Desensitization of cursing is natural, eventually will become publically acceptable
October 12, 2017
Although cursing has been around for decades, within the last few years many people have been using words that would have previously seemed impolite or taboo more often. While at first this can seem alarming, when one puts some thought into it begins to make sense. In order for a word to become taboo, the general population of people has to think of it as taboo. If people stop thinking of a word as taboo, then it stops being taboo.
Many people, in particular teenagers, frequently use curse words, or phrases such as ‘pissed off’ or ‘that sucks’ which previously would be unacceptable to say. In fact, many people don’t think of these ‘taboo phrases’ as inappropriate at all, and often use them in conversations. This is because the general public is no longer thinking of these phrases as taboo, so they are becoming less taboo.
This process of becoming publicly acceptable is not restricted to the less taboo phrases, but it also slowly becoming more acceptable to use ‘taboo words’ such as the f-word or the s-word. This is obvious when hearing friends talk, or listening to kids at school. In particular, teenagers seem to think that these words are acceptable to use in most conversations, and therefore use them.
This process of previously taboo words becoming acceptable is not a new trend. For decades, words, which once were not used publicly, have become acceptable. One example is the word leg which was considered inappropriate to say in the Victorian era. People were not allowed to ask for a leg or thigh of chicken at dinner, which was the reason why the phrase dark meat became popular. Another example, which is more relevant to current day is the word pregnant, which was not allowed on the television show “I Love Lucy” during the 1950s.
Words are only considered taboo when people think of them as taboo. Therefore, when the general public stopped thinking of the words leg and pregnant as taboo they became usable in everyday conversations. This is quickly becoming true with some phrases that are considered taboo in formal situations, and slowly is also becoming true with words that are currently considered inappropriate to use in conversations.
People were the ones who decided what words mean and what words are therefore not fit to be used in most conversations. Therefore, when people start seeing words as okay to use, they quickly stop being considered inappropriate. Words mean what people want them to mean and so when someone decides that something is taboo that is when it becomes taboo.
One of the biggest arguments to not cursing is not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings, or not wanting to come across as disrespectful. However, it is more often how something is said than what is said which can be considered offending or will hurt someone’s feelings. When people stop thinking of curse words as taboo they will be less likely to say them trying to offend someone, therefore making the words less hurtful.
Overall, the desensitization of curse words has been happening for years and it is only natural that it continues to happen. Although some phrases and words are considered taboo currently, as people start to use them more they are less likely to be considered taboo. Words are only considered taboo when people think they are inappropriate to use, meaning people have both the ability to make a word taboo and to make a word that was once taboo, able to be used in everyday conversations.