“Wish I could shut my playboy mouth.”
Well, not really. Truth is, I do have a mouth dirtier than a coal miner’s jockstrap, and sometimes that mouth gets me into trouble. But, for the most part, I tell you candidly and sincerely that – not only am I okay with using the occasional expletive, I LOVE it!
Call me an f‘in crazy b***h (please), but my personal aesthetic favors a kind of linguistic expression which is ever-so-slightly off-color. Give me human repartee which is both intelligent and dirty. Highbrow with a touch of street. Michelle Obama with just a wee little pinch of Nicki Minaj, ya heard? Because, for me, cuss words are nothing but language seasonings, and I like my word meals spicy. It’s not only true of my taste in conversation – this penchant for blend of the sophisticated and the coarse – but also true of my preferences in literature, music, even fashion. Oscar de la Renta? Fine. But give me Galliano, McQueen – the kind of designers who can make an evening gown out of scrap metal – and I’m all like……..MEOW, baby!!! Maybe, it has something to do with my tendency to conflate Truth with Beauty – in a Keatsian, Ode-On-A-Grecian-Urn kind of way – and, in my mind, the slightly “soiled“ represents the most truthful (i.e. beautiful) reflection of life.
Also, part of my fondness for talking like a trucker has nothing to do with cursing at all. It‘s more about my simply loving words. And, I mean ALL words, not just the naughty ones. My apartment is full of more books/magazines than you can shake a library card at. I have to clear a pathway through ancient copies of THE VILLAGE VOICE just to get to my printer. And, if you need any more proof of my love of language – you are, at this very moment, reading words strung together, by a woman whose chosen vocation is to, ummmm, string words together. Words are my life’s blood. My sustenance. And to me, expletives are just more of those yummy word things to chew on, like so many popsicle sticks with the good juice still in ‘em.
IN DEFENSE OF CUSSING
Objections to the use of swear words are vast and wide-ranging. Some are even valid. However, I think there are just as many, maybe more, arguments to be made FAVOR of cursing. Humor me:
Cursing is unintelligent, shows a “lack of vocabulary.”
I beg to differ. Cursing simply give one access to a greater variety of human expression. They’re just MORE words, so how is that a lack? It’s all in how you use them. Cuss words shouldn’t be simply thrown around haphazardly. No words should. Powerful speech is about the careful selection of the most appropriate, accurate unit of language which reflects the idea/intention/meaning that is in your head or heart at that moment. Sometimes our thoughts aren’t “pure,“ so the truest symbolic expression of that thought (the word) won’t be either.
ARGUMENT # 2:
Cussing creates bad energy.
Words are ENERGY. Agreed. Bad words are bad energy. Agreed again. But, I guess I just take issue at which words are bad. To me, any words are bad words when said with the intention to harm. Every day, I hear so much cruelty doled out using the most genteel speech, and so much love shared using so-called “naughty” words. To my ears, “I love you, muffugAH.” is far less despicable than “You are worthless. What a loser.” What matters (to me) isn’t whether the words chosen are taboo or not, so much as whether they are said in order to demean or downgrade. It’s the absence of malice that counts, not the absence from some random book of slang.
Cursing is an antisocial act, inciting aggression and hostility.
Perhaps. But, that has much more to do with how the words are said (see #2) than the fact that they are cuss words. In fact, cursing may actually be a very effective mechanism for decreasing aggression because it offers a safe way to vent pent up emotion. In a 2007 study from the Leadership and Organizational Development Journal, researchers found that cursing “helped foster solidarity among employees,” allowing them to “express frustration, stress or other feelings.” As the saying goes, “Many a man’s profanity has saved him from a nervous breakdown.”
(my favorite): Cursing is unladylike.
I won’t go so far as to say that cursing is a “feminist” act of defiance (I’ll just think it), but I will say that cursing does seem to “upset the applecart” of appropriate female behavior, and that suits me just fine. Many’s the time that a man has said to me – cursing isn’t attractive for women. That of course, makes me want to curse all the more, and those expletives roughly translate to “I am not here to live out your fantasy of women! I am a whole person, not some doll to be molded to fit your romantic ideal.” It’s 2010, and women are still expected to hide certain aspects of themselves? Bullsh*t! Why do we have to be just sugar and spice and everything nice, when we also have the same hurts and pains and a complex plethora of thoughts and emotions as men, which need to be expressed? When “Katrina” hit, it wasn’t enough to say “Oh bother, isn’t this terrible?” Human beings were being treated like refuse. I needed to scream, “This is so f*cked!“ And, I did. Maybe that is unladylike, I don’t know. But, I know I don’t feel any less of a Woman because of it. I just feel human. If a man isn’t okay with that, then he’s not okay with me BEING.
The Ol’ Blankety, Blank, Blank – A Personal Choice
Am I encouraging anyone else to curse if they don’t have the inclination to do so? #@%$& NO! I totally get and respect that, for personal, spiritual or religious reasons, some people are going to find profanity offensive. Not only do I honor that, I make a real effort not to curse around people who aren’t cool with it. But, I’m just wondering whether we can we maybe make space for the possibility that cursing could have a valid place in human communication, too? Just something to think about. Maybe all people who curse aren’t just ignorant, uneducated trailer trash who don’t know any better. Maybe there’s as actually – dare I say it – some real meaning in those expletives we dismiss as vulgar or unnecessary, meaning which could create more understanding, empathy and tolerance between human beings if we suspended judgment for a moment or two and actually made an effort to listen to one another and understand.