Fuck is Not a Bad Word

I was thinking about why curse-words are censored. What is the argument behind this? I googled a few debates, but I didn’t find a single argument why curse-words are bad, so I felt I had to write a post about it.

People who are against the use of curse-words say that:

1. People who use curse-words have a limited vocabulary and are stupid.

2. People use curse-words to be offensive and insulting.

3. People shouldn’t use curse-words because children might learn them.

4. People should not use crude or foul language because the Bible says so.

5. People shouldn’t say fuck instead of making love, it diminishes the beauty of sexual love.

Now, you may notice that none of these statements are arguments for why curse-words are bad. But we’ll deal with them one at a time anyway.

1. You don’t necessarily have to have a limited vocabulary or be a moron just because you use curse-words. Rather, by adding curse-words to your vocabulary you’re actually able to express yourself in a more varied manner. And language is just one part of the intellect, you can be terribly smart in other areas without a dictionary in your mind.

2. You can use curse-words in numerous different ways without meaning to hurt, offend or insult anyone. An insult is always an insult, regardless of which words you use. It’s the intent behind the word that makes it either offensive or not, not the actual word itself, unless you are offended by hearing the word, but if you’re offended merely by the word itself then you need to give an argument why the word is bad, and we’ll get to that soon.

3. If certain words are inherently bad, then yes, it’s probably good to have an age limit. But the question remains, what is the argument for curse-words being bad?

4. Don’t use foul language, the Bible says, but how do we define what a bad word is? Which words are bad? The Bible doesn’t say.

5. Again, this is only true if the word fuck is a bad word and there are still no signs of an argument supporting that.

Even if I did agree that it’s bad to use bad language, then how do we determine which words are bad? Let’s examine a few words.

Excrement, poo, shit, cunt, ass, butt, making love, having sex, fucking, eating, penis, vagina, arsehole, cock, bullshit, crap, hell, death, torture, nipples, breasts, breast-milk, tits, udder, bloodshed, elbow, nose,  pussy, pubes, damn, dick, damnation, devil, angel, balls, piss, semen, urine, cunt, idiot, stupid, kitchen?

All Swedish curse-words are connected to the devil or to genitals and excrement: jävlar (devils), helvete (hell), satan (satan), fan (satan), fitta (pussy), kuk (cock), röv (ass), skit (shit). Then there are a lot of insults that aren’t really curse-words, like bitch (bitch), hora (whore), slyna (whore), slampa (whore), luder (whore), cp (stupid, actually cerebral palsy), mongo (stupid) and a lot more insults. But as I mentioned already, insults are insults because of their intent, not because of which words you use.

Now, can anyone give an argument why some of these words are bad and why some are not? Why is fucking bad and eating not bad? Why is cock bad and penis not bad? Why is shit bad and excrement not bad?

The curse-words are either religious and avoided because you don’t want to call on the devil or they describe the filthiness of the human body. I don’t think the devil exists and I don’t think the human body is disgusting and even if I did I can find no reason why some words for describing the body and its functions are worse than other words describing the very same things. Why are people so strange, why are the body functions taboo? A researcher found that there are over a thousand synonyms for being pregnant in the Swedish language. Why are we not allowed to talk about something so natural, a requirement for the very existence of all living humans? Maybe because realizing how the body works makes it easier for people to realize that we are not created by God, not magical, divine or special in any way. Maybe we’re scared of being natural, soulless, temporal and mortal. That makes censorship religious propaganda, although these taboos are very old and not limited to modern religions. They might’ve originated in pre-historic cultures as a means of social control of issues relating to sex.

Someone tell me what differentiates  a bad word from an acceptable word.

Please, someone explain to my why I have to accept living in a world where certain words, for no reason, are not allowed.

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27 Responses to “Fuck is Not a Bad Word”

  1. SMorris Morris Says:

    I think you make several great points here! So called swear words are not inherently bad; it is only the intent of them. Take away the taboo and they are just words. There is a huge difference between using “swear words” to hurt someone’s feelings and demean them as opposed to using them in normal everyday conversation. Example: “I’m going to break this bottle over your fucking head!” vs. “I broke another fucking bottle!” In the first one, you are threatening bodily harm and using a “swear word.” But the word itself is not bad in and of itself. Again, it’s the intent. In the second sentence, “fucking” is merely an adjective being used in conversation, nothing more and nothing less. So why is it bad? If the person had said, “I broke another red bottle!” no one would have blinked an eye. Both “fucking” and “red” are adjectives; why is one bad and the other isn’t? I am a high school teacher and in my school we have “de-criminalized” swearing: if the words are used in a racist, threatening, or demeaning manner, the student will get in trouble. If they are used in normal, non-threatening and non-objectionable conversation, there is no punishment whatsoever, regardless of the words used! It has made an amazing difference in decreasing the number of disciplinary actions needed, and it seems to have defused much of the tensions otherwise found in a normal school setting. It has been a very positive decision, and I highly recommend other schools adopt it.

