Social media is weird.
With more soapboxing out there than ever before, a surprising range of people are speaking more freely. Parents openly rail against parenthood, celebrating alcohol as a coping agent. Politicians let racist innuendo slip. Legalization proponents wax eloquently about the powers of herbal bliss.
Yet among all the soapboxing, people still insist on self-censoring their cussing. Thankfully, an increasing number are embracing bad language, and they make me happy inside.
“All the fucks I give” is one of my favourite sayings of late. Many fucks, no fucks, all the fucks. So many fucks to generously give or deny.
So when I’m reading Twitter or Facebook and someone’s swearing but simultaneously censoring it, my inner-freedom-of-speech activist gets her panties in a twist and my words start bubbling and frothing within me.
Swear, I think. Own it. Say it, or don’t. Not: Fvck you! Not ever. Fuck the fucking “fvcks”! It seems extreme, but I start losing respect then and there.
Swearing: A fucking primer
My loathing of censored cussing is the exact opposite reaction my father and stepmother express when they see me swearing. Like it’s the most mortifying thing I could do on Facebook. The family will see it. How could you?
So trailer park of me, I guess.
I’ve come to accept that cussing is a generational sticking point they’ll never understand. They don’t grasp that now “fuck” is used in mainstream press online, sometimes even in major print publications. “Shit” is allowed after 8pm on most major networks. “Fucking” can be uttered in live broadcasts only if used as an adjective (never a verb) and only when the FCC is feeling kindred.
For many of us, a curse word is like punctuation. This is why you’ll find a book on my shelves called English as a Second Fucking Language. In it are myriad ways one can (and should) swear with aplomb.
But more important than its linguistic je ne sais quoi is cursing’s emotional resonance.
Because it feels good
Studies prove that those who use swear words experience a more cathartic outcome when expressing themselves. They speak more pointedly, express more honesty, and have more emotional release. Some even allege us mouthy fucks to be more trustworthy, because we mean what we say and have conviction behind it.
The socially-conservative crowd, of course, balks at this.
A use of swear words is uncouth, unclassy. It’s uncivilized. The mark of the low-bred.
Or so they think. Me, I think it’s the words in between the swear words that are the mark of the ill-bred low-class degenerates who should be kept away from children and elderly alike.
Smells like fucking victory
In my world, swearing is passive resistance. I swear, therefore I am not of the system. I swear, therefore I am railed against the man. I swear, therefore I am a bad-ass mother who takes no crap off anyone.
I have no problems with people who don’t wish to swear. You speak like your vocabulary got a rub-down from Mr. Clean? Good for you! Honestly, that’s great restraint. Yay for Emily Post and Southern etiquette! Really.
Does it mean you’re better bred than me? Not on your life. You will not flummox me by dressing your table with 12 pieces of cutlery per setting. No, ma’am. I’ll start on the outside and work my way in. I won’t even put my elbows on the table.
Heck, I’ll even hold the door open for you when you have a bag of groceries. I’ll smile and nod as we pass on the street. I’ll say please, thanks, and bless you.
The fact that I swear indicates nothing about how I was born or raised or educated. It speaks instead of the fact that I am angry.
My anger deserves validation. Politeness and propriety have no place if it means the status quo continues because I spend all my time trying not to offend the more conservative among us.
Because I am angry. Hiding it will not abate it. Shall I express my anger with bad language, or would you rather I repress myself, pretend I am happy/fluffy until one day a weapon’s in my hand and my repression has run its course?
I am angry about many things. Often. Daily. Like how I live in a time where policies don’t reflect what society needs. Voter complacency angers me. I am outraged 1% of our population holds sway over 99%. I am frustrated that science was to simplify our lives, but often now complicates things. I am disheartened by big agriculture and the changing state of our food supply. I am enraged over what has been done to the environment in my lifetime. I am livid education is failing our youth.
Swearing, for me, is a way of saying everything isn’t okay. Everything won’t be okay, it’s a fucking mess. How I speak is rebellion. I am not among the happy, medicated masses. I will not quietly play my role of earning, paying taxes, and going to bed without argument.
