Sorry, Mom, But Fuck-it!
My 83-year-old mother recently called to tell me that I should stop saying fuck on Twitter.
She felt it wasn’t appropriate, and was worried that it could hurt my job prospects down the road. Never mind that at my age (suffice it to say that I am the mother of a 24-year-old daughter and a 19-year-old son), my job prospects are probably what they are. Still, my instinct, as always, was to listen to my mother.
I hung up the phone and immediately deleted the last two tweets I’d written that contained the f-word. Then I instantly regretted it. They were, after all, perfectly good tweets, with lots of “likes” and re-tweets and a handful of supportive replies. So I stopped my “f-word” search and let the rest of my foul-mouthed history stand.
What my mom didn’t realize is how restrained I’ve actually been. Ever since Trump was elected president and destroyed all norms of decency, I’ve stopped myself from exclaiming “fuck” or “asshole” or “shit” in response to some fresh horror far more times than I’ve actually typed it out and hit “Tweet.”
Don’t get me wrong; I’m a girl who has always been comfortable with salty language. I’ve been known to toss out a curse word or two into a conversation with friends, or even aim some choice expletive at someone who makes me really mad. But for most of my life this habit has been largely confined to the privacy of my home or my car. (“Hey, asshole, that was my parking space!”)
Now, however, there is just so much to be exasperated about. (Or should I say, “fucking apoplectic” about?) With the daily barrage of corruption, callousness and cruelty pouring out of the Trump White House, all supported by an onslaught of lies from the president, his handlers, and his enablers in the GOP and parts of the media, I simply cannot contain my rage.
My mom was not the only person to observe that my anger barometer has risen.
At dinner recently, a close friend commented that she’d noticed I was cursing with abandon on Twitter these days. She wasn’t judging, just checking in to make sure I was OK. And no, I’m not. The Trump administration is eroding our democracy, attacking the vulnerable, stripping women of their rights, diminishing America’s standing in the world and shredding all semblance of decency and decorum. Why the hell should I be polite?
So I Tweet.
There is this perennial Tweet, which, more than six months after the election, could easily be recycled at least once a week: “I give zero fucks what [fill in the blank with the name of any number of male pundits] thinks about Hillary Clinton.”
Or, in that same vein, tweeting at former Hillary Clinton alum and current executive editor of ShareBlue, Jess McIntosh: “Kudos to @jess_mc for cutting to the chase w/ @chrislhayes: 1. Trump is dumb af. 2. Bannon shmannon, Trump is the white supremacist in the WH.”
As a writer, you might think I’d be better at expressing myself. But you’d be wrong. I’m exhausted, and some days tweeting out: “This fucking president is a piece of shit” is all I’ve got.
Clearly I am not alone.
Responding to male Republicans who objected to prenatal care coverage in the Affordable Care Act because “men shouldn’t have to pay for it,” television writer, Lila Byock, recently roared on Twitter: “LYSISTRATA, MOTHERFUCKERS.”
Author Molly Knight pleaded: “If the people investigating Trump’s collusion with Russia could hurry the fuck up before he starts World War III that would be GREAT.”
And when Trump told a Reuters reporter: “This is more work than my previous life. I thought it would be easier,” Slate film critic, Dana Stevens, along with most of my Twitter timeline, went batshit: “Fuck you, you miserable unqualified ignorant lazy son of a bitch. You got us all into this hellish mess & you can fucking well live with it.”
Minutes later Stevens seemed to regret this lack of discretion: “Did I just tweet something at the president that I would have felt bad leaving on an ex’s voicemail? Yeah, I guess I did. Ain’t 2017 funny.”
Actually, not so funny. More like fucked up.
This new propensity for public swearing is not limited to Twitter, or to the resistance, or to women (though they seem to be particularly pissed). Just last month, Politico Magazine published a piece with the headline “Why Democrats Are Dropping More F-Bombs Than Ever,” in which the author recounted a long list of Democratic politicians and leaders casually cursing in a way that at one time, as my mom would be quick to point out, would have harmed their careers. However, the article suggested that such casual cursing could now be a political asset.
It certainly doesn’t seem to have hurt California’s freshman Democratic senator, Kamala Harris. In a recent live taping of my favorite profanity-strewn podcast, Pod Save America, she deployed the word “fuck” and “motherfucker” to loud applause.
Harris was responding to a comment made by Republican Rep. Raul Labrador, who voted in favor of the American Health Care Act and was then roundly ridiculed after telling a town hall filled with his constituents that “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.”
“You might as well say people don’t starve because they don’t have food,” Harris said. “What the fuck is that?”
What the fuck is that, indeed?