  2. enleuk Says:

    That’s really uplifting to hear; as long as the students are aware of the problematization behind why something is ok to say and something else isn’t.
    The next step, I imagine, would be an acceptance of nudity. If you understand that ass and pussy are not bad words, then you aren’t that far from accepting what these words refer to either. The reason behind nudity being taboo is very similar to the reason behind these words being taboo. It’s not just Christianity, it’s a general social construct designed for control. The people in power use that power to retain their power (I can’t stress that enough), and they do it by e.g. controlling sex, which is a very powerful thing to a human. So, in a patriarchy (e.g. Christianity), the father or the priest or king, decides who has the right to have sex with his wife/wives, daughters, slaves, concubines, or all subjects including male ones.

    Accepting your body is not only a very important thing for young people today with all the pressure to have a beautiful outside, but it’s also important for understand who you are. If you’re being taught that the body is ugly, smelly, flawed and that the real you, your soul, is created by a perfect being, then obviously your body-image and your whole self-image is not gonna be healthy. You might start to despise not only yourself, but our entire material universe. I’m convinced there is no soul so my perception is different. When I type on my keyboard I always glance at my fingers and I’m mind-blown by the awesomeness that this ritual actually implies, including the 15 billion year old worldwide chemical reaction, including the evolution of the thumb, including the life of a hair cell on my hand et cetera.

  3. wes Says:

    Seeing as this page is dominated by Atheists, I thought I’d add another religion to the mix. (Yes, Atheism is a religion. It is the belief in the lack of a god.)

    You do have some very good points. Something I’ve noticed is that people can’t agree whether some words are cuss words or not. For example: c***. I don’t think it is, but my girlfriend does. It’s the same way with d***, but the other way around. We both agree that they’re dirty, along with many other words, and will teach them to our kids as inappropriate. We haven’t discussed vulgar (but not curse) words, but we agreed a while ago to use clinical terms or abbreviations of clinical terms… except a few that are other parts as well, such as “head”… when speaking of genitals.

    These clinical terms aren’t offensive to us at all, though they may be awkward to say in some settings. For example, how many girls are completely comfortable talking about their menstrual cycle in a group of, say, 7 boys and girls? How many guys would be comfortable talking about what the chick was doing on that magazine he masturbated to last night in that same coed group? For the longest time, my brother was offended by the sight of bras. He’d turn away when he saw them at Wal-Mart.

    I do agree that culture and society arbitrarily chooses which words are dirty. I also agree that God says to keep your mouth clean. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say God says to keep your mouth clean in society’s eyes for a few reasons:

    1. your appearance to others
    2. your point of view toward a particular subject
    -with most people, a curse word changes this because society has twisted the definition into a negative connotation.
    3. your state of mind
    -the more you use dirty language, the dirtier your mind will be, and it will eventually show in your attitude, and then your actions. Then you’ll be screwing instead of truly making love, for example. (screwing is just fun. making love is genuinely fulfilling and fun too!)

    Of course, #2 and #3 can be avoided by changing your own personal definition and connotation of any word even if society has conditioned you to view it as bad. It is also possible to make clean words dirty. For example, McDonnald’s is gross. When I hear that name, I think of a burger dripping with lard, obese America, an artery bulging cause of so much cholesterol built up in it, ect. When someone wants me to even step in the door, it almost makes me gag. I’m sure other burger places are just as bad for your health, but McDonnald’s is the one my brain is allergic to.

  4. enleuk Says:

    Atheism is not a religion since atheists don’t adhere to a common institution, leader, text or ritualistic tradition. It is a belief though. But so is everything we call knowledge.

    Your reasons for disliking dirty words, or rather, the reasons you pretend that God has for disliking dirty words, are that people are affected differently by dirty words than by clean words. I’m not sure that the basic thought here is valid (instead of dirty words in themselves by their own power making an impact, it might be the idea of the existence of dirty words (ultimately the idea of dirtiness of the human body) that is the real cause), but more importantly it doesn’t say anything about why some words should be considered dirty and some clean. You say yourself that even you and your gf, two people who presumably were raised in the same culture, can’t even agree on what is dirty and what is clean. How then are we supposed to agree on a universal definition of the difference?

    The Romantics was a response to Christianity. In Christianity the soul/God is the true and valuable reality. The physical body/world is sinful, flawed, disgusting (labour is a punishment from God). Real life is not celebrated, nature is not celebrated, the physical bond between mother, father etc are considered as something that should be hidden, that only divine love (not a penis in a vagina, but the love between two souls connected by an invisible thread) is valuable. What do you think of such an interpretation of the effects of Christianity on people’s self image and view of their bodies etc? Obviously I’m assuming you’re Christian here, correct me if I’m wrong.

  5. helperandefenderofmankind Says:

    Okay, I am Christian, and suffice it to say it is reasonable to assume that Wes is Christian. Religion is a belief system. So if you BELIEVE in something it is a religion. If you believe there is nothing to believe in, it is still a belief. I am fascinated with the subject of what makes certain words bad and others good. I enjoyed your article right up until I started reading your opinion based on your belief. If one wants others to keep their opinions based on their beliefs to themselves, and becomes offended when they do….perhaps then, opinions based on beliefs should be avoided all together.

    I see dissention in your response toward Wes, who was merely making a comment on how he sees things.

  6. helperandefenderofmankind Says:

    Then after I posted I said to myself “#%^ I didn’t finish that post. lol I was saying “right up until I started reading about you opinion based on your beliefs”, but then, I realized that you were entitled to think what you want. So, I put myself in check. I just wanted to say that people who have beliefs other than yours have the same entitlement.

  7. enleuk Says:

    The only reason we ban certain words is because of our religious history. It is clear to a lot of people that God was just an invention. You might disregard this theological opinion, and I’m not trying to argue against Christianity in this particular post, but this is not about people’s beliefs, it’s about examining the problems inherent in Christianity. My intention was to make people aware of the fact that we ban certain words because of an uncritical acceptance of established cultural phenomena. And the culprit here is Christianity, not beliefs in general, it is the belief in Christian doctrine that has shaped our culture and it is only the belief in Christian doctrine I’m targeting. It’s not my beliefs against Christianity, its all non-Christian beliefs against Christianity because banning words on Christian grounds still has an effect on the lives of people of all other beliefs.

  8. helperandefenderofmankind Says:

    It is human nature to deem things good or not so good. It matters not what “religion” a human is involved in. It just so happens that in our part of the world Christianity is quite prevalent, so it takes the flack. Seriously though, your talking about something that is human nature. Whether right or wrong we humans have a deep need to do that. We are funny creatures. 🙂

  9. enleuk Says:

    You obviously didn’t comprehend the definition of religion I gave to Wes so I’m not sure if you want a theological discussion so let’s talk about human nature.

    I sleep naked, I just woke up and I’m still naked. I didn’t even realize this until just now. If I had not been told by my culture to cover up, it probably wouldn’t even have crossed my mind. Admittedly, I live in Sweden so I have to wear clothes most of the year, but there’s no reason to think it would feel unnatural to take them off when the weather allowed it. During the summer, when I go to the beach, I wear as little as socially acceptable, which means shorts.

    If we look around the world there are thousands of culture that allow nudity. If we look at history we see the same thing. E.g. men in Greek practiced athletics in the nude and even in the Bible it says that Peter was fishing naked. But then the story of Adam and Eve spread across Europe and it got even worse when the muslims heard of it. The Abrahamic religions hold over 3 000 million people hostage to an imaginary friend and the threat of eternal torture, there is nothing natural about that belief and there is nothing natural about covering yourself up.

  10. Charlie Says:

    I feel like you have some sort of internal strife between you and Christianity or any other religion that cultures have to in force humane control on people. I myself am agnostic at the moment so I understand your bias . You keep attacking the previous posters on how Christianity is wrong, and this is how things really are, etc…
    You can make a logical argument without getting emotional about making your point. I have a hard time listening to people talk about God being like a human, that the world is 4000 years old, that dinosaurs were vegetarians until sin was introduced, that god has a plan and is all knowing except he somehow didn’t know that they would eat the apple etc etc.

    Anyway, I see your point but I hope you haven’t forgot that governments and civilizations are built on religion. Why? Because who can argue against the rules of their creator, one that can destroy them and make them suffer for eternity. (Lol)
    If a civilization was built on the rulings of man it would not be pretty. Lets say a ruler or group of rulers (men) make laws to control a humane society based on a fairytale thought that people would have common sense and not kill each other. You would run into the problem that you face now.
    What makes one (rulers) man’s word or law right over another’s ideal on the subject at hand? Man doesn’t and will never see eye to eye on honestly any one particular thing due to the fact that everyone is different and things are constantly evolving.

