How has the most intimate act of affection also come to reflect extreme hatred and contempt? The utterance “F*** you!” or flipping someone off with a middle finger is now the go-to response when wanting to indicate your anger or hatred. And I’ve been guilty of it too. But I’ve never been comfortable with it. The sex act is one of the most beautiful things I’ve experienced, and referencing that thing of beauty when wanting to insult someone seems not just a little odd. I’ve been reflecting on the possible reasons why the phase and the gesture referring to this thing of wonder has become so pervasively applied in contexts of contempt.
The origin seems simple enough. There was a shameful time when pillaging and rape were tactics of war. You raped someone for whom you had no affection out of contempt for them and the men of their culture. This atrocious act was frequently practiced for millennia.
So are those that invoke the sex act to insult others potential rapists?
Clearly most are not. Most of them are civil humans who would never think of committing such an act.
Then why has the term become so common to mainstream social interactions? I think it is more for the shock value. There are few other mental images that have the potential to evoke deep revulsion. It is just too easy to ejaculate the term or to make the gesture when frustration or anger has reached a certain threshold.
I’ve decided to stop using the phrase and gesture for several reasons, the most important listed below.
1. I want no residue of contempt in my mind for what I consider to be the greatest act of romantic affection. I would never force myself on someone.
2. Resorting to the phrase or gesture is an indication I have not yet been able to maturely deal with difficult social contexts. Simply walking away without responding in an undignified manner is a worthy goal.
3. Suggesting I’d like to do something that I would never do is childish. I don’t tell people I want to kill them. Why should I suggest I want to rape them?
4. There are many humans that, for whatever reason, are more sensitive about references to the sex act. Throwing this phrase and gesture around would limit my social interaction by causing others to lose respect for me.
5. Insults are intrinsically contrary to my goal of getting along well with those I meet, and communicating my opinions. If nothing else, I hope to set an example to those who attempt to offend me since I believe everyone can change.
6. I have encountered several minorities such as women or Asians that feel uncomfortable in face-to-face or on-line discussions where offensive language is commonly used to insult or simply as a device of emphasis. I want to avoid senselessly offending others, or even making them less-than-willing to participate.
I’m very thick-skinned, and I’m not easily offended by others flipping me off or yelling “F*** you!” But I think that personally avoiding the phrase and the gesture will make me a better person, and make my social environment much more pleasant.