Family Nature

Swear Words

I swear sometimes. Sometimes I swear a lot. I don’t swear much on my blog though, and I’m not really sure why. There is a blog post I want to write. I’ve been thinking about it for a while now, and every time I think about it a lot of swear words come to mind. Then I think “oh, I can’t write a blog post full of swear words” and then I think, “why not?”

One of my kids asked me one day, “Why is the f-word a bad word?” I had to really think about this one. Why is the f-word a bad word? How do words become bad? What I came up with – quickly on the spot – is this: the f-word can hurt peoples’ feelings and when you use swear words, sometimes people make judgements about you; sometimes people think you’re not nice or you’re not smart when you use bad words. Having had the chance to think about it some more, I’m not sure if that was the best answer but it was the one I gave at the time and the kids seemed satisfied with it.

Here’s the thing: swear words are just words.

No seriously, hear me out. I can use the work frack, or frig, or frick and all of these are a-okay but fuck is a whole different story. Why? They all mean exactly the same thing! Same with “oh, shoot” and “oh, shit”; they mean the same thing. One is “acceptable” and one is not. For some reason, our society has deemed these words “bad” and I guess that’s that.

The radio version of Hedley’s Cha-Ching bleeps out three words: ass, lesbian and fuck. (Funny, the YouTube version only bleeps out fuck. Varying degrees of “bad” when it comes to words, I suppose.) Lesbian, a bad word? Really?

Really?

There are lots of bad things in this world that I don’t want my kids to see and hear. Lesbians are not one of those things. The word fuck also isn’t one of those things.

Don’t get me wrong; we’re not sitting around the dinner table saying “Will you please pass the fucking salt?” or “How the fuck was your day today?” I generally don’t swear around my parents, or my in-laws or when I’m talking to the kids’ teacher. Obviously there are times when “bad” words aren’t appropriate. But if my kids hear the odd f-word, I think its fine. Personally, I’d much rather hear kids say that something is “fucking awesome” than hear them tell each other to “shut-up”. Hmm, I guess there are varying degrees of bad words.

So there, I’ve said it. I swear.

Don’t be surprised if you see a blog post with lots of swear words sometimes soon.

Image by carolyntiry via flickr.

12 thoughts on “Swear Words

  1. Alexandra

    Oh, I would fall off my chair laughing if one of my kids asked me “how the fuck was your day?!”

  2. mary

    omg!! i laughed my effing ass off!!!!
    great point, i feel the same way.

    and i especially loved, “how the fuck was your day?”

  3. Sylvia

    My 10 & 6 year olds just asked me yesterday how words become bad….I replied..”I don’t think there are bad words it’s the way people use the words that makes it bad.” So I agree with you 100% on this one…good job!

  4. Star

    I swear, too … and I haven’t made much effort to stop since having kids. It was a tad disconcerting to hear my then two-year-old swear correctly in adjective form, but it still didn’t stop me. Now he is 3, and even though he hears me swear several times a week, he doesn’t use the words himself all that much. I’ve told him “don’t say that in front of Nana and Grandpa” and he seems to have intuited that they are different from other words … sometimes we catch him muttering them under his breath, which is hilarious. Your argument here — that they are just words — is similar to the one I made to my dad when I was 13 or so. He didn’t buy it, but I have always believed it is true. Swearing is only wrong, in my view, when you are swearing AT someone as a form of verbal violence. (And even then only when they can hear — otherwise I couldn’t swear at other drivers in traffic!)

  5. cheryl

    I don’t swear much. I also don’t care much if my children hear swear words, however you define them. I think preventing them from hearing or saying these words is a lost cause. What’s more important (and possible) is that they learn where it’s appropriate to use these words, and where it isn’t. And it sounds like that’s exactly what you’re teaching your kids.

  6. Amanda

    @Alexandra, @Mary: I know, me too! I once heard my (then) 3 year old say — in the cutest, squeakiest voice — “Shut the fuck up”. And even though that is (in my view) a way of swearing that I don’t approve of, I could not stop laughing!

  7. Rodger Levesque

    One function of language is as a marker of class. Check out Billy Elliot, which is a great movie regardless. But you’ll see the working class swear (like truckers!) and the management classes, at least in the business of managing don’t swear.