Tag Archives: Swearing

George Osborne – the contentious cunt

There is something about the word ‘cunt’. You can’t quite put your finger on what it is, but you know it’s bad.  To try and get to the bottom of this and to work out whether it was OK to continue to call George Osborne a cunt I did a wee bit of research.

Earlier today I asked on twitter:

What was interesting is that no-one on twitter suggested that it wasn’t ok. Indeed, some seemed positively passionate about using it:

This however was in stark contrast to a conversation I had the previous evening.

“When you use the word, I genuinely get upset”

“There is something violent about cunt. It reminds me of rape”.

Both of these comments came from people who are exceptionally liberal, open minded and would otherwise have no real moral qualms with swearing. In a room of two men and two women, it was noteworthy though that the two who were upset were the two females.

As far as I could distinguish there were two main arguments against using the word.

The first I will label here as ‘the feminist’ – referring of course to the more traditional ‘classical’ wing of feminism. This argument goes something like, “Cunt – as it describes female genitalia, and is then used in an aggressive, maybe violent way is derogatory to women”.

The second argument against the use of cunt I will label as the ‘don’t shock your granddad’ argument. This goes something like, “regardless of what language you might use around friends, be sensitive of those around you. The word cunt is widely understood as one of the most shocking…you wouldn’t say that in front of your granddad would you?”

Here, I will attempt to make an argument for my continued, if only occasional, use of the word on twitter. To do this, I hope to be able to continue to being able to call George Osborne a cunt – possibly the only adjective truly suitable to a man who is taking away 30% of the annual income of Britain’s poorest families.

To start then with ‘the feminist’ argument:

1)      Cunt has ceased to be associated with female genitalia in the vast majority of its common usage. This is why ‘cunt’ is different to say ‘nigger’ which undeniably is still associated with racism in much of its usage. .

2)      Cunt, as a modern insult, can be equally applied to man or women. In this sense it again differs from words I would shy away from using as an insult such as ‘Yid’. A ‘Yid’, when used as an insult only applies to either Jews or non-Jews that you wish to paint as portraying negative stereotypical characteristics of Jews.  If you call someone a cunt, you are making no reference to gender.

3)      Lots of women use the word cunt. Are some feminists saying that they are not allowed to or shouldn’t?

4)      Equally, are they saying that it is OK to use words like ‘Dick’ but not ‘Cunt’ and why is ‘Cunt’ worse than ‘Twat’? If they answer they would argue against the use of ‘dick’ as an insult I would ask where to stop…willy, boobs, bollocks???

Then there the ‘don’t shock your granddad’ argument:

1)      Words hold relative meaning depending on their place and time. I would for example use the word cunt (or shit, poo, willy and almost any other expletive) around mates, but I might shy away from using it around my parents. But, twitter is not a face to face conversation; it is a social networking site. People chose to follow me and listen to what I have to say…in all its expletive glory. If people are offended by what I say, they can stop following me. Ideally though, they will challenge me and we can have a discussion like grown-ups.

2)      It’s ok to offend people. I don’t think it is ok to scare, intimidate or bully people but I am honestly not that worried about offending people. I am sorry if that statement in itself offends you, but it’s OK…leave a comment at the bottom and you can explain to me why your offended and we will all be better off for it.

There is something about the word cunt – it shocks. But as one of the people I was chatting with last night commented, “Isn’t that the point”. Swear words are meant to push the boundaries of what is acceptable and not acceptable. Cunt does this. It does this however without playing into prejudice and discrimination in the ways some words do.

It is in light of all this that I feel comfortable calling George Osborne a cunt. This term used in separate to any historical connotations to gender it may have once have held and used as an over the top pantomime villain kind of insult.

Last but not least, I would argue that this whole blog is a massive moral red herring. As I have argued before, we have bigger fish to fry in life.

If you want to hear more of expletive filled rants – you can follow me on twitter here.

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Filed under Politics, Social comment

Raging at moral hypocrisy

This morning on BBC Radio Five Live the American band, “Rage Against the Machine” landed the BBC in trouble by repeating four times “Fuck you , I won’t do what you tell me” in their rendition of their song “killing in the name of”.  There are a number of issues which make this event note worthy.  In no particular order:

  • Rage Against the Machine is widely tipped to become Christmas number one this year after a grass roots campaign to keep X-Factor off the top spot.
  • Nicky Campbell was conducting the interview (which added to serious comedy value)
  • The production team had asked the band not to swear, were surprised when they did and then deemed it so problematic that they did swear that they decided to cut them off before the end of the song

I will briefly take up this last point. 

Firstly, did they seriously expect a band (even if you knew nothing about the bands history could you not guess from the name) to not go against the orders and swear on live radio? Anyone (even Nicky) must have seen that one coming.  Apparently not, check out the surprise and panic in the reaction (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/dec/17/rage-agains-machine-singer-swears). 

Secondly, why are we so upset to hear swear words on radio? All you have to do is jump into a London cab or watch some football on the stands to hear some good old fashioned swearing! In fact, you have to do well to avoid swearing these days.  Fuck it…I would go as far as to say it’s almost impossible to go a day in an urban environment without hearing some “offensive” language.  Why do we insist on representing an alternative reality in our media and suppressing the charms of everyday life?

Let’s clarify something, I believe strongly in mediating what slips onto our TV’s and radio’s.  There is some stuff out there which is plain nasty.  What I am suggesting however, is that we have got our morals confused with tradition.  Why do we allow so much grotesque violence (for no reason other than historically violence was considered ok) and yet blackout swearing and sex? We can see this moral puzzle played out in film ratings.  Hotel Rwanda for example, follows the story of the Rwandan Genocide (in some harrowing detail) and is considered OK for a 12 year old to watch (in the UK).  If you added in some boobs and casual bit of swearing this would suddenly become unacceptable for a 12/13/14 year old to watch.  Have you ever questioned why an erect penis is an absolute taboo in film, but there seems to be no limit to the levels of violence that can be portrayed in films? Now question which one is most “normal”? If I had a choice I would let my kids see and hear swearing and sex way before the levels of violence that are normalised in our society.  I suggest the only difference is which morals have been historically acceptable?

The only shame about this whole story is that Rage and the advertising chiefs up at Sony BMG (who own epic records) know that swearing on radio will be a media money spinner!

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Filed under Music