It’s a word that expresses everything from rage to happiness. People use it as an adjective—a quantifier of all things imaginable, and of course, a verb. Once the most taboo of the curse word world aside from certain words describing female genitalia, it’s now one of the most commonplace words I hear, and use, in daily life.
I’m often criticized, as are others, for using the word “fuck”. I mean, I’m a mom and grandma. My vocabulary is supposed to be sanitized. Truth is, I think there are far worse words and phrases wafting into the tender ears of the young, which people think are fairly benign.
Racial slurs, disparaging remarks, abusive language, and overly critical words bother me far more than a single four letter word ever will. Hearing parents tell their sons not to do something because “it’s gay” or makes them “a girl” disturbs me. Watching parents argue and call each other names like “stupid” or “worthless” in front of their children must be harmful. Parents telling their children in some way or another that they’re “losers” must affect that child for life. People letting pejorative terms like the “N” word or other ethnically based slurs become part of their vernacular—even in front of their children, enrages me. These abusers of each other and the rest of the world see no problem with their own language because it suits them. They’re the narcissists of the linguistic world. Yet, let me say “What the fuck,” and all of a sudden I’m the devil risen from the Earth below—the scum of the Earth, the bane of society, the one who will turn the world to ash with my one tiny word. People assume I’m uneducated—the most disgusting of trash, and that is fine by me, I suppose. I’m not overly sensitive to criticism, especially the useless unwarranted variety. Think what you wish about me. I’ll be fine.
What does bother me, though, is that these same people cannot for the love of Cheddar Cheesus see what they’re doing with their own use of language. They do not see that just because a word is not taboo does not mean it’s okay. It might harm people, too. Even the most nonthreatening words, when phrased in certain ways, can harm folks.
Think of the term “those people”. One might say, “I was standing over there with those people.” All well and good, but if we change the sentence and intonation just a bit, it’s hurtful. For instance, “ I would never stand over there with those people.” All of a sudden, whoever the object of that person’s disdain might be, is a group of undesirables. They’re only two words used every single day, both in casual and professional settings. Those two words are completely acceptable, but sometimes they hurt people far more than my “fuck” ever has.
I know how to be professional and respectful. My mouth has a filter (most of the time, anyway), but if I’m in a casual setting, I’m probably going to say “fuck”. I’ll probably say it a lot, and I may use other taboo words. What I won’t do is use terms that hurt people. I won’t use what I call “weapon words” for my kids to pick up and sling at others. So really, if the world judges me by “fuck”, maybe they should step back and reevaluate the words they don’t find harmful at all.