Walk Feminine, Talk Feminine

Le sigh. Last night this helpful gentleman encouraged me to “write like a Lady”, warning me that “one foot in the gutter never converted anybody.” So I figured it’s time for a refresher course for all of us Catholic blogging unladylike ladies (and by “all of us” I mean me, Simcha, Kassie, the Crescat, and those whores babes in Babylon.

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Damn. We’ve got a long way to go.  Maybe we should just adopt masculine pen names! Then we wouldn’t have to change a thing and no on would be offended by our yuckiness!

Or we could just say “eff that” and go swill some gin. With our feet up on the table. In pants.

Make mine a double.

  • kathleen greenwood

    A: Swearing makes you seem so unladylike.

    B: It’s hard to have a discussion about objective morality using the language of gendered etiquette.

    A: Well, would a good mother swear in front of her children?

  • Lynn

    I firmly believe there are times in life when strong language is the most precise and appropriate. There are instances so awful when “Oh, my gosh!” is an insult, because it minimizes pain and horror. I have no use for gratuitous cussing, because then it isn’t useful and it actually obscures meaning by crowding out more useful words, but in the right time and place, bring it on. One handy thing is that since I don’t use strong language routinely, when I cuss, people HEAR me.

    • Caroline Moreschi

      My favorite example of this is when Mrs. Weasley yells “Not my daughter you bitch!” Completely appropriate.

      • CTLW83

        I see the same use in Aliens during the Queen fight scene as being appropriate as it adds emphasis.

      • PeonyMoss

        Eh, I thought Mrs Weasley was being too easy on Bellatrix.

  • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

    Based on the comments below in which the use of vulgarity and foul language is being defended, I’d like to suggest that such a defense is not a matter of prudential judgment, but instead actually is in opposition to Scripture itself and at least one magisterial expression that endorses the Scriptural prohibition against using vulgarity and foul language. Readers, what do you think? Here are a few passages and one bit from JPII to consider:

    *Let not your mouth become used to coarse talk, for in it lies sinful matter (Sir. 23:13).
    *You must put that aside now: all the anger and quick temper, the malice, the insults, the foul language (Col. 3:8).
    *Let your speech be always gracious and in good taste, and strive to respond properly to all who address you (Col. 4:6).
    *Nor should there be any obscene, silly, or suggestive talk; all that is out of place (Eph. 5:4).
    *If a man who does not control his tongue imagines that he is devout, he is deceived; his worship is pointless (Jas. 1:26).
    *If a person is without fault in speech he is a man in the fullest sense, because he can control his entire body (Jas. 3:2)

    From the Apostolic Letter To Those Responsible for Communications
    (Pope John Paul II, Jan. 24, 2005):
    ***14. The apostle Paul has a clear message for those engaged in communications (politicians, professional communicators, spectators),
    “Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor,
    for we are members one of another… No foul language should come out of your
    mouths, but only such as is good for needed edification, that it may impart
    grace to those who hear” (Eph 4: 25, 29).***

    • CTLW83

      While I understand your point and your concern, there might be better ways of approaching the issue than getting in a comment war:

      If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you
      and him alone.
      Matthew 18:15

      It might have been better to send an email or a private message to voice your concerns in this instance in order to be charitable, rather than to engage in a conversation that, while meaningful and informative, might rub people the wrong way.

      As with all things, we must also keep charity in mind when approaching any apologetical or other instruction in the faith.

      • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

        Well, I’m not viewing this as a “comment war” in any way, and I don’t feel sinned against. I instead see this as good discussion and reflection. Thanks.

    • Josh

      Deacon, what would your pastoral response be to a parishioner who came to you and said, “Deacon, I was reading Ephesians a while ago and I came across a passage in chapter 5 that condemns silly and suggestive talk. I’ve been trying to apply the plain meaning of this scripture to my everyday life but I’m running in to problems. I used to play all kinds of silly games with my young kids, but these require silly talk. Lots of it. And you really can’t play in a fun, silly way without silly talk. (Besides, to do so would be to encourage my children to engage in scripturally-prohibited behavior, and I know that’s not what God wants from me as a parent.) My children are upset about this. And my husband’s upset too. We used to enjoy using playful “code words” and gestures only the two of us understood to let each other know we were feeling amorous. Now, when I lovingly share with him the truth about the pitfalls of suggestive talk and require him to expressly request or plainly refer to sexual congress, he says it kills the mood. I do let him refer to sex as “renewing the covenant,” but only if he is actually referring to it as a particular, present sign of the larger context of the sacramental covenant of our marriage. How do I apply these clear, scriptural disapprobations without alienating my family?”

      • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

        What do you think Paul means by “obscene, silly, or suggestive talk”?

        • Josh

          What? I don’t get it. The adjectives aren’t nuanced.

          • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

            I’m just asking what you think Paul means in warning against “obscene, silly, or suggestive talk.” What is Paul (and the Holy Spirit) attempting to convey by these words?

          • Guest

            Don’t be coy. It doesn’t become you.

            You used the verse as a proof-text, so you can explain it if you want to. Please make sure to explain how all obscene talk is wrong, yet not all silly or suggestive talk is wrong.

          • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

            Your argument appears to be with Paul, not with me, as these are his words. And they are preceded by this admonition: “Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be mentioned among you, as is fitting among holy ones…”
            Does such an admonition indicate that vulgarity *can* be mentioned among Christians, as long as it is “non-malicious”?
            Again, I’m interested in hearing a cogent case made *for* the use of vulgarity. So I’m not being coy. I want to know what people’s views are on this. As such, again, I’m not pointing fingers–I want to hear what folks have to say…

          • Josh

            Don’t be coy. It doesn’t become you.

            You used the verse as a proof-text, so you can explain it if you want to. Please make sure to explain how all obscene talk is wrong, yet not all silly or suggestive talk is wrong.

  • CTLW83

    I think that wit and humor has a very solidified place in the concept of femininity and the feminine genius. See this historical example:

    Lady Nancy Astor: Winston, if you were my husband, I’d poison your tea.
    Churchill: Nancy, if I were your husband, I’d drink it.

    Not very “ladylike” but, still incredibly funny and making a point.

  • Kristen inDallas

    If someone could tell me a non-profane word that means exactly the same thing that douchebag means… I’d be happy to use it. :)

    • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

      Even when Scripture suggest that the use of foul language isn’t for Christians (see passages in my comment below)?

    • Josh

      Yeah, Kristen, I agree with Jim Russell. I can tell by your comment that you are deceived and not devout, and all of your worship of God (if you do that at all) is pointless (cf. Jas 1:26).

      (That was the point of your proof-texting, right Deacon? Did I apply the scripture in a correct, Christian way?)

      • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

        How do see the quote from the Letter of James or any of the other quotes as a “proof-text”?
        As to the rest of your comment–I’m seeking to understand the basis for the claims being made that seem to support the use of foul language. I’m not pointing fingers at any individuals at all, so I’d appreciate it if you avoid implying that I am.

        • Josh

          Here’s what proof-texting is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prooftext. It’s exactly what you did.

          You used “If a man who does not control his tongue imagines that he is devout, he is deceived; his worship is pointless (Jas. 1:26)” as a proof text for the “Scriptural prohibition against using vulgarity.” Kristen used the word “douchebag,” which is a vulgarity. From your post, we can deduce that since Kristen uses vulgarities the verse from James applies to her, right? I mean, who can it apply to except people who use vulgarities and foul language? Are you writing against theoretical people or real people?

