The “F” word…

8 thoughts on “The “F” word…”

  1. Gayle, I think you are an amazing writer and a very evolved human being. Personally, I think using terms like fuck and motherfucker is disrespectful. To women and to mothers. And to all of us here on the planet. I am not grasping how the use of these words show empowerment. The implication I read (correct me if I’m wrong) is that not using these words shows timidness and a lack of self worth. For me, I don’t buy it. I think bold writing is fantastic and I love your writing. What makes me love it less is seeing the word fuck and motherfucker in your blog. It makes your overall message seem crude. This is my honest reaction and I certainly don’t expect you to change how you write just because I find these words unrefined and distasteful. It’s my 2 cents, so to speak. You have a big voice with a lot to say. Keep it coming.

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    1. Dear Judy, Thank you so much for your honest feedback. I really do appreciate it, and I think I understand how you feel, because I felt that way for a long time. I DO know that the use of those two words can be offensive to a lot of people. I didn’t mean to say that people who don’t use that language are timid or lack self-worth. I think a lot of very strong, wonderful, empowered people can speak loud and clear (or soft, but still clear) without using one word that would cause any discomfort in others. Their ideas might cause discomfort, but not necessarily their language. So, no, I’m not meaning to imply that Not using the “F” word and related words indicates weakness of any sort. In terms of what I wrote, two things are possible – one is the possibility that I didn’t do a very good job explaining myself and what I was trying to convey, and two is that even if I did, there might still be an honest disagreement with how and which language should (or should not be) used. You may have noticed that on my FB posts over the last several months I have experimented with using this language, my own personal attempt to express something in stronger, less “polite” ways. I’m sure I have probably offended some people, but no one questioned it or commented except my mother. Because she asked, she and I (and my daughter) had a 3-way phone conversation regarding how the “F” word has come to have a number of different meanings besides the more commonly held ones of the past. The new meaning has something to do with expressing determination, and kind of intentionally not being “toned” down in our writing. I, and a lot of other people probably picked it up from Cheryl Strayed’s writing. (There couldn’t be a less gross, less crude human being on the earth than Cheryl in my opinion). It’s interesting how she uses this language and still is able to convey great humanity and tenderness and specifity. Of course, she is a far more experienced and, no doubt, more talented write than I. Perhaps it works better for her, though I know for a fact that she has her critics as well. Other people – the next and next, younger generations, have probably picked it up in other ways. I’m not sure. This being said, I deplore how language is often used in rap songs, so I am one who can be offended by it too. I think specific words, like the “F” word can have different meaning to different people, in different contexts, and not have a gross or crude interpretation. This was the way I was trying to use it, with a different connotation than how it’s been used in the past. In my blog post I was trying to express how I am working with this new habit I’ve developed in using the “F” word, how I’ve become aware of possibly over-using it, as well as the words amazing, awesome, omg, and wow. I did not mean to offend. But did mean to try to express myself, and question how I use language. I really appreciate your letting me know your thoughts. Though I will probably still use the “F” word on occasion, your thoughtful letter will make me think twice before I do. It can never hurt to be more thoughtful about what we put out in the world. Thanks Judy.
      I hope some other people will chime in here too with their perspectives.

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    2. I’m so pleased to see a comment made it through (besides mine, I mean). I love that you are exploring the eff word and all that it stirs up. Brings to mind George Carlin of course. I have a complicated relationship to curse words because my parents used all sorts of curse words when I was growing up, including *fuck.*. My mother rebelled against her very proper Victorian (in mindset) mother by using it a lot. I think they tried to explain to me when not to say it, but it became a habit when I was younger. In the past, I used it in the wrong place at the wrong time out of habit and offended others and felt a lot of shame about that. And of course, Caitlin (my daughter) uses it a lot and managed to offend my brother, which is such a curious thing to me, since he is not easily offended. Well, she can control it in the first grade classroom at least. “Fuck” still slips out now and then, and on the one hand I feel it signals that, hey, I’m not a prude, I’m salty, I’m down to earth, I’m not easily offended. On the other hand I worry that I have gone too far and offended someone. Well, fuck, it’s complicated, isn’t it?

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      1. Thanks Lisa! Yes, it’s so complicated, and interesting. What’s “proper” in one era and another can be two vastly different things, based on the current or local “mores”. I remember when I was a teenager and one of the popular slang words that all the kids used (including the really “goody two shoes” kids, which I certainly was), was “bitchin”. You’d say this is bitchin; that’s bitchin. Bitchin’ meant really good. When my father heard it, he didn’t say anything, but the next morning when he saw me dressed and ready for school, he told me I looked like a bastard. Shocked and hurt, I looked back at him uncomprehendingly. He said, oh, yeah, that’s really good, like a bitch, or a bastard. He tried to make it sound like he’d just pulled off a joke, but he was never a good joke teller, and in fact, he was angry at me for my language. But there wasn’t a discussion about language; he just made me feel bad about myself. For sure I never said it in front of him again. And that’s how that went.

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    3. I’ve been giving this whole f-word thing some thought lately. I love Gayle’s writing, and I love Cheryl Strayed, but somehow I can’t disassociate these particular strong words from what I assume is their origin in the language. For me, it’s not so much their offensiveness (although I agree that a speaker or writer should think at least twice about offending someone), but rather, as I think Judy is pointing out, these particular words are still, to me, associated with sexual violence and in the case of the reference to mothers, violence against women.
      I know. I know. It’s clear that people use these words without meaning them literally at all. Like “Go to hell” I suppose was born in an age when it was spoken as a real curse by people who believed in damnation and curses. But these words still feel to 73-year-old me, not so much “offensive” as in “impolite”, but offensive as in “aggressive,” especially against women.
      Thanks for another thought-provoking (and articulate!!) blog post, Gayle.

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      1. Thanks Anita. Thank you for your kind words and taking the time to reflect and write your thoughts. I just wrote a whole response to you, but decided to post my response to you as my next blog post. Look for it later today. 🙂 xo, g.

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