    There is no such thing as a “cuss word”. Words are taken out of context based on the way the are delivered. Some words were just top hits through time and some insulted people got tired of hearing them so viola.

  11. enleuk Says:

    Just to clarify, in my original post, I brought up 5 arguments for banning curse-words, Christianity was only 1 of them and only there because my main languages are Swedish and English which both have curse-words that are connected to Christianity. The continued discussion involved Christians and so that became the topic, not by my choice.

    Regarding your idea that laws are based on religion and it could not be otherwise, I got a few thoughts on that.

    “If a civilization was built on the rulings of man it would not be pretty.”

    I don’t think God exists; therefore I think civilization was built by humans. I think civilization is not pretty. Put those two together and you get the sentence “Civilization was built by humans and it is not pretty.” There is no ‘if’ in that.

    However, humans have done many good things as well. We’ve built hospitals, invented alphabets and wordpress to share our thoughts, fought for equal rights for gays, women, blacks, the working class et cetera. So, the problem is not that “without God we’re doomed”, but instead “How do we make the best of it?” The problem involves your question:

    “What makes one (rulers) man’s word or law right over another’s ideal on the subject at hand?”

    There’s a thing called secular morality and we know that people in pre-history lived in social groups necessarily bonded with shared ideals. And there are plenty of Hindu, Buddhist and Western philosophers that have worked on ethics and morality without drawing on religion. Of course, some people say that any system of morality should be equated to a religion, but at the very least we can say that morality can be independent of gods.

    So, what is the difference between right and wrong? That’s your question. It is difficult to give a simple answer without referring to a few laws set in stone by an infallible being, because in the real world things are not black and white, it’s all grey, or rainbow-coloured if you prefer. What’s right and what’s wrong comes down to circumstances and since we have no infallible judge we have to settle for the imperfect judgment of humans. The best we can achieve are general approximations, but just like democracy is not just about the majority vote but includes the idea to take the minority view into consideration, morality can give us a general direction or a goal to strive for while at the same time taking the circumstances into consideration.

    What’s the general idea then? Well, we know that humans are both selfish and selfless, we are driven by our own emotions but also have empathy for other humans. We know the benefits of selfish behaviour just as we know the benefits of working together in symbiosis. The general idea has to be something that takes our ambiguous nature into consideration.

    A commonly used thought experiment is to imagine being born into a world and you get to decide exactly how that world should function. Whether one person should have power of everyone else, if there should be laws against discrimination, whether people should be stoned for adultery, whether some people should get benefits that others shouldn’t but, and this is the trick, you don’t know which position in society you will be born into beforehand. This forces you to imagine a world that is just, i.e. a world where every single individual gets a fair chance because you don’t know which individual will be you.

    I’m not gonna propose a system of morality, there are plenty out there already, but I will say that I believe in symbiosis and that I believe well-informed humans are generally inclined towards symbiosis as well. To be a little specific I think we should value above all the emotions of individuals, including animals that have emotions, and of course remember that emotions are another grey area.

    Your main argument was that a just society comes from religion and won’t come from secular morals. I think that although many good things have come out of religion, religion is not necessary for creating a good society and indeed many of the best things in society have come from protesting against religious doctrines, e.g. the above-mentioned rights of women, gays and blacks all contradict the morals of the Bible. (Men are to women as God is to men, homosexuality is a sin, the Jewish people are God’s chosen people).

  12. Anonymous Says:

    then why is sex a bad word like its a gender

  13. enleuk Says:

    Sex means both fuck and gender. I’m not entirely sure what you’re asking, but I’ll give it a go. It’s 4 years since I wrote that post o maybe I’ve learned a thing or too.

    Cock (gender) is a bad word for the same reason fuck (having intercourse) is a bad word. This is connected to the institution of marriage and other social structures designed to control the natural urge to have sex, which can be sparked merely by the thought or sight of genitals. In cultures where “clothing is optional” it is still considered rude to stare at the other person’s genitals. In some cultures it is punishable by death to have extramarital sex. In the modern patriarchy it is the father who controls the family and a sexy, younger man represents a huge challenge for the father trying not to lose control of his daughter (assuming she is straight).

    Shit is a bad word because it contains bacteria.

    In the Abrahamic tradition (4 billion people) the soul is viewed as the closest thing to God and the body is reduced to a prison for the soul. This leads to a negative view of all body functions.

