I wanted to make this into a 500 word essay but I don't think I could without sounding preachy. So here is a verse I wrote:
We're told it's the little things in life we should feel blessed for,
all the small things we never think about, that we ignore.
Look closer to home in times of existential crisis
cos no doubt it's the world out there that's made you like this
or so we're told.
I'm not gonna stand for that, justice ain't no little thing,
instead of holding out olive branches, it's the fire you bring,
it's the songs you sing, the trampled freedoms you choose to ignore.
In order to feel better about yourself, you've locked the door,
completely disregarding the twenty three millionaires
who represent us normal people from way up there.
What chance do I have of feeling better about myself
if my whole purpose in life is to be put on a shelf
into a big book of history and statistics,
a victory over laziness, or so it's twisted.
If I'm just here to prop up your political career
to be broken down and built again under a middle class veneer
I'd offer: maybe society is broken, but just to make it clear,
I'm not the problem, it's the little things in life that make people disappear.
Monday, 18 October 2010
Two nations divided by a common language.
When we talk of swearing, we all know what that means. Swearing by it's very nature consists of uttering words which represent taboos in our society, thus swear words change to suit the context. What doesn't change are the taboos. Genitalia, sex, the anus, excrement, discharge. These are the common areas which are twisted into insults such as fuck, cunt, shite, arse, prick, tit etc. Another area of swearing however, is that which insults personally. I mean, we all have some form of genitals, be it a cock or (my personal favourite for cringe factor) a minge. But not all of us are homos or bastards, or motherfuckers or bitches, for example. It's these I want to examine more.
Using a word to insult someone often takes a predictable course. Inventive swearing and insults are rare and often funny – think Monty Python & the Holy Grail's “I fart in your general direction” scene. The swear words which we use, that are most common, indicate something about our society because of the fact they are taboo. We know what it is to call someone an arse and we don't need to study etymology to work out the meaning in a particular case. Arse = behind you, at the back or bottom = you're backwards. To call someone a fag though, is completely different.
As has been drummed into public conscience, to insult someone by calling them a fag implies by connotation that to be a fag is a bad thing, hence insulting to be called one if you are not. We live in a time where gay rights are being adopted as standard, and rightly so. That being called gay is still an insult says a lot about how successful this strategy has been. Of course, if you say to a homosexual “you're so gay!” it may be a compliment but again that depends on the context in which that word is used. One idea which is overlooked by those who are easily offended is that people using derogatory homosexual terms don't often mean that the target of the insult is actually attracted to people of the same sex. Rather, they refer to the perceived negative aspects such as men being effeminate or women being manly, or even a woman being particularly feminine. Stereotypes, in short.
The word bastard on the other hand, is exceptionally old fashioned in that it is an insult derived from being conceived illegitimately. Those who see children out of wedlock are now seen as old fashioned and in the minority. Since there are an estimated 3 million children born to single parents in the UK as of 2009 surely “bastard” can't be an insult? As we know, someone will still be insulted if you call them a bastard, although it may now be used in more abstract terms - “that toaster is such a bastard”. Ironically, a google search for bastard toaster reveals a band by the same name! Nice. So how come, without the taboo, bastard is still considered insulting? Turns out I've created a straw man. Middle England (middle Britain even?) still sees being a single parent as a negative thing. This is represented in the media, with the Daily Mail springing instantly to mind and thus is perpetuated. The solution? Creative swearing. Associating a swear word with everything clouds the etymology and the true meaning. Since language is liquid, fag can now mean “loud and obnoxious Harley bikers”, and bastard can mean anything you want.
Motherfucker by the way, doesn't refer to incestuous behaviour but rather a term coined by slaves to describe slavers who fucked mothers. So there. Swear free.