Tuesday, 1 October 2013

The ultimate swear word

This sort of follows on from my post a couple of weeks ago about swearing. It isn't meant to be contentious in any way and, if you disagree with me, that's fine. But I have a habit of never saying anything in the least controversial because I'm worried about the reaction. This time I'm trying to have the guts to go ahead and say it. 

I know this is a debate that much more informed and intelligent people have been having for a long while, and I suspect it will go on for a long while yet. But I wanted to state my own personal thoughts on it.

I was watching a comedian on TV last night and it got me thinking. Typically for a late night show he was swearing away, one every few words. Given what I read and write, I think I'm pretty broad-minded and I hardly even noticed. Swearing doesn't bother me until they do it so often that you lose the thread of what they're talking about. Then I just think, shut up and get on with it.

But then the comedian used the C word and I was actually shocked.

I find that word difficult enough that I don't even like to write it. I have to make myself do it: cunt. There, done it, but I really don't want to write it again. Why? It's only a word. Four random letters.

Yes, I know it has huge misogynistic meaning but is it just that or is there something else I don't like? Is it just that it's the last bastion, the ultimate swear word and one I can't cope with?

But there are other misogynistic swear words that don't bother me as much as they should. If I think about what son of a bitch actually means, yes, I'm offended. As I am if you use bitch. But neither have anything on my reaction to the C word.

I remember when I was quite young and first started to say fuck, that it still shocked me – even while I was desperately trying to be cool. Something I never actually achieved. But I soon got used to it and now have to remind myself not to use it in front of the wrong people. I first heard the C word at about the same time as fuck but it's never become as commonplace or routine, never lost it's ability to disturb or offend. 

I know people use it to provoke a reaction and it works, it gets one from me and many other people. But I think it's right that it does, I want to still be disturbed by it because I don't like it connotations. I know there's an argument for neutralising its affect by reclaiming it and using it, and they may well be right. But I can't do it, I can't use it and I really don't want to read/hear it.

In some ways I'm really rather pleased that I'm still shockable. Sometimes I do wonder.

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