    Hell is a bad word because of Christianity, such taboos are found in every religion with negative metaphysical forces. An older religious belief, ancestor-worship, is concerned with the cycle of life and the relationship between eternal life (children having children having children et cetera) and temporal life, i.e. death, making death a taboo subject or word in that culture.

    Why do the words matter so much that they shouldn’t even be spoken? Wouldn’t it be enough to just say “don’t eat shit” or “cover that pussy”. Well, I guess the ruling classes felt they needed more control over the masses and decided to ban even the words. Religion is most likely a way to unite a group of people, but when hierarchies appeared the rulers could turn this uniting principle into a controlling principle. So it’s possible that the banning of words is simply a means for control, sometimes by means of religion and thereby taking advantage of our biological need for belonging.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    fuck you,,you fucking fuck! lol it feels awesome souse!!!!

  15. Anonymous Says:

    I completely agree to everything said here!!!!! Great points and arguments. The only thing I want to mention is that curse words are not bad because of the Christian religion. They might of been seen as bad in the religion but the people practicing the religion didn’t decide, “Oh hey, here’s a word that expresses nudity, lets just tell everyone that its bad so we can have control.” I found that statement highly offensive and I don’t see any need to bring religion into the equation at all. But other than that i think that you are exactly right and more people need to understand that.

  16. enleuk Says:

    Everything I’ve talked about is about religion, so the whole equation is already about religion. The whole idea of an official marriage approved by God comes from the need to control sexuality. The taboo against nuditiy, the patriarchy, the arranged marriages, the vow of celibacy of monks and nuns, the sin of premarital and extramarital sex, covering your hair, hands, face, thighs, arms, eyes, ass, genitals or whatever.

    So you may find it offensive but the truth is Christianity is the reason why these words are taboo.

  17. Brandon Says:

    Atheism is NOT a religion. To think that is outrageous honestly. Yes it is a belief, but that doesnt make it a religion. If i believe Racism is wrong, or that theres Aliens in space, does that mean I practice the Alien religion? or the Racism religion? No, helperanddefenderofmankind, You are sincerely a fucking moron. Atheists dislike religion, we try to stay away from it. Im an atheist and your comment has gotten me irate. Such fools in this world

  18. enleuk Says:

    Alright, Brandon, but calm the fuck down.

  19. Springgirl smith Says:

    fuck is a bad word because your saying that they need to die

  20. enleuk Says:

    Are you referring to the fact that we reproduce sexually instead of living forever as the mutational capabilities better ensures continued existence?

  21. Kimberly Says:

    I wrote about something like this on my Facebook. And I received hateful reactions from my family and friends. In the thought of my depression slightly disappearing, when they deprived me of attention and used my own opinion against me my depression came back full force. I see Absolutely nothing wrong with saying fuck. But saying ugly to a fellow. Now that is bad. I COMPLETELY agree about the bad words are bad when they are said with bad intent. But I don’t think people will really open their eyes on this issue. People are too blind. Even parents. All they think about is reputation. And family name.

  22. enleuk Says:

    Sounds like a difficult situation. When it comes to family and colleagues and other people one ‘must’ spend time with, one has to think about which is more important; having peace or making a point. I can’t tell you what to do, what is best in your specific situation, but I sympathize with you. It’s strange how words can be so powerful.

  23. Lorri Says:

    I agree withthe points mentioned in this article! I sometimes accidentally use curse words which are deemed vulgar in my society(especially among the older generation). Just because my society is Asian and conservative, i get scolded bymy parents just for using the word “fuck” and other variations of it ,even if it is in another language or dialect. I cant understand why people judge the words by the meaning thats portrayed by the media as vulgar, i mean if i dont have the ill intentions behind these words, or if lets say i used these words out of excitement during gaming or talking, it isnt bad at all. People are so blinded by the commonly portrayed meaning of these “vulgarities” that they cant accept any other meanings which they have yet to find out. I hate it…cos they always jump to conclusiom that im being vulgar and low status by saying these words.

  24. yes I swear Says:

    fuck fuckriiii fuck fuck!! does it hurt anybody? NO!!

  25. Terri Reinhart (@TerriReinhart) Says:

    what totally defused the word fuck for me was finding out what it meant – where it came from. It’s from sailing days and was used like AWOL (away without official leave). FUCK stand for “for unlawful carnal knowledge” and was the abbreviation used when someone was thrown in the brig for having sex with the wrong person, creature, ..in the wrong place… wrong gender.. who knows. That’s all the farther I got.

  26. enleuk Says:

    That is an urban legend according to http://etymonline.com/index.php?term=fuck

  27. Anonymous Says:

    Well I dont care a bit
    FUCK everything

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