I am filled with feelings of all kinds, including resentments. I feel lied to and cheated about “the promise of a better tomorrow.” I have dreams of that “better world,” and it’s gonna need a whole lot of straight-talk and passionate argument, with a whole lot less bureaucratic bullshit, before we get there.
I do not trust the establishment therefore I have no wish to appease it. The older I get, the less I feel anyone should. Speaking angrily, truthfully, and in a confrontational way is how I play my part in ensuring less complacency hounds me. It’s the only tool I have.
If swearing keeps me with one foot out of the establishment’s inner-workings, then I’ll be happy with that. I’ll respect myself in the morning if my choice of words illustrates that there are indeed no more fucks I can give about accepted norms of propriety today.
It’s like fucking poetry
Then there’s how it sounds.
I love the cadence swearing contributes. Such gravitas. Such oomph. It’s the bass drum of language. Take, for example, one of my all-time favourite songs, the Butthole Surfers’ Goofy’s Concern. It’s cuss-filled, yet ever so poetic.
I don’t care what you want me to say
I don’t give a fuck about it anyway
I don’t give a fuck about the whole damn thing
I don’t give a fuck about LSD
I don’t care who you want me to be
I don’t care what you want me to see
I could give a fuck about who I am
I could give a shit about me and them
The angst-riddled poetry of well-used swearing makes me cringe deeply when amateurs self-censor in print. You cannot be a writer yet veto your own word choice. How oxymoronic.
Look. Don’t do it. Swear or don’t swear. Cussing is moot if censored. It’s like flipping through cable to find a family-friendly cuss-free version of The Breakfast Club. It takes three minutes before you change the channel, cursing in rage at the stupid-stupid-stupid asshats running networks today.
A swear-free Breakfast Club’s like going to a therapy session but only being allowed to say polite things. PEOPLE. You’re being angry badly!
That John Hughes angst, that poetry, that passion, it’s all gone when you sanitize the speech. It ain’t no Breakfast at Tiffany’s, people. Breakfast Club is the manifesto of the 1984 teenager.
Swear or don’t. Censor that shit? How hypocritical. Mean what you say, or speak differently. Period.
What I really mean to say is
When social media folks self-censor with “f#ck” and “sh!t” et al, it says they’re not comfortable with themselves. It looks insecure and uncommitted. Cowardly and small, even.
If you care that people see you as a fresh, sparkly, clean-speaking swear-free Citizen of Planet Happy, then you rock that shit. Go, you. Live your rated-‘G’-for-everyone truth and own that. Do not straddle those contradictory worlds by peppering your speech with almost-kinda-but-Oops-I-Did-It-Again censored swear words. You are one or the other but cannot be both.
If you whisper when you swear, don’t bother. Leave it for us pros.
We need people who live their truth, who say words they mean. We need people who don’t try to please two masters. People with courage and conviction to speak truth to power.
We need those with the anger to rage against the man while using their brains and sharing ideas deserving of that anger.
I will not apologize for my passion.
I will not temper my words so you are unoffended by my ideas.
I swear because I care, people
I expect better of us. I expect more of our leaders. I expect more of our activists.
I’m angry so many cling to this fantasy of a G-rated society when so many social crimes of greater consequence offend my morals.
In an age when mass shootings are the norm, climate change is on its tipping point, 1% of the planet holds the majority of our wealth, while our cost of living is skyrocketing, and so many other social dilemmas loom… honestly, I think my choice of language is the least of your problems.
And if you’re angry enough to slip a shit, piss, fuck, ass, or any other cuss into your speech, for the love of God, I beg you, stop fucking apologizing for it.
Say what you mean, or speak differently. Life is packed with hypocrisy, and we can do without yours, no matter how inconsequential you think it to be. We need people of conviction. Be one.
You’re entitled to anger. Be educated and informed and honest, but also be angry… because, look around. Anger is an acceptable response.