel. Readers may forget your content, but they won’t forget how your use of language madeContinue Reading

Copy Editor as Assertionist

Carol Fisher Saller, author of one of my fav editing books, The Subversive Copy Editor, was the keynote speaker at Editors Canada’s first international conference in June. She spoke about assertionists, those pesky grammar sticklers who insist on blindly following grammar rules. She wondered what was bugging these copy editors, and she suggested that assertionists bemoanContinue Reading

Inclusive Editing

I recently bought three books on theology. When I was paying for them, the cashier told me he had once been interested in theology, and he suggested I read Aldous Huxley. I muttered my thanks and left. Outside the store, I turned to my companion and said, “Can you believe that guy? He was interestedContinue Reading