Recently at work I was pulled up on my language. I’d said to a colleague, ‘You fucked it up.’
I thought about it and came to conclusion that it wasn’t the language I’d used, but rather the intent behind it that caused the offence. I was being critical for someone. Bad me.
(I also discovered that, ‘It’s just part of my natural lexicon,’ isn’t an acceptable excuse for swearing at a colleague.)
But it is – it is part of my natural lexicon. I have a group of friends who, upon greeting each other, will hug and say, ‘Motherfucker!’
Not ‘Nice to see you.’
It’s an affectionate little bit of naughtiness that basically means nothing more than we’ve watched too many episodes of The Sopranos together. There’s no hidden undertone or nasty intent. It shouldn’t really cause offence, although I’m sure it does.
I had a long chat with a friend of mine about the sad fact that so many swear words are named after genitalia.
Cunt – Dick – Prick – Twat
You get the idea.
She said, ‘Shouldn’t these things be celebrated? Cunts are good. Dicks are good. Why do these have the negative connotations?’
Probably goes back to how religion is often prudish about sex (I’m looking at you, Catholicism). Cunt is slang for vagina. Vaginas are evil. Don’t talk about ‘em. Same goes for dicks. (Although Jesus had a dick, so I guess that’s a little more acceptable.)
Take the latest (at the time of writing) Trump debacle.
The Trump Tapes – a rather bland title for something so utterly repellent.
‘Grab them by the pussy.’
It’s not the word pussy that offends, but the ‘Grab them.’
grasp or seize suddenly and roughly.
a quick sudden clutch or attempt to seize.
used as the object of a verb or preposition to refer to two or more people or things previously mentioned or easily identified.
It’s like he’s talking about rounding up a bunch of chickens. ‘Grab them by the neck and stuff them in the sack.’
Of course, from this you can imply DT considers women to be a subspecies to men. But then that’s pretty obvious from his past form, and kind of a lazy observation. I’d go so far as to say that any person – man or woman – who thinks it’s acceptable to grab another person’s genitalia (without first being invited to do so) should probably be wearing an ankle bracelet.
I’ve digressed into politics again. My point is that here, pussy is not the offensive word. You replace it with vagina and the phrase still carries the same amount of bile. To me, at least. I don’t have a vagina or a pussy or a cunt, so maybe I’m not best placed to comment on whether it’s offensive or not. But it’s context rather than content, I’d argue, is ultimately what makes something offensive.
However, never ever, for any reason use the word guestimate around me. I winced just typing the fucker.
From that brief political diatribe, I will smoothly segue into a little shameless self-promotion.
I’ve been thinking about writing about profanity for a while – it’s a matter that’s very close to my fuckin’ heart. Tim Kimber has written a far more coherent and thoughtful piece here. After reading it I thought I had nothing to add. Maybe I don’t. But then I did the (very telling) poll and you lot voted for me to release ‘The one with all the swearing’ and I decided the time was right.
One of my favourite things about Dot Matrix was giving the character the nickname Cuntley.
Big Bob Conley – Director of Sales, known behind his back simply as Cuntley…
Using one word, I can add some rich character development.
You know he is despised and you know it’s probably for good reason. I actually toned the character down for the final version. From his nickname, the reader can fill in the blanks, and filling in the blanks is one of the most enjoyable parts of reading.
Dot Matrix has been doing quite well. I had no idea anyone would give a shit, but it seems that far more people have read and/or downloaded it than I anticipated.
I feel very humbled.
You can still get it FREE here until Tuesday 11th October.
Review/Tweet if you feel so inclined (am I doing okay with this PR thing?)
The next one is our early November – details to follow . . .
Anyway, I love swearing. Fucking love it.
So without further ado, here are a few of my favourite snippets of profanity: