Sunday, October 11, 2015

F**k (a very short blog post)

That word.  The F-bomb.  Been thinking about it, and a conversation I had about this with De Clarke years ago.

I am trying to stop using it.  It's not easy, because it was a key part of my vocabulary for so long.

It's not that I'm trying to be prudish (though prudence is a virtue) or self-righteous (how could I after having used the word around 20 million times).  I've just grown uncomfortable with how the word associates sex (it means sex in one context) and hostility or aggression (F**k you!  Get f**ked!  You are f**king me over! etc).

It can feel liberating for kids or even women in rebellion, edgy, hip, emphatic.  We use it as a way of amplifying our feelings in speech.  (I hate this f**king car!)  We can use it to intimidate.  (You got anything to say, motherf**ker!)  We can use it in the throes of passion. (Ooohh, f**k me!)  Any of you can add onto the applications from your own experience.

But at the end of the day, it is its sexual meaning that gives the term its special force.  And this is the problem I see with it.  We do associate sex with domination and aggression, and given the way that women and men are seen as do-er and done-to (even though sometimes we have androgynized the term - "Let's f**k."), it makes the do-er into the aggressor, the hater, and it makes the done-to the "receptive" one, the aggressed-upon, the dominated, the despised.

I wonder if we aren't reinscribing this association every time we blurt out this word.



  1. That is right. There are other expletives without the same built-in connotations and it is telling that they are regarded as less "effective" ("shit?" for example).

    Within my tradition (Buddhism) speech is regarded as so influential that, unlike its other 7 partners in the Buddhist Noble Eightfold Path, Right Speech is subdivided into 4 further parts we are to refrain from, according it a value most do not take seriously enough: harsh, malicious, idle, gossipy. Expletives such as you mention here violate the first 2 seriously. And it is a struggle for me as well (being the son of a working class sailor). Thank you for reminding us...

  2. I still like it. To me the usage is rarely sexual, though my wife and I do use it that way on occasion. It just has too many valid uses beyond the sexual aspect, to me. I am trying to watch my mouth more, in general.

  3. It's an absolute. Not a doubt (within the context it's being use, of course) of what's on one's mind when using the adject-noun-verb-thing. So, F**k yeah! It works for me. (My old lady isn't too happy about all this, however..."will you stop it!? it makes you sound stupid!")

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  5. You were born to argue Stan. And your points are great. I kind of already knew all this but hearing it from you gives it all a bit more impact. It's a function of your skill as an orator. So I suppose I'll be spending some energy re-evaluating and working toward letting it go. Even though I value and enjoy the word and it's been a staple for me for my entire life. F*ck.

  6. The late comedian George Carlin had a routine years ago where he suggested using the "F" word in place of the word "kill". He explained that, in his view, f**cking was an act of love, not hate. Perhaps he was in the minority....