Profane or obscene expression usually of surprise or anger
Warning: this section must only be read by adults over the age of 18. It contains many “bad” words that may offend!
We all do it from time to time. I don’t want to, but sometimes I am taken aback by something that someone says, or does, or something makes me very angry and it just comes out. I am not going to discuss the historical reasons why we use the words we do, but let’s say that most of the words we use are sexual insults. I would like to break down the barriers on these words with you.
For so many people, the use of such words is embarrassing, and they don’t want to hear them mentioned. Parents say “not in front of the children,” the television stations do not broadcast programmes containing specific words before a certain hour; newspapers or magazines rarely contain the full word; and the more sensitive folk amongst us are horrified when they hear “foul language” being used in public.
You never hear swearing used by politicians in public, by educated people, in opera, or in fact anywhere in more polite society, yet it is rife in society the world over. Fuck you, fuck that, Fuck off. Have I started offending you? Do you want to stop reading now? Can you bear to hear the words or are you like the children in the playground, been so conditioned to hearing it that it goes over your head now.
“I am writing to complain I read the “F” word in this book I am reading. I have never been so disgusted in my life”
Educators, governments, parents and media, desperately try to protect us hearing these words, but children want to hear these words. These are grown up words. It is taboo to say these things until you are an adult, like smoking and drinking alcohol.
They don’t want children to start smoking before the age of eighteen, and will actively punish anyone who sells them cigarettes the day before their eighteenth birthday with a large fine. But the very next day, they can start smoking themselves to death with everyone’s “legal” blessing.
The same goes for drinking alcohol. No alcohol before you are eighteen! Eighteen being the age when governments, teachers, and parents have decided that you are legally an adult and can make adult decisions; like drinking a substance that, as we have seen in previous topics, adversely affects the human emotional, reasoning and balance system. But now you are eighteen you can do whatever you like. Whatever the cost!
So swear words are something that children whisper in the playgrounds; parents can use when they are frustrated with their children; politicians and media types can use when they’re talking off air; and angry adults can use any time they like. What I want to understand is: Why we are offended?
Why don’t we want other people hearing these words? Are we afraid we will corrupt society? Do we think the youth will turn to drugs and crime if they hear swear words and start using them? Or is it something altogether more academic? Maybe we want to protect the integrity of our language, and we don’t want simple words used to express complex emotions?
Who do we think we are offending by broadcasting or printing these words? Well, there is always a part of society who is offended by something. Someone is always going to complain, or start a pressure group to stop us doing or saying something; but this is for their own reasons, their values, their conditioning by their parents, teachers or media of the time. But that is not what we want to discuss.
We want to find out why words such as shit, piss, fuck, or cunt are so offensive, and why we use them. Some of you may wonder why I’ve gone to the trouble of printing the words instead of just talking about them. Well, it’s the words we are interested in, and our attitude to them, so take a good long look at these statements.
Shit! I’ve fucked up! Fuck you, asshole! I’m pissed off! You’re a fucking cunt! You stupid cunt! Oh fuck!
These are just words, but if you notice, they are all words of sexual nature. Shit and asshole are to do with the rectum and faeces, fuck is a slang term for having sex, piss is related to urine, and cunt is the female sexual organ, the vagina.
Throughout our history, these words have been developing as the lowest form of insult, until we have them in their present form. We generally reserved these words for when we were at our most angry, or upset, or startled, but they have now crept into everyday language to the point that the insertions of sexual words is quite natural in a sentence. Read these following examples.
“Yeah I was really fucking drunk last night really pissed, I couldn’t even stand up, fucks sake. I was trying to get in the fucking cab, and my mate, he’s such a cunt, he just let go of me and I fell on the fucking floor before I got in the cab!
“My boss is really pissing me off at the moment! I can’t believe he wants me to come in at the weekend, who the fuck does he think he is?”
“Fuck off! I don’t believe you! Did you really fuck her? You’re having a fucking laugh! You’re such a lying cunt!”
How many of you believe that conversations like this go on? Does it seem real that someone who is not actually angry, viably upset, or startled, has used so many swear words? Well, these conversations go on all around the world, without any real reason for using these words apart from emphasis – which on the surface would just look like a lack of language skills on the part of the speaker.
