Swearing is liberating. Cursing, using foul language, whatever you want to call it can make a person feel tougher, more powerful. A woman cursing says she could give a s**t about what other people think, she’s unaware or uncaring about what’s ladylike and what’s not. She can go to work, come home to kids, swear a blue streak and fry it up on a pan. Oh yeah. No f**king kidding. Swearing women think saying f**k a lot reduces their vulnerability to the universe. At least that’s what I always thought.

I personally love swearing but have tried to rein it in as I’ve gotten older and am trying to project a more refined image to the world. Since the new year, I’ve pretty much sworn off swearing in my blog, deciding that the continued use of f**k, mother**ker, and other favorites was filler for lazy writing. So instead of right away running to the profanity catalog, I’ve been actually trying to say in words what I mean. You know, like when your toddler is wailing about sometimes and you squat down next to her and say “Say it in words, honey.” It makes for a tougher writing experience but a better end product and it means that I don’t wince when I read my own work a month or year later.

Excessive swearing is like the radio emergency warning practice. Jolting but meaningless. How many times have I heard the phrase “I can’t stand this. This is all f**ked up.” I’ve heard it at the dinner table, on the front porch, at football games, at public hearings, in conferences with teachers, in meetings with colleagues, in the car on the way to a party. Seriously – how can a phrase be informative if it can be used in all those different environments? That phrase and the ubiquitous “This is so full of s**t” are lifetime favorites. I could probably go for a couple of weeks only saying hello, goodbye, and those two phrases.

I have had one person swear at me in my entire life. It was an older, very intimidating manager at the community action agency where I worked who was angry with me, a junior planner, for messing up some project or other. He stood at one end of a long hall and yelled at me – “F**k you! Why don’t you go fall in a f**king hole!” I was speechless, obviously. And oddly traumatized since I remember even what he was wearing and how he stood when he said it, now 30 years later. Which should have taught me – these words can really stay with a person.

I used to swear a lot at one of my kids when he was an older teenager. At the time, the single most irksome person on the planet, interaction with him for longer than 5 minutes always led to profanity; sometimes, I surprised myself at how intense I could get with my language. Looking back, I can see that I was so wanting in parenting skill for this particular child that I immediately slipped into giving voice to my inner toddler. Interestingly, though, he never swore back. Not once, which tells you something about composure and which one of us had it.

There are times when nothing but profanity will do. I occasionally think, daydreaming while I’m driving, what would be the last word I’d say if a semi-truck crossed the center line and was aiming for the front of my beautiful blue Thunderbird. Would it be f**k or s**t?

And you know, I just don’t know. I won’t know, I guess, until it happens.