I’m not a fan of censored swear words in writing, particularly in books and columns. If you’re unable to swear with conviction — then don’t bother swearing at all. I fail to see how replacing letters with symbols protects ‘the child’ or ‘offended adult’ from the full throttle of a naughty word.
If you’re a fully-fledged grown-up and experience ‘sweats’ when you hear an expletive, perhaps it says more about you than the word in question.
Swearing is a valid and passionate way to express one’s self and if delivered well — it can cut through heart tissue more ferociously than the sharpest of blades.
According to science, swearing is a powerful medicine. Cognitive scientist, Benjamin Bergen who researched profanity for his 2016 NY Times bestseller What the F says: “We punish people for swearing. So we’re training kids, socially, that these words are powerful.”
According to Bergen letting go off a ‘fuck’ or a ‘shit’ in front of children isn’t actually damaging. People associate ‘profanity’ with verbal abuse he says. Yet swear words are only used in an aggressive manner about ten per cent of the time. They are primarily used to express raw emotion or articulate humour when communicating.
It’s often assumed that those who love to swear are somehow mentally retarded or possess smaller vocabularies than those who don’t swear at all. Thankfully science has debunked this myth. It turns out that spruiking obscenities is actually a sign of higher intelligence.
Research undertaken at Keele University in the UK revealed people can tolerate pain for longer when repeating a swear word in comparison to repeating a non swear word.
With swearing being a natural fight or flight response to life. Is it really necessary to censor it?
In Australian newspapers, it’s got to the point, where non swear words are being censored. Just a few weeks ago, this column was published on ABC News and when quoting an Italian film critic, the writer of the piece used dashes for the non swear word “whore”.
These are just two incidences.
The word ‘whore’ according to various scholars has been around since 1200 or so. Censorship of the word really isn’t necessary — unless you’re a snowflake, that is.
Should we start censoring the word s-x because it’s naughty? How about “v-gina”, because a dick goes in there? Is there anything that doesn’t offend the neo-puritans?
Vanessa de Large is a freelance journalist, sex columnist and public speaker that divides her time between London and Melbourne. You can find more of her work on her website.
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