The other day I was fumbling to get something out of my handbag in a hurry and in my haste I dropped it and everything fell out on the floor. “Fuck!” I exclaimed angrily. One of my colleagues looked at me and said with feigned surprise; “Cassie, I’m shocked to hear you use that kind of language. I thought you were a nice girl!”
There are all sorts of suppositions in that sentence alone and I probably won’t go into all of them them here. My job involves teaching young people, supervising other teachers and doing promotional work on behalf of my company. Therefore I generally try to moderate my language during most of my working hours. Hopefully my colleagues don’t hear me swear that much; but of course I do swear, I do use profanities and I probably drop the F Bomb several times a week if not more. Does that make me bad? Answers on a postcard please!
I don’t particularly like excessive use of the word “fuck”, and I don’t like hearing children use it. However I visit relatives in parts of Ireland where it is so much part of the local vernacular that I hardly even notice people saying it after a while. (And I probably suffer from “potty mouth” for several days after I return)!
I don’t really know why fuck is such a popular expletive. Probably originally because of it’s sexual connotations in a society which viewed sex itself as dirty and forbidden. These days I think it is just the sound of it as you say it; for a short word it has a strange power to convey whatever anger, frustration or other emotion you are feeling at the time it is said.
I also use the word in it’s sexual context. I quite like to say I like to fuck because that confounds the taboos associated with the word and the act itself. I don’t object to the word and I certainly don’t object to the act of penetrative sex. Moreover the “F” word can take on all sorts of nuances depending on how it is said, shouted, whispered or moaned, and the exact sexual context in which it is spoken.
So I really don’t have a problem with the “F” word.
I think I do, however, have a problem with the “C” word. C**t is probably still the most taboo word in the English language and I shall avoid using the word in full here so as not to offend anyone especially the powers at WordPress.
I never use the “C” word as a swear word or expletive. I do however sometimes use it to refer to part of the female anatomy. Apparently the word has long history of usage in the English language and even Shakespeare alludes to it in a couple of his plays. However it has (at least in the last few centuries) almost always been used in a vulgar, offensive and derogatory way.
Is it being overly feminist to wonder why part of my own body should always be seen as something vulgar, disgusting and insulting? After all, I must admit I have occasionally referred to idiotic men as “Dickheads.” Is that any less derogatory?
I honestly don’t know. I am somewhat on the fence on this issue. In the 1970s many feminists fought and pretty much succeeded in removing the word from common usage. However I think this may have only increased it’s power to shock and offend people. More recently however writers such as Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues have sought to reclaim the “C” word in pretty much the way homosexuals reclaimed the words “queer” and “gay”. I kind of agree with that view and I don’t see why I should think of my lover’s c**t as any less lovely than her lips or her eyes. On the other hand I wouldn’t want the “c” word to become more widely used as an expletive in the same way that the “f” word is.
I don’t want our genitals to become even more associated with dirt, anger or aggression.