First of all, words are not bad. It takes emotional filters to make them seem bad. It takes intent on the part of the speaker, even of the listener, to make a word bad. Lenny Bruce said it well in his ‘Hard Words’ bit. It’s accessible in this article on the topic.
George Carlin is also mentioned in the article, as he also spoke of the power of words to hurt and manipulate–or not.
All that said by way of introduction and scene-setting, this is what I’m here to write about today:
The greater percentage of words used to insult, offend, provoke, sneer, belittle, and demean are words that refer to women, to the things of women, parts of women, behavior of women. I don’t need to list them here, you already know them, have heard them before, probably used some of them. Run through your own list of them, and get what I’m talking about.
The ones consider rudest of all refer to what is most sacred in the feminine: the child-bearing aspect. Next comes women’s sexuality, as if that’s an evil, foul thing.
It is cultural misogyny distilled into words most often spoken to hurt, to damage, to exert dominance. Whether spoken by men or women, it’s always just that: words of the feminine, weaponized.
If you have to swear at someone or something that has frustrated or threatened you, okay, fine. But kindly take a moment to choose another word that does not re-impress on your own mind, a disdain for women and the things of women. Excise those words from your working vocabulary. While you’re at it, do the same for the ones that belittle men and maleness, for the same reason. And children, too. And dogs, cats, bulls, wolves… In fact, why project any curse on anyone into the world?
Obscenity is in the heart and mind of the speaker and listener. In Euro-American culture, it is a nasty outgrowth of our joyless Puritan ancestry, which blossomed again in the pants on piano legs mindset of the Victorians. Let’s not be them.
Let us be mindful. And more imaginative.