Curse Words: Misogyny or not?
Motherf***er, behen***d, stop ‘bitching’, p***y- curse words that we all know and use. They exist in diverse forms and languages. If one was to draw a pattern in them, it would be that they are mostly misogynist and somewhat incestuous. Cool and casual, these words have been infused in our culture so effectively that they never really make it to the politically trending ‘offense’ club. [Feature Image Credit: businessinsider.com]
Many say that feminists are going too far when they say that these words are derogatory. They feel that they are more casual and are not meant in their literal sense. Which makes me wonder about the thought that would have led to the coinage of these terms in the first place. And aren’t these terms by definition intended to demean, degrade and dismiss?
Popular media has a role to play in this perpetuation of dominance hierarchy too. From movies to songs to super s/heroes and video-games, it is an all-pervading pandemic. Whatever the protagonist does here, people follow without much thought or analysis. But then the media argues that their work is a portrayal of what reality is, and makes for stuff that sells. That’s how markets work. They produce what we are willing to consume.
And why are we consuming such stuff? Well, maybe because it is real for us. We are misogynistic as a society, and are only living in denial of it. I often hear men telling me, “What women’s rights? Women have privileges above men. You get free entry and drinks for ladies nights. We don’t.” They don’t see it as indicative of the great economic power imbalance that there is because of gender. Apoorva Ranjan, social worker and feminist academia blames it on consumerism, saying:
We buy what is being sold in the most flashy way. Our entire understanding of quality is based on the stars or awards on the object being sold. Instead of looking at something entirely, we only look at the parts that we want to focus on. Like people agree that Honey Singh’s song lyrics are misogynistic but they want to focus on the beats.
To be or not to be okay with curse words is entirely personal choice, and we are not questioning that. But I hope that we have established through enough logic and reason that these words are misogynistic, no matter what spirit they’re said in.