Wonderhussy: Attack of the Superprudes

Sometimes the smallest thing will set off a chain reaction that leads to an epiphany.

sarah jane woodallSarah Jane Woodall, a fellow blogger (blogette? blogina? blogogyne?) and my favorite wonderhussy, got a private message from a reader the other day, and posted about it on Facebook:

The message said “If you want people to take your reviews seriously you should tone down the language. Just a thought.”

Sarah Jane replied to the reader:

“Thanks, but I’m not a serious person!”

To her Facebook friends, she continued:

Maybe she has a point, though….I’ll never get that gig with Town & Country at this rate. I’ll end up writing for Town & Cunty instead 🙁


Like Sarah Jane, I myself am rather free with my more colorful phrase-turnings, especially in casual conversation. Is that a fault? It isn’t that I’m unable to refrain from peppering my pontifications with profanity; I can be downright great-grandma-level genteel when I want to be. It’s just that the blue stuff is so useful; profanity is flavorful, and immensely versatile.

Those of us who habitually flex our linguistics to the fullest extent allowed by law know that we will, from time to time, be frostily confronted by people who wish to hear less of the dreaded ‘F’ word, along with an entire triple alphabet of other utterances they find distasteful, like the unspeakable ‘C’ word, which can actually cause a small stroke or even a dangerous attack of stabbiness in more extremely control-freaky prudes (which is how I got that horrible scar). There are settings in which you might well expect such an awkward encounter; at a funeral, for instance, or while dining with the Queen or Jack of England. But at Burning Man? And yet I’ve seen it happen there.

Above and beyond those who simply have delicate ears in general are the people who complain in particular about DPW’s roughneck talk, enshrined forever in the motto coined by the Jub Jub tribe: “Fuck Yer Day.” It’s a little hard to believe, but there actually are people who can handle the harsh environment of the playa just fine, yet wilt and shrivel, bacon-like, under the oppressive and baleful influence of someone in a black shirt calling them a fuck-knuckled son of a sack of piece of shitsucker, and demanding that they go eat a bowl of fuck, or sleep on a bed made of duck dicks.

As Burners, we are people who are supposedly free, to a greater than average extent, of the kinds of societal constraints that prevent people from playing effectively, the way children play, in untrammeled self-expression. If we can’t cuss a blue streak when we feel like it without having to feel responsible for someone overly-sensitive choosing to take offense – or perish forbid, Mary, being seriously traumatized – then we are being prevented from fully engaging with our most precious burner privilege.

You might think that the unmitigated freedom to spew obscenities is only something that some people want or need; you might see it as a sort of special interest, for vulgarians only. Consider, though: every natural human language – every single one – has profanity. In some jesus_i_think_youre_a_cunt_sm_Ultimate_trollbait-s450x431-99162-580languages it’s much more highly-developed than in others; the Russians have an entire sub-language called mat in which it is possible to express pretty much anything, using only words whose roots are no-no boo-boo words. The versatility that seems so impressive in English profanity – “fuck the fucking fucker, it’s fucking fucked!” – is laughed at as amateurish and dull by Russians fluent in mat. . . but I digress. The point is, the only human languages that don’t have filthy swears in them are artificial ones, like computer programming languages, High Elvish, and whatever the hell you call that weird gibberish that TV evangelists speak.

What’s more, different regions of the brain are involved in generating pottymouth than are used for non-profane language, which is why Tourette’s happens. Unlike normal language, which relies on the outer few millimeters in the left hemisphere of the brain, expletives come bubbling up from evolutionarily more ancient structures of the limbic system, deep inside the right hemisphere. Profanity is more primal than ordinary language; clearly, it serves not just some purpose, but some ancient and vital fucking purpose.

Dr. Timothy Jay, a psychologist at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts who has studied human use of profanity for over thirty-five years, says that doody talk has many functions.

“It allows us to vent or express anger, joy, surprise, happiness,” says Dr. Jay. “It’s like the horn on your car, you can do a lot of things with that, it’s built into you.”

There are also studies that say cutting loose with a good hearty expletive can help us cope with pain. There’s a reason you scream out bloodcurdling oaths and epithets when you hit your stupid thumb with the stupid hammer, and that reason is all tied up in a bundle with a whole host of instinctual actions and involuntary reactions that presumably kept your distant ancestors slightly safer from the dire woodchucks, saber-toothed clams, and other hominid-eating predators that roamed the veldt during the Flintstonian Era. If you choke back your unthinking cry of “Assballs McPoopshit von Porkerbastard the Third!!!” when you’re in pain, even if only to stop long enough to think and substitute “gosh darn it,” then you’ve short-circuited an evolutionary benefit that would have made the pain more bearable.

If erupting in a brief torrent of the most vituperative invective possible is a defense mechanism that helps ease our pains, then who could blame a tired, overworked, unpaid, sunstroked, insufficiently-fluffed DPW worker for firing off a farty salvo of conceptual nerve gas at the slightest provocation? And given that the human condition itself is a life sentence punctuated with pains and joys, who can fault a free-spirited young woman for seasoning her blog-sauce with motherfuckers, motherfuckers? If she cleaned up her language and excised the most primal elements from the text, she would be inescapably obfuscating a certain amount of frank, honest openness straight from the limbic system right along with it. She would be exchanging truth for mere versimilitude.

Friends, burners, and all you other pissfaced dickshitting bugfuckers, lend me your ears! I come to fill them with festering phonic filth; loosen your tongues in turn, and embrace the Dark Side. The language is on fire, and we must spit it out!

