Listening to a recent Lexicon Valley podcast, triggered a memory about how, as a kid, I was chastised for swearing. I was probably around 13 or 14 years old and had used, as teenagers often do, a word that some adult authority figure in my life thought was inappropriate.
Their response was that swear words were for uncreative and lazy people who couldn’t find a better way to express their emotions. And that my grandfather never had to say a swear word in his life to express how he felt.
I remember, even in my teenage brain, thinking this was one) untrue and two) ridiculous. So, I asked, “Well what did he say?”
To which there wasn’t an answer.
I am aware that one can thoroughly insult people without dropping a curse word. I’m also aware that one can do so with curse words. Or just not insult anyone at all but who wants that?
There are lots of great words in the English language. Some of them have been arbitrarily deemed “inappropriate.” Many of them because the Victorians were uncomfortable with bodily functions (shit, piss). Or because sexism (pussy, cunt, twat). Or because of shaming about sex (fuck, cocksucker*).
I don’t abide by this. Words aren’t inherently bad. It’s a social construct. Like race. And whether long hair is for men or women. And whatever goes into a pumpkin spice latte (maybe that’s a chemical construct?)
*Why do men use cocksucker as a swearword? Isn’t that like calling someone you don’t like “Hey delicious steak” or “Fuck off, excellent massage?”