Just had a rather irritating conversation with someone about the use of language and how we communicate and the words that we use. The whole exchange left me really quite angry. Angry enough to post about it.
What kicked off the anger? Well, the following line which started the whole conversation:
People who swear only do it because they have such a limited vocabulary.
What was my response?
Not particularly eloquent, but hey.
I swear a lot. In fact I swear a huge fucking amount – as regular readers will know. I wouldn’t say that I swear because I lack the vocabulary / education/ intelligence / creativity to come up with something better. I swear because sometimes that’s what the conversation calls for.
If I say ‘fuck’ it’s because ‘fuck’ the word I was looking for. I get very angry when people patronize me by suggesting that I should use a ‘better’ word. Sometimes ‘fuck’ is the most accurate word for that situation or expression, so why would I use another word?
Fuck’s what I said and fuck is what I meant.
Now, some people don’t like swearing and that’s fine. They don’t have to swear. But they shouldn’t police my language either. I’m not stupid, and I’m not inconsiderate – I don’t swear in front of other people’s children, and I do try not to swear in front of people who find it really offensive. But that’s a courtesy, not an obligation.
Likewise, when I write, if a character is going to swear then they are going to swear. I’m not going to hold it back because of reader sensitivity.
Lately I’ve been working a couple of projects that involve a rather large amount of swearing. It’s in character so I’m letting it be. However, when one of my friends read the early draft of my stageplay they were a little scandalised.
You can’t say cunt on stage, Claire! They won’t let you!
Now, I’m not really sure who ‘they’ are, but I am aware of the strange sort of aversion people have to the word ‘cunt’ which baffles me a little. Perhaps it’s because I’m Irish and ‘cunt’ is thrown around in the same way that people use words like ‘teapot’ and ‘bean.’ It’s often used as a term of endearment – something my English and American friends really can’t seem to wrap their heads around.
But it is true that it’s one word that you never hear on television and rarely in film. It’s censored out of pretty much everything and people seem really reluctant to use it even in print.
It throws me a little. I mean, we can watch and read and write about violence, sex, horrific and gruesome attacks, death, war, rape and torture. But we can’t say ‘cunt’ in case someone finds it offensive?
Til next time, cunts!
*the title of this post is from The Walking Dead S01E03 when Daryl tells Shane to watch his mouth and Shane replies, ‘Oh no. Douchebag’s what I meant.’