8 Nov 2010

Am I a prude?

I started my Christmas shopping on the weekend.

I tell you this not to show how impressively and obsessively-compulsively organised I am, but to explain why it was that I found myself in highly desirable home textiles store, Third Drawer Down , early on Saturday afternoon.

I was buying stocking fillers, and my purchases were predominantly for children - a make-your-own monster kit, some crayons shaped like brightly coloured pebbles, and some animal hands temporary tattoos were among my choices. Jemimah and her Daddy were around the corner shopping for - well, lets say I hope that they were shopping for - a certain somebody who, at that very moment, just happened to be in Third Drawer Down. Anyhow, were were to meet to continue our shopping imminently.

After making my selection I queued at the desk to pay. I was behind a couple who were also shopping for children - in her case, a baby's grow-suit and bib set. The cashier neatly wrapped the parcel in attractive paper, and then after finalising payment, she slipped the package into a brown paper carry bag for the couple to carry away.

Only then she did something that absolutely floored me: On the side of the plain brown bag she affixed a large white sticker emblazoned with none other than the 'F word' in great big letters.

On the side of a baby gift.

A grow-suit, for goodness sake.

Well, I'm sure my mouth dropped open almost to the ground. I may have even begun hyperventilating, I was so astounded. I was, well, I was gob-smacked, to be honest. I was also frantically trying to decide how I would handle it when the attendant came to attach a similar sticker to the side of my bag.

Then I began to wonder - am I alone in my dislike for obscenities in print? Was I wrong to worry what people would think of me walking along Gertrude Street with a bag saying...er...that? Am I prudish to be concerned what my eight-year-old would say as she read it? Was I being irrational and too OTT for words? Was I?

Are the mug, pennant and badge described on Third Drawer Down's website unacceptable?

Should the controversial trademark British clothing company, French Connection, choose for their stores upset me?
"Your lordship may find it offensive. I might find it offensive. But young people who buy clothes do not find it offensive, they find it amusing."
(Am I the only one who is saddened when I read that lawyer's comment?)

Am I really in a minority when I get concerned if books actually marketed for children contain foul language?

I do not use expletives. When I drop a heavy weight on my toe, I say 'Ouch'. It might be accompanied by a whole heap of over-dramatic hopping around the room, but that's what I say. It just comes out, really. I don't find a need to include any of the currently common obscenities in my every day speech, not even the relatively mild ones.

Personally, I even find it offensive when another word is substituted for the actual profanity. The characters saying "What the cuss?" in Fantastic Mr Fox, for example. Sorry, people, this does not automatically render the film 'clean' for a young audience. Far from it - to me it suggests that insertion of curses into speech is acceptable and normal.

Are these words disgusting, or are they common and harmless? That's the question. Certainly the line between amusing and offensive is arbitrary. People will always find new words to offend with and to be offended by. There is a word that I use that was used by mother before me, which upsets my husband. I try not to use it now... at least, not around my beloved, despite the fact that to me it is cute and certainly not rude. No, I won't tell you what it is. Not in polite company. If you know me in real life you probably know the word to which I refer anyhow.

Given that words of the type I refer to are offensive to at least some people, I find it perversely illogical that a store would deliberately choose to employ them as part of their store's identity. Do they use them to upset customers? Does it concern them if they do?

And maybe that's where I'm deluding myself. Maybe it is me that is wrong to care in the first place.

Maybe there's nothing wrong with the F word anyhow.

What do you think?


  1. I'm totally with you. I'd like a company to TRY to put a sticker like that on one of my bags!!

  2. Dead curious--did they use F---ING, or F---. Lol... I'm really trying to imagine this one!! I don't think you are a prude--but I can tell you don't love gansta rap where use of that word is an art form!! lol. Stick up for decency before it's ALL really gone?

  3. I was always taught that curse words and profanity were for people who weren't intelligent enough to use the correct word. So using bad words just showed your, ummm, mental lack.
    That said, it does annoy me that I have to correct my 5 year old nephew ALL THE TIME for using bad words. It took one threat of not getting to play with him again to stop my own 5 year old from repeating his language. But now it's in their heads, and it irritates me.

  4. I don't think you're a prude.

    I have a mouth like a trucker (Thanks, Dad!) and I certainly wouldn't have thought the sticker was AT ALL appropriate.

    I have always struggled with swearing and it is certainly something I don't want my children to learn from me. It's so much easier to not have the habit. My husband never uses salty language and I envy the upbringing he had that prevented it from ever taking root.

    My MIL is one who frowns on even the use of words that stand in place of actual swearing and I think she puts too fine a point on it. But to each their own.

  5. I'm also wondering... what DID you say when it was your turn?

  6. I'm with you Jeanne.
    Since we no longer have right and wrong, subjectivism defines reality. Actually that is not true but post-modernists would have you believe so. We are meant to laugh and move on. They deny the soul. We do have a moral barometer, Our Lord put it there. Be outraged it shows that your soul is healthy!
    Thanks for being a voice in the wilderness.

  7. No Jeanne, you are not a prude, and if you are, who cares, because you are a lovely Christian woman who desires to please her Lord and Saviour - in everything you do. Philippians 4:8 ~ "Finally my brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is right, whatever is PURE, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."(NASV)

  8. Oh the joys of having done a Literary degree! ~ which included a study of the history of profanity....[think Shakespheare]Have I boggled your mind? lol. So my take is slightly different. The F word has a technical meaning ~ which almost no~one knows, thus just about everyone uses the word incorrectly. Ditto all the other naughty words. So bad language used incorrectly tells me something about the person using it that I bet they never imagined in their wildest dreams. [The unlucky ones get a lecture ie my sons & my sons friends who went through a stage where they thought bad language was cool] It doesn't offend me as such but do I think it appropriate for everyday use? No. It isn't polite. The whole attraction of bad language is that it's rude & therefore inappropriate for most workplace situations, as logos on goods & for polite conversations. I have been known to drop the odd clanger when some idiot on the road scares the life out of me but not otherwise though you can make any word at all offensive if you put your mind to it. Not hard at all. ☺

  9. I'm with you, Jeanne. I think that is incredibly sad, whichever angle you look at it from.

    I agree with Rachaelnz, and am glad to be of the same mind. If that's prudish, naive, innocent, idealistic ... I'd rather any of these labels than the alternative options.

  10. Also with you!

    A number of years ago, at work, I was having a frustrating time, and something didn't work when I tried it.... and I said fairly loudly.... "SHOOT". (Not a stronger word.... just Shoot.) The person in the cubical beside me suggested that I had thought a different word.... which I had not. I had thought... "SHOOT".

  11. I think you know my view :-)
    what DID you do with the sticker thing?
    I know what you mean about using words in place though. I find my guys trying to use subs and it is hard to explain that it really sounds as though they want to say the "bad" word and just tone it down. While Suzuki Mom above was totally in innocence it usually isn't :-)
    I feel the same about names of God and Jesus substitutes. People claim they are not blasphemy but it is just a substitute.
    Wondering what your little word is. We have a word we all say for a part of the body which my mother would definitely NOT have allowed.

  12. Jeanne, I'm pretty sure you already knew the answer when you posed the question. Can it be any more black and white than Ephesians Chapter 5?

  13. I'm with you completely - I hate swear words.

  14. I say fart "O) Sorry, I just couldn't resist...

  15. wow. that would make for a somewhat uncomfortable situation. obviously using controversy as a marketing ploy...



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