creative haberdashery

The Exclamation Point: Yes? Yes!

So I just watched a short piece on Netflix’s informative, fun nerd show, “Explained” that delved into the nuances of the exclamation point. Those who work with me will confirm I’m always asking them to back away from unnecessary punctuation. It’s gotten to the point where clients, especially women (you know who you are), try to slip exclamation points past me in a furtive attempt to liven up their content.

Now it appears they may have been right. Turns out, women in business are much more likely to use exclamation points than men. It’s a fit with our generally more emotive attitudes. Plus, exclamation points can soften the image of female leadership. This is advantageous because the direct, decisive and non-emotional attitudes that help people advance in business are the same qualities that label women as . . . er . . . witches.

Meanwhile, over in Man Camp, the exclamation point is considered weak. I find this interesting for a variety of reasons, chief among them being the use of punctuation as gender markers. Here I was thinking punctuation was all about grammar, when it turns out it may have contributed to the failure of the ERA. OK, I admit that’s probably extreme, but what can I say? I’m a woman!

All of this is just to offer an “I’m sorry” to the many women I’ve browbeaten (with humor and good will) into giving up their exclamation points over the years. Just be warned: I’m not ready to give in to sentences ending with multiple exclamation points, interrobangs or overuse, now that I know it’s a gender marker.

Oh, and one last thing. It turns out exclamation points, even in multiples, are a-okay on social media, regardless of gender. I say, go for it!!!

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