Cuss Time

In Interviews, Profiles, Musings on December 29, 2008 at 3:13 am

Jill McCorkle was my first mentor teacher at the Bennington Writing Seminars, where I  earned my MFA in creative writing. She’s a much beloved teacher there for many reasons, from her big, flirty, Southern personality, to her incisive  ability to tell you what works and what doesn’t in your fiction. She was a fabulous entry point for me because she could criticize me and still make me feel like she’d kissed me on the cheek.

She’s written a fantastic article about, in essence, freedom of speech, called “Cuss Time” at The American Scholar. Her article also confirms for me why I hate it when people teach their children to use goofy sounding euphemisms for their body parts. I like to call reality as it is!

Here’s just a taste. Please read the rest for yourself.

From Cuss Time, by Jill McCorkle.

Potential is a powerful word. I remember feeling so sad when my children turned a year old and I knew, from reading about human development, that they had forever lost the potential they were born with to emulate the languages of other cultures, clicks and hums and throat sounds foreign to me. For that short period of time, a mere 12 months, they could have been dropped anywhere in the world and fully adapted accordingly. But beyond this linguistic loss, we are at risk of losing something far greater each and every time we’re confronted with censorship and denial. Perfectly good words are taken from our vocabulary, limiting the expression of a thought or an opinion. I recently read about high schoolers who are not allowed to use the word vagina. And what should they say instead? When you read about something like this (just one recent example of many), you really have to stop and wonder. Is this restriction because someone in charge thinks vaginas are bad? I once had a story editor ask me not to use the word placenta. I wanted to say: “Now tell me again how you got here?” Oh, right, an angel of God placed you into the bill of the stork.


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