Is profanity really necessary?

Tuesday 13 August 2013

Is profanity really necessary? First up, I'm going to raise my hand and say that I'm no prude. I don't want to be a hypocrite and say that I'm as pure as the driven snow. Far from it. The occasional s**t and f**k passed through my lips when I'm frustrated or irate. There are times when you feel your blood pressure hits the roof and you're so peeved that the word just escapes your mouth. I totally get it.

The thing is I've been disturbed by Garance Dore's thoughts of profanity in her April's post "Bitch Talking Shit" ever since I read it months ago. She's one of my favorite bloggers and I have nothing but respect for her so I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.

I'm a mom now and my feelings about peppering expletives throughout a conversation is a little stronger than before. Some may say, hey, it's just a figure of speech. It means nothing. Like calling each other whore or bitch. I'm still old fashioned but to me, these words and their derivatives have a more sinister connotation. Put the word mother in front of f**k and you show no respect to the woman who birthed you and sacrificed her life to bring you up. I will however, sympathize if your mother indeed is one and treated you no better than dirt.

Is it really necessary or is it a rather skewed way to show one's cool? Let's put it this way. I've never EVER seen a group of teenagers who mouthed off all forms of expletives yet remained respectful and gracious. But I've certainly seen plenty of public school kids as well as students from one of the top high schools in town with their posh accents trying to appear "cool" uttering those very words while littering the cathedral grounds and generally trying to pull one prank or another.

Yesterday, Lil L and I sat at our favorite ramen restaurant and we had the lovely privilege (sarcasm intended) of sitting next to a brash guy and his friend. The former bragged and f**ked throughout the entire meal while the latter didn't. Funny, how his friend managed to converse properly without including expletives in each sentence. The thing is I've also seen 5 year olds uttering the very same words in kindergartens, yes, even in good ol' New Zealand. I've spoken to teachers who dreaded going to school and having to deal with this. The lack of respect for others and themselves starts at a young age.

The rudder is such a small piece yet it can control the entire boat. Just like the tongue. Perhaps I've been living under a rock but personally, I've found it difficult to think good thoughts while I'm profaning my language. Which inevitably affects my actions. If anything, kindness and grace have an equal ripple effect which can only influence those around you positively.


  1. I have to say that I agree with you. I think in conversation expletives are not needed and I have no problem speaking up if someone uses them like "was that really necessary?" Sure I use them when I'm mad but I don't spout them off in conversation like they're nothing. I just don't like them because of how negative they sound to me.


  2. When I am Queen, I intend to ban it in public spaces.
    At home , in private is another matter but I am sick of having my air polluted by the crass muttering a of others.

  3. I cringe when I hear someone shouting obscenities near my boys and I and hope to goodness they don't pick up or hear anything but it's so hard sometimes - you can't shelter them forever and sooner or later, they are going to pick it up at school whether you like it or not. The most you can do is ask them not to use that language and hope to goodness that they listen. The hardest thing is when I see a mother/father swearing at their children and I think so that's the example you set - what chance do they have?

    But you're right - I don't mind the odd cuss every now and then and am guilty of it but on the whole I'm very abstemious around other people. But I don't think it's necessary to use a swear word every other word to emphasise a point. You just look like a foul mouthed prat doing it.

  4. KIDS DON'T LISTEN, THEY FOLLOW. No matter what we tell our kids if what they see are exemplified by their elders, then that's the road they take. Teenagers are mostly a mirror image of their parents. If they get to adulthood and get worse,then i believe they are responsible for their own actions and blame should not be thrown onto the parents.

    It's hard to keep our kids from hearing and adopting these profane words. If only we can be on their side 24/7 just to be their conscience, then the world will be a better place... Constant reminder and good counsel will somehow bring the kids up in a good way that we want so that they will not depart from it when they grow up. Fingers crossed...I can attest to that.

    1. Same here. Fingers and toes crossed too.

    2. I agree completely. I read the first few paragraphs of the other article you mentioned, and in my opinion, if saying a derogatory word like 'bitch' becomes commonplace, I think that children might start believing that saying other derogatory words is okay too, and it becomes this vicious cycle. Not to mention that actions usually follow words, and I'd hate to think of vulgar actions becoming so much commonplace and accepted as well.

