Monday, January 7, 2013

Book Club Discussion and Crap or What is Swearing?

Over ten years ago I started a book club in Paradise. There are only 4 out of the 12 of us that were in that original group. To give you an idea of the group, at age 55 there is only one person younger than me. We range in professions, religions, and political views. Some were raised in Utah and some outside of Utah. The main thing we have in common is that we enjoy talking, eating, and reading. Most are decidedly and unabashed Democrats, but we instilled an early motto of "Don't Ask--Don't Tell" in order for our more conservative member/s to feel accepted. In Cache Valley this is a unique group indeed.

Once a month we meet at a member's house and the hostess attempts to conduct a discussion on the book read. I say attempt because quite often that can be a formidable task. Today, though the book was an excellent read called Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland which was about a woman artisan who worked as a designer in the early 1900's at Tiffany's in NY. It's as much about women's progress as it is about art, but somehow our discussion focused around what constitutes swearing. One woman who grew up in California and is not a member of the predominant religion here mentioned that she was surprised by the number of women who don't swear, but will call their children "little s___s." Well, I wasn't sure this was true, but several women verified that they had indeed grown up in homes where they were referred to as little s___ though one member said in her family they were called little cusses. We discussed whether the word "crap" is a swear word. I voted that it definitely was not. I use the word in place of stuff. As in, please get your crap out of the living room. But others said, no, it's a swear word meaning the same thing as the "S" world.

Now another thing that may surprise you is that most of the women in this group, even those in their 70's really liked the book, The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo. The reason I point this out is because, I personally found the book to be too graphic for my tastes. And I thought I was open-minded. Perhaps not. So these women are not prudes. Now we had another disagreement about a word that starts with b and ends with d--you know the one. Even though I grew up in a very straight-laced Mormon home, I said that I did not think it was a swear word. Most begged to differ. None of the women said they are the least bit offended by a few sprinklings of damns and hells for added emphasis. The only thing that we all agreed on is that the F word is still unacceptable and offensive. All other words are up to debate. We also decided the definition of cussing and swearing depended on where you were raised, what culture, what age, and your own personal sensibilities.

Now back to the book. It's a helluva good read. And it teaches you a lot about time period, women's rights, unions, and art and design and a whole bunch of other crap.


The Suzzzz said...

Ok, I'm confused, what is the word that started with B and ends with D? I'm thinking through my cuss word vocabulary (I'm up to 4 languages now) and I can't think of an offensive word like that. Is it so obviously that I've just blanked?

Janet Kay Jensen said...

. . . . . . a two syllable word that reflects unfavorably on one's . . . . legitimacy.

Gerb said...

I think it's less about the "branding" of the word (is it a swear word or not) and more about the intent of the word (are we using an exclamation, or trying to be crass or offensive?) Then there are those words which are not considered swearwords are meant to be crude, demeaning, or hurtful. I'd be more concerned about those popping up in conversation than a bit of cussing here and there.