Friday, February 26, 2010

California's "Curse-Free Week"? Are you $*#&^%# Serious, People?!

Apparently, the state of California has experienced such an economic turn around that its politicians now have the time to pursue more important matters, like changing the vocabulary used by Americans. Thanks to Kevin (creator of A Slant Truth), I learned that the genius assembly-persons have passed a resolution that would declare the first week of March as "Cuss-Free Week" all across the Golden State.

I love the article that Kevin linked to, especially because of this quote from the Democratic Assemblyman, Anthony Portantino: "I've always wondered why we behave differently when grandma is watching than when we're on our own". When I read that I laughed and laughed because I thought about how naive this guy is being. My grandmother was the first person I've ever met who used the word "twat". Not only did she use it, she used it quite liberally. Whenever my brothers and I were wiggling around too much or getting too rambunctious, she'd tell us all to "Sit your twats down!" or "Keep your twats still!" I had no idea what the term meant or that many people considered it a vulgarity until I used it at an inopportune time involving a (right-wing, conservative, evangelical Christian) social gathering my parents were attending. Ahh, the joys of parenting!

Honestly, this was never an issue for me and my daughter. Down here in Louisiana, people are very strict about what's considered good manners and civilized/ladylike behavior. It can really work against you to violate these social mores, so I taught my daughter that she should never allow any adults to hear her using curse words when she was outside of our home. It's not that I disapproved of cursing. I just didn't want her to have to deal with all of the hassle that would go along with it, such as the scolding from adults, the classist assumptions people would make about her intelligence and educational achievements, the punitive treatment from teachers and other school officials.

I also taught her that it was perfectly okay with me if she used curse words with her girlfriends, but that she might want to consider easing up on the use of some of those words if boys happened to be around. Even if she and her girlfriends knew what each other meant when or if they affectionately called each other "bitch" or "cunty", boys will sometimes see this and try to excuse their own use of these words by pointing out the times they've heard a girl using them. I taught her that it was a weak tactic, because the meanings of words often depends on who's using them, but that didn't mean that she had to make it one that was easy for them to use with her.

Kids are smarter than we give them credit for. She has never had a problem with altering her speech based on who was around. At the same time, she always speaks quite freely when she's among her peers. Her friends also know that they don't have to hide the fact that they curse from me. In fact, they love to amuse themselves by teaching me the curse words that kids use today.

I find that I'm a lot closer to these kids than they tend to be with their parents. I think the fact that they don't have to censor themselves to adhere to some completely subjective standard makes it a lot easier for them to just open up and talk to me things that their parents might be quite shocked to learn. I remember being a teenager and it was hard enough just talking about mundane stuff with my parents; the idea of discussing controversial subjects was never even seriously entertained because, before I opened my mouth, I had to consider what they would think of me if I said certain things that, while true, were definitely profane in their eyes.

Today, my daughter and I regularly talk about subjects that I wouldn't never have brought up with my parents. We cackle until the wee hours of the morning sometimes as we talk about conversations and events that have taken place while she was at school. I don't think anyone could prove that our relationship would or could have been better than it is now, if I had forbidden her from using curse words. Even if I disapproved of her using curse words, it would still be worth accepting just in case it might eliminate one possible conversation barrier between us. I'd urge any parents, especially those of teenagers, to give some thought to whether the use of curse words is something they really need to be concerned about.

1 comment:

bayoucreole said...

Wow! I thought I was the only one who felt this way. Great post.