OPINION: Is this language really acceptable?

After attending the May/Trump demonstration on Monday night in central Brighton, Craig Hanlon-Smith has been thinking….

I feel incredibly privileged to live in a country where such action is both possible and spontaneous. I know there are many sensible arguments including some made by those close to me, that such action does little, perhaps it is even a waste of time. I disagree. When the democratic election protest throws up an alternative result to the one hoped for, it’s a wonderful thing to see thousands of people, all over the world pour onto the street and use their voices, their actual voices to call for a different choice, another way.

Which is why I’m so disappointed. I’m not a prude, I can swear like the best and worst of them and the language is colourful. It doesn’t mean I’m uneducated, or I cannot think of better or more sophisticated vocabulary, sometimes you just need a good f**cking and everything else besides. I get it.

But to collectively, in the thousands, be making an educated choice to paint a sign that reads “Trump is a c**t”, to hold them aloft whilst singing in chorus “Dump the c**t”, I think was a betrayal. A betrayal of what it is we thought we were trying to achieve. And these signs and chants cannot be blamed upon the leftist antagonistic ‘go to everything’ protestors. I saw you. Your middle class coats and well-heeled shoes. I saw your ‘JoJo Maman Bebe’ kitted out children. I saw your UCL sweatshirt and bugaboo. And I know that you, we, I know better.

Trump has been derided for his misogyny, his self description of his approach to women “I moved on her like a bitch”, his now infamous “grab her by the pussy”. We know that pussy is a softer, more user-friendly kitty cat word for cunt right? Which one did he use and which one did we. I didn’t shout it but I use ‘we’ because we were there together, a collective. Your sign is my sign, your voice is my voice, your cunt is my cunt. It was embarrassing.

And Brighton, mate, WTF? I’ve seen the online footage of the ‘Trump, why are you such a c**t’ song. I mean full marks for choral musicality but 2Unlimited had more sophisticated lyrical content.

Craig Hanlon-Smith

Craig Hanlon-Smith

In the days following the Orlando massacre, I was moved to tears by the spontaneous gathering of thousands across the UK. To show our support, our solidarity, our togetherness. And yes we were angry but we were also respectful, perhaps because people had died yes I know. But however nasty, deplorable, erratic and frightening the actions of the new US (and indeed UK) administrations, is the answer to sing that the man is a cunt? Will that support all those people who at the weekend were denied entry to the US because they began their journey in a Muslim country?

I left early, pleased I had attended, but uneasy at the choices we the educated made on Monday evening. Perhaps the truth is that language is just language, words are words, it’s all just a bit gay and we should not worry about it too much.

Or perhaps deep down, our collective casual embedded misogyny kicked in and we thought “what’s the worst thing we can call him? The worst”. We could have gone with “He’s a dick” or “prick”, not that that would’ve been better, but it’s interesting we went with the cruder version of the very pussy we all claim to be so appalled by.

I, of course, do not have the answer. But I do know that Monday evening definitely wasn’t it.

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