What's the ******* problem??!!
When a gentlemen is disposed to swear, it is not for any standers-by to curtail his oaths.
William Shakespeare Cymbeline (Cloten at II, i)
Or is it? In this modern age, when ‘swearing’ has become part of our daily language and most swear words (well at least the ones I know!) are included in the most respectable dictionaries, should we really make such a fuss about it any more?
Jack was embarrassed–never hero more, And as he knew not what to say, he swore.
Lord Byron The Island
Do we just swear because we’re stupid and can’t think of anything better to say? Or is it just making full use of our varied and colourful language?
Children’s author Jaqueline Wilson (Tracy Beaker, Kiss) often broaches ‘difficult’ topics in her children’s novels, such as abuse, homelessness, sexuality and divorce. However, her publisher Random House has received three (yes, THREE!) complaints about one of her latest novels aimed at the over tens, My Sister Jodie which has sold 150,000 copies since March this year. Asda have removed the book from their shelves after receiving a single complaint. So, what has caused this cascade of criticism against the much respected, one time Children’s Laureate, Dame Jaqueline?
Used several times apparently. Golly gosh. The publisher has defended the use of the word by a certain nasty character in the book. However, Random House will be changing the offending word in future additions of the book as “Jacqueline doesn’t want to offend her readers or her readers’ parents”. The word will be changed by one letter. To twit. That’s going to give some credibilty to the character!
So when is swearing appropriate and who’s to say when it is or isn’t? Should we have to listen to other people swear? I would think that most people would say there’s nothing wrong with swearing these days. However, there’s an unwritten moral code, which it has to be said, large portions of society don’t adhere to. For example, you might swear openly with your friends in the pub on a Friday night, but not when you’re sitting down to Sunday Lunch pub grub with you family. You might feel a sense of guilt to swear in front of children or your granny. Truth be told, they’ve probably heard and used swear words you never knew existed! And as children, didn’t we whisper such words to each other too and think they were funny and ‘cool’?
When Joan Rivers call Russell Crowe a “piece o’ fucking shit” on live lunchtime tv in the UK back in June this year almost 50 people complained. Almost 50! Mind you, how indicitive this is of reaction is debatable, as there were probably only 52 people watching lunchtime middle-aged-ladette-gossip-and-bitch show Loose Women at the time.
Surely the language itself is not the problem. Shouldn’t we be more worried about how the language is used? If my husband makes me jump and I spill my coffee and I squeal, laugh and giggle, “oh you utter twat!”, who exactly am I offending?
It’s a difficult subject, full of the usual hypocrisies of modern society. I admit, my children hear me swear. They don’t, however, see me screaming expletives willy nilly in an aggressive manner at people who annoy me. Swear words are words we use. They’re in the dictionary. Unless you’re using them to deride, bully, offend or hurt another being, is there really a problem? But what do you teach the children? Our 9 year old son was in big trouble with his teacher a few weeks ago for giggling at the word “prick” in his dictionary as he was supposed to be looking up another word in his Literacy class. We, irresponsible parents, just laughed when he told us.
All his friends swear constantly! He, however, does not. He’s renowned amongst the other year 5ers for not swearing! The reason for this is not that we mollycoddle and hide him away from obscenities. We’re very open and honest with our children and, as I said, they do hear us swear.
A fair bit!
However, they also know about respect and kindness and compassion.
This is why he doesn’t swear.
Afterthoughts: Because as usual, I didn’t have time to think clearly!
My mother by the way, finds it really embarrassing that our kids say “bugger”. She thinks this is swearing, we think it’s just normal! Also, must note that the word fart is commonly used on kids tv these says (was bad swearing when we were little!) and why is it ok and cute in certain circumstances for little cute kiddies to swear for our enjoyment?! (See VW Advert and The Normals)