I was watching an old re-run episode of Dr. Phil on the Roku the other day, or rather, it was on in the background while I was putting around on the computer or something, not really paying much attention to it, when I heard at the start of the show an announcer say something to the effect of: “This show contains strong language intended for mature audiences only.”
Words are important. They aren’t powerful, truly, because they can only have as much power as we let them have, but they ARE important. How something is said is as important and sometimes more important than what was actually said. I love the way the announcer said that–strong language. They could have used any descriptor for that, any adjective would have done–vulgar, adult, profanity, etc. But the word they chose was STRONG.
I like that. I’m going to tell you why too.
When I was a kid, I was a bit of a goody-tw0-shoes. I mean, I did a lot of the typical kid stuff, like experimented with lying and shoplifting when I was like three years old. My parents took me back to the store my dad worked at, where I’d stolen some bubble blowers, and made me talk to the security guard there, where I, at the tender age of three, was sort of threatened with going to jail and never being able to see my family again, and so I never stole anything again as a child! It made a huge impression on me! But for the most part, I was a golden child, the type of kid most parents would love to have. Right up until the point I ran away from home, pretty much completely unexpectedly on the part of my parents. Man, when I go bad, I just go all at once and go for broke, no?
Anyway, the family I moved in with when I ran away from home was as different from my family as lemon is to sugar in taste. Neither are bad, but each have their own unique profiles. This family was loud, big, boisterous and they drank, smoked and cursed like crazy. I was only 15, and saying damn or hell even when it was in the biblical sense of those words still felt award to me, but I had experimented with the word ‘shit’ a couple of time. But the F word? OMGosh, no!
There was just something about the word ‘fuck’ that was bad bad bad, wrong wrong wrong, no no no! Good girls don’t say the F word!
My mother told me that when she was in counseling years ago when she and my father were going through their divorce after 28 years or marriage, her counselor ahd told her that she couldn’t say the F word either–so she bought a nightshirt that said FUCK YOU on it, and she’d wear it at night. Had something to do with her husband telling her real women/ladies don’t use curse words or something, but then learning how empowering that strong language can actually be.
My father used to say, “When you smash your finger with a hammer, gosh, golly, gee, whiz that hurt–just doesn’t cut it!” Sometimes, you need something STRONGER.
My best friend is such a quiet and sweet person (I know, what can she possibly see in me, right?) and she rarely curses, but every rare now and then, she’ll let an F-bomb fly and instead of us focusing on whatever it is that deserves our scorn–which has to be pretty bad to get her to drop an F-bomb, especially in mixed company–we all end up cracking up laughing ’cause she’s so damned cute when she says it!
My son, once he turned 18, decided that throwing an ‘fuck’ here or there around the house was a manly thing to do and that he could get away with it. That was a thought that didn’t last long.
But again, who imbues these words with power? Why is CRAP okay but SHIT is not? Why is DARN okay but DAMN is not? Why is FUCK, which is an all-around wonderful word that can be used as nearly every single part of speech there is, why is that a ‘bad’ word? Who sat around and came up with these ‘bad words’? And why do we give them so much power? They are just words.
There was a time that gay meant happy. Now it means homosexual and most people won’t use it to mean happy anymore, because it now means homosexual. Fag meant a cigarette, but it certainly doesn’t mean that to use here in America, now does it? If you call a dog a bitch, it’s a good thing, but don’t call your wife one.
We all somehow mutually agree that these words are bad words and that other words are good words. The reality of it is, the intent is really what matters, so when a little boy is playing with blocks and smashes his thumb and says, “Darn it!” He really means, “Damn it!” The two really mean the same thing. So why is one exclamation STRONGER than the other?
I like strong language. I like using language that pushes boundaries. Not just single words but words with multiple meanings, phrases with double and perhaps triple entendres. I like for someone to read what I wrote, stop and think about it and then re-read and realize that it didn’t exactly mean just what they thought it meant the first time, to pause and say, “Ahh, I see what you did there.”
But if they don’t do that, they still get the intended meaning. I like to write where there are little surprises like that all through, but I like to do it with strong language. I received a review on an erotica novel I wrote in which one of the reviews stated that the character had a ‘potty mouth’–can you imagine my laughter at the irony of someone reading an erotica novel but using the term ‘potty mouth’. Strong language, indeed.
When I was 13, part of being the goody-two-shoes self that I was, I sneaked an album out of my parents collection–it was the Art of Making Love or some such thing as that. I had no idea what it was; I just knew I liked a lot of their music and when they weren’t home, I was making cassette recordings of their albums (yes, I’m that old). On this album, the woman was instructing other women how to give men oral sex–a blow job. She said, “Words like suck and fuck have their place in the bedroom, in the privacy of your own home with your husband, so don’t be afraid to talk to dirty to your man.” She said it would turn him on, that sort of thing. I was actually too young to really have any idea what she was talking about, but I somehow remember that line about not being afraid to use those words. Strange what sticks with me, no?
Yup, I like strong language.
Love and stuff,