Wash Your Mouth Out!

I don’t consider myself to be a prude but perhaps I am. Maybe it’s something to do with getting older. Maybe it is expected of those getting older. I’m not sure. What I do know is when presented with the question – ‘How do you feel about cussing in blog land?’ – I immediately had a response.


Now the reasons why I don’t like it are probably quite complex and rooted in my upbringing but they also have relevance in the present. For me, swearing should be kept for extreme occasions when anger gets the better of you and you need a release. People have always got cross and I think have used the expletives of the day. However, it seems to me that those expletives are now part of common usage.

As a youngster, I was aware of a ranking within the vocabulary used for cursing. There was the ‘damn’ if you hit your thumb or spilt something – fairly mild up to the ‘F’ word which was only ever used by men in the company of men. If there was a possibility that a woman was within earshot, an apology was often offered.

I know this may sound very ‘Ann of Green Gables’ but that’s how it was generally. I have written about the abusive language heard on football terraces HERE  and I will always try to move away from hearing it at a match. My over-riding objection, both at football and elsewhere, is that children are often around and it will be that language they pick up and then use, invariably at school where sanctions are expected to be taken against them for doing so.

As far as blogging and social media go, I cannot see the need to use the extreme profanities that are now common. When I started blogging, one piece of advice that I have always remembered was –  ‘If you would not say it to a face, then don’t write it!’. I have unfollowed people on twitter who use the ‘F’ word like confetti in their tweets. I have deleted posts that have unnecessary swearing (of the high level) in them. I have left a forum where the language is too ‘ripe’ for me. The writers of these would not be people I would normally have as part of my circle in ‘real’ life therefore I do not want them in my virtual life.

Please don’t imagine that I never swear! I do! As a head teacher I had to make sure the odd ‘S**t’ or ‘B****r’ was out of hearing range of little ears. I am not against cussing per se, just the extremes that we now have constantly around.

 These are my views – what are yours?

By the way – the person asking the question was Kat over at ‘Mama Kat’s Losin It’. Pop over and see what other opinions have been left as well as some other great piece of writing.

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  • Dughall

    Sorry to come late to the party but I’ve been thinking about this. I think I disagree to a large extent. I don’t object to so-called ‘bad’ language in the way that so many seem to. For me, language is essentially a social activity and nuance such as accent, vocabulary and slang are bound up in the social context of the language. The terraces are, and always have been, somewhere where swearing is commonplace. So are other social or workplace situations and contexts – pubs, warehouses, even some staffrooms. There are also other situations and contexts where swearing would be wholly inappropriate. We can all imagine some.

    I swear. Sometimes I swear a lot (amongst close friends for example). Sometimes I don’t swear at all (in the classroom for example). It is based upon the context I am in. I am socially aware, am able to read situations and apply the appropriate linguistic and social conventions. I want my children to be the same. I cannot realistically protect them from swearing. They are going to hear it – all of it. Fact. What I can do is exploit opportunities to help them to learn. To learn as much as they can about differing social contexts about the nuance of language, conventions and so on – and this applies as much to their real-life as it does their online life. I have talked openly to both my children about swearing. I have likened it to passing wind – pretty much everyone does it, but they learn where and when it is or isn’t appropriate. As far as I’m concerned, the more socially aware, the more expert in the use of language, the more nuanced my children are, the better – and the better their chances of success in the world. I talk to them about the swearing at the football, I sometimes swear in front of them. They know it is something I and their mother might do in certain adult company. They know that it wouldn’t be appropriate for them to do the same, just as they don’t burp loudly or pass wind loudly. They are already socially aware – as are many, many children who have learned or been helped to learn to be so.

    My children will inevitably hear and possibly use every swear word I can think of and more on the playground. I hope they won’t in their first job interview. I will continue to help them to learn.

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  • Oh dear, and you read my blog because?
    I don’t swear loads, but i defintely use some choice words when i’m trying to get a point across…..do i do it in real life? perhaps not as much. And i do cringe at really bad language when i hear it in real life – It’ really really ugly when you hear the sounds out loud. Something i don’t find so much in script. What a hypocrite! It’s a way of expressing myslef in words and it is always considered. Some people just use the F word every other word and i hate that. Unfortunately that includes my husband at times, but he works in advertising, and it’s really awful in that environment.

    Great post. Def one of my fav recently. But there again, that shouldn’t surprise you – i love a think and a debate!


    • I read your blog for all the thing YOU get me thinking about. I’m not aware of the swearing which much mean it is in an appropriate place. Thank you for joining this discussion!

  • It’s been mentioned a couple of times in other blogs related to this prompt where I wholeheartedly agree that cursing has it’s place… BUT, I agree with you when you say that when it’s incessant and the language is “ripe” (to me, juvenile and or ignorant) they get the boot. Sometimes, however, it is needed for extreme emphasis and when used the right way, totally appropriate. Get back to me later on what “the right way” means. I’m still working on that one.

