If you choose to swear around your kids, that’s your call. But you won’t hear it from me.
CEOs do it. Psychiatrists do it. Your mom does it.
Myself, I can swear like a sailor. Hell, I’m married to a retired sailor. But I choose my outlets carefully for the outpouring of expletives that simmer on the tip of my tongue when I observe displays of pure ignorance.
I don’t swear at family gatherings when there are young folks within earshot. I don’t drop an F‑Bomb in front of my 92-year-old aunt. In management training, I learned that profanity in the workplace can be related to sexual harassment, so I’ve crossed that setting off the list.
And I don’t shout expletives in a place of entertainment that caters to little kids. Places such as playgrounds, zoos, or Chuck E. Cheese’s.
I don’t judge people by their covers. I have a female friend who rides a Harley. I also have a female family member who will kick your ass if you make fun of her for drinking out of a beer bottle at a wedding. Whatever your life choice, ethnicity, sexual orientation, social status, etc., I believe we are all on the same playing field. But when we play, let’s play nice. Let’s take care with those who cannot protect themselves.
In the Dresden bombings of WWII, a massive air attack that killed 130,000 people. According to Kurt Vonnegut (a soldier who survived in an underground meat locker), the majority of those killed were innocent victims. Dresden was designated a safe city of no military significance—most of the victims were unarmed.
Even if you don’t have kids, nor ever want them, do you think there should be safe places where young kids can hang out without being F-bombed?
In a scene that could have had John Quinones hiding in the background during a filming of ABC’s What Would You Do?, I found myself on a public beach last weekend, surrounded by kids toting buckets and building sandcastles, and plopped in the middle of it all were four 30-somethings (two couples) blasting music and having a good time. They stuck to classic rock and a little pop, which was cool. No one seemed to mind. But when they started dropping F‑bombs—loudly and repeatedly—I glanced around and, sure enough, a little boy, 6 or 7 years old, was standing just 10 feet from the bombers.
I still remember the first time I heard the F-bomb from my cousin. I was in the third grade. No one used even the mildest swear words around me, let alone the mother of all swear words. Maybe parents are different today. Maybe they think that since their kids hear it on the streets, it’s OK to swear around them. If that’s what a parent chooses for a child, who am I to judge?
The first time I heard a swear word on primetime television was 1983 (read: the stone ages when the majority of TV-viewers still watched ABC, NBC, and CBS). The show was “Dynasty” and the female leads were played by Linda Evans and Joan Collins. Collins’ character stooped as low as she could go, backstabbing Evans’ character at every opportunity. Until the episode when Evans called it like it was, “Bitch!” and the two commenced a slap-fest that ended with both women in the lily pond. I cheered! But I still remember how my insides jolted when I heard the word “bitch” spoken on TV.
Lest you think I’m a prude, TV Guide listed that episode of “Dynasty” as one of TV’s Most Memorable Moments.
Yes, society has evolved. We regularly hear expletives on primetime TV; except that the F‑bomb still gets bleeped out (we know this because we can read lips). Forty is the new 30 and we can often find 40-something grandmas slinging back beers and hopping onto their own motorcycles. Power on, ladies!
Like I said, expletives are a part of my repertoire. In fact, as I’ve aged, I’ve begun to use them more often. I chalk up the increase to arthritis, hot flashes, and other age-related issues—as well as the absence of little tape recorders in the form of little humans running around my house (two of my three kids are grown; the third is almost there).
In the vein of “it takes a village,” I endeavor not to cause an inner jolt for a little person who hears the F-bomb while building a sandcastle on a carefree summer’s day.
There are other four-letter words I can suggest in places where kids are plentiful. Words such as showing care for fellow humans and being kind to those around us. And dialing down our language use to the mild setting.
One of the songs blasting from the radio of the bombers was Gretchen Wilson’s “Redneck Woman,” which is a great anthem for those who want to be themselves without regard to those who put them down based on lifestyle choices. But when the radio blasted Wilson’s refrain, “Hell yeah!” I again wondered if this is what the nearby 6-year-olds needed to hear. Do we want that refrain coming from the mouths of the babes?
As with Dresden, let’s choose our bombing sites carefully. Bombs away! Just do so with care and watch out for innocent victims.
Melanie blogs at www.melanieholmesauthor.com; she has a book to be published this fall The Female Assumption.