I have been writing this post in my head for a few days now. I am not sure I will express myself well. Remember that scene in Rocky where the Rock tries to explain to the teen girl why she should not stand down on the corner smoking and talking trash to the guys? Rocky talks about how being slutty leads to a lack of respect. The scene ends with the girl telling Rocky to get screwed. That scene occurred to me as I absorbed accounts of the so-called Women's March this past weekend.
Crude, profane, and decidedly unladylike-like are some of the terms that come to mind when I think about the signs and language at the protests. I could not imagine my mother nor my wife condoning such expression. There are some who would argue that that was precisely the point. The anger of these women was so profound that only the crudest possible expression could demonstrate their outrage.
I have on plenty of occasions resorted to crude language and obscenities around here. I am trying to eliminate that practice. Trust me, I rarely speak that way in front of my wife. More to the point, my job is to persuade people. How successful would I be if my brochures were laced with porn, and my spiel was loaded with profanities and innuendo? Sure, such vulgarity might appeal to a few crass individuals, but for the most part I would find myself outside looking in at every major customer. One does not earn respect through disrespectful words and actions.
Madonna or Ashley Judd may feel empowered by dropping the F-bomb. To me it was more akin to an 8th grader cursing in front of his pals down at the playground to show how tough he is. Sorry, the best way to convince me you should not be forced to carry a baby to term in an unwanted pregnancy that might endanger your health is not to shove a picture of your vagina in my face.
Thomas Paine was arguably one of the greatest revolutionary writers of all time. His stirring arguments not only helped spur the American Revolution, but the French Revolution as well. He persuaded uncounted citizens to change and revolt through reason, passion, and eloquence. Not once did he need to use scatological descriptions or foul language to make his point. I have no doubt Jefferson, or Adams, or Lincoln used profanity in private, yet their public discourse was remarkably effective without using a single curse word. Did Susan B. Anthony need to show her breasts, or did Elizabeth Cady Stanton sprinkle her speeches with curse words to make their point?
How effective would MLK's message have been if he demanded an end to segregation on those mother f-ing buses? Would we remember Frederick Douglas if he wore a penis hat while discussing how slavery emasculated the negro male?
I have been often told that people use crude language because they lack the ability to express themselves. I am guilty far more often than I like in that sense. It seems to me that if you have hundreds of thousands gathered to hear your message and countless more reading and listening via various media, that you would want to make your protest clear, meaningful, and profound. Instead we got the equivalent of immature girls standing down on the street corner talking trash.
Rocky was right. I don't respect you.