On Rashida Tlaib's Profanity

The 116th Congress was a highly anticipated one. Many of us were perpetually looking to the White House with an elusive sense of hope that one day it’ll become relatable. There are now more women than ever in Congress, including the first Muslim, Native American and Latina women to be elected. There are also more openly gay members.

Among the freshman class is Palestinian-American Rashida Tlaib, who’s been a controversial figure since her inauguration. Last Thursday, she peppered her pledge to impeach the President with profanity, becoming a talking point for news outlets everywhere. Some hurried to her defence, claiming that Tlaib simply vocalised what most people were thinking anyway. Others didn’t take the matter so light-heartedly, asserting that her platform and status did not afford allegiance to expletive threats and that she should perhaps consider the practicality of impeachment before promising any such thing.

"And when your son looks at you and says, 'Mama look, you won. Bullies don't win,' and I said, 'Baby, they don't,' because we're gonna go in there and we're going to impeach the motherfucker."

When Tlaib said what she said, I was disappointed. It was sad to hear someone that epitomised change and progression to say something so hamstrung. But then it got me questioning how I feel about profanity in general.

It took me back to a time when I was about eight years old, and I had wormed the word “crap” into a sentence. My mother was horrified. She warned me against my poor choice of language, citing it as vulgar. For her sake, I refrained from swearing at home even if it was a common practice among my friends and me.

We’re taught from a young age that swearing is impolite or offensive and the taboo persists. There have been studies to show that it can harm our mental health and make us appear less intelligent. But are these just myths? What if it wasn’t so wrong to swear? What if we, as a society, swore all the time and normalised the concept? After all, it’s one of the most effective ways to immediately communicate our emotions.

I don’t mind profanity but incorporating it on a global platform like Tlaib’s still makes me recoil. No matter what our opinions may be of the President, calling him a “motherfucker” is tactless. Sure, you can fight fire with fire, but it’s much easier to fight it with water.