Most Americans have never been especially good at ‘English’ — at speaking it, writing it, understanding it…
Throw in the priggish moral scold that sits on their shoulders — and you get a strange disconnect from the thing they need most to communicate with each other: The Language.
Now, to be fair, we live in an age where words and their meanings are less ‘concrete’ than they used to be, more ‘fluid’. Or, as it was put not that long ago: “It depends on what your definition of ‘is’ is.” Yeah — we’ve come to that.
Swear words have always been harder on American ears than on the ears of other English-speakers. But then, lots of Americans won’t write or type out the name GOD because they’re afraid of ‘offending’ ‘him’ by speaking or writing ‘his name’. Never mind that ‘GOD’ is not ‘his’ name, it’s his ‘JOB TITLE’. His NAME (read the texts, people, I hear they’re all readily available) is Yahweh or Jehovah if you prefer. It ain’t GOD.
In the same vein, Americans are hyper sensitive to words with sexual overtones (or worse). One particular word — addressed by the comedian Sam Bee to Ivanka Trump — has caught everyone’s attention. Yes, it’s an explosively controversial word (the C’ Word) but, funny thing, it wasn’t even close to being the worst thing Sam Bee called Ivanka.
That would have been ‘FECKLESS’. Samantha Bee called Ivanka Trump ‘FECKLESS’ — and GOT AWAY WITH IT. No one complained. No one rushed to Ivanka’s defense — “How DARE anyone call Ivanka ‘feckless’, why, she’s the least feckless person I know!”
Or, more likely, they hadn’t a clue what the word meant. Here — allow me:
- ineffective; incompetent; futile:feckless attempts to repair the plumbing.
- having no sense of responsibility; indifferent; lazy.
In the greater scheme of things, one WOMAN calling out another WOMAN for being that thing — that’s mean. It’s a pointed stick poked right into the eye. But, as word-attacks go, it’s lots of Bang but very little Buck.
IS Ivanka Trump that thing? In what sense? In any sense? How was the word meant? Was it metaphorical or literal?
See? It’s a ‘Debatable’. Of the two words, THAT one was the ‘subjective’ word. The ‘EMOTIONAL’ word. The ‘could-be-or-couldn’t-be-it-depends-on-your-point-of-view’ word.
But ‘feckless’? One could make strong, evidence-based arguments (that would stick) about Ivanka Trump being almost ALL those things: Ineffective, incompetent, futile, having no sense of responsibility, indifferent and, yes, even lazy.
In the cold light of day — and personal attacks — “FECKLESS” is a sledgehammer to the gut. It’s got REAL heft to it — not just because it’s a hurtful word used to hurt women. Whereas the C-Word is a judgment based on feelings, the ‘F-word’ is a judgment based on facts.
Now THAT’S a word we Americans need to get more intimately familiar with: ‘FACTS’.