But this is not generally the case now, as in some youth culture, it is now “cool” to speak like this, to gain respect from your peers, and obviously makes up for a lack of education in the language too.
Although some people grow out of the use of this kind of language, it is very prevalent in modern adult speech. And adults use it a lot when they are angry, frustrated, happy, shocked, or excited.
Comedians use it to get more laughs, as they attempt to shock the audience. Film directors use it to add more “reality” to films. People use it on the web because they can.
I would suggest that the more educated you are in language, the less tendency you have to use words of emphasis like this. There are many writers and comedians who manage to engage the audience without resorting to swear words, as indeed there are many people who manage to express themselves without so much as a “fuck” or “shit.”
Alan, if you say that word again you will go straight to the headmaster’s office
The problem with creating a taboo on something when we are young is that it creates a magnetic effect on the more influenced amongst us. The more I am told it is wrong to say fuck, the more I rebel and use the word. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, in order to offend the prohibiter.
Whether the person banning it thinks it is in the best interest of the child or is just offended by the word, the fact remains that no parent, teacher or educator will have a lengthy discussion like this one with a child. It is wrong, you will be punished. Without ever knowing why!
Children need to know why, they are very inquisitive, and just to be told: “It is wrong!” is not enough. If you were to ask a child or an adult: “Why did you use that word? Could you not find another one to suit?” they would be very surprised, and may tell you to fuck off.
You see, fuck off is a very aggressive statement, one that leads to innumerable fights amongst men. If you said “go away” to someone you didn’t like very much, you wouldn’t get much of a response, in fact they would probably think you were quite weak and may respond with other taunts which included sexual swear words.
The other use for the word “fuck” as a substitute for the sentence “make love.” “I could really do with a fuck” or “I’d really like to fuck her.” This is another way in which we debase emotion, that we turn an act of love into a physical animal act, more reminiscent of the natural world. It is almost anger. Can you hear it being used, have you ever said it?
Listen again: “I’d really like to fuck her.” There’s no love there, this is purely sexual, and it makes the female seem like a cheap object that you place no value upon.
Language is such an important tool in life, we really need to find other ways to express our emotions in the heat of the moment. If your partner really annoyed you, you may say: “For fuck’s sake, would you stop bothering me, just fuck off.” This would inevitably cause a lot of hostility, and perhaps tears in the moment. But later, if your partner asked you why you swore at her, and you explained that you were feeling tense after work, and that she kept pressing you for an answer on whether you would go to her mother’s at the weekend, when actually you wanted to go shopping instead, she may say: “Well why didn’t you say so!”
We need to use language that calms the situation down, instead of inflaming it; to look for words that communicate true meaning. Using words that are just common insults does not help resolve the situation, in fact it normally makes it worse. The more complex the language used, the more the other people will understand your position, thereby significantly reducing misunderstanding, whereas common insults are highly likely to increase misunderstanding!
Swear words are insults, even if they are directed at one’s self, and act to raise the anger or frustration levels of the individuals using them, or those on the receiving end of them. We need to find words that calm, not heighten our stress levels.
Even if they are used in common social circles, humour or film, hasn’t the time come when we say goodbye to simple, insulting sexual language and start to use the gift of speech for something more than insulting other people? After all, we are supposed to be the most intelligent being on the planet.
Banning or prohibiting swearing is not the answer, understanding why we use it and then moving on to more advanced speech is the only way forward to a more relaxed, calm state. Of course, some people will use words to intentionally inflame the situation and provoke someone into a physical fight, but that is another topic.
Fuck You – I really don’t like you
Fuck off – Go away right now, I can’t deal with you
Fuck it – I’ve made a mistake and I’m annoyed with myself
You’re a cunt – I find you very irritating, annoying and I really don’t like you at all
I’m pissed off – I’m upset
I really don’t like you
Go away right now, I can’t deal with you
I’ve made a mistake and I’m annoyed with myself
I find you very irritating, annoying, and I really don’t like you at all
Can you see how it takes the instant anger out of the language? Try it for one day. Use different words to replace swear words you would normally use. You will feel calmer and more in control of exactly what you want to say, and you will definitely have fewer misunderstandings.
by alan macmillan orr
“The natural mind – waking up”