A few days ago I received this email from my son’s school (about an hour or so after my son had already texted me to let me know it was coming).
** PLEASE NOTE: My son is 17, a senior in high school, and is graduating early this December
Like… seriously? Ok… here it goes.
Hi Mr. Martin,
I have been mulling over your email for a few days now, as I wasn’t sure how to respond, or even if I wanted to.
We are agreed that Gavyn is intelligent and talented, but perhaps I am biased since he is my son.
While I’m glad you brought this to my attention, I suspect that neither you nor the class was “surprised” to hear the word fuck, as it’s a fairly common word.
I am aware that Gavyn uses what our culture deems as “bad words” like fuck, shit, damn, etc. Over the years I’ve only asked him to not use language as a weapon to hurt someone, or to belittle them or cause them pain. Has he made that mistake? I’m sure he has, as have we all. Not to mention, ANY word can be used to hurt another person, not just these so-called “bad words.”
On a different note, there is scientific evidence that swearing helps with pain. Mythbusters did an experiment based on a 2009 study that claimed that swearing comes with the positive side effect of improving your ability to withstand pain.
But I digress…
There are words that I absolutely abhor and teach Gavyn are never appropriate to use. Words that are used for the purpose of making someone feel “less than” for their sexuality, race, religion, gender, etc., or language that’s used to perpetuate unhealthy and oppressive attitudes in society. The N-word. The R-word. The F-word.
But what about other language that isn’t considered profanity but is used to harm?
Words that we use to shame and/or insult people. Fat. Ugly. Stupid. Basic. Whore. Wuss.
Or phrases we use to build masculine confidence in boys by comparing them to the other, weaker gender. Be a man. You throw like a girl. Boys don’t cry. Grow a pair. Boys will be boys. Pink is for girls.
Phrases we use to keep our girls feminine and shame their masculine side. You’re good for a girl. Relax, calm down. Your body and/or clothing is distracting. Smile. You’re such a bitch. Pink is for girls.
How about bad behaviors such as mansplaining, dismissing a female’s opinion, slut shaming, male privilege, murdering unarmed people of color, rape culture, and so on.
My point is that Gavyn using the word fuck in a friendly conversation is the very least of my worries, in fact, it’s not on any list of my worries. It’s a non-issue.
We, as adults, need to prioritize what is important when educating the next generations. This matter is not one of them.
Thank you for your email,