17 comments on “Wonderhussy: Attack of the Superprudes

  1. Sarah Jane has a deep vocabulary and is rarely at a loss for the right word. She narrates steadily throughout each video, always remaining on point.
    Profanity is a multi-valent environment. For instance, I deliberately refrain from profanity when I am angry. On occasion, I will use a single profanity after making several precise statements laden with invective. This is a highly manipulative strategy most useful in incentivising the underperformer.
    Swearing just for the flavor of it reduces your leverage and may put you between a rock and a whirlpool. You may find yourself obliged either to give up your cause, or do something over the top of shocking.

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    • Yes, jealous fuckwits who lack skill at breathing fire often express their sadsack sour-grapes envy with such demonstrably shitty epigrams. In this case, the shittiness I speak of lies in conflating all use of profanity with use of profanity by the inarticulate. Some cussmouths are quite articulate, and render their communication even more so by seasoning it with cocksuckers.


  6. Political correctness rules the Burner community. There are so many freaks, weirdos, and head-cases who place restrictions on speech less they be offended by a bad word that insults their personal identity.

    Watch how quickly you will be ostracized from your Burner community once everyone thinks you are homophobic because you used the word ‘gay’ in a derogatory way towards anything. And let’s not forget the feminists ready to take your head off if you refer women as ‘girls’. etc etc etc etc etc etc

    Freedom, eh?

    • First of all, you’re skewing the topic a bit with this. . . neither ‘girl’ nor ‘gay’ is an expletive, or even profanity. However, there is a connection there, via freedom of speech. My take on it is that you DO have the right to talk like an asshole and insult people all you like, but they also have a right to ostracize you for it, asshole. You’re confusing your right to free speech with some IMAGINARY right to be free from having your speech criticized; an angry feminist “taking your head off” is only exercising her right to free speech, just like you, unless she’s taking your head off literally. Like with a machete.

      • You are very aggressive, but that’s okay. It’s not nice when the fishbowl is pointed out to the fish, so I understand. But it’s always nice when the politically correct police show up. The implied threat of violence at the end is cute, and also very telling about how politically correct speech is ruled.

        ‘Where is everybody?’, Mary asked. John replied, ‘I don’t know, but the girls are in the RV getting ready.’ ‘WOMEN!’ Mary shouted, ‘You misogynistic scum!’. John walked away in shame and disbelief.

        And regarding the use of the term ‘gay’ or ‘fag’ as patently homophobic, it is not. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_F_Word_(South_Park)

        But keep up your enforcement of politically correct speech, hun. I know you will.

      • “The implied threat of violence,” my sweet ass. There’s no implication of violence in telling you that nobody is “taking your head off” — or even violating your rights somehow — with words. Maybe you’re just kind of a jerk? Women don’t respond to me that way when I call them girls, so I have to assume that your overall behavior toward them makes them feel too belittled, degraded, and disenfranchised to put up with it.

        As for your fag-calling habit, it makes me wonder if you’ve heard about some of the more recent studies on homophobia. Here’s a brief synopsis:

        People who have negative feelings toward homosexuality often have secret attractions to the same sex — and are more likely to have grown up in households that forbid homosexual feelings, according to a recent study.

        A research team from the University of Rochester, the University of Essex, England, and the University of California in Santa Barbara found that “homophobia is more pronounced in individuals with an unacknowledged attraction to the same sex and who grew up with authoritarian parents who forbade such desires.”

        “Individuals who identify as straight but in psychological tests show a strong attraction to the same sex may be threatened by gays and lesbians because homosexuals remind them of similar tendencies within themselves,” the study’s lead author, Netta Weinstein, explained.

        “In many cases these are people who are at war with themselves and they are turning this internal conflict outward,” co-author Richard Ryan added.

        “We laugh at or make fun of such blatant hypocrisy, but in a real way, these people may often themselves be victims of repression and experience exaggerated feelings of threat,” Ryan said.

        Ooooh, “exaggerated feelings of threat!” Like when someone tells you that words aren’t machetes, and you interpret that as a threat of violence.

        Homophobes also tend to strut around puffing themselves up in an attempt to compensate for their feelings of not being manly enough. Y’know, like when they sign up for online forums and give themselves aggressively compensatory nicknames like “Asskicker853” or “TigerPower.”

        I have to correct you on one point: I’m not politically correct. You know who I like to refer to as ‘fags?’ Guys who are in the closet and can’t admit it to themselves, so they go around bashing homosexuals any way they think they can get away with. That’s a ‘fag’ to me. Why do I have such contempt for fags like you? Because you’re cowards. You can point and laugh all you like at openly gay dudes, but those guys prove every day that they’re a thousand times braver than you are, just by living their lives as themselves. I bet they’re all better-looking than you, too.

        You can read more about yourself here, fag: http://s.tt/1d7KK

      • I’ve camped with TigerPower since 2004. TigerPower has been a BRC ranger since 1999. I was watching this thread, and can’t believe what a homophobic dick he really is. That’s all I’m going to say.

      • First of all, your friend is way off-topic. The article is about profanity, not the axe he has to grind with feminists and homosexuals who don’t enjoy it when he insults them. Second, if he’s not trolling at this point, then he’s some kind of crank. Either way, he’s said what he came to say and any further comments from him would be non-productive at this juncture. If you’re trying to make a point about free speech, then don’t bother. . . I never guaranteed you any here, and I’m not going to put up with a bunch of garbage posted by trolls and gay-bashers. Relevant comments are always welcome.

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