F*ck.

I made a joke to a friend the other day where I used the actual word “motherf*cker” and it was for comedic effect and I knew this friend would laugh (they did) but I still really only kinda whispered it and mostly just mouthed the word with a few audible whispers in the right place so the humor effect would hit but that I wouldn’t necessarily have to say the whole word out loud.

And most of the time when I use the f-word online I put that asterisk in so I don’t actually see the word typed out by my hands.

It’s weird. I know.

I curse mildly. I say “shit” and “crap” a lot. I use a lot of fake words like “Mother Trucker!”

But truthfully? I don’t like “extreme” cursing. I don’t mind hearing it so much, like on podcasts or music. But when I’m having a conversation with you in person and you drop 12 f-bombs in one sentence? I have flinched with Every. Single. One.

It’s weird. Because my reaction to that word, especially when used face-to-face with me and REALLY especially if the person using it is angry about something, it causes a visceral reaction. I flinch. I tense up. I become very paranoid and uncomfortable. I do NOT like it.

I sometimes think it’s because my Dad was a bad yeller and he would curse when he was really angry. He was scary as hell when he got angry. He never spanked us but I remember often thinking I wished he would spank us instead of yelling because he was SO SCARY WHEN HE YELLED. I don’t think he used the f-word, though. So I’m not sure that’s really the root of my reaction. But I know that the feeling I feel when people use the f-word around me is like I’m a little kid getting yelled at again. Donnie will be playing a game on the computer and something will go wrong and he’ll scream, “F*CK!” and I will get really upset. Like, I’ll tearfully remind him to please don’t yell curse words at the computer because it upsets me.

Here’s the weird thing: You are not allowed to not love the f-word in my political and social circles. In the liberal world, it’s like a badge of honor to say, “I F*CKING LOVE TO F*CKING CUSS AND THAT MAKES ME F*CKING AWESOME AND INTERESTING!” There are actually tons of memes that even phrase it as a way to fight the patriarchy because if you say “F*ck” on a regular basis, you are not being demure like you’re supposed to be.

Unfortunately, it seems no one ever remembers that it is still a powerful word and it is often used by people in power to threaten and intimidate people. But jeezus if you ever try to remind people that maybe they should be aware that not everyone loves that word, YOU ARE A PRUDE TO BE SHAMED! I’m definitely not trying to ban the word, like I said – I whisper it sometimes. But I try to remind people what I remind my kids: Know your audience. Wesley is learning curse words a lot and I told him if he wants to use those around his friends, that’s his business. But he needs to understand that I get upset if I hear him curse and language is powerful and you need to be aware of the people hearing your words before you choose them.

Some might think, “I don’t want to be friends with someone who can’t handle a regular f-bomb.” But those people forget that curse words have power and have often been used to intimidate those with less power, and so thinking less of someone who doesn’t love the frequent f-bomb is…well…shitty.

I just think we should always be aware of our audience and to understand that loving f-bombs is not a characteristic required of someone who is progressive or bold or brave. Some people have been verbally abused or intimidated by language like that so it’s not a joke or a game. Some of us can be progressive or bold or brave and still prefer to say, “Mother Trucker!”

4 Comments

  • Lynne

    Y’know, I would consider myself a liberal but I never got the memo we are meant to curse. I don’t much like swearing an I have to say I live in an environment where I’m not around people who swear. I do find it aggressive now as I move closer to middle age. Why not add to your fake cussing lexicon a good old fashioned British “bugger” or “bother it”, “bum” always raises a smile 🙂

  • AlisonC

    I am Irish and we use cuss words as punctuation! And you are right I don’t think about how its sounds to others. That said, I don’t do it at work or when older family members are there. (Please don’t hate me :-))

  • Karen

    You have nailed it once again. I’m not fond of cursing, especially the type you’re talking about (the angry, loud f-bombs), but I have my own mild ones that come out in times of frustration or surprise. The idea to consider one’s audience before using profanity is a good one. Even among us “cursing prudes,” we have friends who know and love us well enough to not judge those times we unintentionally or intentionally choose a curse word to explain our feelings. (‘Cause sometimes, the only word to describe how you’re feeling is “shitty.” Nothing else works. And the last thing you need when feeling shitty is to have someone tell you — either verbally or nonverbally — “you shouldn’t say ‘shitty’.”)

    I am right there with you about how hearing the loud, angry kind of cursing causes you to instinctively flinch. Even if it’s not directed at me, it still feels like I’m the one being yelled at.

  • Colleen

    I’m with you too. The loud angry cursing gets to me too. Although I do find that there are certain friends and colleagues who curse more and it somehow doesn’t bother me. Perhaps it is because they use the f-word often angry or not? When I think of cursing, I think of a favorite teacher who would say “oh expletive!” in class when she was upset and she would encourage us to find more descriptive non-curse words to express ourselves. Once I recall her saying about movies when the f-word was allowed and becoming popular that they needed to “get a vocabulary!”