Trying to discourage profanity with violent sexual/gendered connotations in my social circles

I recently read this post on Reddit, and then specifically, a comment on the post that criticizes the frequent use in India of profanity that invokes violent sexual/gendered imagery.

I had a strong emotional reaction to this post, and I was drawn to a behavior I’d been observing in myself in the recent past: I’d started uttering words like behnchod very casually to express both defeat and triumph while playing Call of Duty: Warzone, which is in its nature violent and all about asserting dominance on other players by being the final player or team to survive as the area is filled with toxic gas. I had noticed a minor feeling of self-disgust in the aftermath of games in which I’d employed such vocabulary, but really didn’t pay much attention to it.

After reading the post mentioned above, I decided to explore my options for action around this, if only to try and be someone I like, and ideally, make an impact of some magnitude, small or big, on the cultural situation at hand.

I’ve defined a high-level meta-goal for myself:

There should be no place for violent sexual/gendered themes, particularly those that target an uninvolved third-party like someone’s mother or sister, in expressing an emotional response to one’s hierarchical position or change thereof in any context.

For now, in pursuit of this Goal, I’m implementing a simple policy as a first step:

While playing Warzone, if anyone in my party including myself utters one of the words on a reference list (that I’m maintaining in my head, for now), I will leave the game, and won’t come back for the day.

At the time of writing, the reference list contains three words: behnchod, madarchod, and motherfucker.

The words included in the list are not chosen based on technicality but rather on emotional response, frequency of use, and likelihood of making impact in service of the Goal. Expansion of the list is subject to resource availability — I don’t have time and energy to consider every word out there for inclusion or to articulate a defense for each one I include.

At the end of the day I’m trying to set myself up to feel less guilty, and more like I’m doing something about this problem that bothers me, and hopefully make some impact on the world in the process if I’m successful — which I very well may not be.

This policy isn’t personal — it should be thought of as information to help one understand who I am and where I’m trying to go, rather than a signal or judgement about anyone else. It may very well turn out to be the case that people don’t want to play with me due to this, and figuring out how to enforce this policy effectively and still have a good time and maintain relationships is a challenge that’s part of the process.

The purpose of this post is to document what I’m doing, not to defend or promote it. I decided to write this to save myself from having to re-explain things since this is already coming up often with people who are affected. It also helps reinforce my commitment to this endeavor.

I think we are creative and capable enough to come up with more tasteful and inclusive profanity to express ourselves. I love profanity, and I suppose this is my attempt to start contributing to the community and culture around it. I’m committed, and I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes!

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