Thursday, March 14, 2013

Swearing isn't Always Bad, Really

I'm writing this from the place of someone who is very rarely bothered by profanity. The only words that are upsetting to me are the ones that are designed to harm and oppress specific groups. But those are slurs, not swears. Your generic, run-of-the-mill four-letterers and f-bombs are really nothing.

So it always takes me by surprise when full-grown adults are appalled and shocked at the sound of other full-grown adults using curse words in non-hateful ways. I actually read a review on Goodreads saying the person had knocked a star off because the book in question had swearing in it (not even that much, by my standards). Come on. They are words, used for emphasis and conveying a certain point. They can add zest to a conversation. And no, they are not an indicator that you don't know how to express yourself.

(I don't know where this came from, other than someone screencapping Facebook.)
Some of the smartest people I know are also giant potty-mouths. Conversely, I've met some pretty puritanical people who were of, let's say limited intelligence. There is simply no connection (at least not anecdotally; maybe there are studies demonstrating otherwise).

Being an adult means being smart and responsible about your language. Of course you should be cautious about it if you're dealing with children, and use your best judgment when you're at work. But as long as you aren't using language to hurt and oppress others, there's nothing wrong with a few "bad" words. There's no need to clutch pearls and gasp at the sound of a curse, either. If you want to improve the language of others, start thinking about the parts of our speech that contain ingrained racism, sexism, ableism, and other hate, and work to reduce those instead.

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