Kate Emery: Swearing is part of our cultural identity, it’s also bloody fun

Kate Emery
The Nightly
Australians should not apologise for being a big old bunch of potty mouths. We should embrace it.
Australians should not apologise for being a big old bunch of potty mouths. We should embrace it. Credit: Adobe stock/fidaolga - stock.adobe.com

Australia has a new cultural cringe problem and it’s a bloody big one.

It’s f...... huge.

It’s a real c. . . maybe you can see where I’m going with this?

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Australians should not apologise for being a big old bunch of potty mouths.

We should embrace it.

The latest Aussie to be brushing up on her “golly”s and “fudge”s is Perth’s Isla Fisher. The actress told an east coast tabloid she is “working on her swearing” because “it’s actually frowned upon in Hollywood”.

“It is not given the gravitas that it is in Australia where you can get, kind of, in macho circles taken seriously with a bit of a swear word,” she said.

Fisher is not the first Australian to realise that the rest of the world — particularly in the US, where there’s a rich vein of puritanism beneath a society otherwise similar to our own — is a little more uptight about swearing than Australians.

Australian comedy duo Kate McLennan and Kate McCartney, of the Katering Show, recently had to create what they described as a “c..t manifesto” to explain the way Australians use the c-word, in order to get streaming giant Amazon to sign off on its regular appearances in their latest TV gem, Deadloch.

“We explained how it fit in the rhythm of our writing, we invoked Shakespeare and Amazon read it and said, ‘that makes sense’,” they told the Guardian.

There’s plenty of reasons to enjoy swearing.

It works the other way too. A British TikTokker made headlines last year when he expressed shock at how much Australian people swear.

“There is something actually wrong with Australians,’ he said in the video. “I was at the shop and this is how the two Aussies greeted each other: ‘Hey John, you f...... idiot. Hey Matty, you pr....”

Where he sees abuse, every right-thinking Aussie sees a warm exchange between two dear friends.

There’s plenty of reasons to enjoy swearing.

It’s fun.

It can help us bond with friends and co-workers, increase stamina and aid pain management (that’s science, although anyone who’s stepped on LEGO, barefoot, can confirm that last point).

Australians are among the biggest swearers in the world, swearing on average seven times a day. I manage that before breakfast but I do have two kids and a bad habit of forgetting bin day.

Instead of “working on” our swearing, apologising for it or justifying it, maybe it’s time for Australians to admit it’s part of who we are and the world should accept it, the way we all pretend we’re cool with how Americans pronounce “aluminium” and have collectively chosen to find the British tendency to over-apologise charming, rather than a passive aggressive power play.

In a global world where cultural differences are gradually getting ground down to a shared monoculture, Australians should be proud of our potty mouths as a cultural practice in need of protection, not @$%&-ing elimination.

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