**WARNING*** There will be strong language in this post, and I assume any following discussion.

This morning on our local radio station there was an interesting discussion about the usage, intent and impact of swearing.

It was sparked by a satirical TV show, Dirty Laundry Live, using strong language to discuss Charles Saatchi, soon to be ex husband of Nigela Lawson. During the shows opening monologue the host Lawrence Mooney described him as a cunt.

To put it in context the comment was shown live to air although it was scripted. Mooney has stated they did have a strong discussion on whether to use it or not but he contends that it was both justified and effective.

The discussion it sparked was centered around the appropriateness or not of using that language on live to air television.

From a personal perspective I have no problem with the use of the word. Words are just words, some have more impact than others. Its the values you ascribe to that word, and the context they are use that matters.

In this particular instance I think calling the man a cunt was an effective and appropriate usage. Its not wording i would use around my children but again its not a show children should be watching.

The interesting part of the debate and what I was interested in discussing here was the contention that using the word contributed to violence against women. I can't say I agree with that argument.

As I said before words are just words. I'm sure that the word cunt CAN be used to denigrate women, but in the context it was used I don't think it does.

Is calling someone a prick, a cock head or a dick demeaning to men? Sure they aren't words with as much impact but they are all negative words associated with male genitalia.

If I use those words to purposefully denigrate a group then I should be condemned. But is that what has happened here?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.


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Joan, I've said this before at length:

Words only have power to the degree that We Let Them Have Power.  If we choose to react to the insults aimed at us, we empower both the words and the one delivering them.  If on the other hand we are sufficiently at home with ourselves that insults and epithets and derisive comments are met with a shrug or a "who do you think YOU'RE kidding?" kind of attitude, the words have exactly NO POWER, any more than the speaker does, and the effect and associated attempt to dominate fall flat on its face.

Granted that this requires a certain degree of strength on the part of the person to whom such words are aimed, and without that strength and sense of self-possession, yes, words CAN hurt.  Again, I have to emphasize, the hurt comes not from the words, but the capitulation on the part of the one hearing them.

Anyone who cares to call me anything from a motherfucker to a cocksucker to who-knows-what won't get my time of day.  Anyone who, frustrated with my lack of response, decides to escalate matters will discover how fast I can put them in a hospital ... and if they rush me ... in a MORGUE.

Very much like your post Loren.

That is an idealized conception of human beings, your idea about how you think other people operate, and in reality it often doesn't work that way. 

Similarly, marketers know that people are influenced by advertising and what they are influenced by.  That's why the huge advertising budgets.

Yet many people don't want to believe this.  They insist that they make their own buying decisions.

Luara, I used to be victimized by every cruel word someone aimed at me.  Now I'm not.  That change took a lot of time and work and introspection on my part, but I achieved it and my life is much the better as a result.

It may not be how everyone operates, but I see no reason why people can't recognize their own buttons being pushed by mere words and refuse to grant power to the button-pushers.

That's a tough lesson to learn, and absolutely necessary if one has strong opinions. A tough skin, a sense of humor, and the ability to think through the muck and mire of conflict to state a position, offers the best defense against such on slots.


...will discover how fast I can put them in a hospital ... and if they rush me ... in a MORGUE.

Interesting, Loren. I'm sure you know that putting a name caller in a hospital or a morgue will attract the attention of your local district attorney.

You're a rational guy; I suppose you're wanting the DA's attention.

Well ... am I allowed to defend myself if someone "decides to escalate matters" (as I previously stated) beyond the venue of words, or am I supposed to sit and take it?  Trust me, I won't.

I may not throw the first punch ... but I will do what I can to make certain I throw the last one.

I swear like a sailor unless I'm in an obvious situation where it's not acceptable to do so. Swearing has very little to do with morality. Maybe nothing at all.

I was a military dependent for years and took my children out to watch drills and physical training. On occasion we heard some drill sergeant screech at his men calling them cunt, pussy, bitch, douchebag, tits, motherfucker, and all this while the trainees were carrying rifles with bayonets. He tried to stir up their anger using female genital parts to insult them. The trainees would lunge with a stabbing motion using these same kinds of words.
Military families are well documented to have high rates of family violence. The men came home to wife and kids, got a bit overwrought, and started using these words in their homes. Kids played in the street in military housing areas, and they taunted other boys with the same kinds of language and delighted in chasing little girls screaming such invectives.
I hated the military. It was a hate-mongering culture.

I heard a sports coach urging his boys on with "Don't be a GIRL!". 

Me thjnking, "But I'm a 'girl'".  Being a "girl" is a putdown?


I love and respect all women. My mother was one obviously, and I loved her very much. Women are great, and in most cases more intelligent than men.

Among the boys on a high school football team, being a girl is definitely a putdown.

If someday they encounter any outspoken lesbians, they might hear masculinity described as both a birth defect and a mental illness. They might also hear a penis described as a dildo substitute.



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