I swear a lot. In college, I was known by friends and acquaintances for being able to string an absurd number of F-words into a sentence without completely losing the meaning of what I was trying to say.
In high school I was still a good conservative Christian and when I used profanity people would comment about how forced it sounded. As it turns out, swearing is like any other skill. The more one does it, the better and more natural it will sound. I also found that I was able to craft my words more carefully because I cared about when and what kinds of words I used. In some ways, learning to swear is a lot like writing.
Writing is a lot more than just putting words on a page. There’s word choice, structuring the words to convey the most emotionally appropriate tone, and then there’s the whole issue of what is being written. In morally conservative circles, swearing is characterized as if it were a slip of the tongue, a loss of control over one’s emotions, and while that may be true for some people: swearing is a part of my lexicon just as much as any other word.
H-E Double hockey sticks
Some people might think this would make it impossible for me to be around children. While there have been one or two times where I’ve dropped foul language when I shouldn’t have, for the most part, I find that I am able to choose what I say and when. I’m not sure why society has such a strong aversion to hearing children swear, but I fully intend to teach any children I have that using foul language is fine. What’s far more important is how profanities are used.
If my child cussed out their teacher, that’s not an immediately bad thing. Was the teacher being disrespectful, lying, or abusing their power? My child’s use of foul language might have been appropriate. But my child may have made agreements, such as agreeing to abide by a student code of conduct that prohibits the use of profanity. In that case, the problem isn’t that my child used bad words, it’s that my child broke an agreement they made with the school.
I confess to enjoying how offended older people get. The mere use of foul language seems to push them one step closer to the fiery pits and it fills my heart with glee. But while offending a demographic who seem to think my generation is weak and overly sensitive, I also don’t always have the luxury of speaking my mind. I’ve worked a number of customer service jobs in my many working years and it never ceases to amaze me how many people think that my composure is an absence of feeling.
Using profanity was liberating for me. Like having my cast cut off after I fractured a bone in my wrist in 4th grade, I was finally free of this thing that was holding me back from utilizing an area of creativity in my language. I’ve had fun performing at spoken word events where profanity is against the house rules and coming up with creative solutions that don’t involve tripping over my words. I’ve found that there are some words that I won’t use even though I could because they’d be more hurtful than helpful in my creative process.
I’ve found a certain freedom in swearing a lot. Maybe you will too.
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