In A Word
If one was new to BAS, one might get the wrong impression from that, I suppose.
One might assume the author to be trashy, ill mannered, poorly educated, socially inept, or any number of other unfavorable qualities.
I've always known that people will judge you by the words you use because my mother did her best to impart that knowledge to my sisters and me. She knew we would judged because of our second hand clothes, our run down house, and the aging, rusty vehicles parked in our driveway. So she was determined that we would not validate those prejudices by speaking or behaving like vulgar, ill-bred hooligans.
She corrected our speech relentlessly. We would sigh impatiently, but then dutifully rephrase whatever it was we were trying to express in a more acceptable way. Then we would roll our eyes when she turned her back and proceed to use the most foul and shocking language we could muster up once she was out of earshot. For a while, this meant saying "fart" instead of "pass gas". But as we got older, the profanity got more colorful and creative.
And I'm sure she knew that. My poor mother. She must have thought all her effort was in vain. But not exactly. As with so many things in life, when I got older, I realized she was absolutely right.
So as I said, I knew how I was coming across when I was writing that post.
But I do strive to keep it real here, and that post was as real as it gets. And it felt SO good.
Words have power, which is why I really, really love them. They can vanquish an enemy. Mend a broken heart. Paint a picture. Inspire a nation. Right a wrong. And, they can achieve a kind of catharsis that is deeply satisfying. I felt much better after letting a few f bombs fly.
And yet, I do regret the impression I may have given with that post.
In real life, I have often been accused of speaking in a way that is pretentious. Snooty. High falutin'. Superior. If the worst thing anybody can say about me is that I use too many big words, then I can live with that. But I don't use big words to seem more sophisticated or intelligent than I am or other people are. It's because I really do adore them.
Why settle for "happy" when you could use something delicious like "convivial"? Why "sad" when you can use "lachrymose"? Why use a workhorse word like "descriptive" when you can use something sublime like "evocative". There is such a huge array of choices....it just makes me happy to know that there are infinite possibilities when it comes to describing a sunset, a kiss, a storm, an emotion. It gives me deep, abiding satisfaction to do that in a way that is unexpected, beautiful and meaningful.
And I also know that words can serve a very valuable purpose when I need them to. I have opened doors that might have otherwise been closed to me, simply because I can articulate thoughts and feelings in a certain way. It's a useful skill and one that I have used often. I interview well, for example. Not just because I can use big words, but also because I have learned to tailor my own speech to match that of the interviewer. Studies have shown that an interviewer chooses candidates not only according to how qualified they may be for the position, but also, how easily they can envision themselves being friends with the potential employee. In my experience, this is absolutely true.
So yes, I truly love words. I respect them. I employ them at every opportunity.
But I am also very pragmatic about them
I just don't get all outraged or affronted when one of my kids drops an F bomb. I probably should, for the very reasons I described in the beginning of this post. But honestly, I have bigger fish to fry and also, I would rather my kids let loose with a string of swear words than to punch somebody. Knowing how cathartic it is for myself, why would I deny them the same? I know a lot of people who would probably be a lot less tightly wound if they would just let fly with a few really well chosen profanities.
Also, I know that THOSE kinds of words are essentially...harmless. I find the word "fuck" infinitely less offensive than the word "fag" or "nigger" or "cunt". I really don't mind the C word in relation to anatomy, because again, it's only a label, but when used in reference to women, it carries with it extremely misogynistic connotations. Which I guess, illustrates the fact that context is everything.
Or is it? Hate speech is hate speech, I believe. If it is wrong for one group to use it, then it is wrong for every group to use it.
Once, my oldest son, who absolutely idolized the child who lived across the street, used the N word in the same way he had heard that child use it. The backlash was swift and harsh. And he was completely confused. He had no idea why it was an appropriate word for that child and his friends of a similar hue, but wrong for him. I, for the life of me, could not explain it to him in a way that made sense. We cannot lessen the impact of a certain kind of word or erase centuries of abuse, oppression and inhumanity associated with it....simply by repurposing it.
So, gay men, calling your other gay friends fags, queers and queens is still disrespectful and wrong. Women, calling each other hos and bitches still wrong. People of color, calling each other nigga,...yep, wrong.
The power in these words cannot be shifted. They will always be harmful and hateful, in every context, for every person.
See, I love words so much, I even love writing about why I love them. I even love writing about bad words. Or, words with bad intentions.
So if I gave the impression with my last post that I am not the eloquent and urbane writer you heard me to be (that's a little self directed sarcasm, btw. Hard to read tone on a computer screen)....please don't run away. I was just having a really bad day. And I hope, that by being genuine here at BAS, my readers can appreciate and relate to me on a level that perhaps is a smidge more meaningful than is usually true in this medium.
And that's not just a bunch of self serving bloviation.
Love that word, was just looking for a way to work it into this post.
Have a convivial weekend my peeps.