Words are amazing. Naughty words are even better. They’re just vibrations in the air, but you can use those vibrations for as wide a variety of activities as making a nun cry or making someone involuntarily fill their pants with ejaculate. This week, some of your favourite Work In Prowess writers present their favourite dirty words, covering the full spectrum from Martha Stewart to Henry Miller.
Matthew Kilgour – Bottom
What makes a word naughty, what makes it nice? I’d argue its context and intention. Take the naughtiest of all words, ‘bottom’. “You’ve got a smelly bottom” is clearly one of the naughtiest things you can say, but telling someone “you’ve got a lovely bottom” is an obvious complement. As your mum probably said (over and over) “it’s not what you said, it’s the way you said it”. Which is fine, but that little ginger kid next door genuinely is a prissy little cunt and she deserved to know it. I don’t care how good she is at hula-hooping.
Defending a word is easy – it’s just a word, and unless you read the Daily Mail (in which case no one cares what you think, you smelly bottom bottom smeller) you probably won’t be offended by the collection of letters or noises that make a word. Defending context and intention is harder. Like that time Jimmy Saville defended Hitler. Naughty: yes. Funny: debatable. But he got in a lot of trouble, and that’s why the government are trying to smear him with this horrible pederasty hate campaign.
I think the real joy of naughtiness is in being funny. If the context and intention is funny, you can say whatever you want as far as I’m concerned. If you’re doing it to be mean, or hurt someone’s feelings, or impress your friends by reciting all the naughty words you know then it’s less cool. Unless it’s funny. In which case it’s fine. Now, sign this petition to clear Jimmy Saville: www.freesirjimmy.org
Janina Matthewson – Douche
I grew up an innocent flower. We didn’t swear in my house, and I carried on the tradition for quite some time. I was all, “gosh” and “flip” and to this day I’ll throw “jeepers” around with reckless abandon. My theory always was that I wanted to have something to fall back on if I was really, seriously annoyed. So people would say, “Janina’s said ‘fuck’ – shit is getting REAL.” Problem is, I never seem to get really, seriously annoyed, so I never got to swear.
Picking a favourite swear word, for me, is ludicrously easy. I am IN LOVE with the word ‘douche’. I love it. It conjures up such clear ideas for me, ideas that can’t be expressed with any other insult.
When you call someone a douche you’re implying a more complex level of shittery than if you just called them a dick, or stretch to cunt. It suggests a sort of narcissistic self-awareness, a consciousness of effect on the part of the swearee.
The person I most often call a douche is one of my best friends. He recently started drinking Black Russians. As, you know his Drink. Not TALL Black Russians, which is apparently what people who don’t understand Black Russians think a Black Russian is, but PURE Black Russians. I love the guy, he’s ace quite a lot of the time, but what a DOUCHE.
Jamie Drew – Cunt
A lot of people have their aversion to it, and they are perfectly entitled to that, but objectively speaking the best worst word is “cunt.”
People have long been trying to “take it back” and I’m all in favour of that; it’s a fucking pleasure to say aloud.
Try it: CUNT.
Unfairly, it’s considered the worst of all the bad words. Just one more vulgar term for the common vagina in a sea of vulgar terms for the vagina, and used most often as an insult, which is an awful usage of such a wonderful, terrible word.
On a phonetic level, it’s fantastic. CUNT kicks off from the lungs into the velar /k/, that guttural back vowel in the middle and just stopping with your tongue at the teeth so that you naturally bare your gnashers at the end of it. It moves forward in the vocal tract: you are quite literally throwing it at someone. Or speaking from the heart. Which is kind of sexy, depending.
Call your friend a cunt. Call your nether regions a cunt. Just say it with a smile.
Duncan Vicat-Brown – Knickers
Straight off the bat, knickers used to be ‘knickerbockers’, and that change is up there with white chocolate Kitkat Chunkies in the good idea stakes. It’s also much better than the American equivalent, ‘panties’, which no English accented person is physically capable of saying without sounding like a Speak and Spell.
It’s also the only word for what it is that isn’t rubbish. ‘Pants’ and ‘drawers’ are already other things, as, I’m told, are ‘French’s.’ And don’t even get me started on ‘thong’, which we’ll file next to ‘snog’ and hopefully never have to say out loud.
But the key to why knickers is so great is that it’s hugely versatile but also the sexiest word in the English language – possibly the ONLY sexy word in the English language. It can be light and throwaway, but can carry a vast array of implications; it’s onomatopoeic to the extreme. You can say it in front of anyone in the world, but you can also break someone’s control over their knees by whispering it into their ear. It’s comical, sophisticated, sensual and adorable all at once; it’s the girlfriend that every boy wants.
Posted by Duncan Vicat-Brown
Duncan is WIP's assistant editor, community manager and office dachshund. When he's not tweeting from @WorkInProwess, he tweets from @DuncanVB, and he can very occasionally be found elsewhere on the internet.