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When I was a kid, I had a little plaque with a poem on it hanging up on my bedroom wall. I have no idea who wrote the poem or where it came from, but it was there on my wall for so long I memorized it.

Never say die, say "damn!"
It isn't poetic,
it may be profane,
but we mortals have need of it,
time and again.
And you'll find you recover from Fate's hardest slam,
if you never say die, say "damn!"

I love profanity. I'll admit it. Supposedly "profane" language is language that communicates quickly and effectively, with lovely immediacy. It's shunned because it's particularly well-suited to conveying unruly emotions--messy, untidy emotions that some folks would like to pretend don't exist.

But they do, and "vulgar" language is singularly eloquent in expressing them.

There is tremendous nuance in vulgarity. If I call someone a hopeless fuckmuppet, that conveys a different meaning than if I say they're a hopeless fuckwit or a hopeless fuckhead. Each of these communicates disdain, to be sure, and in a far more visceral way than saying "I rather do believe that chap is quite distressingly incompetent at going about this business of life," but those few syllables after the vulgarity carry a great deal of subtlety and differentiation.

People who fear vulgar language fear life, for it is a fact not easily overlooked that some parts of life are vulgar.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 18th, 2016 04:26 pm (UTC)
Fuck... [CN: rape culture]
I like profanity in general, and I'm pretty sure you're well aware that I can swear like a trooper in the right circumstances... the one thing that bothers me hugely is the general use of the word 'fuck'. I feel that considering the implications of how one uses profanity is at least as important as how one uses any other language, and the way 'fuck' is used often makes me feel pretty uncomfortable, for a number of reasons.

1. 'Fuck' as an expletive is pretty sex-negative, even in sillier words like 'fuckmuppet' or 'fuckwit'. It presents sex in general as a bad thing. (Exception: 'Fuck, yeah!') I also feel that in your examples, it's the ending of the word that conveys more than the 'fuck'. Might I suggest that using the word 'muppet' alone, or 'shithead' or 'lackwit' would do the job just as well?

2. Declaring that something is 'fucked up' or just 'fucked' implies that something or someone is diminished by being on the receiving end of fucking. So to be a heterosexual woman or anyone else on the receiving end of penetration is to be broken and/or worthless? That's pretty misogynistic.

3. 'Fuck you' is not only sex negative but strongly tied into rape culture. It suggests that 'fucking' someone is not only a horrible thing to do, but also an appropriate action to take when someone pisses you off. Sure, most people probably don't mean it that way, but do we really want that to be an association we keep reinforcing?

So maybe I'm overthinking this, but these are thoughts that keep coming back to me, especially recently when I've been reading so much about Roosh V and his bunch of lackwitted neanderthals, and their attitudes towards women where it seems like all of the above things are seen to be true and taken very literally.

So that's my two cents inserted. Now I think I'll fuck off and do something else for a bit! xx
Feb. 18th, 2016 04:27 pm (UTC)
I did like the poem, though! x
Feb. 18th, 2016 05:14 pm (UTC)
I think an unfettered endorsement of profanity misses the point. There is a time and place for it. During a corporate board meeting, wedding ceremony, or funeral, it's probably not as much about 'communicating clearly' or people's fear of life, as much as it is about being appropriate to the situation.

Feb. 19th, 2016 09:26 pm (UTC)
Well, sure, but that's true of any kind of communication. I'm a big fan of profanity, but it has an appropriate time and place. I'm a big fan of sex too, but it also has an appropriate time and place. My nephew's wedding (assuming I had a nephew, which I don't) is likely not the best possible place for either fucking or talking of fucking. :)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )