Even though it’s been well over a year since Blurred Lines and Crossing Lines were released, I still get reviews. Just like the previous ones, some love the series, some hate it, and some are in the middle.
I am so very cool with that. I feel that any strong reaction to the characters I created or the words I wrote is a good thing. Whether they were good or bad, a majority of the reviews/readers asked why Kelli cursed so much.
Some were greatly offended by the prevalent use of the word fuck. There were also creative uses of other commonly used curse words. I remember one reader/reviewer stated that I was trying to make Kelli seem tough by making her talk like a man.
I’ve spoken to a few writer friends about this the past year, especially Andi Marquette. She even gave me the link to her own blog about the subject. It seems she was asked the same question for one of her books.
I read her blog and loved it. I’m actually going to quote some of it. The blog itself can be found HERE. The name of it is I Swear.
Andi writes: “Swear words (which are found in pretty much every human language) are typically considered “power” words (maybe “scary” words), and have historically been most associated with men. Women who curse have historically (and still) been viewed as “unladylike,” “dangerous,” “uncouth,” “ugly,” “trashy,” “harlots,” and [fill in epithets here; the list does go on]. Buzzfeed has a nice GIF-ridden list that addresses the double standard that women face when they curse.”
I highly recommend that Buzzfeed article because it is fuckin’ hilarious and so true to life.
Anyway, to me all this is powerful stuff. If swear words are considered to be power words why isn’t it seen as women claiming their power instead of trying to be like a man? If you ask me, a character who swears is more real because well shit, most of us curse too. It’s one of those things that makes a character fly off the page IMO.
Andi also goes on to quote Robin Lakoff, a Professor of linguistics who did a study on language and gender. She uses a passage from Lakoff’s book, Language and a Woman’s Place, to further illuminate the issue.
“Allowing men stronger means of expression than are open to women further reinforces men’s position of strength in the real world: for surely we listen with more attention the more strongly and forcefully someone expresses opinions, and a speaker — unable for whatever reason — to be forceful in stating his views is much less likely to be taken seriously. Ability to use strong particles like “shit” and “hell” is, of course, only incidental to the inequity that exists rather than its cause. But once again, apparently accidental linguistic usage suggests that women are denied equality partially for linguistic reasons, and that an examination of language points up precisely an area in which inequity exists. Further, if someone is allowed to show emotions, and consequently does, others may well be able to view him as a real individual in his own right, as they could not if he never showed emotions. Here again, then, the behavior a woman learns as “correct” prevents her from being taken seriously as an individual, and further considered “correct” and necessary for a woman precisely because society does not consider her seriously as an individual.”
Like whoa that’s some shit right there! It’s certainly something to think about. I use swear words on a daily basis so does my wife, and so do my friends. It doesn’t make us any less intelligent. Between us are quite a few degrees both Bachelor and Master’s level. Nor are we manly…a little butch but not manly.
I don’t swear because I’m black and grew up in an impoverished neighborhood.
I do it because I express myself in various ways including with language. Hell, I even make words up sometimes. Swearing is just an extension of that. I had a free moment so I went back to check the number of times the word fuck appears in Blurred Lines. I typed that word 154 times. There are almost 100,000 words in that book and 154 of them was fuck.
In Crossing Lines, I really went crazy and used it 161 times. In Between the Lines, I used it 113 times. In Pink, the word appears 118 times. I guess Haley and Shawn were no Kelli McCabe, but then who is? I have to ask the same question that Andi does. If these were books written by a man would his readers have asked that question?
Who the fuck knows?