Gender and Language, Vol 7, No 2 (2013)

Fuck as a metaphor for male sexual aggression

Pamela Hobbs
Issued Date: 12 Jul 2013


In contemporary American society, the relaxation of social prohibitions on vulgar language, together with what some have noted to be an advertising culture that appears to demand hyperbole, combine to create an environment where much language that was formerly impermissible is now allowed. Nevertheless, a small number of words have retained their taboo status, most notably the word fuck. The word also displays our cultural ambivalence about sexual expressions and sexual activity, not only because it is considered to be obscene, but because of the question that was memorably expanded upon by comedian Lenny Bruce: If fucking is so great, then why is Fuck you one of the most offensive retorts in the English language? This paper will provide an answer to that question. I argue that the word fuck functions as a metaphor for male sexual aggression, and that, notwithstanding its increasing public use, enduring cultural models that inform our beliefs about the nature of sexuality and sexual acts preserve its status as a vile utterance that continues to inspire moral outrage.

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DOI: 10.1558/genl.v7i2.149


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