  • I am totally with you on this! I don’t curse on my blog and don’t curse (openly) in real life. And, while I have never unfollowed someone (either via their blog or twitter) due to excessive and irrelevant cursing, I do make it a point to not really read the blogs or tweets of such persons.

  • I am not one to curse that often–comes with the job (teacher). I hate the way students talk these days. I even have primary school children who use the term, “suck” which I HATE! Cursing should be left for those incidents that require it–and that is not often!

  • Well, I must admit I use a lot of cuss words! But I only do it in private situations, with family and friends… I always believed that the intention behind a word is more important than the word itself. You can swear without offend, and you can offend without swearing. And, sometimes, “good words” don’t have the expressive power of a cuss!
    But… I never use those words in blogs or in Twitter, since they are public spaces, and I think is disrespectful to potential readers to use inappropriate language. I mean, I don’t swear in the net as I don´t do it either on the street, when I am near children, when I am in front of my class, when I’m talking with someone I recently met, or someone who don’t usually swear.
    And, to be honest, I really hate to read tweets and comments full of bad words. I can’t help judging the author.

  • I agree with the you…occasional cuss words aren’t so bad…but it can get kind of..BLEH..when trying to read something where almost all of it is cussing.
    hi from mama kat’s

  • I agree with you and have also deleted followers because of it. I don’t even like it when people do it by acronym as we all know what it means. It isn’t necessary and shows lack of imagination in finding suitable words that are not profanities. I am definitely not a prude – and certainly have used bad language many times, when it suited the occasion! I just don’t like to open Twitter and see it on my screen. This is also part of the reason why I gave Facebook the old ‘heave-ho’. I think we all need to remember that our online presence is very much there for all to see and judge us on.

  • I completely share you’re opinion… I very occasionally use a mild swear word on poorparenting.co.uk but would never even consider it on the creative education blog. I have to admit that I swear too much day to day, though that has improved markedly since I had two babies as I’d rather their first words did not include anything too ‘ripe’!

    As a young child I had a recurring nightmare that I slipped on a rock in the woods near home and broke my ankle and said ‘damn!’ my parents disowned me and I had to live life on the run, with just a red spotted handkerchief on a stick full of my belongings! Clearly my parents must have drummed the no swearing into me rather too well!

    • I have such a wonderful picture of you – you foul mouthed person you! Thank you for stopping by! Going to link it to a post on the riots – there’s a bit of a link I think!

  • As someone who, a few nights ago, ALMOST tweeted a four-letter word followed by “off” when speaking about our cherished Education Secretary, I have to admit that I do say “bad words” from time to time. However, I do so only in the privacy of my own home or whilst in the company of friends. The reason I did not tweet my four-letter abuse was because I knew some people would be offended and because I use Twitter in a semi-professional capacity, where most of my interaction is with other professionals. I agree with you that on some social media websites, it is not appropriate. I think things are less relaxed on Facebook though, where people are more likely to have only their real-life friends on their profile. However, as my mother is my friend on there, I don’t swear there either!

    Please don’t think you’re a prude for having these thoughts, nor is it anything to do with age. I am 24 and get extremely annoyed when I read swear words in the newspaper. If the people who write for a living and use words as the tool of their trade can’t think of a way to express themselves without descending to vulgarities, what hope is there for the rest of us?!

  • I’m sorry, but I swear like a sailor. I know it isn’t witty or clever and, like you, I was raised where men swore around men (but WOW you should hear my father when there is engine trouble!).

    I don’t swear in front of my children and while it’s a double standard, I hope they don’t swear when they are older. For me, there are times when only a swear word will do. I do swear on my blog and on Twitter, but I try to tone it down. My mother is reading!!

    Great post.

  • As in all language for me, no matter the medium, I respond to well chosen words used to great wit, is cleverly done, or somehow inspirational. An over-use or over-reliance on ANY word makes me feel uncomfortable since I so enjoy language for its own sake. Like you it seems, anyone I garner I would not spend time with offline, I do not do so online.

    I always enjoy posts and opinions that ‘pick a side’, and this was definitely one of those, thoughtful and well written. Loved it. HMSx

  • I agree 100%. Swearing on o post is quite intentional and shows a very low standard. Thanks for your fun post about it!

  • It has been an issue for me when people make use of swear words or inappropriate topics in tweets, blogs, Facebook, etc. Some are former students, some are known only through online sources.

    As I have followers and friends from a wide age range, I take what is said seriously. I find it better not to respond to tweets, Facebook posts, etc using profanity or inappropriate topics. If I respond, others will then see to what I have responded.

    Personally, I am not greatly offended by the words used but am not interested in spreading what is said to potential young eyes.

  • I like that you are proactive about this. Rather than expect others to change you simply disassociate. This is exactly what being an adult is about.

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