An article in one of the national newspapers took my interest last week.

It was about Dame Helen Mirren, who recently attended a posh awards ceremony, dolled up to the nines in a glamorous dress and flashy jewellery.

At 68 she’s enjoyed a hugely successful career, and has earned respect from both acting and fashion critics alike.

And at this event, Dame Helen was certainly living up to her name – she looked almost regal – and considering she’s descended from Russian aristocracy, that might be a good word to describe it.

And then she opened her mouth and it all changed.

Cracking jokes about men and women’s sexual organs, she just couldn’t seem to stop the profanity streaming out of her mouth.

It seemed hard to believe this was a woman nearing her 70th birthday, something she acknowledged when she ended her monologue by referring to her age as ‘f****** awesome’.

Funnily enough, this isn't the first time Dame Helen unleashed her potty mouth to a slightly uncomfortable audience; it’s happened on a number of occasions.

But I can’t help being slightly bemused that swearing and use of profanity has always been considered a masculine habit, while hearing curses from women always seems to shock people.

The writer of the article (a man, I might add) criticises Dame Helen for choosing to speak in such a manner, claiming that as one of Britain’s leading arts figures, she should be mindful of spewing profanity.

And he didn't have many nice things to say about  another fan of swearing - Keira Knightley, whose demure English rose demeanour makes it even more shocking when she uses litters her vocabulary with extreme swear words.

But there are times when we’ve all uttered curses out of frustration.

When we painfully stub our toe, stand on an upturned plug or experience road rage, a four-lettered curse is often the first reaction we can think of.

‘That’s not very ladylike,’ frowned my disapproving dad when I did the former recently. 'Women shouldn't be talking like that'.

Yet, I’ve heard him say the same in similar situations, so when the boot’s on the other foot, as unpleasant as it might seem, who made the rules that it should be different for women?

Women are constantly told to pay special concern to their language and behaviour, cover ourselves up so we don’t offend anyone, in particular, men.

So, while I don’t advocate swearing and find Dame Helen’s regular outbursts slightly unnecessary, it does irritate me when I’m told not to swear because it’s ‘unladylike’.

Does that mean we should be turning a blind eye to when a man does it? Because that's hardly fair.