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I definitely belong to the generation that doesn’t cuss. Let me tell you why I find it incredibly offensive and uncool to hear anyone cuss.
Sorry, but not sorry, if I don’t belong to the generation where it’s fashionable or cool to use expletives.
We were raised in a world that believed in respecting people, social etiquette and language reflected upbringing. So bad behaviour was inexcusable at any time.
It’s not that we didn’t argue or fight, just that we didn’t lose our civility or words. Words like ‘sh**, f***, b***, wh***, and as*****’ didn’t roll off our lips like prayers.
How it became popular and later glamorised are some questions that need to be understood.
Partly, the ecosystem of entertainment popularised by the media, movies, sitcoms, stand up comedians are to be blamed for making cursing look trendy and cool. By the turn of the century, we had moved from the likes of Rahul Dravids and Sachins to Hardik Pandyas and Atul Khatris.
This is an indicator of the transgenerational change happening as f*** and behen**** became buzz words. More the number of cuss words the more laughable and entertaining it was seen to be.
People who use cuss words argue that it’s just an expression of strong emotions and feelings. From hate to resentment to anger and failure or loss and even happiness without meaning any real harm, cuss words are used for it all.
Essentially absolves them of the responsibility to not do it as they forget that there are better ways to express than foul words. So, it’s just a case of the bad habit that you need to outgrow and there’s nothing macho if you can put a sailor to shame.
Most kids who begin using cuss words do it without knowing the actual meaning. They often pick up from their peers, the internet, entertainment or even their own families. However, soon it becomes internalised as everyday usage by force of habit.
It is not like our society never used foul language earlier. However, it was restricted to some communities and sections. Here, people took the liberty to use expletives but at no point in time, is it okay to say mother f**, sister f**, bb** in public or in our homes, unlike today.
Some people have taken a fancy for swearing in English, perhaps some kind of colonial hangover when lacking self-esteem. After all, a bloody b***, f***, sh*** ass*** sounds cool in a Prada as compared to our desi brand of cuss words that sounds crude and uncultured. So, showing off a middle finger because it’s angrezipanti isn’t smart because bad behaviour isn’t acceptable even in English.
Ironically, the swear words used as mother f***, sister f***, s*** b*** reek of sexism and misogyny. Men take a perverse delight in shaming the female anatomy and genitalia, but we don’t see it as discriminatory enough. And if women choose to become a part of it aren’t exactly doing sisterhood any glory.
Words like whore, bitch, slut are derogatory and offensive because they don’t just shame a woman’s sexual appetite but also run down their profession as sex workers. If we’re trying to evolve into a more inclusive society, slandering someone as a sex worker is hypocritical and contradictory to the idea of feminism.
The cuss word ‘bastard’ denotes illegitimacy of birth, someone who’s father’s identity is questionable/unknown. So it is callous and unjustified when you shame someone of doubtful paternity about something they aren’t responsible for. Unlike English, the Hindi equivalent h****i or h*******a is too potent and loaded so you dare not use it flippantly.
Do we categorise people determining as to who gets our good behaviour and who doesn’t? We owe our parents, elders, seniors, bosses, teachers and children respectful behaviour. They why do we think it’s okay to be offensive towards others we couldn’t care less about?
Women often argue that if men do it, why are the rules different for women? It is both a juvenile and self-defeating argument held out by ‘follow the men’ theorists – that if men are at it, we must follow them too (even if it means peeing against a lamppost or a wall).
So essentially we’re saying if men are doing something obnoxious, we too must go ahead but that’s the herd mentality not ‘gender equality.’ And there are better ways to establish equality than profanity.
So let’s raise the benchmark, please. And before we draw out our knives on the patriarchy, orthodoxy, discriminatory thought, let’s get this clear, no one is entitled to bad behaviour. No one for that matter. Period.
Social etiquettes aren’t gendered, tameez, tehzeeb, sanskaar or cultural values remain timeless for everybody.
Picture credits: Still from Bollywood movie Jab We Met
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