“I got in trouble for saying the F-word,” goes the common lament of schoolboys across the Anglosphere. Just about everyone understands the quoted sentence – but few realise that it has two different meanings.
For most of the modern history of the English-speaking people “the F-word” meant ‘fuck’. Swear words are usually taboo because of their association with a sacred subject, so it’s not surprising that a culture subjected to the sexual repression of Abrahamism would make a swear word out of the sexual act.
However, we’re no longer in a sexually repressed age. Far from it – arguably no other cultural tradition has ever found within itself the range of sexual expression and alternative identities as the modern West.
In fact, if anything we have swung the other way (no pun intended). Now it’s seen as deeply immoral and aggressive to criticise anyone for any sexual expression, even those undertaken in front of children in broad daylight.
And so, the F-word isn’t ‘fuck’ any more. The F-word is now ‘faggot’.
If you don’t believe this, just try using either word on social media and see what sort of response you get.
People use ‘fuck’ all the time on FaceBook and nothing bad ever happens to them. No-one reports it, no-one cares, and no-one appears to be seriously suggesting that it breaches what community standards FaceBook has.
However, people calling each other ‘faggots’ is strictly discouraged by means of bans – even though the word was barely considered a profanity 15 years ago.
Even better, observe a young person when something undesired happens to them, like stubbing a toe: chances are that they will cry out ‘faggot!’ rather than any variant of ‘fuck’.
They are also much more likely to tease their friends by calling them faggots than by calling them fuckwits or fuckheads. This is now also true of ‘nigger’ and various epithets for Jews, such as ‘kike’ etc.
So any young person trying to be edgy isn’t going to bother saying the old F-word. That’s so passe that even our grandmothers use it without blushing.
The swear words of this century will reflect this century’s social mores – casual sex is in, setting boundaries is out.