You don’t need to swear to have a good time

You don't need to swear to have a good time

I don’t swear. I don’t eat red meat either. But if we sat down at dinner together and you ordered a rare steak dripping with blood I wouldn’t mind. You could drop a few F and C bombs at the same time and I’d be fine with it. No offence. No judgement. I just won’t be joining you.

It’s all about me, this decision not to swear. I could say it’s my upbringing. But then I had a similar upbringing to most people I know and they all feel comfortable with a cuss word or two. It’s not an overtly religious choice — I am not an overly religious person. It’s not even a particularly conscious choice.  I’m not wistfully looking at a group of swear words and wishing that I had the capacity to utter them. It’s just not me. Swearing doesn’t suit me.

When I was about ten years old, my best friend and I were invited to sit with the “cool” crowd. I think the Queen Bee was away that day. We were told we could stay, but we had to swear. My quick-witted friend immediately replied “You can’t f*&# ing tell me what to do, b*&#h.” I opened my mouth. No sound came out. I turned and fled. I still feel like that when some-one dares me to swear. If I try to incorporate swearing into a piece, I am all jelly-legged. I’m ten years old again being asked to do something I don’t want to do for the sake of the crowd.

I know plenty of women, plenty of writers, who pepper their arguments and their prose with swearing. And it works for them. It gives their work punch and colour. They can curve their writing around the profane and it reads empowered and care-free. I love reading their work. It makes me smile and virtually punch the air and proud to be a modern woman. If I even try, it sounds stilted and forced. Like bare-faced attention seeking. Far away from who I am as a writer and a person. I’m not trying to claim any classier moral high-ground here. I wish that my writing could feel a little dirtier, a little freer, a little less restrained by the polite.

But it’s like wishing the outfit that looks amazing on my good friend looked the same way on me. Some things suit a person. Some things don’t. You can try and force it, try to adopt something that doesn’t fit in a vain effort to be like everyone else. Or you can own it. As I get older, I choose to own those things that set me apart. Even the nonsensical ones like an aversion to swearing.

Words have provided me with so much joy. Aside from my husband and kids, they are the great love affair in my life. I like shaking them up and seeing where they land. Discovering new words, new worlds and savouring them. Tasting different variations of sentences and measures. Weighing them up and being transported by them. I see such beauty in words. There are infinite choices to combine. Permutations to explore. In all that swirling mix of language, swear words aren’t the ones that appeal. There are so many other options. At a purely personal level, they don’t add anything. Unlike other writers, other women, I find those words limiting rather than empowering.

But that’s just me.

And that’s okay.

Are you a comfortable swearer?

Written By

A self-confessed geek and lover of all things digital, Robyna started her professional life as software developer before moving into IT management and consulting. Her excitement about technology has grown since the rise of social media and she now helps professionals and firms build a strong online presence. She also writes at the Mummy & the Minx about keeping your mojo during motherhood, drinks a lot of coffee and makes her own clothes.

13 Comments

    • I’m so used to not swearing that even if I stub my toe it tends to be a “gosh”. That said I did get very mad about something and used the f word. Tends to get a big reaction.

  • I’m the same as you, Robyna – swearing is just not me and feels try hard (hasn’t stopped people trying to get me to) – really only happens in anger which isn’t great. However, it seems to work for others so I guess each to their own (but it’s nice to read about someone like me, too!)

  • I don’t believe good writing needs swear words to have an impact. There are so many amazing words in our language that we can choose from, so why choose an over-used word where the meaning is diluted by its overuse? I swear in my day to day life, not a lot, but sometimes. But I think if you can express yourself properly through your writing, swearing isn’t necessary. Like you, no judgements (because I do swear occasionally, in person), but to me it detracts from the quality of the work.

    • I think it’s hard to do very well, but I know a few writers who do. I think the key is whether it’s distracting or whether it adds to the point being made.

  • I really wanted to reply “don’t f**king tell me what to do b**ch.” but nobody ever gets my sense of humour. 😂 I’m a profaner. Both online and in real life. It’s not that I don’t have an extensive vocabulary it’s just that i swear in the same way as I use punctuation. Regularly. I am not bothered by non-profaners though so never feel you have to swear around me :-). Great piece Robyna. I have never noticed you don’t swear so it’s clear your writing doesn’t need it xx

    • Bahaha. I would have gotten it and found it funny. That’s a very kind thing to say re my writing. Maybe one day I’ll write under an alias and find the persona to really let (all) the words fly.

  • You can tell the difference with forced swearing, even in writing. It’s cringe worthy.
    I’m somewhere in between. Not a fluent curser but not a stranger to letting one fly, in the heat of the moment.

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