(Originally published in The Huffington Post)
I love words. Like, ridiculously love them. In fact you might say I am kind of obsessed with them — like the graphic tee wearing, quotes on coffee mugs, words on pillows, mantras on bracelets -- kind of obsessed. And as a writer I love nothing more than finding the perfect word, at the perfect time, to perfectly describe what I am trying to say. And sometimes the perfect word just happens to be fuck.
I realize that my use of that word offends people sometimes. It strikes a chord, I get it. But striking a chord in people is precisely why I curse...
Because words have power.
As a culture we have decided that certain words are more powerful than others, and in some instances we’ve taken it even further and decided that some words are downright bad.
Bad, really? How can a word itself be bad? It may be a strong word -- even, sometimes, a supercharged word -- but at the end of the day, it’s just a word.
Growing up my mother rarely swore. She’s just a tiny little bit of a thing that meditated every day and taught us to always look for the best in people. So you can imagine the reaction she’d get from us kids when she’d use strong words. When we were young it immediately had us step into line -- you don’t mess with an English teacher who’s mad enough to cuss. Which was exactly the point of her using it. (Of course by the time we were teenagers it had the opposite effect, my five-foot-two manicured momma dropping an F-bomb is some funny shit).
I don’t actually throw cuss words around like a longshoreman on leave, but I do know how to use a well placed fuck —sometimes to get a reaction, sometimes to drive home a point and sometimes it’s just a damn good punchline.
As I lover of all things word related, I think we should eighty-six the idea that some words are bad and therefore shouldn’t be used.
With our daughter, we have introduced the idea of strong words instead. The idea that some words are extra charged and may elicit a stronger reaction than others. She gets that it’s no big deal to sing along with Gwen Stefani as we’re trucking down the road, “This shit is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S”. But she might want to gauge the room before sharing that particular performance with everyone in her life (like her eighty-four year old grandmother for example).
Of course strong words can also lose their power, especially when overused. We have a friend that cusses like it’s his job but my daughter barely even notices when his four-letter firebombs start flying.
I prefer to use my strong words more sparingly, keeping them ripe and ready for when I need them. I like my cuss words like I like my coffee -- bold, strong and full of flavour -- for maximum effect.
At the end of the day I don’t want her worrying about which words are bad and which ones are good. What I want her to understand, is that words have power — to hurt, to heal, to inspire, to silence, to change. They have an effect -- and the stronger the word the stronger the effect.
It is precisely this amplified power that makes strong words so impactful. And precisely why I love to use them.
“Why You Should Say Fuck It to Perfection Paralysis” is a way more intriguing headline than “How Being a Perfectionist is Holding You Back” — don’t you think?
So I’ll keep dropping my strategically targeted F-bombs and keep teaching my daughter the power of words — so she learns to use them consciously, wisely and for maximum effect.
Know someone that loves to employ a good four-letter attention getter? Do you engage in the art of the expletive yourself? Share this article with other conscious cussers -- you’ll be so fucking glad you did.
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