I commented on a Youtube video the other day, where the woman who was filming said that she was grateful that people put up with her swearing and looking a mess. I said that I loved the fact that she ‘cursed’ and ‘never put herself together’, she was a hero of mine for it. Someone replied to that comment;
I drew a mental breath to reply…but then stopped. No-one had ever asked me that before, and in fact I have never actually given it any thought. I do love swearing, there’s no doubt about it; I do it a lot and I enjoy it when other people do it well. I feel an almost disproportionate joy over swearing; I wanted to examine that a bit and understand whether I was simply being confrontational and obnoxious. After careful consideration, these are my thoughts;
- It’s the adult equivalent of saying “smelly poo-poo bumhead”. Observe a small child cracking up laughing about farts; that’s the effect a well-used swear has on me.
- Swear words are power words. They are sharp, pointed words that concentrate the impact of what you are trying to say. Sometimes, “I’m really angry with you right now and I need you to go away” just simply doesn’t cut it.
- It’s frowned on more when women swear, and that is just a challenge as far as I am concerned. I don’t accept any circumstance in life where people are not supposed to do something based on whether they have a vagina or not.
- Well timed and inventive application of swear words shows a level of verbal creativity and connection to one’s emotions that indicates a healthy mindset.
- Societal objection to swearing seems to come from historical value judgements about proper conduct, which are based on the imposition of misguided character and class standards, with a good measure of piety – all of which immediately provokes a two-fingered salute from me.
- See point 1.
I find people who don’t swear at all really interesting. My sister is a great example; yes, she can be encouraged into a comedy “motherfuckeeeeerrrr…” every now and then, and has roadrage-triggered potty mouth the same as everyone else. Most of the time however, she doesn’t swear on principle. I cannot imagine the amount of bile and irritation that you have to internalise and suppress by knowing the perfect word to express your thoughts about someone or something, but choosing not to use it.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not completely socially inept; I still have the swearing filter that I was brought up with intact. Hence, I don’t call people motherfuckers in front of my Nan, nor do I tell customers or colleagues that they are dickheads when I am at work. Well, not the ones I don’t know very well, at least…
Being British, I also have a great love of well-crafted understatements. Personally, I like to use a healthy mix of exaggerated restraint and explosive obscenity to mould and shape my communication – in the same way that artists use different shades of colour to add shadows, highlights and depth to their creations.
And let’s not forget that it’s downright hilarious when people apply a little creativity to swearing. I found a new favourite when I took a How Sweary Are You? quiz, which introduced me to the phrase ‘bollockfaced shitnubbin‘.
I am a big fan of pairing swears with non-swears, for example ‘cockweasel’, ‘asshat’ and ‘assclown’, all of which I really enjoy. [Incidentally, I like ‘clownshoe’ too, and that’s not even a swear]. If you are so inclined, can thoroughly recommend this Swearing Generator which I have spent many a happy hour clicking on; it merrily combines words like canoe, waffle, wrangler, womble, and bungle with actual swears to provide a constant stream of childish entertainment.
I have a lot of lazy anger. It’s not the all-consuming, danger-to-your-mental-health kind of anger, and neither is it the productive kind that would drive me to change the world. I am consequently a big fan of anyone who can successfully use swearing and anger together as a vehicle for sharing comedy. Swearing is not essential to the process, but it is a perfect way to refine anger into a short sharp message, and I have a healthy admiration for people who use it effectively. Frankie Boyle is a particular master;
Speaking of the C-Bomb, a few months ago at work, my laptop was really playing up and at one point I spat at it “…you little cunt!” One of my colleagues visibly shuddered, and I asked him if he was alright. He said “I just hate it when women use that word.”
…well now, that’s just an invitation, isn’t it? It’s become a point of fun between us, and I of course modified my language; now I apologise loudly and directly to him every time I refer to anything as a cunt.