Why I Curse on My Blog
Blog subscribers come and go; that’s just the nature of the beast. People unsubscribe when the content bores, when pictures or recipes suck, when nothing unique or original is being produced. And I have noticed, on my blog in particular, that people unsubscribe whenever a few choice dirty words are dropped on the page.
I mean, it could just be coincidental…but I really think it’s not. Every time I have sworn on a blog post, at least two or three people unsubscribed shortly after. Because I only post about once a week, it’s pretty easy to surmise which was the offending post. I recently described the rat in my apartment as both an asshole and a filthy motherfucker, and I still can’t think of more accurate ways to describe that little bastard. I don’t know much about the values or leanings of the majority of my readers, but I can say with confidence I am not offending my girlfriends in Queens, because they’re the ones writing comments on my FB wall like, “Loved this post Jenn. You cursed twice…and it was the good one.”
So let’s talk about profanity.
My clients almost always apologize after cursing in session for the first time. I establish very quickly that they should never censor themselves in therapy.
“This is your space. You can say anything you want in here,” I tell them, and mean it. I almost always follow up with, “Trust me, I’ve heard that word before and I say it myself.” But this wasn’t always the case.
I was the most straight-laced teenager on the planet, and spent my formative years actively avoiding colorful and potentially offensive language. I grew up in a sweet and charming beach town called Galveston, which was recently named one of the Top 10 Friendliest Small Cities in America. When it was time for yearbook favorites, I was nominated in the category of “Most Courteous”, the teenage equivalent of “Biggest Waste of Hormonal Mood Swings” or “Person We’d Secretly Like to Punch in the Face”. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I was definitely not the Jennifer Lawrence of my high school. I was Anne Hathaway.
I didn’t start cursing until my early 20s after taking to the hard, mean streets of New York City, a town where the gutters run with filth and the mouths follow suit. On my first day of work in publishing, my editor gave me the office tour. When she referred to the ladies’ restroom as “the john”, I knew a tide was turning and that my mind and mouth were about to become much dirtier places.
I don’t remember when I finally pulled the trigger on dropping my first F-bomb, but I’m sure it was an occasion befitting such vulgarity. I do, however, remember feeling very empowered and genuine and free, because I felt as though I was truly getting my point across. Sometimes a well-placed curse word really capures a feeling, and being all mamby-pamby with language can dilute the strength of the message. Case in point: The mother of my best friend in high school is a beautiful and elegant woman who would yell, “Ohhhhhhhh, double-darn!” when someone cut her off in traffic. You could tell by her hesitation that she really wanted to scream something else, and if she had, I’m sure she would have felt tremendous satisfaction and significant tension release. She also would have shocked the hell out of everyone in the car.
When someone who rarely curses suddenly says a word as powerful as fuck, people tend to take notice. And that’s why I still use curse words carefully and conservatively—both orally and in writing. I too would like to be described as a beautiful and elegant woman. Still, I’m not willing to censor myself to an unreasonable or unnecessary degree. I think I have a firm grasp of when it’s appropriate and when it’s inappropriate to swear. I don’t curse in staff meetings or around your children. It’s all a personal choice, and I choose to occasionally pepper my writing with profanity for emphasis and descriptive value. I also use it to add humor, which it almost always does. My aim is never to offend, or to water strong words down with overuse. When I use an expletive, it’s always judiciously chosen and for good reason.
If I were writing about food or fashion or home decor on my blog, there would be no real purpose for profanity and I wouldn’t use it. But because this is a story-telling blog, I’m not willing to eliminate descriptive words that could make a story richer, fuller, funnier or more authentic. If I lose a few readers because of those words, that’s a hit worth taking, in my opinion. If I’ve learned anything at all in my short time on this planet it’s that you’ll never please everyone, and if someone is turned off by occasional curse words, this might not be the right blog to read. Still, I can promise that I’ll never intentionally write something truly offensive or overtly controversial, because it’s just not my personal style. Anyone who knows me can attest to that.
And so, as I see the numbers on my subscriber list falling, I pull up my bootstraps, fire up the computer and tell myself the same thing I tell my clients, the ones who tread cautiously while trying to express themselves in an honest, authentic way.
This space is yours. You can say anything you want in here.