21 Feb What’s with the swearing?
Since when did it become OK to swear so readily? Why has our use of language become such that it is deemed to be acceptable to profoundly swear when writing about everyday occurrences? I am by no means innocent when it comes to swearing. I love a good old swear every now and again but I carefully choose my audience.
Now it seems acceptable in writing to swear with reference to our children, our family or strangers on the street. Why has our gift of language been devalued to the extent that we can no longer find words to describe our feelings, our surroundings or our thoughts without succumbing to using foul language. I may be described as prudish or out of touch but I cannot and will not use swear words in my writing, whether a blog post or social media update. The main reason for this is I know that my parents read them. At the ripe age of 44 and a half I still do not want to upset of offend my parents or anyone else who stumbles across my writing. Our use of language has evolved to the extent that I don’t think we should have to resort to expletives to demonstrate how we feel about something. If we cannot construct a sentence that truly conveys our sentiment, there are plenty of resources online to help generate vocabulary and ideas.
Is this prudish? Yes, it probably is but something that is important to me. People are still offended by swearing and whilst, as I said before, I enjoy a bit of effing and jeffing in the right company, I would not do so about people, things or institutions I respect. With this in mind I wonder how people can so easily swear about their children. I fear that my views may warrant a backlash or a comparison to the legendary Mary Whitehouse of the 1980s but I don’t understand how people can, or want to be derogatory about their children through the language they use. I mulled this over with a friend today; since when did it become OK to swear profusely about children? Since when did it become OK to be derogatory about children using the guise of humour? I do get that it’s a humour thing and that maybe I’m taking it too seriously but it makes me feel really uncomfortable when such abusive language is used to describe the behaviour, appearance or the personality of a child. Using insulting language towards anyone, let alone children, shows a lack of respect. The definition of respect includes a due regard for the feelings, wishes, or rights of others. I understand that the writing is often exaggerated or fictional but for anyone reading it, adult or child, there is an underlying tone of disrespect.
I would like to see this current trend of normalising swearing fade away and instead a return to a consideration of purpose and audience. When we are writing about children for example, does the purpose of humour trump the fact that this language could be viewed as abusive and emotionally damaging? When a statement relates to “f**king children” do we perceive that to mean all children, my children, your children? Does it really matter? Maybe it doesn’t in the whole scheme of things. Yes, I don’t have to read it and to be fair I don’t but I do wonder what the impact of this accepted language of disrespect is having on our world view and the way we relate to each other.
This is purely a pondering, it is not a criticism of any platform, person or viewpoint. I appreciate that we all have our own morals and values and that we promote these through the language that we use. I just wanted to put the theme of swearing within a context of respect for others, particularly children. Or, do I just need to get a grip and accept that I’m just not ‘edgy’ or cool enough for this day and age and stick with my suburban life and romantic novels?