      I do understand the appeal though: popular culture makes such language sound modern, funny and cool, but the very fact that we have come to regard that using such words is okay because it's funny and cool, shows that we've taken the wrong turn somewhere. We shouldn't find it funny because it really really isn't. And especially for women to use the word 'bitch' among their own friends, undermines their position in society and shows no respect for themselves and other females.

      I'm no prude, when extremely angry, I'll also mutter my f's and curses, but what I'm getting at is that the way things are going, vulgarity will be considered fashionable and acceptable (and god forbid appropriate!) when it is anything but.

  5. I agree with you 100%. I'm not prude either and have cursed when angry, but is it really necessary to pepper one's speech with f-this, f-that? Besides, when expletives are overused, they lose their impact. I'm a mom to a toddler and it worries me that she'll hear it sooner than later. :(

  6. I used to utter profanity with every sentence. I thought it was cool. Then my colleagues started complaining. I thought they were jerks. I only stopped when I had children. I hate hearing children swear, but how can I tell them not to if I do it all the time? Like you the occasional curse pops through my lips, and sometimes I use them to underline just how upset I am, but I consider it a lack of creativity to have to use them all the time, and I never, ever, use them in my writing. That's just lazy. I can't tell you how many bloggers I started following only to stop because even their writing was filled with foul stuff. No, I've stopped using curse words as much as possible, and I'm better for it.

  7. Trust me when I say I feel the same. I get so frustrated when my partner just casually uses swear words in a sentence when it is so unnecessary - I mean sure, I occasionally let one slip but it's once a week if that. I just don't see the point in using vulgar language on a daily basis, and it doesn't do much for conversation either.

    Ah haha yes, I am doing post grad studies - full time at the moment, something I regret a little as it is a lot of work. Although I suppose it has some part in explaining why I have been putting up a few less outfit posts lately! Thankfully it's something I enjoy - Marketing, so it's almost like it's not study, if you know what I mean x

  8. I agree totally! I used to think that people who use vulgarities have a problem with expressing themselves. It's like in a moment of frustration, they lack self-control and just blurt it all out. I usually just walk away.

  9. Except for shxt which I sometimes blurt out when I am truly exasperated, I don't use such langauge whether in public or at home. I don't know if it makes me a little better because the word shxt is a word my mom actually frowns at too.

    The hub prepares me that the kiddos will be picking such language up from outside when they grow up anyway. Oh well, I do my best to set a good example and the rest I have to pray about it.

  10. Here here - so very well said. There is no need for it and when said to children, it's a form verbal abuse - you're disrespecting your child. Not cool and you'll get it back in bucketloads.
    Being Irish, I tend to say feck more - funny how the change of vowel makes such a difference! But even at that, I'd never say it in front of the kids...unless I stub my toe at which time I usually start saying it but turn it into 'fe.....rrr goodness sake..' haha!

  11. I agree. I am trying very hard to cut all profanity out of my speech. I find I'm more prone to it when angry or frustrated. Even still, I don't want to be 'that' woman with the ugly words. Thanks for the excellent reminder.

  12. Great post. Ugly words make for an ugly person. And I mean ugly on the inside, not just appearances.

  13. I absolutely agree with you Marlene. I have noticed that it is so easy to be a by-stander to these kind of conversations that strangers have in public these days with no regard as to who hears them. Sure, I am like you. In the past I've used them or get me extremely worked up and you may get one slip out too but I'm definitely far more restrained these days. It just sounds tacky. Don't you think the message gets lost when you hear people drop profanity at every chance they get? Those conversations just don't seem worthy of being listened too.

  14. I totally agree with you Marlene! Great post!

  15. I have to admit that I am a frequent swear word user....I've tried to stop and it seems to kick back up again here and there. I have a friend whose a mother who has the same pet peeve - she made the interesting and slightly ironic observation that those who worked in professional environments actually swore more - maybe it's being around around stressed adults all day?



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