Wednesday, October 12, 2016
In Which I Cuss
"Watch your language!"
No, I fucking won't. I cuss. A lot. When appropriate. I like to cuss. People liked to be shocked at it and tell me no one will listen to a word I say if I don't clean up my mouth. They mistake me for someone who gives a shit.
I even let my kids cuss, most adults won't like it and they can't use those words at school. My 10-yr-old asked "Mom, if shit means poop, why can we say poop but not shit?" I didn't have an answer that was logical enough for her analytical mind. "Because the culture says so" doesn't fly well with her. "That's a stupid reason". Yes, Baby, it is. In our home, "bad words" are the words used to degrade another human being, not 4-letter words that someone decided are arbitrarily "bad".
But I don't swear like a sailor just to shock people. (OK sometimes I do, I admit.) I have reasons. They may not make sense to others. I don't care, really. They're my reasons and that's good enough.
From birth, I was controlled. In every way a person can be controlled by another, I was. My body, mind, eyes, ears, sexuality, words, actions, thoughts, and being were all completely controlled by my parents and my church in the name of their god. It took me years and much trepidation to throw off that control.
I started with my body. At 19 years old, I went into a western wear store and bought my first pair of Wrangler jeans (hey, I'm from redneck town, it's what all the cool kids wore). I would stuff them in my backpack and change from a long, shapeless skirt into my new jeans before walking into the community college I was attending an hour away from my home in the mountains. I'd change back into the skirt before going home. But it felt so wild and rebellious. I cut off my long hair and got it styled. I bought short skirts and tights and boots that were more in style and fit my body better, pushing the line of what my parents thought was acceptable and modest. These were all baby steps toward taking control of my own body. I was shamed for it, but I kept moving forward.
I started figuring out my sexuality. Looking things up in books and online, asking questions of people I trusted. Making out with my boyfriend, figuring out what I liked, coming to the awareness that desire was a good thing, a human thing. That I was human after all. Everything that was "sin", that would soil my pure heart. Hell, even falling in love was something I was not allowed. That was the first step of taking control of my sexuality. I slowly, bit by bit, piece by piece, took back my sexuality from the ones holding it hostage with threats of hell and contamination. It was scary and confusing but exhilarating and empowering.
I started renting movies after I left home to become a nanny to pay for school. I rented all the popular 80's and 90's movies that I wasn't allowed to watch. I studied them with all the focus and seriousness of a foreigner studying the culture in which they were trying to assimilate. I bought music I wasn't allowed to listen to. I went out with friends to see movies in the theater, went to concerts, went ice skating where they played rock music, and hung out with people I never would've been allowed to associate with, let alone befriend. I read books that were forbidden. My mind was opened to the vastness and wonder that is philosophy and psychology and science and fiction. The world opened and changed before my very eyes and it took my breath away.
In every way that I had been controlled, I carefully and slowly threw off the chains and chose my own way, embraced my own body, freed my own mind.
And now I cuss up a blue streak. Whenever I feel like it. Because my words aren't controlled by others anymore. I can tell my story if I want and I can say "fuck" if I want and no one can sanction or punish me for it. My words are the last context in which I have thrown off the control that defined my life.
I love words. They flow off my tongue and from my fingertips like shiny pebbles rolling off my hand into the river, splashing and rippling delightfully. Words are my medium and life is my canvass and I use them to paint whatever picture I want others to see, whatever emotion I want them to feel. I like swear words just as much as any others. They're expressive, they're funny, they're shocking, they defy social norms and gender expectations, they are empowering, and sometimes they are the only words appropriate.
But they're also meaningful to me as a symbolic reminder that no one controls any part of me anymore. They're a symbol of hard-won freedom. I choose what words to say and what words not to say and when to say them.
I fucking choose.
So when you try to control my words by shaming me for them, I can only throw my head back and laugh. Jesus fucking Christ, you don't know what kind of control and shame I've already tossed into the damn ditch. Your pathetic attempt at censorship can't touch what I've already lived through. That shit's got nothin' on the control of my past, the control that I've thoroughly and utterly discarded, and my give a damn's busted.
Or, as I like to say these days, fuck that shit, I don't give a rat's ass, my words are mine.
Fucking deal with it.