          Any cogent reading of the passages you cite and their surrounding contexts sees that what is being said is essentially: “your mouth will not only speak for your heart, but also form your heart. So watch your mouth. If you say nasty things, it will make you nasty. If someone says nasty things, it’s a safe bet they’re nasty.” I think we can agree on that. What some of us have been saying, and what you can’t seem to understand, is that not all vulgarity is nasty. You keep hammering away, as though people aren’t getting your message. We’re getting it, Deacon. You think foul language is sinful. Period. And I think you’re wrong and implying things about people that aren’t true. You’re essentially telling people there is sin when you can’t know that.

          An example: I think we can all agree “shit” is a vulgarity. It’s not the worst word, but it’s generally within “foul language.” Right? I can walk through a pasture, step in some poop, and say “well, shit!” or “I just stepped in a piece of shit.” Alternatively, I can get mad at someone and say “you’re a piece of shit.” To me only one of those uses of that vulgarity is sinful, because the vulgarity itself is not inherently sinful. (I do concede there are words and phrases that cannot have a benign meaning and I think those are much more likely the target of the the scriptural passages you cite.)

          I’m as opposed to biblical liberalism (for lack of a better term) as anyone else, but you have to allow for some nuance and introduction of broader themes. So much of the words of Jesus and the rest of the New Testament are about the heart and, without ever approaching a libertine freedom, getting rid of the legalistic structures that had been fulfilled in Christ. (I know you’ve been through theological formation, so I’m not lecturing you–just getting to a point.) So, does it make any sense at all that something like “he is deceived; his worship is pointless” would refer to someone who occasionally uses profanities in a non-malicious way? Or that joking about sex between a husband and wife in a way that may be a little base should be listed alongside “quick temper…malice…[and] insults”? No, it doesn’t make any sense at all. Yet you’re here, arguing with people who are only saying these non-malicious, time-and-place-appropriate uses of vulgarities aren’t that big of a deal.

          I do apologize for replying to Kristen instead of your comment. Kristen, if you got an email with what seemed like a very rude response, I apologize.

          • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

            My primary interest in this subject has to do with how we Catholics communicate in the blogosphere–how we who present ourselves “as” Catholic choose to communicate. According to JPII’s note mentioned below, he thinks St. Paul’s words are a clear message to those in communications.
            You seem to be proposing a distinction regarding “vulgarity”–that there are malicious vulgarities and non-malicious vulgarities and that non-malicious vulgarities are just fine.
            But upon what do you base this claim? Clearly that’s not presented to us in Scripture, despite claims of vulgar speech used by some biblical figures. Is it in Catholic Tradition or in the official teachings of the Magisterium?
            In other words, since you presume my citations from Scripture are “proof-texts,” can you cite anything from a legitimate Catholic source to back up your claim that, as long as a vulgarity is not malicious, it’s okay to use?

          • Josh

            Build you a case from the tradition? You’re killing me, Smalls.

            I never said there were malicious and non-malicious vulgarities (though there are). What I distinguished was malicious and non-malicious use of vulgarities. Specifically, vulgarities that are not inherently malicious.

            I will end with this: you are harassing people about a “sin” that isn’t mentioned at all in the Catechism.* Think about that. It may be clear as day to you that saying “Zounds!,” or laughing at farts, or using an explicative to emphasize a point are all things that good Catholics would be better off avoiding. As a matter of preference, you may even have a (limited) point. But you’re going beyond that. If you think all you’re doing is just “starting a discussion about Catholics, and blogs, and how to be bloggy Catholics” and not accusing anyone of anything, you’re mistaken. You’re accusing users of profanity of sin. This is a dangerous game when it’s not firmly established as a sin.

            I applaud your combox apostolate generally. I think comboxes are better off with the voices of priests and deacons. I just think you’re barking up the wrong tree here. Thanks for the exchange.

            * it’s been 10 years since I worked my way through the Catechism and I haven’t gone back to it nearly as often as I should, so I’m basing this on searching the CCC at the USCCB site for “profanity,” “vulgarity,” “foul language,” and “swearing,” and finding nothing remotely relevant.


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