October 11, 2007
"Mommy, what does 'bullshit' mean?"
"It's the word someone yells at you when you tell a lie. So don't lie."
-Recent conversation with my six-year-old
I was at a card game the other night and one of the players told a story about how his daughter's preschool teacher phoned him and asked that he talk to his little girl about calling the other kids "dumb ass" in school. Maybe it was time, he said, to stop swearing in front of the kids.
Later, in a seemingly unrelated tangent, I overheard him lamenting that since starting school his daughter had picked up bad habits from the other kids. None of these habits included swearing--mostly just regular kid stuff like fibbing, eating boogers and armpit farts.
I understand completely. See, I have a potty mouth and I don't see what the big deal is. Part of the dilemma, I think, is that I am a lover of words. It's hard for me to think that a word can be "bad." Words are simply descriptive. If anything is offensive, it's what the word is describing.
For example, I find it amusing that on the radio you can say "He likes to take it up the ass by large man-meat" and "Yeah, butt-sex is awesome!" but you can't call someone a "shit-head." Seriously, what's more offensive?
According to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA—they hand down movie ratings), use of the "F" word in a sexual way brings an automatic R rating. On the other hand, if a movie is chill besides the line, "I hope your limbs fall off and dogs eat your eyeballs you Jewish fuck-face," the MPAA might give the moviemaker a pass with a PG-13.
Another gross example of the stupidity of movie ratings is the renaming of the French Film Baise-Moi. In French, the title means "Fuck Me" but this was apparently too offensive for us Americans so we renamed it "Rape Me." Yeah, like that's not off-putting at all.
Which brings me to the idea that vulgarity is all a mater of perspective. Now that we know what "baise" means, does it offend us? Probably not, even though it translates to the great big, notorious "F" word.
If someone called you a cocksucker, you'd probably be offended. Possibly even reading the words makes you uncomfortable, but how about being called a "bennie?" It seems benign, but if you were familiar with the term you would know that you were just called a person who likes to perform oral sex on prostitutes.
The information available on the origin of the word "fuck" is pretty crappy. No one really knows for sure how it came about, but it's clear that we've been using it for a long time--perhaps as early as the 15th century. People have speculated that it started as an acronym for "Fornication Under Consent of King" and was posted on the doors of couples granted permission to have sex; or maybe it was a badge standing for "Found Using Carnal Knowledge," forced on promiscuous Puritans as a scarlet letter for their evil deeds.
But the most likely origin of the word comes from the Dutch word "fokken," which literally means "to breed cows."
While researching the word, I found that throughout history, many politicians like Pierre Trudeau of Canada have been caught using the word, which they tend to blatantly lie about and say stupid things like, "I said 'fuddle duddle'" or "I called him a dumb 'faker.'"
Starr Begley totally and undeniably "got it from her Mama." MTW
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