A curse slips off your tongue as you trip up the stairs. Obscenity rips through your throat at the touch of a hot surface. A “dirty word” slithers over gaping lips when the clock strikes 12:01 a.m. and you remember that discussion post was due at 11:59 p.m.
Curse words have always been powerful. They’re poignant yet inappropriate. They’re untouchable. Words like “fork” and “shoot” replace them, their fraternal twins that pull punches. If profanity spills out, its often whispered for fear of its power.
In the book “What the F,” cognitive scientist Benjamin Bergen said, “We’re training kids, socially, that these words are powerful.” I think their power can be positive.
According to a study co-authored by Richard Stephens, senior lecturer of psychology at Keele University, cursing can actually increase your pain tolerance. Verbalizing profanity diminishes your pain, and that’s what happens when you accidentally curse.
When cursing is intentional, its effects are amplified.
Cursing catches your attention with its boldness and bolsters its surrounding words.
On Urban Dictionary, 2,625 people agree with the definition of f*** being, “the standard unit of measurement used to describe the amount an individual cares about something.” And let me tell you, there’s power in really f***ing caring about something.
Lana Del Rey’s most recent album, “Norman F***ing Rockwell!,” is, naturally, about a relationship with Norman Rockwell. An album review published by Pitchfork calls the addition of f***ing in the title a “mark of irreverence, or enthusiasm, or both.”
F*** raises the importance of a phrase. It increases the passion in words and makes people open their ears to listen more intently. A 2012 study by Danette Ifert Johnson at Ithaca College even illustrated that cursing makes your argument more effective and persuasive.
Cursing adds an extra layer of confidence. Serena Kerrigan, Refinery 29 host and producer, branded herself as Serena F***ing Kerrigan (SFK).
In her YouTube series for Refinery 29 entitled “Ask Serena,” Kerrigan describes how the nickname was created when she was in college. Her confidence was low and her insecurities were apparent.
Today, she is labeled the queen of confidence by alphasixty. “I’m extra,” she said in a video. “I don’t care what people think about me and guess what? I love myself.”
The curse word “b****” has been reclaimed by women recently, switching from an insult to a powerful identity.
The most popular line from Lizzo’s No.1 hit “Truth Hurts,” according to Mashable, is: “I just took a DNA test/ Turns out I’m 100% that b****.”
On the same token, curse words can cut through a person like a trigger. Their power is sourced from their unacceptability. The danger associated with the words makes them intriguing.
Like all words, they should be directed carefully and thoughtfully. I’m not saying that kids should run rampant on the playground screaming f-bombs. However, there’s nothing wrong with throwing out a couple curse words when you’re grown, just for some s***s and giggles.
Cursing is powerful. So, might as well say, “F*** it,” and embrace profanity.
Lauren Rousseau is a UF journalism sophomore