I can safely say that I know more swear words than my daughter does.
Not that it’s a contest or anything. And never mind that she goes to a public school and is a freshman in high school.
My job as the editor of Plugged In necessitates me knowing and documenting just about every profanity, vulgarity, obscenity, crudity and/or linguistic lasciviousness there is in the English language. It’s not my favorite part of the job, I must say. But it is an important part as we help you navigate through the increasingly irksome popular culture, much of which is reliant (nay, codependent) on various incarnations of some pretty terrible interjections.
Ironically, I grew up in a house where even shucks sometimes qualified as a bad word, and I didn’t even really know what all those distracting dashes meant that I saw in the newspaper until much (much) later. And now that I’ve been around the cultural block a few times, I can tell you that I very much wish that was still the case for most families. But my very astute daughter informs me that it is not the case, at least based on what she hears at school.
Why does she hear such things coming from the mouths of mere babes? Well, let me count the ways:
1) They hear those words on TV.
2) They hear them in movies.
3) They hear them in music.
4) They hear them in video games.
5) They read them in books.
6) They see and hear them online.
7-10) They hear their parents say them.
I must say those last four reasons far outweigh the first six, even though it’d be super easy for me to casually point at that big bad wolf called entertainment. And why is entertainment littered with swearing? Because most of us are swearing all the time now. And we’re doing it in front of our kids.
We published a Culture Clip yesterday about an online ad that has little girls dropping f-bombs for the sake of T-shirt sales:
The ad, which features girls ages 6 to 13 bedecked in princess outfits, ostensibly wants to promote gender equality. In between the f-words, the girls spout statistics on workplace inequality and sexual assault. “Women make 23% less than men for the exact same f‑‑‑ing work!” one girl says. Another chimes in, “I shouldn’t need a penis to get paid!” A boy, also dressed as a princess, shows up at the end of the video, saying, “When you tell a boy it’s bad to act like a girl, it’s because you think it’s bad to be a girl.”
But, like I said, it’s actually just about spiking sales for retailer FCKH8.com. Are the kids in the ad really at fault for cussing up a storm? Well, let me answer that question this way: They’re influenced by that same list of 10 reasons kids swear as your kids and mine are.