Tuesday, September 18, 2007


My 5 year old said "What the fu...?" to me a few days ago. No "ck" pronunciation was heard. I asked him not to say that and he asked me why. I explained to him that "fu" was just another way of saying fuck, and that's not a word most people expect to hear out of a little kid's mouth. Again, he asked, "Why?" and I found myself repeating what mothers everywhere have always said. "Because it's a bad word."

Cameron wanted to know why it's a bad word and what fuck means. Well, that got me to thinking, what exactly is the definition of this highly charged word, and is a word ever truly "bad" unto itself, or is it the particular usage that gives a word an "ugly" connotation? I typed "fuck" into an online dictionary and found this and then googled the word and found this. Neither link leads to obscene stories or pictures.

As I understand it, the simplest definition is "to have intercourse with", but the word fuck has been considered an ugly word for a very long time. People typically use it when they have run out of patience and other words to make their point. It is one of those "catch all" words that means nothing and everything, depending on usage, context and inflection.

I don't believe there are any bad words. I do, however, think that words have power. I have lost friends by using the wrong words at the wrong time. I have hurt people deeply by throwing words at them. Most people who know me recognize that I am terribly angry if I don't use any "swear" words at all in a confrontation. Words have the power of influence, to cause wars, prevent wars, tear people down or lift them up.

I'm still not sure what to tell my son regarding why fuck is a bad word. I certainly don't want to tell him that for all intents and purposes it means sex. I consider sex to be something sacred and amazing. I do not want to have him associate something negative with something that someday will be incredibly positive.

If (WHEN!) I have to talk with him about this again, I think I'll try to focus more on choosing different words for self-expression. There are so many words to choose from, why limit ourselves to the easy ones?


Anonymous said...

OH BOY! LOL. I just "love" it when these conversations come up at my house.

I have an almost 7 year old and she has thankfully not yet heard the word fuck. But.. she heard me use damn, and we got into a whole conversation about how words mean different things when said in different ways. She knows she can use damn when referring to beavers... but that is it.

I went the route that it is impolite to use curse words. Not that the words are bad, just that most people don't want to hear them and a lot of people get offended by them. This alone has stopped her, as she puts a LOT of importance on being polite and "correct". (not my doing)

Anonymous said...

I have always felt that just because you use a different word but mean the same thing there really isn't a difference.

If you look at someone and say "Damn You" with the intent that you are cursing them what is the difference if you look at them and say "Darn You" or even "Gragulariptheratin You" but mean the same thing?

It all comes down to social conditioning. The word is loaded because our society has decided to make it loaded.

If you control sex and everything related to it you control almost every person.