When a friend announced that her New Year Resolution was to cut down on swearing, I assured her I had no intention of joining her. She looked at me sternly and replied that I used words she would never use.
Coming from a genteel home where the worst word we ever heard was damn I realize that some people may sometimes be taken aback by my choice of words.
The fact is however, it’s not what you say it’s who you say it to.
One person’s idea of vulgar is another person’s shopping list.
As Mel Brooks said, ‘I’ve been accused of vulgarity. I say that’s bullshit’
Many years ago while filming a documentary about the porn industry in the USA I spent a lot of time on set watching the action. On a “high end” production being filmed by the business’s biggest player the producer turned to us and said.
“You know what really disgusts me?”
I stared at the scenes of debauchery being acted out around us, and wondered what on earth could be more disgusting than this. But her attention was focussed on the yet-to-be unclothed actors waiting for their cue to undress.
“When their labels stick out of their clothes,” she snarled. “It turns my stomach.”
Contrary to belief that swearing is a sign of low IQ or deficiency of vocabulary, a recent British (who else?) study claims that
it is in fact a rich emotional and creative language – a coping mechanism which makes us feel more resilient.
Testing the theory that it makes us feel less pain, participants in an experiment were handed a glass of water filled with ice, and split into two groups. One group was instructed to swear and another told to keep quiet. Guess who held the frigid liquid longer?
As experiments go it isn’t the most exciting or revelatory in history. Anyone who has witnessed a woman in labour could have told them that screaming a few choice words is the way to go. Indeed the scientist conducting the experiment was inspired to examine swearing after hearing his own wife giving birth to their second daughter. Presumably in real life she would have never told anyone to rack off in such an unladylike way.
Unlike Russia where President Putin has reputedly just outlawed cursing in the arts, Australians are given a pretty long leash with their speech. One of the most endearing qualities of the politicians here is their frequent reference to bloody this and that, things being stuffed up and buggered. I have never heard them use the C word, although, unlike the U.S. this is generally pretty well employed across the nation.
Until it was outed in The Vagina Monologues the big C was truly verboten in America. My friend once used it when referring to an agent in a conversation with her very proper lawyer.
There was a long silence on the other end of the phone line. “That’s a word I choose not to use as a rule,” she finally replied. “But in this case, it’s quite appropriate.”
Truthfully I find people who don’t cuss – to use that good old American expression – a bit weird. What’s their problem exactly? Surely they want to.
When I’m around them I’ll restrain myself and watch my trap. But when I’m out in the real world I’ll just say it as it is – because hell, sometimes gosh darn and meanie head just don’t cut it.